What are you reading? – 18 February 2016

A weekly look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers

February 18, 2016
Books on bookshelf

Carina Buckley, instructional design manager, Southampton Solent University, is reading Raymond Carver’s Elephant and Other Stories (Vintage, 2009). “A wrong number in the middle of the night is, for most, just that. In Carver’s hands, it becomes a vehicle for ruminating on the meaning of life, death and the vulnerabilities of love. Each of the seven stories in this collection unpicks a life and examines its minutiae, leaving the reader feeling richer – and a little sadder – for it.”

Kathryn Ecclestone, professor of education, University of Sheffield, is reading Kevin Myers’ Struggles for a Past: Irish and Afro-Caribbean Histories in England, 1951-2000 (Manchester University Press, 2015). “A meticulously researched, engaging, beautifully written book brings together sociology, race studies, education and history in novel ways to analyse the formation of racial and cultural identity. A significant argument is that multicultural education in mainstream schooling, adult education and community activism over the 20th century became increasingly preoccupied with personal identity at the expense of more emancipatory understandings of inequality and injustice.”

George McKay, professor of media studies, University of East Anglia, is reading Exploring Community Festivals and Events (Routledge, 2015), edited by Allan Jepson and Alan Clarke. “From ‘place competitiveness’ to ‘the experience economy’, this is a collection of essays of contemporary festival scholarship. But with a nice twist: what is it specific to community or grass-roots or local event organisation that can make a festival special? Real festivity, argues one author, lies in ‘rhythmic chanting and dancing to loud bass beats’. Bring on the summer.”

Paul Greatrix, registrar, University of Nottingham, is reading Denis Johnson’s Train Dreams (Granta Books, 2012). “A beautifully balanced and lyrical novella in which an ordinary labourer, Robert Grainger, lives through some extraordinary times in the Idaho panhandle at the turn of the 20th century. After losing his wife and daughter in a terrible fire, he struggles to come to terms with his life in this rapidly changing country. An outstanding work.”

Jeremy Singer, lecturer in computing science, University of Glasgow, is reading Sue Black’s Saving Bletchley Park: How #Socialmedia Saved the Home of the WWII Codebreakers (Unbound, 2015). “This book blends the original history of Bletchley Park, the account of its rescue, and the author’s experience of public engagement. Consecutive chapters yo-yo across six decades from the Second World War to the present. Written in a compelling scrapbook style, there are happy endings for all three storylines – respectively Enigma cracked, a huge funding award, and an OBE for the author.”

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