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recommended by I Love Manchester to Norman Warwick

Yesterday we followed Sidetracks and Detours across and around Prestwich, North Manchester, England.  A Recent I Love Manchester newsletter had informed us that the ´village´ I grew up in as a child has now been proclaimed as one the UK´s top twenty places to live. I inserted into that article some self-appointed blue plaques of my greatest childhood achievements and favourite moments.

I didn´t mention the record shop down in the village, with its huge listening booths and I also forgot speak of Luptons a all purpose super store, that now seem to be the site of a nightclub. In the afternoon to what was my debut in the Prestwich under eighteen cricket league when twenty twenty games were played in the evenings against neighbouring teams like Stand, Unsworth and Radcliffe.

My well-meaning Dad took the afternoon off work and called in at Luptons  and bought me a pair of rubber soul cricket boots ! If I had thought he had done so in tribute to the Beatles album that was popular at the time that would have been ok, but I knew that he hadn´t and that rubber soul meant I was deprived of the joy of hearing my own screw in steel studs clatter down the pavilion steps with all my team mates.

Step lightly, for you tread on my dreams.

In my later childhood it was great to know Manchester was only five miles away, which meant that sometimes I could bunk off school whenever the Radio One Roadshow (or whatever it was called then) was in town.

I could get to real concerts at The Band On The Wall and gigs at clubs where groups like The Hollies (a definite Manchester based group) played.

The history and changing face of Manchester can be traced through books, of fact and fiction.

From music, TV and history books to Manc Noir thrillers and young adult fiction, these Manchester books will keep Mancunian bookworms entertained for days.

From music and literature to theatre and politics, the city has produced some of the most influential and creative figures in British culture.

We love reading Manchester books, whether they’re set in our city or written by a local author.

Another recent article in I Love Manchester took a look at some of the best books from Manchester that capture the unique character of the city and its people.

Because when I was growing up in Prestwich I was always aware of ´the Manchester sound´ that sat beside The Mersey Beat sound, I have focussed on books that reveal something about the music and arts scene in 20th and 21st century Manchester..

Tales from the Dance Floor

by Sacha Lord and Luke Bainbridge (left)

Photo credit: Greater Mancunians Project

Sacha Lord, who has co-founded some of the biggest music events in the world, including The Warehouse Project and Parklife Festival, will reveal behind-the-scenes accounts and exposés, including never-before-heard hair-raising stories on his early promoter years at seminal Manchester clubs like Sankeys, Home, The Haçienda and Paradise Factory.

Recounting three decades of untold stories spanning Lord’s career, the book is a journey through the meteoric rise of Manchester’s house music scene that transformed the city into the capital of nightlife that it is today.

“Like most Mancunians my age, my life is a tale of two cities,” says Sacha Lord. “Then and now. It has been the very best of times, and there has also been the worst of times – often in the same week, sometimes in the same night! Manchester really has been the making of me, and it has so much to answer for.

“I’ve been shot at in a drive-by shooting, bundled into a car by gangsters and had death threats. I’ve been sued and broke, I’ve had to deal with an army of rats who were high on cocaine, had £130,000 stolen in an armed robbery and been targeted by a Romanian organised crime gang

“In the past 30 years, my generation has witnessed a musical revolution, as electronic music went from being a niche genre to arguably the biggest music genre in the world. I’ve been lucky to have been in the eye of the storm of this musical and cultural revolution – to have some of the most incredible life-affirming experiences, to meet most of my musical heroes and to have thrown some of the biggest parties this country has ever seen, and I’m excited to reveal all in this book.”

The book is co-authored with best-selling author Luke Bainbridge and is published by Harper North, an imprint of Harper Collins Publishers.

Mancunians by David Scott

Mancunians by David Scott is a book that explores the unique character of the people of Manchester.

In the late 1990s, Manchester was a city in upheaval.

The devastation of the IRA bomb and the closure of the infamous Haçienda nightclub were seismic events that rocked the city’s confidence at a time when identikit bands were flooding its clubs and bars, fuelled on anthemic guitar rock and swagger.

Stereotypes were everywhere, while the spirit of Manchester was silently suffocating. Mancunians: Where do we start, where do I begin? is the story of those who didn’t fit the typecast: the musicians of colour, the football fans alienated by rampant commercialism, frustrated public figures, optimistic developers, and ambitious artists.

Through a mixture of memoir and interviews with well-known Mancunians such as Guy Garvey, Tunde Babalola, Sylvia Tella, Badly Drawn Boy, and Stan Chow, David Scott portrays the city at the turn of the century in a way never seen before

(left) Manchester, England: The Story of the Pop Cult City by Dave Haslam

Manchester, England: The Story of the Pop Cult City is a book written by Dave Haslam, which chronicles the city’s cultural and musical history.

The book explores Manchester’s music scene from the 1960s to the present day, highlighting the key artists and movements that have shaped the city’s identity.

The explosion of music and creativity in Manchester can be traced back from Victorian music hall and the jazz age, to Northern Soul and rock and roll, through to acid house and Oasis.

But its roots are in Manchester’s history as a melting pot of popular idealism and dissent, from the industrial revolution on, via film, theatre, comedy and TV.

And for Manchester, read England and the world.

Dave Haslam is uniquely placed to tell this story – Manchester, England is as witty, erudite and passionate as you would expect from a man who can say, again and again, “I was there”.

Like Jon Savage’s England’s Dreaming, this is the last word on the abiding centre of 40 years of UK pop culture.

Little Wilson and Big God by Anthony Burgess

Little Wilson and Big God is an autobiographical work by Anthony Burgess, (right) which covers the period of his life from his birth in 1917 to the publication of his first novel in 1956.

The book explores Burgess’s early years in Manchester, his experiences during World War II, and his struggles as a writer.

Burgess provides a frank and often humorous account of his life, and offers insights into his creative process and the themes that would come to define his work.

Little Wilson and Big God is a compelling read for anyone interested in Burgess’s life and the influences that shaped his writing.

Mancunia by Michael Symmons Roberts (left)

Mancunia is a poetry collection by Michael Symmons Roberts that explores the history, culture, and identity of Manchester, England.

Through a series of lyrical and evocative poems, Roberts reflects on the city’s industrial past, its vibrant music scene, and the unique character of its people.

Mancunia is both a real and an unreal city.

In part, it is rooted in Manchester, but it is an imagined city too, a fallen utopia viewed from formal tracks, as from the train in the background of De Chirico’s paintings.

In these poems we encounter a Victorian diorama, a bar where a merchant mariner has a story he must tell, a chimeric creature – Miss Molasses – emerging from the old docks.

There are poems in honour of Mancunia’s bureaucrats: the Master of the Lighting of Small Objects, the Superintendent of Public Spectacles, the Co-ordinator of Misreadings. Metaphysical and lyrical, the poems in Michael Symmons Roberts’ seventh collection are concerned with why and how we ascribe value, where it resides and how it survives.

Mancunia is – like More’s Utopia – both a no-place and an attempt at the good-place. It is occupied, liberated, abandoned and rebuilt.

Capacious, disturbing and shape-shifting, these are poems for our changing times

He also touches on contemporary issues such as urban renewal, immigration, and social inequality.

Mancunia offers a powerful and nuanced portrait of one of England’s most dynamic and fascinating cities, and is a must-read for anyone who loves Manchester or is interested in the intersection of poetry and place.

The Manchester Man remains a classic of Victorian literature and a fascinating window into the history of one of England’s most important cities.

Manchester: Looking for the Light Through the Pouring Rain by Kevin Cummins

Manchester, its bands, its fashions, its attitude, has defined pop culture for the best part of four decades. Joy Division, The Fall, Buzzcocks, New Order, The Smiths, Happy Mondays, Stone Roses, Oasis. These were the bands that shaped two generations of teenagers and changed the course of pop music.

Manchester: Looking for the Light through the Pouring Rain is a portrait of these individuals, the city, and their times. Whether it be on a rain-soaked stage in Brazil, a rented room in Whalley Range, or on the dancefloor of the legendary Hacienda, Kevin Cummins’ exquisite photographs capture the anarchic energy of the Manchester pop moment.

This stunning visual record of the city and its pop history is complemented by four textual contributions from Paul Morley, Stuart Maconie, Gavin Martin and John Harris. What is it about that city that makes it the Memphis of the UK? Cummins’ photographic record of the past 30 years captures the highs, the lows and the transcendent pop moments of Manchester’s most famous sons.

Manchester Unspun by Andy Spinoza

Manchester Unspun by Andy Spinoza is a book that explores the rich history and culture of Manchester. 

At the end of the 1970s, Manchester seemed to be sliding into the dustbin of history.

Today the city is an international destination for culture and sport, and one of the fastest-growing urban regions in Europe.

This book offers a first-hand account of what happened in between. Arriving in Manchester as a wide-eyed student in 1979, Andy Spinoza went on to establish the arts magazine City Life before working for the Manchester Evening News and creating his own PR firm.

In a forty-year career he has encountered a who’s who of Manchester personalities, from cultural icons such as Tony Wilson to Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson and influential council leaders Sir Richard Leese and Sir Howard Bernstein.

His remarkable account traces Manchester’s gradual emergence from its post-industrial malaise, centring on the legendary nightclub the Haçienda and the cultural renaissance it inspired. through to Oasis (right)

Manchester unspun begins in the gloom of a city still bearing the scars of the Second World War and ends among the shiny towers of an aspiring twenty-first-century metropolis. It is an insider’s tale of deals done, government and corporate decision-making, nightclubs, music and entrepreneurs.

While We Were Getting High: Britpop and the 90s

Photographer Kevin Cummins documented the rise and fall of Cool Britannia – and his book discusses its legacy with key players.

Kevin spent the 90s as chief photographer at NME, and While We Were Getting High is a nostalgic look back at the Britpop era through hundreds of striking photos – many never seen before.

Nostalgic, anarchic and featuring contributions from icons of the Britpop era including Noel Gallagher and Brett Anderson, While We Were Getting High is a seminal portrait of a decade like no other.

I Wanna Be Yours by John Cooper Clark

The Bard of Salford has had an extraordinary life, filled with remarkable personalities: from Nico to Chuck Berry; Bernard Manning to Linton Kwesi Johnson; Elvis Costello to Gregory Corso; Mark E. Smith to Gil Scott Heron and Joe Strummer and on to more recent fans and collaborators like Alex Turner, Plan B and Guy Garvey.

And now, aged 71, John Cooper Clarke (left) has written his first memoir, interspersed with stories of his rock’n’roll and performing career and named after one of his most famous poems, I Wanna Be Yours.

It’s a memoir fizzing with John’s trademark wit and wicked humour, revealing an incredible career which starts in Salford, spans five decades and as many continents, and features an incredible cast of characters along the way.

The final recommendation from I Love Manchester brought back happy memories for me. I wrote yesterday about my childhood blue-plaque days in Prestwich, (on the Northern outskirts of the overspill). I referenced two local pubs on our road, The Coach and Horses and The Welcome Inn. My Dad and Grandad used to sing-for-the-hat to the regulars, who in those days included Bernard Youens and Peter Adamson, two of the stars of the soaps early year.

Forty years later I was commissioned to interview a couple of the contemporary stars, Jane Danson and Kevin Kennedy live at the Rochdale Literature And Ideas Festival. Each of them, in their interviews, engaged fully with an audience of around three hundred and more.

A few years before that I had worked with Julie Goodyear (Bet Lynch) to present a winners cheque to a couple who had won The Reader´s Digest giveaway prize. Julie had dressed up for the occasion and seemed to be wearing thousands of pounds worth of clothes and jewellery, (as she would be later hosting a special dinner party for the couple at Manchester´s Midland Hotel. As the barmaid at The Rover´s Return she was of a somewhat shabbier glamour, of course. Nevertheless, as she stepped out of the hired limousine and trod out on to the red carpet laid out for her, she looked like a consummate catwalk model as she sashayed across to the petrified couple awaiting her. The Coronation Street theme tune was playing from The Reader´s Digest store, then in The Royal Exchange. As I accompanied Julie on that short walk I will never forget that a little old lady in pacamac and a plastic hat, notwithstanding Julie´s poise and pezzaz , shouted out in glee, ¨Eeh Bet love, tha looks just like tha does on telly.´!

60 Years of Coronation Street

Celebrating the show’s diamond anniversary later this year, 60 Years of Coronation Street is an exhaustive, compelling and entertaining history packed full of features and long forgotten photos.

The book takes readers through every year with a unique timeline that highlights key plot lines and significant production events, accompanied by interviews with key actors, producers and production staff.

A special section on the show’s creator, Tony Warren, details how the programme evolved from page to screen and is illustrated with rare imagery and artefacts from his own archive.

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