What are you reading?

A weekly look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers

April 28, 2011

Mary Evans is centennial professor at the Gender Institute, London School of Economics. She is reading Patrick and Henry Cockburn's Henry's Demons: Living with Schizophrenia, a Father and Son's Story (Simon and Schuster, 2011). "This powerful book, co-written by a mentally ill man and his father, offers two important messages about the experience of being mentally ill and living alongside mental illness: the shared pain of the condition and the consistent possibilities of communication. A (qualified) tribute to the NHS and to personal, and institutional, loyalty to the human."

David Gadd, professor of criminology at the University of Manchester School of Law, is reading Illegal Leisure Revisited by Judith Aldridge, Fiona Measham and Lisa Williams (Routledge, 2011). "Talking about my generation: a chance to catch up with what happened to the poly-drug users of the 1990s, a book that beautifully illustrates the disconnect many experienced between the normality of their recreational use and the stereotypes of gullible kids and wicked pushers. The authors capture a generation in transition, accommodating and relinquishing the highs and lows associated with drug use that was both shaped by, and jarred with, family and working relationships."

Roger Luckhurst is professor in modern and contemporary literature in the department of English, Birkbeck, University of London. He is reading Phil Baker's Austin Osman Spare: The Life and Legend of London's Lost Artist (Strange Attractor, 2011), "a biography of the eccentric artist and occultist who was once seen as the heir of Aubrey Beardsley, but who lived on in dire poverty until 1956. Spare was brilliant but unhinged, developing a private magical system. He proves curiously resonant for a lost era: who'd have thought Ovaltine helped magical conjurations?"

David Orford, associate dean at Newport Business School, is reading Charlie Carroll's On the Edge: One Teacher, A Camper Van, Britain's Toughest Schools (Monday Books, 2010). "This is a highly readable account of a teacher who leaves a middle-class school in Devon to travel around the UK, undertaking supply work at some of our worst schools. He never ceases to be amazed (and sometimes amused) by what happens to him. Yet there is no happy ending: his year ends with what many would see as a 'breakdown'. The issues he encounters will be familiar to many in higher education, not least in institutions committed to widening participation. Highly commended."

A.W. Purdue, visiting professor of modern history, University of Northumbria, is reading Stuart Kelly's Scott-land: The Man who Invented a Nation (Polygon, 2010). "It may be an exaggeration to claim that Sir Walter Scott, riding the great wave of Romanticism, invented a nation. But, as Kelly demonstrates, he not only repackaged Scottish history in his novels but also played a major role in the development of a new, national, tartan identity. From the moment they arrive at Waverley Station in Edinburgh, no visitors to Scotland can escape Scott's influence."

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