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on 7 September 2007
Having watched all Neil Boorman's branded goods go up in flames last year on BBC News 24, I was eager to read his book Bonfire of the Brands. I don't usually read `political' books, but this is a page-turner. It takes a diary form, with personal experiences of his own `de-branding' alongside an analysis of contemporary culture and the history of brands.

There's been so much hype about the book recently that I wasn't sure if it was going to deliver all it promised, but it`s in turn, humorous, candid and thought-provoking. At some level, we are all sucked into consuming products that we don't really need, and although Neil's actions are pretty extreme, there's something to be said for a more moderate approach to buying, especially as the world faces escalating ecological and environmental challenges.
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on 12 December 2013
i did not get far in this book the idea of a brand addicted chap burning his former passion had me thinking donate it all to the charity shop a crass form of self publicity and the book design is so smug
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on 4 June 2015
Rather than just a re-hash of the past 10 years of consumer angst, Boorman's view is built up of a) research and b) a personal test of his beliefs. And there are parts here (in the first quarter and the last third) that are well-written.

Unfortunately, the middle of the book is rather sluggish, and his additional psychotherapy diary summaries would be better in a different context. Even the kernel event is rather forgetful.

Boorman deserves acknowledgement for facing his own anxieties and being honest with colleagues and clients. It's a shame that he didn't get a better editor to help him bring his work to the world.
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on 13 September 2007
Before I read this, I would have said that it would be impossible to lead a brand-free existence (even supermarket own-brand is a brand?), but Neil Boorman seems to have actually done it - right down to making his own toothpaste.

I also needed some persuading to the idea that brands are bad. Surely they just help us make decisions about what to buy? But Neil's painfully honest confessions about how he obsessed over labels has made me question why I buy the things I do ... and made me realise that most of it is a waste of money. We're being sold an unattainable dream rather than a product.

If you're a fan of Alain De Botton's books you'll enjoy the similar way in which Boorman takes complicated ideas (in this case about branding and marketing) and makes them easily understandable - without ever dumbing down.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who has ever spent over £100 on an item of basic clothing (jeans, trainers, handbags..) - you'll laugh-out loud with recognition of brand-anxiety that Neil describes.
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on 24 March 2008
Neil Boorman's infamous bonfire of the brands seems to divide people a little. They either think that burning all his branded possessions is self indulgent and gimmicky, or they think it's an inspired act of rebellion. Personally, I think there's something of the Old Testament prophet about it - a big over-the-top gesture that, love it or hate it, makes its point memorably and gets people talking.

The book itself continues the conversation that the fire started. It reads like a diary, written initially as a blog as Neil prepared for his bonfire. It includes the background of branding, lists of things to burn, sessions with his therapist, and lots of wry reflections on famous brands. The literature of the anti-corporation movement is often a little humourless, and this is a welcome change of perspective as Neil tries to make his own toothpaste, agonizes over throwing away his Ralph Lauren shirts, and laments the loss of his Blackberry. I found lots that made me laugh, and lots that made me think too, adding up to an enjoyable read that has a more serious message than you might expect.
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on 1 October 2012
This was an interesting read, and indeed a journey. I found it thought provoking, and it certainly made me think about my own consumption - which is not comparable to this! Shopping has become a hobby for us as a nation, what would we all rather be doing instead? Provided some good references also, further reading to be done...
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on 20 September 2007
The press coverage around this book has, predictably, focussed on the aspect of him burning his gear. And it's a nice easy one line sell; BUT, beneath this part of the narrative there's a perceptive analysis of the vast business of marketing, branding and over-selling and what it's actually doing to society, both financially and emotionally. It's this material that elevates BOTB above a lengthy (albeit funny and self-deprecating) magazine piece, and gives it real weight and makes it relevant to almost everyone who's ever set foot in a shop. Highly recommended.
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on 6 September 2007
This is a witty, thoughtful and surprisingly personal analysis on the hold that brands have on all of us. You might not agree with Mr Boorman's methods for making his political point - I'm still not convinced that setting fire to his branded possessions was the best way of eliminating them from his life - but his personal journey up to the bonfire is fascinating, and the insights he offers are unexpected and intriguing.
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on 17 September 2010
Mildly interesting to start with (first 20 pages) after which, this book became progressively dull and pointless. You'd think there would be something interesting about burning everything branded that you own, but the author takes readers on a tortuous journey through his demons - which are: "I spend too much money on designer goods" and "I need help with my spending addiction". Nothing in there about consumerism and the effects brands have on us.

Rubbish book, wish I hadn't bought it.
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on 27 March 2008
So Neil Boorman has changed his life and gone 'brand-free' has he? I take it then that this book is not actually published by major publishing house Canongate; that's a printing error is it? Was it written on handmade paper? After all, Boorman couldn't possibly have composed it on a branded PC or Macintosh, could he? And of course his book won't be sold through major high street chains and international web retailers, will it? Its appearance on Amazon must be some kind of computer error which I imagine he's fighting to rectify as we speak. And I'm sure he hasn't spent a penny of the money he's made from it on branded goods - perhaps he burnt all the cash, as he did with all his branded clothes (allegedly).

This book is one long publicity stunt that does nothing to make a serious point about consumerism. Why burn all his branded clothing; why not give it to charity and do something to genuinely help others? There's a simple answer to that question; giving goods to charity helps others, but it doesn't get you a nice fat advance on a book. Not much anti-consumerism about that, is there?
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