Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Books v. Cigarettes” as Want to Read:
Books v. Cigarettes
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Books v. Cigarettes

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  3,676 ratings  ·  291 reviews
Beginning with a dilemma about whether he spends more money on reading or smoking, George Orwell's entertaining and uncompromising essays go on to explore everything from the perils of second-hand bookshops to the dubious profession of being a critic, from freedom of the press to what patriotism really means.
Paperback, 126 pages
Published August 7th 2008 by Penguin (first published 1946)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Books v. Cigarettes, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Books v. Cigarettes

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.92  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,676 ratings  ·  291 reviews

Sort order
Oct 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This slim volume contains six essays which may make you smile, possibly make you sad and will certainly make you think. Orwell muses on how much he spends on books, recollects his time working in a bookshop and on being seriously ill in a Paris hospital, considers the merits of book reviewing, the censorship of literature, patriotism and his joyless time spent as a scholarship boy at prep school.

Most of these articles were published in the late 1930’s to mid 1940’s, but they still have amazing
J. Watson (aka umberto)
Sep 25, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: essays
Reading these seven essays in “Books v. Cigarettes” by George Orwell was like a revisit to a familiar, entertaining and inspiring author whose fame has long been admired by his readers having read his “Animal Farm”, “Nineteen Eighty-Four”, “Down and Out in Paris and London”, etc., to name but a few. The stories in this book are the following:
Books v. Cigarettes
Bookshop Memories
Confessions of a Book Reviewer
The Prevention of Literature
My Country Right or Left
How the Poor Die
Such, Such Were the Jo
Jacob Overmark
Jun 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
7 essays by the pen of George Orwell, 4 of these about literature, one way or the other.

“I possess books that do not strictly speaking belong to me, but many other people also have books of mine: so that the books I have not paid for can be taken as balancing others which I have paid for but no longer possess.”
This is most likely the case for many of us …

Sharp and witty “Uncle George” takes us through the different aspects of the UK book life mid-20th century.
That is seen through the eyes of a
Diane Barnes
Mar 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Slim book containing six essays by George Orwell. His writing is clear and concise and can certainly make you think.
For example, in spending time in a Paris hospital for poor people:
"I think it's better to die violently and not too old. People talk about the horrors of war, but what weapon has a man invented that even approaches in cruelty some of the commoner diseases? 'Natural death', almost by definition, means something, slow, smelly, and painful".

Like I said, he makes you think.
Sep 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing
A small collection of essays by the wonderful master of the sentence, George Orwell. I think he's one of the great craftmen of the written word. I can see why he's idolized by hack journalists (some of you know who I am thinking of), yet never mastered.

Since i work at a bookstore I totally tuned in to his essay about working at a bookstore. The dust is still a problem, but unlike him I stayed at the job. Smelling the dust and still loving the sexual beast that are books.

The last piece is about
Jul 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: angleterre, oceanie

Parfois, certains livres nous font voyager dans nos souvenirs simplement en les regardant: c'est le cas de celui-là. J'ai l'ai acheté dans une librairie hippie de l'île de Waieheke, en face de Auckland en Nouvelle-Zélande; un pays superbe dont la nature est une des plus amènes en ces terres australes. Là-bas, c'était l'été. Ils étaient plutôt bon marché, et assez maigres pour vaincre mon appréhension. Je voulais améliorer mon anglais étique, mais il fallait faire attention. Là-bas, aux antipodes
Laala Alghata
May 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing
“A child which appears reasonably happy may actually be suffering horrors which it cannot or will not reveal,” George Orwell, Such, Such Were The Joys

I should do a George Orwell month, where I read nothing else. Honestly, I love his writing so much — fiction or essays, no matter.

This edition of mine includes the following essays: Books v. Cigarettes, Bookshop Memories, Confessions of a Book Reviewer, The Prevention of Literature, My Country Left or Right, How The Poor Die and Such, Such Were The
Çağdaş T
Yazarın sağdan soldan toplanmış yazılarından oluşan kimi zaman siyasi kimi zaman da anılarından yola çıkarak oluşturduğu denemeler. Birkaç küçük yazı dışında kitaplarla çok da ilgili olmayan ( sigarayla hiç ilgisiz ) adının neden böyle konduğunu anlayamadığım, Orwell'ı daha yakından tanımak için okunası...
Oct 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
What a wonderful book. Seven essays - all of which are interesting, insightful and readable - and it definitely saves the best until last...

As with so much of his work the final essay, "Such, Such Were The Joys", is an account of Orwell's school days that combines the personal with the polemical. One minute we're reading a wince-inducing account of the brutality of St Cyprians (Orwell's prep school) and the next this meanders into social history, philosophy and a deconstruction of the pre-WW1 c
Adem Yüce
Jan 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
George Orwel'ın deneme kitabı olan bu kitabı insanlar alırken mükemmel bir beklenti içine giriyorlar sebebi 1984 ve Hayvan Çiftliği kitaplarında olan muazzam kurgu ve toplum üstü anlayışın hayranlığıdır bunun sebebi ve biz insanlar edebiyatçıların kurgularında kayboluyorken onların bu kurguyu yaratan hayattaki zorluklarını, acılarını imkan ve imkansızlıklarını hayallerinin yıkılışını, çocukluk tramvalarını biz önemsemiyoruz çünkü biz sadece o an kitabı okurken ki duygularımız ile ilgileniyoruz p ...more
Lyn Elliott
Jul 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Orwell's non- fiction has been among my favourites reading for years, and it is very good to get back into his essays. Once I had the collected works, goodness knows where they are now, and I picked up this short collection of six essays in a London bookshop a few weeks ago.
It's recent re-release, the price printed on the front cover is 3/6 (three shillings and sixpence), which is what it must have cost when it first appeared.
The things he wrote about 70 odd years ago still resonate - the choi
Oct 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Para quem é fã de Orwell, este é um livro a não perder. Ficamos a conhecer bem melhor o escritor por detrás do 1984 e do Animal Farm. Recomendo imenso!
Oct 19, 2016 rated it liked it
Driven mad when friends opt films over books? Wonder why reading is still the realm of the elite, or why Brian Tracy insists wealth production can be determined by the number of books in an entrepreneur's library? So did Orwell... summed up here:

"... It is not a proud record for a country which is nearly 100 per cent literate and where the ordinary man spends more on cigarettes than an Indian peasant has for his whole livelihood. And if our book consumption remains as low as it has been, at leas
Ayşenur Mutluel
Jan 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Eviniz mükemmellikten uzak olabilir; ama en azından korkunun hakim olduğu çevrenizdeki insanlar karşısında sürekli gardınızı almanız bir gereken bir yer değil, sevginin hakim olduğu bir yerdir."

Kitabın yarısından sonra sürekli olarak bir ağlama modunda okudum kitabı. Ey George Orwell sen neler yaşamışsın öyle... :(
Sam Quixote
Feb 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
Books v. Cigarettes is another fine collection of selected essays by George Orwell in the Penguin Great Ideas series, this one focusing on books, literature in harsh political regimes, patriotism, his time in a run-down hospital in France, and his memoirs of going to a private boarding school.

Books v. Cigarettes is a somewhat laborious essay where Orwell explains that working class people read fewer books and choose books over things like cigarettes, beer and gambling, not because the habit is
Feb 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
The only Orwell I have read is Nineteen Eighty Four, and that a have-to-read for O-level English Literature. That was nigh on 40 years ago and recently I've been thinking about reading it again, and more of Orwell. I was having this thought when I bumped into a table in Waterstones bookshop and lying on that table was this gem. What have I been missing over the decades?!

The most appealing thing about this book is its honesty and I'll re-read it for sure.

Books v. Cigarettes is a collection of ess
Aug 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I have never read a book of essays before, and never really intended to read one if I'm being honest. However, every time I went into Waterstones in the last few months, I saw a small pile of Orwell's Books v. Cigarettes on the counter, and had been dying to check it out ever since. I finally succumbed on my second last visit to the store and bought my own copy, and I'm very glad I did.

This slim volume contains seven essays by Orwell. Four of these are book or writing-related, one is war-related
Oct 27, 2013 rated it liked it
Of the seven essays, the two in the middle, 'The Prevention of Literature', which is all about Totalitarianism, intellectual free speech and censorship, and 'My Country Right or Left', all about Patriotism, and governments cynical manipulation of a deeply rooted instinct, both are profoundly important essays, the most important, and remain relevant today. The essay 'How the Poor Die' relays the horrors of being sick in a hospital for the poor in Paris. This is similar to 'Down and out in Paris a ...more
May 31, 2013 rated it liked it
This is a nice small selection of six Orwell essays. I particularly liked 'How the poor die' and 'Such, such were the joys' though I had read it before. These Penguin 'Great Ideas' editions are rather beautiful to look at, but there is a lot of crossover with other Penguin essay collections. So while a book for under £5 seems like a bargain nowadays, the content is a little thinly spread. If you enjoy Orwell and want a pretty book, then buy this one. If you are more about the content, then maybe ...more
Rita Gonzaga
Jan 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Não me recordo de ter lido algo tão humano desde há muito. Um conjunto de crônicas exímias. Uma, em particular, onde Orwell esmiuça a influência da política na literatura. Genial.
Apr 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hoş, akıcı denemelerden oluşan, bir bardak çayla arkadaş sohbeti tadında bir kitap.
Nov 05, 2008 rated it really liked it
I never expected to read this, or really anything by Orwell beyond Animal Farm. But there I was at the bookstore and all the “Penguin Great Ideas” books looked so crisp and pithy that I picked out nine or ten, then forced myself down to six, then to five, then three, of which this was one. This little economics exercise turned out to be pretty relevant considering the topic of the eponymous essay “Books v. Cigarettes.”

I remember my father raving about what a great essay “Such, Such Were the Joy
Jan 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
My already considerable respect for Orwell has increased further after reading his essays. This is maybe not quite as brilliant as Why I Write, but it's still very good. I vehemently agreed with the first essay (Books v Cigarettes) and felt almost unbearable sadness and empathy for Orwell as a small boy in the last one. I'm also constantly impressed that already in the 1940s, he was remarkably clear-eyed about Soviet Union. Incidentally, his thoughts on totalitarianism (and in particular the con ...more
Aug 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
I originally bought this because I loved the edition. In fact, I'd happily have all of the beautiful Penguin Great Ideas series.

This is a collection of Orwell's essays, of which the title is just one. Most are literature-related, although the longest is delves into Orwell (or, at the time, Blair)'s time at Preparatory school.

All are written faultlessly, have dated only through their content, and then only just. You won't get much more genius for your money than buying a book of Orwell essays, an
Mar 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Το βιβλίο αυτό αποτελεί συλλογή διηγημάτων. Τα τρία πρώτα, που αφορούσαν τα βιβλία, μού φάνηκαν τα πιο ενδιαφέροντα, άλλωστε ο τίτλος του βιβλίου ήταν αυτός που με προσέλκυσε από την αρχή. Στα υπόλοιπα διηγήματα, ο συγγραφέας καταγράφει τις σκέψεις του για κάποια θέματα (αυτό με τον πατριωτισμό μού φάνηκε το πιο κουραστικό από όλα), ενώ αλλού μας αφηγείται προσωπικές του αναμνήσεις είτε από το νοσοκομείο, όπου είχε νοσηλευτεί κάποτε, είτε από το οικοτροφείο, όπου ήταν εσώκλειστος κατά την παιδικ ...more
Kitaplar ve Sigaralar’da, George Orwell’ın denemeleri toplanmış. Çoğunluğu kitap üzerine olan denemeler ama yazarın çocukluğundan ya da dünyadaki siyasi gelişmelerden bahsettiği denemeler de var.

Orwell’ın ne kadar kitaba sahip olduğunu hesapladığı bölümde “Ödünç alınan ama geri verilmeyen” ibaresini görünce “Sen de mi Orwell?” dedim. Sonradan kendisinin de birçok kitabını çevresine ödünç verdiğini ama çoğunluğunun geri gelmediğini okuyunca yazarı mazur gördüm :-)

Orwell’la kitaplar üzerine birço
Apr 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Okuması çok keyifli bi kitaptı
Jan 04, 2017 added it
A rather thin but excellent collection of essays containing what might well be the first text on media manipulating and rewriting of history that we now call post-truth. I was mentioning this on the dinner table and what my partner said was "Orwell has only ever written warnings"...
Hard to pick a favourite but his account on what it was to work in a bookshop in Camden and the various characters pestering him was hilarious.
Stephen Kitching
Feb 23, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2011
Recently I have been having trouble finding time to set aside in order to read anything longer than a newspaper. This is a relatively new problem, but the advent of both my work and social life suddenly becoming much busier, a long term girlfriend who I do not see as much as I would like and a commute that has changed from an hour uninterrupted bus ride to a walk-tube-dash, all mean it is a reasonably serious one. If I wasn’t going to fall at the first hurdle of my 52 books in 52 weeks challenge ...more
A very caustic collection of essays written between 1936 and 1946.

Each one is a thorough radiography of pre and post-war English society, including one mini-autobiography since Orwell was 8 years old.

Very powerful and incisive.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Bright Young Things: "Books v. Cigarettes" by George Orwell 75 41 Mar 03, 2014 12:27PM  
  • Thoughts on Peace in an Air Raid
  • Silly Novels by Lady Novelists
  • Of the Abuse of Words
  • We Will All Go Down Fighting to the End
  • The Lamp of Memory
  • On Friendship
  • Days of Reading
  • The Evils of Revolution
  • The Significance of the Frontier in American History
  • Conspicuous Consumption
  • Useful Work versus Useless Toil
  • The Perpetual Race of Achilles & the Tortoise
  • An Image of Africa
  • Travels in the Land of Kubilai Khan (Penguin Great Ideas)
  • On the Nature of War
  • On Conspiracies
  • Why Look at Animals?
  • Into the Looking-Glass Wood: Essays on Books, Reading, and the World
Eric Arthur Blair, better known by his pen name George Orwell, was an English author and journalist. His work is marked by keen intelligence and wit, a profound awareness of social injustice, an intense opposition to totalitarianism, a passion for clarity in language, and a belief in democratic socialism.

In addition to his literary career Orwell served as a police officer with the Indian Imperial
“There are books that one reads over and over again, books that become part of the furniture of one's mind and alter one's whole attitude to life, books that one dips into but never reads through, books that one reads at a single sitting and forgets a week later: and the cost, in terms of money, may be the same in each case.” 12 likes
“The fact is that certain themes cannot be celebrated in words, and tyranny is one of them. No one ever wrote a good book in praise of the Inquisition.” 9 likes
More quotes…