Book Briefs

Issue section: 

Ned Kelly - Top Tens - Footballers Recommend Good Reads - New Books on Blake, Shakespeare and Che Guevara - Book Club - Review a Book!

Gripping adventure. Raw class politics. A tale that will move you to tears. What better antidotes could there be when you get home from a stressful day at work. You certainly won't find it on the TV. I've been bowled over listening to Peter Carey's fictionalised account of the life of the outlaw Ned Kelly, The True History of the Kelly Gang, on audio tape. It is the perfect way to unwind and at the same time get some inspiration. I had already read the excellent novel by Peter Carey, but the tape brings the story alive in a new and gripping way. Highly recommended. There is a huge range of audio books available, including many political works as well as popular novels.

You may be sick of those endless 'top ten' shows. But I've come across some 'top tens' worth looking at on the Guardian Unlimited website. There's a diverse selection, with comments on each book. My favourite was from children's author and poet Michael Rosen. He's picked ten brilliant books for all ages. They include the children's nursery rhymes and stories Each Peach Pear Plum by Janet and Allan Ahlberg. Gulf by Robert Westall is a story for teenagers about how an English boy identifies with a boy in Iraq during the 1991 Gulf War. And he's also chosen Eric Williams' brilliant Capitalism and Slavery. As Mike comments, 'Where did James Watt get the money to develop his steam engine? From slavery.'

If you're looking for inspiring reading suggestions, you probably wouldn't automatically ask top football players. But maybe your assumptions will be shaken up by some of the choices of top players, who have been nominating their favourite books to promote a literacy scheme. They include George Eliot's Silas Marner (Lucas Radebe from Leeds United), George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four (Middlesbrough's Colin Cooper), Jack London's The Call of the Wild (Kasey Keller from Tottenham) and Nelson Mandela's Long Walk to Freedom (Les Ferdinand from Leicester City).

There are some great new books to look out for at the end of this month. Redwords are continuing their series of radical portraits with Judy Cox writing on William Blake and Michael Rosen on William Shakespeare, £5.99 each. Also look out for a new book on Cuba by Socialist Review contributor Mike Gonzalez called Che Guevara and the Cuban Revolution. For more details contact Bookmarks bookshop on 020 7637 1848 or go to

Socialist Review Book Club is launched! Our first meeting is Friday 28 May. We will be discussing Purple Hibiscus - the first novel by a young Nigerian teacher, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, which has been shortlisted for the Orange women's book prize. Why not come along? Everyone is welcome - even if you haven't had a chance to read the book as we'll also be discussing future ideas. What better way to kick off the bank holiday weekend? 7pm, Friday 28 May, Bookmarks Bookshop, 1 Bloomsbury Street, London WC1.

Is there a brilliant book that you want to let everyone know about? Then let us know. Or why not follow the example of Socialist Review reader Andrew Fullwood? He sent us a great short review of books that he'd come across at his local bookshop. Please keep e-mailing me with your comments, suggestions and reviews at