Roger Brown, professor of higher education policy, Liverpool Hope University, is reading A Manifesto for the Public University (Bloomsbury Academic, 2011), edited by John Holmwood. "This collection of essays makes a poignant contrast to the narrow and impoverished view of higher education in the Browne Review and the higher education White Paper. It should be read by everyone who cares about the public role of universities as encouragers of debate and common resources of knowledge."
Caron Eastgate Dann, media studies lecturer, Monash University, is reading Douglas Kennedy's A Special Relationship (Arrow, 2010). "For years I refused to read male authors because I didn't believe they could write realistic female characters. The protagonist in this novel - a journalist who marries a colleague - makes a mockery of my old ideas about gendered authorship. The novel has the unlikely theme of postnatal depression and I read it because a friend insisted it was great. Now I'm a Kennedy fan."
Gary Day, principal lecturer in English, De Montfort University, is reading Raymond Khoury's The Templar Salvation (Orion Fiction, 2010). "I lost count of the number of times the phrase 'for a beat' appears in this novel. The repetition is typical of its cliched prose style. The story is about the search for documents, hidden by the last of a band of Templar Knights, that will revolutionise understanding of early Christianity. So...nothing new there then. It's an awful book, but completely spellbinding."
David Naylor, president of the University of Toronto, is reading John Miers' Hit Me Again!...I Can Still Hear Him! The Secrets of Superb Public Speaking (Blue Rock, 2009). "John Miers, a submarine commander turned influential communications coach, shares iconoclastic ideas about public speaking in this short book. He draws on intuition and experience rather than formal evidence, but his case is compelling. I recommend his methods for a test drive at the podium...Now pause and look out at the audience before you say another word!"
A.W. Purdue, visiting professor in history at the University of Northumbria, is reading Death Comes to Pemberley (Faber and Faber, 2011) by P.D. James. "The problem with the very best of novels is that they have to end, and leave us wanting more. What happened to the characters of Pride and Prejudice after the marriage of Elizabeth and Darcy? Was it a successful marriage? And did the unscrupulous Wickham settle down with the foolish Lydia? One of our most successful crime writers has provided a sequel and, naturally, it involves a murder, but do Jane Austen and murder go well together? At times the dynamic of the murder story and the world of the gentry of the early 19th century jar, and anachronisms aren't always avoided, but nevertheless it is compulsive reading."