What are you reading?

A weekly look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers

March 4, 2010

Martin De Saulles is head, division of information management, University of Brighton. He is reading Jeff Jarvis' What Would Google Do? (HarperCollins Business, 2009). "Some thought-provoking ideas from Jarvis on how Google's approach to developing its online empire could be applied to other sectors. Of particular interest to Times Higher Education readers may be the section on universities. Read it and either be worried or think about the opportunities it presents for innovative institutions."

Alan Gilmore, resident superintendent of the University of Canterbury's Mt John Observatory, Lake Tekapo, New Zealand, is reading Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner's Superfreakonomics (Allen Lane, 2009). "In Freakonomics, Levitt and Dubner presented a delightful collection of surprising results from economic studies; this is another diverse lot including the economics of prostitution, how Robert McNamara saved 250,000 Americans, the perils of gestation during Ramadan, and of unwashed doctors, and novel ways to cool the planet."

Stephen Halliday is lecturer, Institute of Continuing Education, University of Cambridge. He is reading Kenneth O. Morgan's Michael Foot: A Life (HarperCollins, 2007): "Foot emerges from this book as a charming intellectual with a romantic (dare one say naive) view of the virtue and altruism of the 'working classes' (whatever that means) and particularly of their representatives in the trade unions; but as one who should never have been responsible for running anything more ambitious than an office raffle, especially if it involved dealing with rapacious trade unionists."

Philip Kemp is a film historian who teaches film journalism at the University of Leicester. He is currently reading Farley Granger's autobiography, Include Me Out: My Life from Goldwyn to Broadway (St Martin's, 2008). "I never much rated Granger as an actor, but his autobiography is fun, frank and likeable. Particularly enjoyable is his account of how, while in the US Navy in Hawaii in 1944, he lost his virginity twice in one night: first to a beautiful Hawaiian hooker, then to 'a very handsome lieutenant commander'."

Isabelle Szmigin is head of the department of marketing, Birmingham Business School. "I have been re-reading Charles Dickens' David Copperfield following Sebastian Faulks' A Week in December (Hutchinson, 2009). There was a serendipity of coincidence between these books and our current economic situation. Faulks' 21st-century protagonist, John Veals, is a hedge-fund manager whose greatest joy comes through causing the collapse of a bank. Back in Dickens' 19th century, we find a victim, Betsey Trotwood, who bemoans her financial downfall from investing in a bank 'at the other end of the world' which 'fell to pieces and never can and never will pay sixpence'. Literature reflecting life across the centuries."

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