Richard Ashcroft, professor of bioethics, Queen Mary, University of London, is reading Apsley Cherry-Garrard's The Worst Journey in the World (Vintage, 2010). "'Cherry' was the youngest member of Scott's ill-fated final expedition to the South Pole. His book mixes careful observations of Emperor penguins and the Antarctic landscape, brutally frank descriptions of the hardships the men underwent and occasional flashes of comedy. He pulls off the feat of depicting real courage with ironic appreciation of the arguable pointlessness of the enterprise."
Paul Benneworth, senior researcher at the Center for Higher Education Policy Studies, University of Twente, is reading Ronald Barnett's Being a University (Routledge, 2010). "This is a beautiful and elegant effort, bringing clarity to the tortuous debate about what universities are for. A wealth of nuance and complexity is simply conveyed through a near-literary style that is highly pleasing to read. Its thoughtful evocation of our possibilities for building new university futures only makes the UK's current 'reform' process the more depressing."
Rebecca Braun, lecturer in German studies, Lancaster University, is reading Aleida Assmann's Cultural Memory and Western Civilization: Functions, Media, Archives (Cambridge University Press, 2011). "This fantastically readable, excellently translated book first appeared in German in 1999. Anyone who thinks memory studies is a politically correct fad should read it. Unpicking memory metaphors from Thucydides to E.M. Forster and adapting approaches from art criticism to neuroscience, Assmann develops a robust conceptual language to explore the nature and wider social role of memory across the Western world today."
Gregory Tate, lecturer in English literature, University of Surrey, is reading Liam Murray Bell's So It Is (Myriad Editions, 2012). "This is the first novel by our first creative writing PhD graduate at Surrey, and it's a technically impressive and moving piece of work. Exploring the impact of the Northern Irish Troubles on the lives of young women, it combines a gripping narrative drive with a deep sensitivity to the language, thoughts and emotions of its characters."
Sharon Wheeler, senior lecturer in journalism, University of Portsmouth, is reading Andrea Mutti, Leonardo Manco and Denise Mina's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (DC Comics, 2012). "Apparently there are Stieg Larsson tours in Sweden, and tea towels and key rings of the Millennium Trilogy can't be far behind. Now there's the graphic-novel version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - and it's hardly a laugh a minute with top Scottish crime writer Denise Mina at the helm. But it's bleak, sinister and as addictive as the original."