If you share our fondness for anything hand-drawn and mappish, this is very much a book for you. A new illustrated guide to the capital, London Walks! draws from a well of inspiration deeper than Confucius in a Crossrail dig.
The book sets out 22 walks around town (plus 3 bus rides and a merry old boat trip). Each is charmingly illustrated and soaked in trivia. These aren't normal walks. There are very few directions. Instead, each journey is suggested by a hand-drawn scene somewhere along the route, with arrows, labels, maps, asides and observations crammed in like pic-n-mix.
The author will be familiar to many for her column in The Times and regular appearances in the Guardian, The Idler and elsewhere.
Moving through the book is like moving through London itself, with surprises on every corner and overheard snatches of conversation drifting across the page. This is a book about Londoners as much as London, and a supreme exercise in people watching.
The only criticism is that London Walks! strays south of the river on just two occasions...and never ventures further than the South Bank. This perhaps makes commercial sense, as far more readers will be familiar with Covent Garden, Soho, et al. than areas such as Peckham, Dulwich and Brixton. It's a pity, as these areas would make for fascinating material. Maybe in a second volume, which this playful and special book deserves.