The Best Books To Read Before You Visit England

Team Hoo
16th March 2021

When it comes to visiting a new country, as soon as you book your trip, you’ll feel yourself wanting to immerse yourself in the culture, the locals and understand the country itself. Preparing yourself for a new country is important to ensure 

However, if you’re wanting to feel the beauty of the countryside, understand city life or comprehend the essence of what it is to be English, you can do so through some literary classics we have listed below. 

How To Prepare For Visiting A New Country

While literary books can teach us a great many things, sometimes there are necessary things those travelling must learn or understand before visiting. 

Respectful Clothing

It is always best to check what each country you’re travelling to deems respectable clothing. In England, especially, there is mixed weather even in summer and winter, so be sure to pack both warm and cooler clothing. 

Eating Mannerisms

While visiting, it’s important to ensure you’re not bringing unnecessary attention to yourself. For instance, the English do not switch knives and forks, and when the meal is finished to indicate this, the knife and fork are laid parallel to each other across the right side of the plate.

Current Events and Country Relations

Being aware of current events or country relations can help you to keep safe and also stop you from offending anyone while visiting. 

Check Weather

When travelling out of your own country, it’s always advised to check the weather to where you're visiting. Not only so you can create a capsular wardrobe perfect for your trip, but to ensure you pack essentials like sun cream, winter hats and gloves if needed. 

Taboo Topics 

Being aware of taboo topics can save you from some awkward conversations. For example, the English aren’t comfortable talking about money, so try not to discuss how much money you make. 

15 Books To Read Before Visiting England And Why

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

A popular classic even to this day, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice was first published in 1813 and tells the story of Elizabeth Bennet as she navigates the tricky world of manners, education, marriage and money. Several cities throughout England pay homage to various exhibitions, talks, and even performances.

Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling

A series that swept over the nation, and a book series that lives within the hearts of the young and the old. The story about a young-boy wizard learning who he is while taking on Lord Voldemort also showcases much of the beauty of London and Scotland. There are many nods to the books and films within London, including the Harry Potter Studio Tour. 

A History of Modern Britain by Andrew Marr

This non-fiction book covers the transformations of British life over the last few decades, including invasion, the front line of the Cold War and later in the forefront of migration now reshaping the world. It’s a perfect book to help anyone visiting understand how England, and the wider United Kingdom, is how it is today. 

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

Another classic, but this gothic tale is set on the bleak Yorkshire Moors is about a doomed romance between Heathcliff and Catherine Earnshaw and captures the wild beauty of the Moors. While Wuthering Heights is a fictional place, it is based on Haworth, where Emily Brontë lived. 

Stalking Jack The Ripper By Kerri Maniscalco

If you, like many others, are intrigued by the serial killer Jack The Ripper, then reading this inspiring, creepy horror story set in Whitechapel in London. The story is about a female protagonist who breaks tradition and performs autopsies with her Uncle, and the perfect read to enjoy before booking on to the Ripper Tour in London. 

My Love Affair with England by Susan Allen Toth

This travel memoir written in 1994 is a love letter to England and a vivid account of British life from the point of view of an American. It recounts the country’s charms and eccentricities, showcasing the many sides of England with visits to the London theatre, ghost-hunting, and other pleasures of travelling through England. 

The Wind in The Willows by Kenneth Grahame

A firm childhood favourite in many hearts, The Wind in the Willows tells the story Mole, Rat, Toad and Badger, and has been a much-loved bedtime story for over a century. Perfectly capturing the English countryside, you’ll fall quickly in love with the animals as well as the surrounding area. 

Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding

Having later been made into a successful film, Bridget Jones’s Diary perfectly articulates not only English life but the life of a single 30-something woman in London in diary form. Not only is it highly relatable, but it also showcases the culture and life like no other. 

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Orphaned Mary discovers nature and love in a gloomy Yorkshire mansion on the edge of a moor in this beloved classic where a secret garden is discovered. Not only does it perfectly articulate Yorkshire and the beauty of England, but it also makes you wish we all had a secret garden. 

Londoners by Craig Taylor

This book by Craig Taylor was constructed over five years and brought together more than 80 interviews with people of different occupations, races and social classes. It creates an altogether very and realistic atmosphere of the city and the wider country.

Bleak House by Charles Dickens

A quintessential classic showcasing Victorian life and beautiful descriptions of London told from the point of view of a narrator and Esther Summerson. Since Charles Dickens is arguably one of the most famous English writers in history, with so many more classics like Oliver Twist and A Christmas Carol, the Charles Dickens Museum in London is well worth a visit. 

Winnie The Pooh by A. A. Milne 

For the younger ones and those who are young at heart, Winnie The Pooh is the story about a bear who lives with his friends in the 10 Acre Wood. Not only is it a classic, but it lives in the heart of England, with Ashdown Forest being the place the book is set, and the local area has several nods to the author and illustrator. 

A Complete History of Britain by Simon Schama

With England having such a rich history, it can be hard to know where to start to learn the most about it. However, Simon Schama three-volume journey covers everything from 3000BC to the year 2000. Knowing the history, you’ll find, wherever you go, a deeper understanding of the country and why it’s shaped the way it is. 

A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond

When a young bear from Peru is adopted by a family after being found at Paddington Station, this story is perfect for the younger audiences. With adventures, good intentions and showcases all of the mishaps he gets himself into within England.

Swing Time by Zadie Smith

Set in adjacent housing estates in Northwest London, this is the story of two young friends who want to make it big, covering Hampstead Heath, the West End and Gambia. This book looks at the meaning and concept of home and showcases London in a refreshingly different way. 

With there being so much history within England locked away in the pages of books and along the windy cobbled streets or wood-areas. The books above are perfect for immersion into English life and preparing you for your visit to this country. Whether you prefer fiction, non-fiction or reading to younger ones, you’ll feel connected to England before you even arrive. 


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