Laurence Coupe, senior lecturer in English, Manchester Metropolitan University, is reading Rosaleen Duffy's Nature Crime: How We're Getting Conservation Wrong (Yale University Press, 2010). "This is not an easy read. I don't mean it's difficult to follow the argument; I mean the argument is deeply disturbing. Attempts to deal with wildlife extinction by focusing on poachers and small traders are doomed, says Duffy, because the problem is Western consumerism. And it's no use trying to salve our consciences with eco-tourism: that's part of the problem, too. Everyone who cares about conservation should read this to discover an alternative model."
Martin McQuillan, dean of arts and social sciences, Kingston University, is reading Letters of Louis MacNeice (Faber and Faber, 2010), selected and edited by Jonathan Allison. "I have always loved MacNeice and secretly want to spend all my time teaching him to students. This is an amazing volume, in which the author speaks in all his humane complexity. A record of a writer's relation to others: a reminder for today's academy, full of creative writers without learning and theorists without causes."
Jon Nixon is honorary professor in the department of education, University of Sheffield. He is reading Higher Education and the Market (Routledge, 2010), edited by Roger Brown. "Brown provides a valuable analysis of the impact of marketisation on higher education. Contributors offer in-depth studies of specific nations, while Brown's framing chapters comprise a judicious account of the role of markets in governing higher education globally. To tame 'the beast' of the unbridled market, he says, we must first understand it."
Tim Strangleman, reader in sociology, University of Kent, is reading Jefferson Cowie's Stayin' Alive: The 1970s and the Last Days of the Working Class (The New Press, 2010). "It's 'gone and it's not gonna happen again' is virtually the last sentence in this magnificent book examining the role and fate of working-class politics in the US during the 1970s. Using an amazing array of sources from labour, political history and popular culture, Stayin' Alive places the decade in historical context, shedding light on the years before and since."
Isabelle Szmigin, head of the department of marketing, Birmingham Business School, is reading The Virago Book of the Joy of Shopping (Virago, 2007), edited by Jill Foulston. "A colourful collection of all kinds of writing on shopping. You can almost smell the lilac and sweet peas in Virginia Woolf's description of the florist in Bond Street that Mrs Dalloway patronises, while Jane Eyre's concern at wedding extravagance, reducing her trousseau from six to two dresses, captures her non-materialist essence. Such excerpts are placed against more troubling ones, such as extracts from Old Bailey proceedings describing two legerdemain ladies convicted of stealing calico."