30 September 2011

Book Review: Walk the Lines by Mark Mason

Title: Walk the Lines: The London Underground, Overground
Author: Mark Mason
Publisher: Random House
ISBN: 978-1-847-94653-9
Format: Hardcover
376 pages
Genre: Non-fiction
Source: Publisher

Walk the Lines: The London Underground, Overground is precisely what the book is about. Mark Mason decided to walk the entire length of the London Underground, overground.The author shares details about how he completed his unusual challenge and in the process, he provides a comprehensive view of London that entertains as well as informs.

Starting with the Victoria Line in the first chapter, the author shares tidbits of information such as where you can find Little Ben (a replica of Big Ben),why there are no formal flowerbeds in Green Park, and why the correct tea making etiquette is definitely not pouring milk in first.

In each subsequent chapter, another line is walked and the author reveals more fascinating details about each of the stations he visits and the surrounding area. Along the way, the author discovers all sorts of historical facts and trivia about London. He also explains the origins of place names, and expressions.

Interspersed in his cheerful narrative about the places he visits, the author also writes about various people he meets along the way such as a student as she sets out to do the Knowledge (a special test which all London taxi drivers must complete) and the man behind the original 'mind the gap' voice. The author also delights in sharing snatches of conversations he overhears and observations of people he sees during his walks.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Walk the Lines, and I'm grateful to the publisher, Random House Books, for sending me a copy. The plethora of fascinating details about London and the author's easy-going style make it a lot of fun to read. Every page has another interesting (quirky) fact and all the footnotes are a must-read too. The author's obvious delight when he learned something new and his enthusiasm for the task he set himself is infectious.

Walk the Lines will appeal to everyone who loves London. Whether you live and/or work in London or you are a tourist, this book is for you. It's a perfect book if you are an Anglophile. Indeed, the book has something for everyone. It's not just about walking the lines, it's about maps, language, history, geography, and people. It's about how one man completes his plan to Walk the Lines: The London Underground, Overground and thus reveals a unique perspective of London. An impressive task, and a very entertaining book.


  1. I like the look of this book and have made a note to keep a look out at the library for it. Flighty xx

  2. Hi Flighty, I'm sure you'll enjoy reading it. The author provides so many fascinating details about London.

  3. Added to my list, which never seems to shrink. Thanks for the recommendation.

  4. Hi Marianna,

    It was my pleasure. I'm so pleased you are adding it to your list after reading my review.

    Walk the Lines: The London Underground, Overground is a fascinating and fun book to read. My husband is reading it now and he loves it as much as I did.