What are you reading?

A weekly look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers

January 17, 2013

Rupa Huq, senior lecturer in sociology, Kingston University, is reading E.L. James’ Fifty Shades of Grey (Arrow, 2012). “I found this wrongly reshelved when taking my offspring to the library so I borrowed it, post-hype, out of curiosity. The (similarly suburban mum) author fuses frothy teen romcom with voyeurism in this tale of an increasingly unconventional relationship between a mysterious dashing millionaire and the newly graduated female narrator (who…spoiler alert…emerges victorious). It’s readable, but given the shortness of life it’s doubtful I’ll be troubling myself with the trilogy’s other two.”

Lee Jarvis, senior lecturer in politics and international relations, Swansea University, is reading Fawaz Gerges’ Obama and the Middle East: The End of America’s Moment? (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012). “I began reading this for a book chapter I was writing but now can’t put it down. The breadth of knowledge and clarity of expression are as evident here as in his previous work on al-Qaeda, showing once more why Gerges is such a well-respected analyst of the region.”

Jeremy MacClancy, professor of anthropology, Oxford Brookes University, is reading Art in Oceania: A New History by Peter Brunt et al. (Thames & Hudson, 2012). “A two-brick book weighty enough to smash the mould of Oceanic art studies. Stretching from ancient pots to urban graffiti, it investigates migrations, wars, colonial style, tourist items and contemporary art. Chapters are scholarly but accessible, the photos stunning, the layout impeccable. A feast of a tome.”

Sara Read is part-time lecturer in the department of English and drama, Loughborough University, and holder of a postdoctoral fellowship from the Society for Renaissance Studies. “I’m reading Sue Townsend’s The Woman Who Went to Bed for a Year [Penguin, 2012], which focuses on the chaos that can follow one change within a family dynamic. As soon as Eva Beaver’s twins leave for university, she takes to her bed for a whole year. The story tackles topics as diffuse as autism and extramarital affairs head-on. It’s gently humorous, sometimes absurd, but always thought-provoking.”

Sharon Wheeler, senior lecturer in journalism, University of Portsmouth, is reading Drewey Wayne Gunn’s The Gay Male Sleuth in Print and Film (Scarecrow Press, 2012). “So there I was, sneaking into this history book and annotated bibliography to refresh some lecture notes on journalists in crime fiction. Half an hour later I was lost in its depths and had completely forgotten what I’d gone in to find. Meticulous research taking in everything from pulp novels to BBC drama makes this an indispensable reference volume.”

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