My favourite books 22: Nairn’s London

Nairn’s London by Ian Nairn, revised by Peter Gasson

Published Penguin 1966, 8/6d (with this wonderful cover); this edition 1988, £8.99

The best writing on London architecture, period.  Like Betjeman, Nairn cared, and applied his extensive architectural understanding to write from the heart; but where Betjeman was elegaic or upset, Nairn got passionate and angry.  He appreciated the Chiswick flyover and Eros House (Catford) as well as Westminster Abbey and the Banqueting House.  Whether or not you know the buildings and districts Nairn describes, his prose makes the read worthwhile – and the photographs are excellent.

This updated edition followed Nairn’s tragically early death (he was 53), and is printed on excellent heavy paper.  Another update is overdue.