In October 2017, British television station W — which doles out daily helpings of Cherry Healy documentaries and episodes of Masterchef Australia revealed the results of a survey conducted into what exactly it is that we here in the UK think of as our favourite “simple pleasure.” A “kiss and cuddle” hit the top spot, with laughing, doing good deeds, and hearing from an old friend also making it into the list. Ergo, if we believe W and all who voted, the best things in life really are free. Except they missed one important simple pleasure: getting free books.
Pass us a tatty pamphlet about pesticides in the Australian outback and we’ll read it; stuff a ratty copy of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time into our coat pocket and the chances are we’ll while away a bus journey with it. If you can count those promotional catalogues Lidl leaves by the till, then yep, that’s another source of free reading material that we can’t refuse.
So imagine how excited we were when independent publisher Verso told us we could have a free downloadable copy of historian Robert Hewison’s Cultural Capital: the Rise and Fall of Creative Britain, a 2014-published study into how “creative Britain lost its way.”
It’s only available until 3PM today (19 September 2018) so if you’re stuck for something to read while you eat a hoisin duck wrap at your desk today, why not tuck into a book that explores how, from “Cool Britannia and the Millennium Dome to the Olympics and beyond, how culture became a commodity, and how target-obsessed managerialism stifled creativity.”
Verso is aiming the giveaway at students about to start, or continue, their academic lives, but that’s not to say that only the lucky recipients of loans and grants can get their grubby mitts on this startling, and sober, book.
Read it, then write to tell the author that, actually, creativity is still thriving here on this little island, despite the difficulties, and set-backs, and financial restrictions.