What are you reading?

A weekly look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers

September 27, 2012

Sandra Leaton Gray, lecturer in education, University of East Anglia, is reading Stepford Wives, by Ira Levin (Constable & Robinson, 2011) with an introduction by Chuck Palahniuk. "I bandy this term about so much, usually in a cutting tone of voice while justifying an extra chocolate biscuit and a refusal to do the washing-up, that I finally decided to buy the book in the campus bookshop and read it through properly for the first time. I could hardly put it down, and kept sneaking back to it, as I was so keen to find out the ending. Parallels with the housekeeping philosophy of Martha Stewart et al. are very apt. I'd like to see every student in the country reading this."

Jeremy Holmes, chief operating officer, Universities UK, is reading Douglas Rogers' The Last Resort: A Memoir of Zimbabwe (Short Books, 2011). "A telling, moving insight into the implosion of a country where thriving agriculture, education and public services are destroyed by corruption, incompetence and thuggery. Written by a journalist, it has pace, and at different moments is astonishing, hilarious, poignant, despairing and Kafkaesque. Ever wondered what economic and social chaos looks like, but want to be entertained at the same time? This is for you."

Karen McAulay, music and academic services librarian at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, is reading Stuart Kelly's The Book of Lost Books: An Incomplete History of All the Great Books You Will Never Read (Penguin, 2006). "There's something infinitely tantalising about this book's concept, detailing hundreds of volumes that were written and lost, left incomplete or planned but never written. Recalling my excitement at encountering a late-18th century prospectus for a history of Scottish music that was never written, it was intriguing to read about similarly afflicted titles, by authors from Homer to Plath. Enjoyable, if not one for reading from cover to cover."

Peter Mills, senior lecturer in media and popular culture, Leeds Metropolitan University, is reading G.B. Edwards' The Book of Ebenezer Le Page (Hamish Hamilton, 1981). "The only book written by Guernseyman G.B. Edwards, published posthumously in 1981, given to me by a Guernsey girl in 1988 and reread this summer; telling of a life, the island and the 20th century, it pulses with the rhythms of land and sea, phrases flowing like the notes of a folk song, or birdsong, natural and unforced. Joy."

R.C. Richardson, emeritus professor of history, University of Winchester, has been reading J.S. Purvis' edition of The York Cycle of Mystery Plays (SPCK, 1957). "These plays - originally 48 in all - were revived in a shortened version after four centuries of neglect as part of the 1951 Festival of Britain. Significantly, the August 2012 production in York fused the two time periods in question, demonstrating both the dramatic power of the medieval original and the effectiveness of an early 1950s staging and costumes pointedly reminiscent of Stanley Spencer's art."

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