What are you reading?

A weekly look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers

September 24, 2009

Bob Blaisdell is associate professor of English, Kingsborough Community College, City University of New York. - "I know Tolstoy's short story 'A Prisoner in the Caucasus' (Twenty-Three Tales, Alan Rodgers Books, 2006) in English pretty well. In Russian it's 'Kavkazkiy Plennik'; he wrote it for his series of primers for children, and I've been childishly and persistently poking at word-endings, peering into the middle of words for their roots, glancing this way and that as directed by the prepositions, and am still amused by the Russian narrative custom of letting the present tense pop up amid the past. It's great fun, and every once in a while there's a perfectly easy specimen I can extract: 'We fear him, but he fears us.'"

Neil Davison is senior policy adviser (security and diplomacy), Science Policy Centre at the Royal Society. He is reading Beyond Terror: The Truth about the Real Threats to Our World by Chris Abbott, Paul Rogers and John Sloboda (Random House, 2007). - "This is a succinct and cogent argument for an approach to international security that acknowledges interdependence. The authors promote a shift from an emphasis on terrorism to a focus on more pervasive problems: climate change, competition for resources, poverty and socio-economic divisions, and global militarisation."

Tim Hall, lecturer in human geography, University of Gloucestershire, is reading Them by Nathan McCall (Simon & Schuster, 2009). - "The first gentrification novel? Overwritten and one-dimensional in places, but it adds a little colour to the otherwise dry theories."

John Harris is associate professor in sport administration, Kent State University. - "I am reading Uncouth Nation: Why Europe Dislikes America by Andrei S. Markovits (Princeton University Press, 2007). As a 'European' living and working in the US, I am made aware of many of these differences daily - inside and outside the classroom. Markovits explores a range of subjects including health, the media and higher education to show how and why anti-Americanism is increasing and considers what this means in relation to creating a stronger European identity."

Sarah Huline-Dickens, consultant psychiatrist and academic clinical lead for mental health, Peninsula Medical School, is reading Mindreadings: Literature and Psychiatry (Royal College of Psychiatrists, 2009), edited by Femi Oyebode. - "Psychiatry is all about understanding human nature and ambiguity; how better to do this than by using literature, as Freud did in his famous case history of Schreber in 1910? It was Schreber who said: 'Whatever people may think of my "delusions", they will sooner or later have to acknowledge that they are not dealing with a lunatic in the ordinary sense.'"

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