Welcome to Imprint Friday and today's featured imprint: Ecco books. Stop by each week to be introduced to a must-read title from one of my favorite imprints. I know you'll be adding many of these books to your wish list.
Back in 1974, when I was in college, a book about Americans at work was taking the reading world by storm. That book was Working by Studs Terkel, and it consisted of interviews of hundreds of people employed in every kind of job imaginable and from all over the country. I bought it, even on my undergrad budget, and I still have my original copy.
When I heard Craig Taylor had written Londoners, a similar book about modern London, I knew I had to have it. Not only because I loved Working but because I spent some time in London finishing up my doctoral research at the Natural History Museum. I lived well east of South Ken, and for the first and only time in my life, I became a big-city commuter who rode the tube at least twice a day, every day.
Enough about me, take a look at the publisher's summary.
Five years in the making, Londoners is a fresh and compulsively readable view of one of the world's most fascinating cities—a vibrant narrative portrait of the London of our own time, featuring unforgettable stories told by the real people who make the city hum.Londoners is not the kind of book you necessarily need to read from cover to cover, in order. Because it consists of short accounts told in the words of people who live or spend time in the city, you can dip in and out of the collection as fits your mood.
Acclaimed writer and editor Craig Taylor has spent years traversing every corner of the city, getting to know the most interesting Londoners, including the voice of the London Underground, a West End rickshaw driver, an East End nightclub doorperson, a mounted soldier of the Queen's Life Guard at Buckingham Palace, and a couple who fell in love at the Tower of London—and now live there. With candor and humor, this diverse cast—rich and poor, old and young, native and immigrant, men and women (and even a Sarah who used to be a George)—shares indelible tales that capture the city as never before.
Together, these voices paint a vivid, epic, and wholly original portrait of twenty-first-century London in all its breadth, from Notting Hill to Brixton, from Piccadilly Circus to Canary Wharf, from an airliner flying into London Heathrow Airport to Big Ben and Tower Bridge, and down to the deepest tunnels of the London Underground. Londoners is the autobiography of one of the world's greatest cities.
Whether you've been to London or not, you'll be entranced by the personal stories. Some of the pieces I particularly liked are these:
- The black ballerina turned plumber who gets a kick out seeing clients' reactions when they open the door to "a black woman with dreadlocks, . . . me in overalls with a headscarf and my locks sticking out."
- The director of markets in the City, who feels quite personally the history of the markets he supervises: the fish market that has been around since Roman times and the meat market that was established early in the Middle Ages.
- The rhyming slang of the market traders.
- The young barristers who discuss the best place to buy a wig and whether one should spring for a traditional wig tin.
Londoners is a must for anyone who has visited or lived in the city, who dreams of visiting the city, and who is interested in the opinions of the public. Brew yourself a pot of tea or pour yourself a pint, open Londoners, and be transported to the streets of one the most interesting cities in the world.
BBC news did a short video piece on Londoners and author Craig Taylor, which you can view here. For more news and information, like Taylor's Facebook page.
Beth Fish Reads is proud to showcase Ecco books as a featured imprint on this blog. For more information about Ecco, please read the introductory note from Vice President / Associate Publisher Rachel Bressler, posted here on July 15, 2011. Find your next great read by clicking on Ecco in the scroll-down topics/labels list in my sidebar and by visiting Ecco books on Facebook and following them on Twitter.