Book Reviews: A Very British Murder, Remake Remodel, & This Is How You Pitch

Hello everyone,

today I’m reviewing three books that, in a way or another, have something to do with the media, a subject I’ve always been very interested in. The first one is from one of my favourite historians, Lucy Worsley. It’s about the British’s fascination with murder, in which the media played a big part. The second is a study on women’s magazine, while the third book is an entertaining manual about how to succeed in the world of PR. Let’s get started:

A Very British Murder by Lucy Worsley
The British have always been fascinated with crime and murder. Although it has always been in their blood (and probably in that of most people, regardless of their nationality), the Ratcliffe Highway Murders of 1811 created an obsession with murder, where panic mixes with morbid attraction, that is still in full swing.
The book begins with an essay, written by Thomas De Quincey, “On Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts” and ends with a discussion based on George Orwell’s piece “The Decline of the English Murder”. In the middle, Worlsey explores real and fictional murders. Famous murderers such as Constance Kent, Maria Manning and Jack the Ripper not only shocked the nation with their actions, but they also provided inspiration for fictional and theatrical works. Wolsey examines how crime literature has changed, from the gruesome “Penny Novels” and the Newgate Novels, which glamourized the lives of criminals, to the rise of the detective’s story, where detectives such as Sherlock Holmes and Poirot, focused on solving the crimes rather than describing them in sensationalist and crude details. But this genre had limitations that eventually led to its decline and the rise of the thriller novel. Each genre, though, developed in a particular time period and Wolsey does a great job at describing why that happened and what their appeal was.
The book also discusses how both types of murder, real and fictional, shaped and changed people’s perceptions and the way crime was dealt with. The author discusses the founding of the police, the use of private detectives, and the forensic discoveries that have made it more and more difficult for criminals to get away with murder.
A book on murder could very easily be gloom, grim and boring. But Wolsey’s chatty and witty style prevents it from being so. Instead, this is a book that, while being respectful of murder and its victims, is entertaining, informative and even thought-provoking. It flows so easily and is just a pleasure to read.
However, this book is not a comprehensive study on murder. If that’s what you’re expecting, you will be disappointed. Instead, it provides an excellent starting point for anyone interested in this topic. It’s also perfect for casual readers interested in a light, non-depressive read about British’s fascination with murder.
Available at: amazon
Rating: 4.5/5

Remake, Remodel by Brooke Erin Duffy
What is a magazine? It seems like a pretty easy, straightforward question to answer, doesn’t it? And yet in this technological age where magazines are moving online, creating apps, TV shows, ecommerce website and lots more, the definition of a magazine as a published print-book guide with a distinct voice and content aimed at a particular audience doesn’t fit anymore. It’s become too limited. So, what’s a magazine, then?
That’s the question Brooke Erin Duffy tries to answer. Drawing on hundreds of studies, trade press reports and interviews with women’s magazine producers, Duffy chronicles how magazines have made the shift from object to brand. The author reveals how new technologies, the rise of fashion bloggers and social media, the increasing pressures of advertisers, and reduced budgets, to name just a few trends, are reshaping the magazine and changing the roles of those who work in the industry. Employers are often asked to be jacks-of-all-trades and work longer hours, while the increased demands for exclusive content, which is highly influenced by both advertisers and SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is sacrificing accuracy, blurring the lines between editorial and advertorial, and inhibiting the creativity of professional workers. Yet, if these new changes bring with them numerous problems, they can also be exciting and open up new opportunities.
The book is a real eye-opener about the women’s magazine industry, but its formal language, which can at times be a bit dry, may put some readers off. But then this is not a book for casual reading. It is a study aimed mainly at those who work or are interested in the media, such as publishers, journalists, bloggers and academics. Also, as the industry is changing at a very rapid pace, some of the trends examined in the book may be outdated in a couple of years or so. Still, Remake, Remodel provides some interesting food for thought in the debate between print vs digital media, and how women’s magazines are affected by it.
Available at: amazon
Rating: 4/5

This Is How You Pitch: How To Kick Ass In Your First Years of PR by Ed Zitron
As a blogger, I’m very interested in the world of PR. Working with a nice PR person is always enjoyable and rewarding, but you also often get some awful pitches that you just want to delete straight away. In this little book, Ed Zitron teaches aspiring PR people how to create a great pitch and send it to the right people so that the message your client wants to convey can smoothly reach its desired audience.
PR isn’t easy. And it is not glamorous. Forget parties, freebies and exclusive events. PR takes a lot of hard work and determination. And you will face many nightmares in your careers. Sooner or later, some of your clients will make a mistake and it will be your job to help them fix it, as well as their tarnished reputations. Easier said than done. The key to success, though, is to be nice to people and care about them. PR, after all, is the business of public relations, and it is the relationships with your clients, your audience, your colleagues, and reporters that you will have to nourish to succeed.
Although very informative, the book is written in a very colloquial and entertaining way. You’ll feel like you’re talking with a friend or colleague about your jobs over a glass of wine. And at the end of the conversation, you’ll leave with a better understanding of the PR world and lots of new ideas of how to get better at your job.
Overall, this is a great book about PR and I highly recommend it not just to those who are starting out in this field, but also to those who have worked in it for some time with only average results, and to anyone else who wants to know about this world.
Available at: amazon
Rating: 4/5

Have you read these books? If so, what do you think of them? If not, will you?

Disclaimer: I received these book in exchange for my honest opinion. In addition, this post contains affiliate links.

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