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Top 8 Books about Manchester

Top 8 Books about Manchester 

They say that books let you travel without moving your feet. In the case of Manchester, not everyone gets the pleasure of flying to this great city and enjoying all that it has to offer. 

If you’re planning on travelling to Manchester, it’s best to read some of the top books that talk about the great city. Some of the best books about Manchester are Manchester Music City, The Manchester Man, and The Road To Wigan

There are tons more phenomenal books that I want to recommend to you, and they also happen to be a few of my favourite reads if I have the time. Check out these amazing Mancunian novels to know more about the Great City! 

1. Manchester: A History by Alan Kidd 

Manchester A History by Alan Kidd's Homepage
Where to buy:Amazon, ThriftBooks, AbeBooks
Price range:• Paperback: £13-£18
• Hardcover: £25-£32
• Kindle eBook: £11-£15
Our rating:★★★★☆

First on our list of the best books about Manchester is Alan Kidd’s Manchester: A History, which talks about the amazing story of how the great city came to be! 

In my opinion, this book is an incredibly detailed and informative read. Kidd takes the reader on a journey through Manchester’s rich history (Row 200, What is the history of Tib Street Manchester?), from its Roman origins to its present-day status as a vibrant cultural hub. 

What I appreciated most about the book is that it not only provides an overview of major historical events (Row 587, corporate events Manchester), but also delves into the lives of ordinary people who lived through these events and how they were affected.

Another thing that stood out to me was how Kidd highlights Manchester’s role in the Industrial Revolution. As a major centre of industry, Manchester was transformed from a small town into a bustling metropolis in just a few short decades. 

Kidd’s descriptions of the city’s factories, mills, and warehouses provide a vivid picture of what life was like during this period.

What’s also fascinating is how Kidd explores the impact of politics and social movements on Manchester’s history. 

From the Peterloo Massacre to the suffragette movement, Manchester has been at the forefront of many pivotal moments in British history. Kidd does an excellent job of highlighting the role that Manchester played in these events.

2. The Manchester Compendium by Ed Glinert 

The Manchester Compendium by Ed Glinert's Homepage
Where to buy:Amazon, ThriftBooks, AbeBooks
Price range:• Paperback: £10-£15
• Hardcover: Unavailable
• Kindle eBook: £5-£8
Our rating:★★★★☆

The Manchester Compendium by Ed Glinert is a delightful collection of fascinating and quirky stories about Manchester’s history and culture. It’s the kind of book you can dip in and out of, and each time you do, you’ll discover something new and intriguing about the city.

Covering a wide range of topics, from music and sports to architecture and notable residents, the book weaves together stories from different periods of Manchester’s history to create a rich and engaging tapestry of the city’s past and present. 

It’s also full of interesting and little-known facts, and the book is a charming and entertaining read that will appeal to anyone who wants to learn more about what the Great City once used to be and how it developed into the big town it is today!

Short highlights of the book include the famous ‘Hacienda’ nightclub which was once a yacht showroom, or that Manchester was once home to a ‘midget village’. Glinert’s writing is lively and engaging, and he clearly has a deep affection for the city and its people.

What I particularly enjoyed about the book is how Glinert puts together little anecdotes from his personal life-story and integrates them well in the book— one I would personally appreciate as a rooted Mancunian!

3. The Road to Wigan Pier by George Orwell 

The Road to Wigan Pier by George Orwell's Homepage
Where to buy:Amazon, ThriftBooks, AbeBooks
Price range:• Paperback: £6-£10
• Hardcover: £12-£20
• Kindle eBook: £0.99-£7
Our rating:★★★★★

I know, it’s technically not a book that solely talks about Manchester, but it does have significant mentions that I believe are worth looking into. 

The Road to Wigan Pier is a book by George Orwell that documents the living conditions of working-class people in the industrial towns of northern England, including Wigan. While the book primarily focuses on Wigan, it also discusses other towns in the region, including Manchester.

According to the book, In Manchester— as in Wigan— the working-class population often lived in cramped and unsanitary conditions, with whole families often sharing one room. 

Wages were low and working conditions were harsh, with long hours and dangerous machinery. Yet despite these difficulties, the people of Manchester persevered, forming tight-knit communities and creating their own unique culture.

Just like his previous works, this book is idealistic and looks at the harsh environments set by the early ages when the industrial revolution just started. 

Famous for his political commentary, The Road to Wigan Pier is a deep dive to the culture of the UK— and that includes Manchester for the most part during that era which is why I included this on the list. 

4. The North Will Rise Again: Manchester Music City 1976-1996 by John Robb

The North Will Rise Again Manchester Music City 1976-1996 by John Robb's Homepage
Where to buy:Amazon, ThriftBooks, AbeBooks
Price range:• Paperback: £11-£13
• Hardcover: £13-£15
• Kindle eBook: £6-£8
Our rating:★★★★★

As one of my personal favourite Mancunian-centric books, The North Will Rise Again: Manchester Music City 1976-1996 by John Robb is a fascinating piece that chronicles the rise of the greater city in the musical world. 

Moreover, it details the rapid growth of the music industry and its cultural influence in Manchester during the late 20th century. Written by musical journalist John Robb, this book also provides insight into the engaging account of the key bands, venues, and media personalities that helped reshape Manchester’s sound identity. 

To know more about the author, John Robb is a native Mancunian who has deep knowledge and passion for the greater city’s music scene as you can see his writing shine through the pages. 

He provides vivid descriptions and important information of legendary bands like The Smiths, The Stone Roses, and Joy Division which are all either Mancheters formed, or the artists are from the city itself. 

However, the book is not just about the music entirely. Robb also delves deeper into the political and social context that makes the Manchester music scene stand apart from different places around the world and how it emerged by exploring issues like Thatcherism and social unrest. 

He also shared several insights like venues and clubs that you can visit to experience live music and what Robb is talking about in the book. There are also relatively obscure and underrated musicians he addressed in his work like The Hacienda and The Boardwalk— both of which I have learned more by reading his book! 

5. The Manchester Man by Isabella Varley Banks

he Manchester Man by Isabella Varley Banks' Homepage
Where to buy:Amazon, ThriftBooks, AbeBooks
Price range:• Paperback: £8-£10
• Hardcover: £20-£25
• Kindle eBook: £0-£2
Our rating:★★★★★

The Manchester Man is arguably one of the most interesting books I’ve read lately. Varley Banks delivered an awe-inspiring novel that tells a story of Jabez Clegg in her amazing title: The Manchester Man. 

More unique compared to the other entries on my list, The Manchester Man takes a deep dive into the world of Manchester during the 19th century. 

This book is written with details and insights about the fascinating period which include all facets in the community like the social, political, and economic factors that drove Manchester to what it is today.

She captures the essence of Manchester’s bustling streets, its diverse communities, and its rapidly changing landscape, as the Industrial Revolution transforms the city into a centre of industry and innovation.

But the heart of the book is its portrayal of Jabez Clegg, a complex and fascinating character who embodies the struggles and triumphs of Manchester’s working-class residents. 

Banks deftly weaves together elements of romance, social commentary, and political history, creating a compelling and unforgettable story that will stay with readers long after they’ve finished the book.

6. Manchester: Making the Modern City by Alan Kidd and Terry Wyke 

Manchester Making the Modern City by Alan Kidd and Terry Wyke's Homepage
Where to buy:Amazon, AbeBooks
Price range:• Paperback: £15-£20
• Hardcover: £40-£55
• Kindle eBook: £13-£15
Our rating:★★★★★

While the other books on this list take us back to the past and how Manchester came to be, Alan Kidd and Terry Wyke made a comprehensive overview of the greater city’s modern developments through their work Manchester: Making the Modern City

Personally, I believe there are more interesting reads on this list alone, but the book provides such important notices to our fellow Mancunians that I had to include it here. 

The book basically covers a wide range of topics including the architecture (Row 22, architecture firm Manchester), politics, and economics of Manchester in the modern age. It also includes a fascinating deep dive into the city’s past and present with more emphasis on the latter. 

As a lifelong Mancunian— and proud to be one— I commend this book for enhancing my experience travelling around Manchester and appreciating the big cityscapes, rich culture, and ambient atmosphere this great city has always provided to everyone. 

In essence, Manchester: Making the Modern City is a must-read for both Mancunians and tourists alike. 

The authors’ passion bleeds out of the pages and their well-researched work is more than enough to help you learn more about the greater city in hopes to inspire you to love it even more! 

7. This Is The Place: The Inspiring Poems and Stories of Manchester by Tony Walsh 

This Is The Place The Inspiring Poems and Stories of Manchester by Tony Walsh's Homepage
Where to buy:Amazon
Price range:• Paperback: £10-£12
• Hardcover: £18-£20
• Kindle eBook: £6-£8
Our rating:★★★★★

Officially called This is The Place: Choose Love, Manchester is a series of stories combined into one book. What I love about Tony Walsh’s anecdotal anthology is that they represent what makes Manchester unique and great to begin with. 

This is The Place: Choose Love, Manchester is a powerful and moving book that captures the spirit of resilience and unity that emerged in Manchester after the devastating terrorist attack at the Manchester Arena in 2017. 

As a Mancunian, I was terribly affected by the unfortunate events that occurred during that tragic night, and this book helps me strengthen my beliefs and compassion that emerged in the wake of the terrorist attack. 

The contributions from these amazing authors and artists are raw and impactful which captures the pain and grief of those sadly affected by the catastrophe— but it also gave rise to the hope and determination that rose in the aftermath.

More about the book, its title is taken from an English poem by Tony Walsh himself that became the rallying cry for those in the wake of the attack. 

The poem celebrates the city’s rich history, culture, and it’s the people themselves who serve as the reminder that the greater city is built upon resilience and valiance; courage and love. 

What’s even more amazing about this book is it was also released as a single! It’s now available on Apple Music, Spotify, and YouTube! 

In my opinion, this book should be on the top of my list. But depending on what you’re looking for, this one is a great centrepiece to your collection of Manchester books. 

It is packed with several stories, poems, and artistic prose that should interest anyone who wants to learn more about the city.  

8. Manchester: The Hidden History by Michael Nevell 

Manchester The Hidden History by Michael Nevell's Homepage
Where to buy:Amazon, The History Press, AbeBooks
Price range:• Paperback: £13-£15
• Hardcover: £25-£30
• Kindle eBook: £10-£12
Our rating:★★★★★

The last book in our long list of amazing Manchester stories is Michael Nevell’s Manchester: The Hidden History. This book is a one-of-a kind novel that brushes upon the lesser-known aspects of the great city’s history.

I found this book to be both engaging and incredibly informational where you can see every detail of the obscure insights Manchester has gone through. 

To give you an example, my favourite story from this book was the Chetham’s Library Ghost which is known to be the oldest public library in the English-speaking world. 

It was founded in 1653 and legend has it that this said establishment is haunted by the ghost of a merchant known as Humphrey Chetham. 

According to said tidbit, the ghost appears as a darkly shadowy figure who wears a hat and a cape and is said to roam around the library’s reading section. A lot of Mancunians also claim that his presence is felt over the years and still remains relevant in today’s time. 

This is only one very good example of tha tales you will find in this book, and I can attest that it has to be one of the most detailed and interesting reads about Manchester you can find— alongside many others on this list that I recommended myself! 

Manchester The Hidden History by Michael Nevell

As I’ve said, books are incredible timepieces that let you travel through space and time without ever needing to fly or get into a fancy contraption that science fiction movies can only deem possible. 

Having read these books, I can fully attest that you should definitely have a quick read on either one or a few of them to know more about Manchester— I for one have throughout the years due to buying these amazing reads! 

For more information about Manchester, its cultural books, and how to travel here; visit Master Manchester for the best blogs and insights from the most intricate and careful writers you can’t find elsewhere. 

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