Age of Austerity, 1945-1951. Edited by Michael Sissons and Philip French.
Hodder & Stoughton, 1963; this edition Penguin, 1964.
An early entry into the ground now tilled so effectively by David Kynaston and others. On the sixtieth anniversary of the Festival of Britain, a look back to the time when we never had it so bad.
The Life and Times of Private Eye, 1961-1971: edited by Richard Ingrams
Published by Allen Lane The Penguin Press, 1971
Last night’s Heath/Wilson documentary on BBC Four was a reminder of a different, half-forgotten world. The first comprehensive Eye anthology documents that era rather better than Crossman.
Vile Bodies by Evelyn Waugh
Published Chapman & Hall, 1930; this edition Penguin, 1974.
Sometimes, paperback publishers get the “look” of an author spot-on, and the Bentley/Farrell/Burnett covers for Penguin’s Evelyn Waugh edition in the 1970s are as right today as they were forty years ago. (Pan’s James Bond covers in the 1960s are another never-bettered example.)
Vile Bodies is a brilliant social and political satire. Forget the witless movie adaptation, and devote an afternoon to the too divine original.
English Shops and Shopping: Kathryn A Morrison
Paul Mellon/Yale University Press, 2003
300 beautifully printed, magnificently illustrated and well-written pages, detailing the history of English shops. Starts at ancient market places, but rapidly gets stuck into department stores, chains, shopping centres and the rest. The great brands – Boots, Woolworth, M&S, Sainsbury, WH Smith, Burton – are fully covered.
Awopbopaloobop Alopbamboom by Nik Cohn
Weidenfeld & Nicolson 1969; this edition: Paladin 1970
One of the finest books ever written about pop music – vigorous, pithy and highly opinionated. Like the very best of pop, it is ephemeral and immediate, but has lasting quality.
Following the Waterstone’s announcement, we’ll have to go with this one today:
Reluctant Capitalists: Bookselling and the Culture of Consumption – Laura J Miller
University of Chicago Press, 2006/2007
A dense and – at five years old – historic text.
Then We Came To The End: Joshua Ferris
Little, Brown (New York), 2007; this edition: Penguin, 2008
Something a little more contemporary. This is lighter (and better) than “The Unnamed”, with plenty of dark humour – the story of an ad business slowly failing, and how this plays out among employees. A great, pertinent read with a style we really got into.