Decline of the English Murder by George Orwell

Rating: *** (3 out of 5)

Background: Anything with George Orwell as an author is something that interests me, specially if it comes in the form of a charming little Penguin book. Seriously, if for nothing else, these books are worth checking out by their cover designs alone!

This book, like Books v. Cigarettes, is a collection of short essays written by Orwell. While the other one focused more on reading habits and childhood, this one deals mostly with popular English cultures, with the addition of a couple of amusing essays documenting Orwell’s insider investigations.

The essay on popular fascination with crime stories in newspapers (which gives the book its title) was a great read, and so were the investigations (seriously – the author tried really hard to get arrested so he could see what it was like to be in prison, and it’s funny how he complains that he couldn’t stay in prison for longer than two days!). But the essays on weeklies, as well as the one on illustrated postcards, while interesting, seemed far too long and drawn-out, in my opinion.

All in all, a nice read if you like Orwell, though I would recommend you start by reading Books v. Cigarettes.

What’s Next: Penguin’s anniversary edition of 1984 is waiting for me on my to-read pile.

So, I admit. I’m addicted to Penguin’s Great Ideas series. I just can’t seem to pick up anything else if there’s one of these in my to-read pile. They look so small and attractive… Of course, I always end up spending a lot more time reading them than I expected, since they’re usually not fiction. Speaking of fiction, maybe that’s what I’ll read next. Stay tuned.


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