Londonist Loves...Tube Books

By Londonist Last edited 161 months ago
Londonist Loves...Tube Books

Earlier this week the BBC printed this piece of writing by Geoff Ryman.

Ryman is the author of 253, a fantastic piece of fiction about the relationship between all the passengers on a single tube train.

The article on the BBC encapsulated Ryman's views on the bombings of 7 July and offered some thoughtful and intelligent insights into the aftermath of the events.

After reading the article, Londonist contributors decided to draw up a quick list of our favourite tube books, both fact and fiction.

Hopefully there will be some titles on here you won't have come across before, or maybe one or two you know are gathering dust on your bookshelf somewhere and you should dig out and read again.

And, as always, feel free to add your own recommendations in the comments section.


Underground - Tobias Hill.

"A literary thriller in which, in a sense, the London Underground becomes the central character. Someone is pushing women under trains, and a Polish immigrant who works at a north London station - a loner with a complicated past and a secret fear of the dark - is determined to stop the killings."

(Has some good London Zoo bits in it as well)

King Solomon's Carpet - Barbara Vine.

"Jarvis lives in a crumbling house with a view of the Jubilee Line: he loves the tube with all its secrets - its hidden tunnels, its mysterious "ghost" stations, its incidents and accidents, which he records. He lives in a house which was once a school, but now he lets out rooms."

A Metropolitan Murder - Lee Jackson.

"The last train of the night pulls into the gas-lit platform of Baker Street underground station. A young woman is found strangled, her body abandoned in a second-class carriage. The brutal 'Railway Murder' brings Inspector Decimus Webb to the newly-formed Metropolitan Line on bleak winter's night. His investigation leads him through the slums of Victorian London to the Holborn Refuge, a home for 'Fallen women', and to Clara White, a respectable servant."

What a Carve Up - Jonathan Coe.

"Michael is a lonely writer, obsessed by a film featuring a mad knifeman. When he is commissioned to write the family history of the Winshaws he realizes that the family have cast a blight on his life and he decides to take his revenge by re-enacting his favourite film."

(Not strictly a Tube book but includes a great scene where the narrator passes out on the Tube.)

Neverwhere - Neil Gaiman.

"Under the streets of London there is a world of which most people could never dream. When Richard Mayhew accidentally stumbles on this hidden city of monsters, saints, murderers and angels, he is catapulted from a safe and predictable world into one that is eerily familiar yet utterly bizarre."


The Story of London's Underground - John R. Day.

"London`s underground railways began life as independent companies, built on the money of private investors and banks. This book covers all the major developments on the London Underground and many of the less significant, but fascinating, aspects of its history. The extensive research that has gone into the text of this new edition has also been applied to the illustrations and all known sources of Underground material have been tapped."

Underground to Everywhere - Stephen Halliday.

"This wide-ranging history of the Underground celebrates the vision and determination of the Victorian pioneers who conceived this revolutionary transport system."

Underground London: Travels Beneath the City Streets - Stephen Smith.

"News reporter and author Stephen Smith goes below pavement level in London, allowing the reader to vicariously explore burial crypts, dug-up plague pits, sewers, excavated Roman walls, remnants of Henry VIII's tennis courts, poncy wine cellars, secret government bunkers, the bowels of Parliament, and forgotten corners of the Tube."

A Logo For London - David Lawrence.

"London Transport's famous bar and circle symbol has been used to represent public transport in the Capital for almost one hundred years. Through word and image David Lawrence tells the story of the logo's development and shows the various and sometimes highly inventive ways in which it has been used."

Last Updated 12 August 2005