stone wall by road and green fields

Whether you’re a Brit wanting to reignite your love of your home country, a traveler coming to the UK for the first time or just want to be transported to the quaint greenness of the UK, we have you covered.

Here you’ll find a few classics, memoirs and new releases to get you inspired about the UK. Happy reading!


Microadventures: Local Discoveries for Great Escapes‘ – Alastair Humphreys

The premise of this book is simple – escaping from our busy and cluttered lives is as easy as walking out the door.

Instead of waiting around for a giant and expensive adventure, Alastair Humphreys argues that we should seek escapism from modern life by creating or own ‘microadventures’. Essentially he advocates for being a weekend warrior whether that’s uncovering the best UK city breaks for couples, sleeping out in the wild solo or jumping in a river! Adventure is a state of mind. With details of the thrilling and captivating adventures he’s had in the UK, it’s a treasure trove of ideas and inspiration for you to do the same.

There’s also concrete advice and useful tips but his narrative is fantastic as he uncovers some of Britain’s most exciting hidden gems.

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Spring‘ – Ali Smith

Spring is the third instalment of a seasonal quartet of novels, examining the current state of Britain through the perspective of the average person. Now I know that doesn’t sound like the most thrilling read, but Ali Smith is an absolute incredible wordsmith who weaves people, politics and nature together in a way you can’t quite understand (at least to start with anyway). Later, each detail comes together with complete precision and beautiful delicacy that is beyond genius.

Spring probably has more of a focus on people than many other books on this list, but it’s deeply routed in what it means to be British with a fascinating insight into the left and right wing politics of Britain.

“Things can change over time, what looks fixed and pinned and closed in a life can change and open, and what’s unthinkable and impossible at one time will easily be possible in another.”

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‘Mud, Sweat & Gears’ – Ellie Bennett

As Ellie’s 50th birthday approaches, dreams about a steady income, a high powered career and scaling Everest become even more distant. She begins to doubt whether she can do anything at all. So when her friend suggests a gruelling bike ride from Land’s End to John O’Groats, she accepts the challenge.

With probably too many diversions to the pub and a journey through a roller-coaster of emotions, you can’t help but to really feel connected to the author, just like you’re cycling with her. The fascinating explanations of the historic sites and stunning Scottish landscape she passes, totally transports and inspires the reader, entertaining from start to finish.

For those who love a self actualising story along the lines of Eat, Pray Love (but with a heap of adventure and to be honest, loads better), this one is definitely for you.

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Notes From A Small Island‘ – Bill Bryson

There’s something about Bill Bryson’s self deprecating humour and mundane observations of the British way of life, that are equally genius and hilarious.

The book follows Bill’s farewell journey around the green and sleepy island before he departs to the US.  It’s a sort of ode to Britain written as a travelogue, highlighting the oddities, eccentricities and beauty of the UK in a really ‘easy reading’ way. It’s like hearty comfort food that makes you feel all warm inside the moment you get stuck in.

From taking the mickey out of the interesting characters you’ll find in a pub, arguments over driving distances, accents to the carelessness towards England’s heritage, Bill is incredibly perceptive and in all honesty, totally hits the nail on the head.

Despite the general piss take, there’s a real fondness for the UK. Even for a local, it’s a real eye-opening read that is so painfully British it hurts.

“I spent two days driving through the Cotswolds and didn’t like it at all — not because the Cotswolds were unlovely but because the car was. You are so sealed off from the world in a moving vehicle, and the pace is all wrong. I had grown used to moving about at walking speed or at least British Rail speed, which is often of course much the same thing.”- Bill Bryson

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Pride and Prejudice‘ – Jane Austen

OK, I’m throwing in an absolute classic here, but who can’t fall in love with Austen’s truly poetic love story set in early 19th century England?!

In my opinion, nothing quite sets you up for the fascinating history of England quite like one of the best English authors of all time. Jane Austen’s wit, intelligent creation of complex personalities and lush scene setting is utterly delicious.

Having first read this novel at school, it completely stole my imagination and now every time I stride through a grassy meadow, I can’t get that damn image of Darcy out of my mind.

Pride and Prejudice should be a staple on every persons bookshelf.

“There is a stubbornness about me that never can bear to be frightened at the will of others. My courage always rises at every attempt to intimidate me.”

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The Trouble With Goats and Sheep‘ – Joanna Cannon

A delightful coming of age novel from the perspective of two ten year olds, The Trouble with Goats and Sheep follows a ‘who dunnit’ storyline triggered by the disappearance Mrs Creasey. After learning from a local vicar that God is everywhere, they also go in search of God to see if he knows what happened..

Set in a village in England during a heatwave in 1970, the story uncovers the homes and lives of the local residents and is full of light-hearted humour and charm. There’s something magical about a kid’s perspective and this book is just loads of fun.

“It smelled of unturned pages and unseen adventures, and on every shelf were people I had yet to meet, and places I had yet to visit. Each time, I lost myself in the corridors of books and the polished, wooden rooms, deciding which journey to go on next”.

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In Search of London‘ – HV Morton

Quite frankly, you just can’t have a list of British books and not include one about London (and especially from one of the ‘original’ travel writers).

Although modern day London is cool, there’s something about uncovering the complex past of England’s capital, that makes the city we all love seem even more special. ‘In Search of London’ is set after the chaos and destruction of WW2. The author emotionally uncovers layer upon layer of London’s history formed from within the midst of the rubble and rebuild efforts.

Often referred to as the original Bill Bryson, HV Morton is descriptive yet not fluffy, lively but sobering and provides vivid transportation to a pivotal time in the cities history.

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Mr Finchley Discovers His England‘ – Victor Canning

Written in the 1930s before the second world war, this fictional story about an unmarried clerk who goes on holiday for the first time, still has as much appeal now as it did when it was first published. From befriending gypsies, being mistaken for a homicidal lunatic and generally getting himself in all sorts of trouble, this book is a fast-moving and gently humorous tale about Mr Finchely’s travels through England.

This book oozes wholesome charm and eccentric British characters which is why I’d recommend it for people wishing to be acquainted, or reminisce about England’s days gone by.

There are laugh-out-loud moments and a touch of mystery that will ensure you get through this tale as quick as Mr Finchley gets himself in trouble.

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What other books about the UK would you add to this list? I’d love to hear about them.




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