Genre: Social History

Essays by George Orwell

Posted August 15, 2016 in Book Review / 0 Comments

Essays by George OrwellGeorge Orwell: Essays (Penguin Modern Classics) by George Orwell
Published by Penguin on January 2nd 2014
Genres: Fiction, General, Literary, Non-Fiction, Political, Short Stories (single author), Social History
Pages: 466
Format: Paperback
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This outstanding collection brings together Orwell’s longer, major essays and a fine selection of shorter pieces that includes My Country Right or Left, Decline of the English Murder, Shooting an Elephant and A Hanging.
With great originality and wit Orwell unfolds his views on subjects ranging from the moral enormity of Jonathan Swift’s strange genius and a revaluation of Charles Dickens to the nature of Socialism, a comic yet profound discussion of naughty sea-side picture postcards and a spirited defence of English cooking. Displaying an almost unrivalled mastery of English plain prose style, Orwell’s essays challenge, move and entertain.

I have always enjoyed Orwell’s writing. Like many people, Nineteen Eighty Four is one of my favourite books. But I had never read any of his essays before now. I chose this book specifically for Book Riot’s 2016 Read Harder Challenge and I wasn’t disappointed.

This is a real mix bag of stories. From the short to the long; from diatribes on Charles Dickens to essays on “Bookshop Memories”; this book has it all. Although many of the essays are now 80 or more years old, they still hold a remarkable amount of relevance.

A lot of the writing is founded upon Orwell’s socialist leanings, and many essays cover uncomfortable topics such as war and death. The writing certainly isn’t what you would call “politically correct” in today’s terms, with numerous references to the N-word, C-word and F-word, among others. These are all in context – especially when viewed against the backdrop of the time – however if you’re likely to be offended by such language, then give this book a miss.

It would be a shame to miss out though, as this is a superb collection of essays, which are incredibly readable and still very relevant today.

Barrowland: A Glasgow Experience by Nuala Naughton (4/5)

Posted July 19, 2016 in Book Review / 0 Comments

Barrowland: A Glasgow Experience by Nuala Naughton (4/5)Barrowland by Nuala Naughton
Published by Random House on September 12th 2013
Genres: History, General, Social History
Pages: 320
Format: Kindle
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Barrowland: A Glasgow Experience charts the amazing resurrection of the legendary rock concert venue from its humble beginnings as a popular Glasgow dance hall through its commercial decline in the 1960s and beyond until it was reinvented in the early ’80s as a concert venue that remains feted by fans and artistes alike.
This book documents many of the gigs to have been held in the Barrowland, complete with reminiscences about backstage shenanigans and fascinating contributions from many of the musicians who have played there, as well as from fans who cherish memories of unforgettable concerts.
Packed with interviews from the stars of popular music past and present, Barrowland: A Glasgow Experience allows readers to take a trip down memory lane and remember their favourite gigs at the world-famous venue in Glasgow’s East End.

This is a fantastic book!

I appreciate that its appeal is probably somewhat limited – aimed mainly at those who have lived in or near Glasgow in their teens and early twenties, and who frequented the Barrowland as a concert venue.

The book contains a lot of information on the history of the dance hall, the roadies and similar. But the real gems are in the real-life stories from bands, old and new, about their own personal experiences at the Barrowland – both behind the scenes and on-stage.

The book is clearly written by a Barrowland fan – and includes such gems as the complete band listings (with support) since the iconic Simple Minds gig of the 1980’s.

I love this venue, and I loved this book. Anyone who has ever been to the Barrowland should pick up a copy of this ASAP!

(For the record the Levellers was my favourite Barrowland concert, with the Almighty a close second!)