Reading list

5 books set in Manchester that will make you want to visit

Whether you’re a seasoned Mancunian, or you’ve never visited, here are five time-honoured books that will show you why Manchester is the city that ‘thinks that a table is for dancing on’

The Mighty Walzer

Howard Jacobson

Oliver Walzer is shy, bookish, Jewish. He doesn’t know how to talk to girls. But he can slice, flick and spin a ping pong ball better than any teenager in Manchester.

This sharp, youthful book won was the winner of the 2010 Man Booker Prize - a Mancunian literary landmark not to be missed. 



Michael Symmons Roberts

Whitbread and Costa Award Winning poet Michael Symmons Roberts brings the city to life, with a fantastical twist. 

Part rooted in real-life Manchester, and part a imagined tainted utopia, Mancunia is a lyrical city - in equal parts disturbing and magical. 

This is a shape-shifting collection full of poems for our changing times.


Mary Barton

Elizabeth Gaskell

"There is always a pleasure in unravelling a mystery, in catching at the gossamer clue which will guide to certainty." 

Of all of Gaskell's novels, Mary Barton is perhaps the most arresting. Set in 1830s Manchester, it follows lower class life among factory workers - in particular the life of Mary, whose affections are being tested in a murder trial that tests her loyalties to the limit. 


Cold Water

Gwendoline Riley

Carmel McKisco is wry, volatile and full of longing: a twenty-year-old girl working nights in a Manchester dive bar.

Cut off from her family, and from Tony, her carefree ex, she forges strange alliances with her customers, and daydreams, half-heartedly, about escaping to Cornwall. 

So Happy It Hurts

Anneliese Mackintosh

'I want to be a good person. And I want to be happy. So happy it hurts. I need you to help me with that.’

Mancunian Millenial Ottila is on a mission to sort her life out - she is thirty now, after all. With varying degree of success, she tries all sorts of remedies and projects - one being a pitch to the Manchester Museum for an 'experimental, interactive' exhibition that showcases artifacts from the romance between her and Thales, the love interest of the novel.

It certainly got us wishing that we could see the artfully titled “Our Love Began With a Coin Touched by Alexander the Great” next time we visit. 


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