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Where is the Best Place to Read in London?

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by Bryony Harrison (subscribe)
Freelance writer and poet from London; if you would like to read my poetry, please check out my book, 'Poems on the Page', available from
Published July 3rd 2014
fairy, read, reading, statue, woods

One of the best ways to spend your down time is by reading; it is a chance to escape and immerse yourself in a different world. You can go on an exciting adventure without ever leaving your seat. But you want that seat to be comfy, don't you?

When you're at home, that's easy; just sit in your favourite armchair and snuggle down. But what about when your out and about? Where do you like to read? What makes that place so special.

kensington gardens, kensington palace, the long water, peter pan statue
Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens

London is a busy place, and all the hubbub can be distracting; if you are looking for somewhere tranquil with beautiful scenery, it is best to retreat to a park. In my opinion, you can't do better than Kensington Gardens, where you will find our favourite childhood hero, Peter Pan, forever immortalised in youth. Imagine reading J.M. Barrie's tale of the boy who would not grow up, next to his statue, and overlooking The Long Water.

If you are commuting, then finding a tranquil place isn't really an option, but there are two train stations with strong literary connections that you can read in while you wait for your train. First there is Paddington Station, where Michael Bond's Paddington Bear arrived on his first day in London. Here he was adopted by the Brown Family, and became a cherished children's character.

Then there is King's Cross, the place where J.K. Rowling had her spark of inspiration for Harry Potter, and where all young wizards go to begin their journey to Hogwarts. Muggles like us may not be able to get onto Platform 9 , but we can see a student's luggage trolley travelling through the wall.

rose theatre, kingston
Rose Theatre

If you want a bit to eat while you eat, then the Rose Theatre in Kingston Upon Thames has a Cafe. The Swallow Bakery does breakfast and lunch with sandwiches, cakes, pastries, etc. It also hosts exhibitions, jazz nights, and talks.

Perhaps you haven't got a book to read; in that case you need to find somewhere that provides them. Like a Library. The British Library has the biggest depository of books in London, and is an especially good choice if the kind of reading you are doing is one of study. Here you will find all the books you need, and be able to do your research in a quiet place without disturbance. Another great place to study is the Reading Room at the British Museum, which also has a large archive of historical texts available.
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