Book Review: Air Babylon by Imogen Edwards-Jones & Anonymous

Yes, another Babylon book by Imogen. I don’t know why, but I have really got into these at the moment. Maybe it’s because of my own fruitless job search and these books are about books.

Set in an airport and following employees of a fictional airline, Air Babylon follows the high, lows, the weird and the wonderful events that can take place in an airport as the staff help the young and the elderly, the mad and sometimes the downright ridiculous. All the stories are true, as told to Imogen by Anonymous, a group of industry insiders and take place in one 24 hour period. Only the names have been changed to protect the guilty.

Starting on the ground, Anonymous goes through his shift dealing with various problems and letting the reader follow and explore what happens when someone dies on a flight, how they deal with illegal immigrants, animals being transported in weird and wonderful ways (leading to a chapter in the animal welfare centre), what the chaplaincy service does in the airport and the tricks that passengers try to get free upgrades. There’s also what happens when the rich and famous checks in and flies.

The action then moves into the air, exploring what the captain and first officer does in the cockpit, the tricks that are played on new colleagues, the secrets behind the food on the plane, the entertainment, the different types of passengers and includes, yes, those that want to join the Mile High Club.

There is also a small section that takes place on the ground at the planes destination and what the plane’s crew gets up to during their stopovers. It is very eye-opening.

Just like Hotel Babylon, this book is great fun and is told from the first person perspective. It gives a real insight to the world of air travel post-9/11 and shows just how highly unionised certain jobs and groups within the airport have become. It has the same share of shocks and surprises, amusement and sadness, the funny and the truly crazy that Hotel had. Again, this is the sort of book that would be very appropriate to read in an airport and on a plane…or maybe not!

This is also very interesting and provides a great look at an industry that is often seen as glamorous and very appealing to people to work in and gives the real story of how things work. For anyone wanting to work in the industry or is just interested, this would be a great read for all.

Unlike Hotel, I had a few issues with this book. First off, the swearing again. Far too much in my opinion. Secondly, this has a lot of exposition and a lot of facts and figures are given in large chunks which slows and distracts from the great story being told. Thirdly, and this might be just me, but it took me until very nearly the end of the book before I realised the protagonist, Anonymous, was male! I actually thought the main character was gay for the best part of it. Whoops!

Over all, Air Babylon is a great read and provides a great insight into the excesses, the tricks and the truly shocking things that happen in airports and on board the plane and on the other end. I really enjoyed this book and would definitely re-read and dip back into it when needed during my writing. An excellent read for all (adults)!

Book Review: Hotel Babylon by Imogen Edwards-Jones & Annonymous

Okay, sorry for the lack of reviews and new content this week. I’ve had a few issues to deal with in real life.

Not everyone is lucky enough to be able to spend a night in a high-class hotel so what does happen in such establishments? What do the staff get up to behind the scenes when they are not dealing with guests? What debauchery, scams and drugs happens behind the scenes? Hotel Babylon answers those questions and more. Fictionalised to a certain extent to protect the guilty, Imogen and Anonymous (an insider in the hospitality sector) explore the workings of a hotel, cramming years of stories and anecdotes into one 24 hour period.

This book is great fun. Written from the first person, the reader watches everything from Anonymous’ point of view as he moves through his day and night working in a hotel. The stories are shocking, entertaining, funny and sometimes saddening. It also provides an insight to the lifestyles of the rich and famous. Some of the excesses are surprising and what the doorman does to keep the guests happy, from arranging tables at the most exclusive restaurants to hiring prostitutes for guests to, uh, get their rocks off, is shocking. However, it all amounts to a very entertaining read.

I believe it also gives a better insight into the world than most career information leaflets and books could ever give anyone who wants to work in hotels (especially high-end hotels) and for anyone who is just interested.

The only problem I have with this (and other books in the series) is that there seems to be an excess of swearing when some of it could be done without. Yes, adults swear but I feel there is just too much of it for there to be any real need for it. Maybe it’s because I am not used to the level of swearing used and maybe it’s because I am still learning about the world but I do know that there is an excess of it when it could really be avoided.

Despite the issue with swearing, this book is fascinating and interesting and gives a unique view on the world of hotels and hospitality and is great fun. Probably ironic but perfect material to read on holiday or in a hotel, this book provides the highs and lows of the industry, as well as the shocking and downright outrageous.