Although traditional media remain a source for book reviews, social media and online sites play an ever-increasing role in how readers choose and discuss books. What can be said about the evolving world of book reviews and recommendations?
A 2013 survey showed that online sources dominate when readers look for recommendations. And, while more than half of survey participants get recommendations from friends, we can speculate that the definition of ‘friends’ now includes people known only through social media – another online source. (You can read more about these surveys here.)
Responding to another question, 20% of readers use only digital sources, while 13% of participants said they did not use online sites. Age also plays a role; younger readers are more likely than older readers to consult online sources.Probing further, the survey revealed that Goodreads, genre fiction blogs, and small book review blogs are the top three digital…
Alison and her mother saw it all from a bedroom window in their house in West Kirby on the Wirral. The whole of Liverpool was ablaze, a line of leaping flames stretching from left to right, as far as eye could see. The year and month were December 1940. Alison,aged seventeen, worked in Birkenhead. At the time, she was deeply shocked by what she saw, so much so that, more than seventy years on, she cannot put words to her feelings.
Roger watched the bombing of the Docks from Crosby. The Germans managed to bomb a big ship containing ammunition, which caught fire and did terrible damage to the Docks. Hundreds of people were killed in Bootle and thousands of homes destroyed, although this was all hushed up because the British didn’t want the Germans to know how successful they’d been. But, he remarked, the Germans only managed to put part of Docks out of action. “Liverpool was too important,” he said, “as there were no other docks or sea terminals on the western side of country and the London docks bombed.” Liverpool just had to carry on so it did. The Pier Head remained standing, also the Liver Building and other commercial properties surrounding it. If you visit Liverpool now, you will see them in their Art Deco splendour, amidst dingy concrete and glass. I’m reminded of that line in In Our Liverpool Home by The Spinners – “Thank God,” said my old man,” the Pier Head’s still there.” Roger, aged fifteen, was dying to ‘get involved’ in the war. Later, he would serve in the merchant navy on Artic Convoys. He also commented on how slow reconstruction of Liverpool was, as many, many politicians came in with many, many ideas, and none gone on with the job.
In happier times, Alison and her grandmother walked the length of the first Mersey Tunnel, from Birkenhead to Liverpool, on the day it was officially opened by Queen Mary in 1934. They became aware of how long it was and how steep in places. Visitors were allowed to buy a piece of black tiling, from those left over from the building of the tunnel.
Alison is my mother-in-law. Roger is her husband. I made a point of speaking to them about these experiences, and wrote them up in Evernote shortly afterwards. It is so important to write down these things, as otherwise history will slip through our fingers like sand. Talk to any elderly people at the present time and they will talk about their experiences of World War 2. Where I live, in Essex, many of the older people I meet used to live in London and experienced the Blitz directly. Some of them were evacuees. The little accounts above lack proper dates and accurate figures but you can find those elsewhere. It’s the impression that counts, the little details, the personal bits which bring the situation alive for historians and writers of fiction alike.
I’ve wanted for a long time to collect together memories like this, events and situations we have experienced ourselves or heard about from our families and friends. I would like to collate them on part of this blog, suitably tagged in WordPress, as a reference point for everyone. Would you send me your anecdotes, not just about World War 2, but about anything historical? We mustn’t let history slip away.