What are you reading?

A weekly look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers

November 18, 2010

Woody Caan, professor of public health, Anglia Ruskin University, is reading Abigail Flesch Connors' Teaching Creativity: Supporting, Valuing, and Inspiring Young Children's Creative Thinking (Whitmore, 2010). "The varied creative impulses children display can be stifled by professional habits they perceive as censure or ridicule. Connors draws on experience using music and other arts to help children communicate their own answers to adult questions. If we stimulate 'creative thinking' in future generations, their imaginative responses may surprise us."

James Stevens Curl, honorary senior research fellow, Queen's University Belfast, is reading Gill Hunter's William White: Pioneer Victorian Architect (Spire, 2010). "A beautifully written account of the life and work of William White (1825-1900), one of the most original Victorian architects, this is superbly illustrated, thoroughly researched, and includes lists of White's numerous creations from his stunning polychrome church of St Michael, Lyndhurst, Hampshire, to the first frame rucksack. Fascinating, attractive and delightful, this book deserves a better index."

Martin Cohen, editor of The Philosopher, has been reading Bettany Hughes' The Hemlock Cup (Jonathan Cape, 2010). "I was sceptical to hear about a book that had found out the truth about Socrates, by careful investigation of archaeological evidence. But sure enough, Socrates is revealed as never before. Shall I spoil the ending? Certainly, Socrates is in fact a kind of democratic prophet, 'humanity's first ideological martyr', who 'thought it fruitless to travel to the ends of the earth in order to catalogue the world, without learning to love it'. Actually, that's not the ending, which I haven't reached yet, but all in the preface."

Barbara Graziosi, professor of Classics, Durham University, is reading Mary Midgley's Gaia: The Next Big Idea (Demos, 2001). "I am currently enjoying a fellowship at the Institute of Advanced Study, Durham, where I'm supposed to contribute ideas about the future and intergenerational justice. This is hard for a classicist, but I am taking inspiration from Midgley's lucid and compelling essay, where she argues for an approach to Earth as a single self-sustaining system. It is a big idea for the 21st century - with strong, ancient roots."

Marjorie Mayo is professor of community development, Goldsmiths, University of London. "I've been reading Caroline Knowles and Douglas Harper's Hong Kong: Migrant Lives, Landscapes, and Journeys (University of Chicago Press, 2009) with enormous pleasure. This book challenges so many assumptions about the intersections between migrants from diverse cultures, including those with privileged backgrounds, in a postcolonial context in Hong Kong. The photographs are integral to the text, providing an extraordinarily rich and evocative account."

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