Will Brooker, director of research in film and television at Kingston University, London, is reading Matthew K. Manning's The Batman Files (Andrews McMeel, 2011). "Umberto Eco described comic book continuity as an 'oneiric climate', where events from one weekly episode could be revised or discarded in the next. This volume attempts to condense and make linear sense of Batman's life, written in the first person from the superhero to a potential successor. Fittingly, my father gave it to me."
Sandra Leaton Gray, lecturer in education, University of East Anglia, is reading Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace (Oxford University Press, 2010). "I got a really nice hardback edition for my birthday last year, and I am doing well so far - I have made it to about page five. I think the people in Oprah's book club read it more quickly than I am doing. If I started concentrating less on the quality of the translation of the French bits, and more on the actual literature, I might make better progress."
Amber Regis, visiting lecturer in English, University of Chester, has been reading Dawn French's Dear Fatty (Century, 2008). "As a life-writing researcher I've always been intrigued by the Christmas book trade in celebrity memoir. This year I resolved to delve behind the critical snobbery and poor reviews, choosing to read this best-seller. Written as a series of letters to significant others, the memoir strikes a touching balance between humour, confession and guarded revelation. It even inspired a blog post."
A.W. Purdue is visiting professor of history, University of Northumbria. He is reading Daisy Goodwin's My Last Duchess (Headline, 2010). "The aptly named Cora Cash, a wealthy American heiress, is taken by her ambitious mother from the mansions of Rhode Island to the stately homes of England in search of an aristocratic husband. She gets her duke but finds the culture and mores of the world of ancestral piles and London society difficult to adapt to. This romantic historical novel is a compelling and enjoyable read. Goodwin has researched the background to her novel well and her depiction of it is accurate and effective."
Petra C. de Weerd-Nederhof, professor of organisation studies and innovation and director of the graduate school, University of Twente, is reading Christine Feehan's Dark Series of novels (Berkley). "It is one thing to confess to reading The Lord of the Rings, to watching Charmed or Buffy the Vampire Slayer (all of which I do), or even to say you're reading and watching the Twilight saga with your teen daughter (which I also do), but admitting to having read the Dark Series (and impatiently waiting for the next one to come out) is something I have not done, until now. And I am otherwise a quite prudent academic..."