What are you reading? – 5 November 2015

A weekly look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers

November 5, 2015
Books stood up, from above

Victoria Bateman, economics fellow at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, is reading Isabel Sawhill’s Generation Unbound: Drifting into Sex and Parenthood without Marriage (Brookings Institution, 2014). “Marriage and parenting have moved centre stage in discussions about poverty and social mobility. This book argues that there is significant scope to reduce poverty by tackling the fact that, in the US at least, 60 per cent of births to young single women are unplanned. According to Sawhill, too many women in their twenties are needlessly drifting into unplanned parenthood and, with it, poverty. Family planning and better access to new forms of contraception still have the power to transform women’s lives and, just as importantly, that of their future offspring.”

Carina Buckley, learning skills tutor, Southampton Solent University, is reading Angela Carter’s Love (Vintage, 1997). “This was my first Carter; possibly my last. Her characters are melancholy, sardonic, sociopathic and class-obsessed, speaking didactically and meaningfully – and this is how she chooses to explore relationships. The summer of love has become a winter of discontent, and then a spring, another summer and an autumn of misery, all in finely wrought, overwrought, metaphorical language. Stick to Lessing.”

Lisa Mckenzie, research fellow in the department of sociology, London School of Economics, is reading Tim Wells’ Everything Crash (Penned in the Margins, 2015). “This collection of poems by Tim Wells, an old skinhead and ranting poet, is working-class words, about working-class lives. It kicks off with Hoxton Market Forces, with Wells spitting out what it feels like to be unwelcome in your own manor thanks to ‘market forces’. Depending on your perspective, sometimes four verses can say more than six figures’ worth of words.”

Nigel Rodenhurst, part-time lecturer in English, Aberystwyth University, is reading Peter Carey’s Jack Maggs (Faber, 1997). “I was profoundly moved by Oscar and Lucinda as part of a coming-of-age reading experience (an early foray into ‘contemporary fiction’). But I found reading this, after all the hype and puff, strangely numbing: a book of caricatures instead of characters, and its self-reflexive cleverness seemed like nothing new. I was left asking, ‘Is that it?’.”

J. I. Rogers, associate lecturer in international politics, University of York, is reading Peter W. Singer and August Cole’s Ghost Fleet: A Novel of the Next World War (Houghton Mifflin, 2015). “The opening rounds have been fired. The next world war has begun. As high-powered lasers pick off defenceless US communications satellites, swarms of enemy drones destroy American military assets with a devastating fusion of surprise and ‘pinpoint precision’. Is this fantastical? A reading of the text and its endnotes just might convince you that this could be the future.”

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