What are you reading?

A weekly look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers

November 25, 2010

David Barnes is tutor in English literature, University of Oxford. "I've just been reading Ernest Hemingway's Death in the Afternoon (Vintage, 2007), his famous account of bullfighting in Spain. It can be hard for readers to get past the absolute horror of the bullfight, but then that seems to be Hemingway's point. A violent, death-obsessed book - but full of beautiful lyrical prose, expanding in space and resonating on the page."

Leslie Gelling, senior research Fellow in the faculty of health and social care, Anglia Ruskin University, is reading Bruce Macfarlane's Researching with Integrity: The Ethics of Academic Enquiry (Routledge, 2008). "This book offers a meaningful introduction to how academics should engage in ethical research. Macfarlane encourages researchers to exercise personal judgement and not to be guided only by the many rules that usually surround discussions on research ethics. It is refreshing to be offered intellectual tools with meaning in the often complex world of research."

Stephen Halliday, lecturer at the Institute of Continuing Education, University of Cambridge, is reading Ian Mortimer's Medieval Intrigue: Royal Murder and Regnal Legitimacy (Continuum, 2010). "An exercise in historical methodology that is made more interesting than such volumes usually are by examining a number of intriguing mysteries. Did Edward II really escape from Berkeley Castle, meet his son in Germany and live out his life in Lombardy? And does the mysterious tomb at Cecima, near Milan, really contain his body? Read the book and form your own opinion."

Howard Segal, professor of history, University of Maine, is reading James Fleming's Fixing the Sky: The Checkered History of Weather and Climate Control (Columbia University Press, 2010). "Fleming considers contemporary mega-projects intended to reduce, even eliminate, global climate change, brilliantly analysing the revived faith in 'techno-fixes' that make the Star Wars anti-missile defence system seem modest. He offers illuminating historical precedents for present-day schemes such as shading the planet by placing a solar shield in orbit and sucking carbon dioxide out of the air with hundreds of thousands of giant artificial trees."

Tom Sperlinger, director of lifelong learning for English, University of Bristol, is reading A Little, Aloud: An Anthology of Prose and Poetry for Reading Aloud to Someone You Care For (Chatto and Windus, 2010), edited by Angela Macmillan. "We think of reading as a solitary activity. This inspiring book suggests otherwise, offering stories, poems and extracts to share aloud. Authors range from Shakespeare and Chekhov to Brian Keenan. The book is divided into themes and each section gives a response to the work from a reading group in a care home, prison or community setting."

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