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A song and a book to take you there

novels and music where the city is the protagonist

We've had such fun this month travelling around Europe (virtually), and getting cool suggestions from our partner schools for their suggestions for funky tunes which transport you to a place far from home. We've put together a song and a book for some cool locations where the city is the main protagonist in a novel, or the location is at the heart of the music video or lyrics. All the novels are currently in print and available in original language version and in English translation. We hope you enjoy them as much as we have, so get listening and reading.


If this track by the music project Endlich August doesn't bring alive a glorious summer's day in Berlin, nothing will. Thanks to Sophia at our partner school in Berlin for this fabulous find. Upbeat, happy, and super toll!

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This novel by Uwe Timm (Johannisnacht in original German), set in recently reunited Berlin, is an adventure through the city with intrigue and some far out Germanic humour.


This video, chosen by Chris at our partner school in Madrid has passionate Flamenco flashmobs and a musical tour of the whole of the city that never sleeps. Put on your dancing shoes, ¡olé!

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A tale of adventure, tragedy, love and war, with atmospheric descriptions of Madrid, Portugal, and Morocco, María Dueñas' book will transport you in place and time. You can read it as Entre Costuras in the original Spanish.


Chosen by Rafa at our lovely partner school in Granada, this classic, conducted by Andrea Reu, encapsulates the spirit of Andalucía.

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One for the history lovers, this rich love story by Ildefonso Falcones (La Mano de Fátima in original Spanish) is based during the reconquest of Spain in the Kingdom of Granada; the problems of cultural and religious divide echo down the centuries.


Every landmark, and l'esprit de Paris are here, reminding us that even when times are dark, things will definitely get better.

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With apologies to those who had this as an 'A' level set text, this excellent novel by Delphine de Vigan (No et Moi in the original French) has Paris at its heart, featuring as a main character in this tale of a friendship between a gifted teenager and a homeless girl.


Pure nostalgia from Paola at our partner school in Rome in this video, with Bruno Martino's classic Bella Roma.

Alternatively, go for this excellent homage to Italy by the rapper Ghali, born in Italy to Tunisian parents. Rapping is so much cooler in Italian, and is now our new life goal.

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A guide to the realities of modern Italy through the stories of the residents of an apartment building in Rome, this novel by Amara Lakhous is a great read in translation or as Scontro di civilta' per un ascensore in Piazza Vittorio in the original Italian.


Hallo is a catchy track from Austrian rapper Gerard about travelling around the world and finding your way home. This is one for the 'citizens of nowhere'. The video has great footage of beautiful Vienna.

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Set in 1930s Vienna, this insightful coming of age story by Robert Seethaler is set against the rise of fascism in the city, with even a brief appearance by Sigmund Freud. Read it in the original as Der Trafikant.

St Petersburg

A hilarious and raucous song as homage to the nightlife in St Petersburg, this one will definitely make you laugh. A very funny suggestion from our partner school in Russia. За здоровье! (Cheers!)

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With thanks to our partner school in Moscow and St Petersburg, here's a manageable read, and much shorter than War and Peace. Funny and surreal, these stories written by Nikolai Gogol in the 1830s and 1840s are mocking stereotypes of Russian society which will entertain you and still ring true today. Available in the original as Петербургские повести.