What are you reading? – 26 September 2019

A fortnightly look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers

September 26, 2019
Pile of books falling over
Source: iStock

Karen McAulay, performing arts librarian and postdoctoral researcher at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, is reading Greta Thunberg’s No One is Too Small to Make a Difference (Penguin, 2019). “Almost everybody has heard of the Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg, so I decided it was time to read this small book of her speeches. Embracing autism as a gift which helps her clear-sighted vision, Thunberg initiated the school strikes that have become a regular feature on news reports and has made speeches to the UN, the British Parliament and European climate rallies, most recently sailing to the US. The speeches repeat the same direct message every time – understandably so. Having said that, one is left in no doubt of its urgency and the organisations most proactive in seeking change. Thunberg’s is obviously not the only view of climate change and social media commentators sometimes voice objections to being hectored by someone so young. Whatever your stance, it’s worth reading this, so at least you know what her message is.”

Carina Buckley, instructional design manager at Solent University, is reading Anne Enright’s The Gathering (Jonathan Cape, 2007). “Liam Hegarty has killed himself, walking into the sea off Brighton with a coat full of stones. His sister Veronica, closest of the 12 Hegarty children, must deal with her own shock and grief and manage that of her mother and siblings, while also confronting the memories of their shared year in their grandmother Ada’s house and the point at which their paths began to diverge. In her autopsies of Irish families Enright is never sparing with her scalpel, taking pages to dissect the moment Ada met the man who would shape the family’s destiny or to give shape to the vague and formless mother who inhabits the house rather than lives in it (and who forgets her children’s names). Although it is not always an easy read, its rich prose is nevertheless rewarding.”

Emma Rees, professor of literature and gender studies at the University of Chester, is reading Jo Warin’s Men in Early Childhood Education and Care: Gender Balance and Flexibility (Palgrave, 2018). “The speedy production schedules and shorter-than-monograph word counts of Palgrave Pivots allow them to respond to current events far more quickly than is generally the rule in academic publishing. The potential is for them to have an impact on public policy and every now and then they turn up a real gem such as this. The curriculum and workforce, Warin argues, must move beyond gendered stereotypes. In preschool and in early years settings, asserting the importance of ‘care’ in the face of neoliberal attempts to devalue it is a core feminist task. Her aim is ambitious: she seeks nothing less than to ‘envision a de-gendered society in which we move beyond the gender binary’ and sees ‘the recruitment and promotion of more men in early childhood education’ as ‘a significant strategy that can help us’ get there.”

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