The Dog Ear: Books to read about London
Published: Monday, August 26, 2013
Updated: Monday, August 26, 2013 22:08
This summer, I had the opportunity to study abroad in London. After spending an amazing month exploring museums, navigating “the Tube” and enjoying British accents, I came home to my small, suburban Connecticut town. My summer had now become extremely subdued. I went from always having entertainment at my fingertips to not an event in sight. Crowds of bustling people became unheard-off. I wasn’t quite sure what to do with myself after I unpacked and settled in but as always, a book presented itself to me just as I needed it.
Craig Taylor ‘s “Londoners: The Days and Nights of London Now—As Told by Those Who Love it, Hate it, Live it, Left it, and Long for it” is a mouthful of a title but the book is easy to work your way through. It is an oral history book divided into several sections to properly categorize interviews with Londoners. Taylor spoke with 200 people and selected the best stories from those encounters, resulting in transcriptions that allow you to truly understand the type of person he interviewed.
Anecdotes abound in this book with every interviewee sharing a piece of their life with readers. While I loved every minute I spent in London, “Londoners” revealed information that my rose colored glasses prevented me from seeing and my limited time prevented me from experiencing. However, the London life I did have was enough shock me into opposition by some interviews and nod my head in agreement with others. I adopted the last piece of the title as my emotion throughout reading: “long for it”.
Readers learn about the city from perspectives that normally wouldn’t be discovered. They read the words of Emma Clarke, the voice announcing every stop on the Tube. They hear about the intricacies of those recordings, the need to have them perfect. When an arboriculturalist is introduced to them, they learn the reasoning behind planting particular trees. A taxi driver’s interview informs them that drivers are required to take an extremely difficult exam before they can operate a cab. They embark on a day in the life of a market trader.
As the first oral history book I’ve ever read, “Londoners” made me fully realize the power of people’s stories. I would love to see more books like this about other cities around the world. Everyone has different experiences and lifestyles. It’s this combination that gives each one of us the ability to share our revelations and wisdom with others. The beauty of this book is that random people from different paths that somehow converged in London at one point or another are the focus. It reminded me of UConn since that phenomenon is UConn at every given moment. They are from all over the state, the country, and the world but it is UConn that has united each one of us together.
Like London, you never know what you may find here, be it love or a new hobby. Every student here will have a different college experience and will depart to another road once these four years are completed. But in the end, we are all still cheering for the same team.
“Londoners” taught me a lot. As a testament to travel and the riches it can bring into your life that extend far beyond souvenirs. When I look at everything I brought back with me from London, it is the photographs I took and the pages I wrote in my journal that I appreciate the most. The same counts for your UConn experience. The free t-shirts are nice and the A’s on your transcript are great but what you’ll really want to look back on are the people you met and the adventures you’ve had. Seize opportunities to be with others and enjoy the little moments this semester. You’ll find yourself in the real world soon enough.