The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
This book, the basis for The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, titled These Foolish Things, begins with an overworked doctor in London who is frustrated after his father-in-law, unable to live on his own any longer, suddenly moves in. Wishing he could just send him somewhere far away to retire, he makes his wish a reality, teaming up with his business-savvy cousin Sonny to create a hotel for the elderly British in India. Initially, the culture clash seems like it might be too much for the new inhabitants. But as their story progresses, we see that adapting to new locations is possible at any age.
The Tower, the Zoo, and the Tortoise
When you think of England, you might think of the Queen and her castles, but do you ever think of the men in uniforms that protect them? The main character of The Tower, The Zoo, and the Tortoise is Balthazar Jones, a Yeoman Warder, or Beefeater, who works in the Tower of London protecting the British crown jewels and giving tours of the grounds. Unexpectedly, the Queen decides to re-open the royal menagerie of animals and puts Balthazar in charge of all the creatures. Shenanigans predictably ensue, but at this whimsical novel’s heart is a human story of loss and healing, in addition to a rarely-seen view of working and living in a castle, told from multiple perspectives.
44 Scotland Street
Alexander McCall Smith
Taking place in one of Great Britain’s most literary cities, Edinburgh, 44 Scotland Street (the first in a ten-book series) tells the story of the people living within one apartment building. The various residents include five-year-old wunderkind Bertie who wants to play trains while his mother urges him to play saxophone; Bruce, whose looks are his top priority, especially over his new roommate, Pat; and Domenica, a spirited widow who loves nothing more than driving her yellow Mercedes and discussing sociology. The eccentricities of the group are matched by the unique qualities of their surroundings, which vividly come to life as the novel progresses.
About a Boy
While you may have seen the movie based on this book, starring Hugh Grant and Nicholas Hoult, you don’t want to miss the original story about selfish man-child Will and the boy, Marcus, who forces him to be his friend. While Marcus learns more about pop culture and how to be a regular kid (finally finding out about Nirvana when grunge is at its peak), Will learns how to care about someone other than himself.
One Day (Movie Tie-in Edition)
On July 15, 1988, Dexter and Emma meet on the day of their graduation. Although this is their first meeting, they part the day as friends and keep in touch. The novel follows them throughout that same day—July 15th—for the following 20 years as both follow their own paths but stay connected by that one day.
The United States may have gained independence from Britain over 240 years ago, but we have never given up our interest in their culture. From finding the most indie British TV shows on Netflix to seeing blockbusters starring famous Brits such as Benedict Cumberbatch and Colin Firth, people consistently go crazy for British pop culture. Book nerds are obviously included in this trend, so we wanted to share some of our favorite books that will take you across the pond, no umbrella or wellies necessary.