What are you reading?

A weekly look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers

August 9, 2012

Laurence Coupe, senior lecturer in English, Manchester Metropolitan University, is reading Grevel Lindop's A Literary Guide to the Lake District (Sigma, 2005). "Visiting this area is so much more interesting when you think, for instance, about Coleridge's moonlight walk over Helvellyn to read Christabel to the Wordsworths at Grasmere...or Dickens and Wilkie Collins' ascent of Carrock Fell (Collins managing to sprain his ankle)...or Ruskin's purchase of Brantwood without having seen it because he loved Coniston Water so much. Both erudite and entertaining, poet Grevel Lindop makes an ideal travelling companion."

Jerome de Groot, head of the graduate school and director of research training, University of Manchester, is reading Jorma Kalela's Making History: The Historian and the Uses of the Past (Palgrave, 2012). "This interesting book asks a 'reasonable' question of historians: namely, why they are needed. Kalela discusses the way that historians see themselves and then argues that this is relatively unrelated to reality; to make a political difference, they will need to consider different audiences and situate their practice much more precisely outside the academy."

Matthew Feldman, reader in history at Teesside University, is reading The Collected Poems of Samuel Beckett, edited by Seán Lawlor and John Pilling (Faber and Faber, 2012). "Poetic genius supplemented by superlative scholarship, this definitive 500+-page labour of love will not, indeed cannot, be surpassed. Beckett's bare brilliance is exquisitely rendered throughout - from unseen poems to Beckettian translations and self-translations - alongside commentary and textual variants unobtrusively occupying the book's latter half. A magisterial collection, one more poignant for co-editor Seán Lawlor's untimely death; thus, truly, 'his book as by/a hand not his'."

Stephen Halliday, tutor at the Institute of Continuing Education, University of Cambridge, is reading A Sparrow's Flight: The Memoirs of Lord Hailsham of St Marylebone (William Collins, 1990). "It reflects the personality of its author, to whom self-doubt was a stranger. Bombastic, often boastful and strewn with hobby horses though the book is, one cannot but be moved by the account of the death of Hailsham's much-loved wife Mary in a riding accident in Australia. And it drips with nostalgia for those who remember the 1950s and 1960s." Sandra Leaton-Gray, lecturer in education, University of East Anglia, is reading Wilena Hitching's Home Management: A Three Years' Course for Schools (Chambers, 1910). "This book, which I acquired from my grandmother, tells you all you need to know to teach girls how to run a house and bring up a family, complete with lesson plans and teaching tips. What is particularly intriguing is how much of it still applies today. In fact, just for the fun of it, I have updated a lot of the material and turned it into a blog at http://austerityhousekeeping.wordpress.com/."

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