What are you reading? – 24 September 2015

A weekly look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers

September 24, 2015
Book open on table

Clare Debenham, tutor in the department of politics, University of Manchester, is reading Stephanie Spencer, Andrea Jacobs and Camilla Leach’s Alumni Voices: The Changing Experience of Higher Education (Winchester University Press, 2015). “What is exceptional about this history of the University of Winchester, formerly King Alfred’s College, is that it is the result of an oral history project in which the majority of respondents were former students. They recall everything from the everyday (evading college rules to meet the opposite sex) to the outrageous (when students nominated a spoof Communist candidate, Alfred King, in the 1955 general election) to grief (a principal’s suicide). A fascinating account of 60 years of student life that poses questions for other universities on the changing student experience.”

Ivor Gaber, professor of journalism, University of Sussex, is reading Andy Beckett’s When the Lights Went Out: Britain in the Seventies (Faber & Faber, 2009). “Contemporary history with a difference: a well-told ‘story’ (and a scary reminder of just how much one has forgotten) mixed with catch-up vignette interviews with some of the leading protagonists and the author’s own well-measured interjections on his own doings at the time. This is historical writing with a touch of flair.”

Tim Hall, head of the department of applied social studies, University of Winchester, is reading Anthony D. Barnosky and Elizabeth A. Hadly’s End Game: Tipping Point for Planet Earth (William Collins, 2015). “An urgent plea for global engagement to address the planet’s most pressing challenges. Overpopulation and climate change sit at the heart of a series of interrelated issues potentially poised to tip us into an apocalyptic future. This book deftly combines personal and scientific narratives and has room for messages of hope amid the gloom.”

Janet Sayers, emeritus professor of psychoanalytic psychology, University of Kent, is reading Joy Schaverien’s Boarding School Syndrome: The Psychological Trauma of the ‘Privileged’ Child (Routledge, 2015). “Boarding school stories can be riveting. Yet they are also alarming, as the accounts here show. A salient reminder that we are still disproportionately governed by boarding school-educated men, and that they have often learned to be cruel or to cut themselves off from their feelings as defence against the upset of being sent away from home as children.”

Sharon Wheeler, visiting lecturer in journalism, Birmingham City University, is reading Katarina Bivald’s The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend (Vintage, 2015). “Who knew that small-town Iowa could be so enticing? Bivald’s charming book is an antidote to all that Scandi-noir crime fiction, as it follows a young Swedish woman on her first trip abroad to a tiny US town to visit a penfriend – who turns out to have died. You may need to clean your teeth after reading it, but anything that celebrates books is good!”

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