What are you reading?

A weekly look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers

October 11, 2012

Thom Brooks, reader in political and legal philosophy at Newcastle University, is reading Shane Greer's So You Want to Be a Politician (Biteback, 2010). "A comprehensive introduction to starting a political career, chock-full of sound, practical advice on everything from selection to election, by politicians for future candidates. An insightful and revealing account of modern politics from the inside."

Matthew Feldman, reader in history at Teesside University, is reading Carroll P. Kakel III's The American West and the Nazi East: a Comparative and Interpretive Perspective (Palgrave, 2011). "An insightful, if uncomfortable, comparison of early American and Nazi colonial mass murder in the search for settler 'living space'. Although ideologically distinct, the practices of enslavement and extermination are depressingly similar across Kakel's interspersed account. Whatever one makes of this relatively new argument, many parallels remain chilling: both were civilised savagery that is hard to imagine (or, one hopes, emulate) in this new century."

Sandra Leaton Gray, lecturer in education, University of East Anglia, is about to read Richard Yates' A Good School (Vintage, 2007). "This is currently in the reading queue by my bedside table. It seems to have everything a good school-based novel ought to contain - pupils trying to fit in, teachers with cheating wives, teachers' daughters falling in love with pupils, and a claustrophobic school community with a lot of emotional drama. Only Yates has thrown Pearl Harbor into the mix. Yikes."

Martin McQuillan, dean of arts and social sciences, Kingston University, is reading Benôit Peeters' Derrida: A Biography (Polity, 2012). "This is the fourth and best (by some distance) attempt at a Derrida biography (others by David Mikics, Edward Baring and Jason Powell are riddled with errors). Peeters has access to material that the others did not, and is particularly good on the in-fighting in the Paris scene. However, the book ultimately suffers from not having a sufficient feel for the text of Derrida itself."

Claire Warden, lecturer in drama at the University of Lincoln, is reading Neil Peart's Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road (ECW, 2002). "For a book written by the drummer of the band Rush, one would expect a little more progressive rock, but this remarkable autobiographical account of his motorbike journey in the wake of profound family tragedy, leaves you thinking far more about pain, healing and purpose than paradiddles. It is an intricately woven picture of life's fragility and the restorative power of travel."

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