Karen McAulay, Jules Pretty, Peter J. Smith, Sharon Wheeler and Sue White...

…on The House on an Irish Hillside, One Billion Hungry, Our Man in Havana, Return to the Stones and Water: All That Matters

February 21, 2013

Karen McAulay, music and academic services librarian at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (and new owner of a Kindle), is reading Felicity Hayes-McCoy’s The House on an Irish Hillside (Hodder & Stoughton, 2012). “Buying my first Kindle book was perilously easy - I’ll have to watch myself! I had come across Hayes-McCoy’s evocative writing on Twitter and in the media, so I knew I’d enjoy this. With Ireland’s cultural celebration, The Gathering, coming up this year, this book’s appearance is indeed timely, introducing readers to the Dingle way of life, sense of community and musical and folkloric culture.”

Jules Pretty, professor of environment and society and deputy vice- chancellor at the University of Essex, is reading Gordon Conway’s One Billion Hungry: Can We Feed the World? (Cornell University Press, 2012.) “How is it that the world produces 25 per cent more food per person compared with 50 years ago and yet still 1 billion people are hungry? Another billion are seriously overweight. This fine book ranges far over approaches centring on sustainable intensification. We must do better with what we have and ensure that solutions are good for both the planet and all its people. A welcome and ultimately optimistic book.”

Peter J. Smith, reader in Renaissance literature, Nottingham Trent University, has just finished Graham Greene’s Our Man in Havana (Heinemann, 1958). “An espionage novel with a twist and a damning satire on the incompetence and inertia of the secret service. A vacuum-cleaner salesman in Cuba who accepts an MI6 job to pay for his daughter’s profligate lifestyle must invent conspiracies, agents and even missile blueprints (based on spare parts for Hoovers) to satisfy his gullible paymasters. After being targeted in an assassination attempt, he is decommissioned. His silence is rewarded with an OBE. Vintage Greene - teasing and alert but melancholic about the ubiquity of deception.”

Sharon Wheeler, senior lecturer in journalism, University of Portsmouth, is reading Jeremy Burnham’s Return to the Stones (Kindle, 2012). “Children of the Stones [1977] was possibly the creepiest children’s TV drama ever; 30 years on, its writer has returned to the thinly disguised Avebury, with young Matthew now an astrophysicist and father. The plot is left-field enough to need a telescope, but if some network could see their way to dramatising it, a new generation of kids could be scared witless.”

Sue White, chair in integrated catchment management, Cranfield University, is reading Paul Younger’s Water: All That Matters (Hodder & Stoughton, 2012). “Water is so vital to life on Earth that it never ceases to amaze me how little we value this precious resource. This short book tells us why we should. It is easy and engaging to read, and shows us why water is important to individuals and to societies. It is an important book that should really be read by everyone, especially those studying the environment.”

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