What are you reading?

A weekly look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers

August 2, 2012

Sandra Leaton Gray, lecturer in education, University of East Anglia, is rereading Eluned M. Rees' A History of Huyton College (Huyton College, 1985). "Huyton College was my alma mater, but closed in 1993. When I noticed that the main building (a place I always fantasised about turning back into a grand family home) was for sale, I dug out the school's history, written by my old headmistress. I was struck by the strength of the early female educators who founded Huyton in the late 19th century, along with many other public schools for girls. Perhaps the demise of single-sex education accounts for women's lack of progress in penetrating the highest echelons of public life?"

Paul Greatrix, registrar, University of Nottingham, is reading Alan Partridge's I, Partridge: We Need to Talk About Alan (Harper, 2012). "A self-proclaimed literary tour de force, this describes the amazing life of one of the nation's favourite broadcasters. It may seem a bit odd to spend quality time reading a fictional autobiography, but it is rather entertaining if utterly lightweight. For those familiar with Alan, it does feel a little like renewing an old friendship where all the stories told are well known. Still funny, though."

Francesca Ivaldi, careers adviser, Plymouth University, is reading Andrew Marr's The Diamond Queen: Elizabeth II and her People (Pan, 2012). "A well-written and accessible account of our reigning monarch. Marr discusses the overwhelming sense of duty that drives Elizabeth II and provides insights into her relationships with her prime ministers, staff and family. Irrespective of how you feel about the notion of monarchy, one cannot fail to be impressed by her staggering self-control and consistency over a 60-year reign."

Amber Regis, lecturer in 19th-century literature, University of Sheffield, is rereading George Eliot's Middlemarch (Oxford University Press, 2008, first published in 1872). "I'll be teaching Eliot's magister-ial 'study of provincial life' next academic year, so I've been spending some time reacquainting myself with the Casaubons, Lydgates and Vincys. Absence does indeed make the heart grow fonder, and 10 years after first reading the novel, I am still finding new things to admire."

Ulrike Zitzlsperger, senior lecturer in German, University of Exeter, is reading Peter Gay's Modernism: The Lure of Heresy (W.W. Norton, 2007). "This comprehensive cultural history with its focus on the arts, architecture and literature is like a stroll through a landscape one is familiar with. While not every turn is necessarily agreeable, the overall impact of Gay's tour through the late 19th and the 20th century is overwhelmingly rich and thought-provoking. He manages to make sense of something as complex as Modernism."

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