What are you reading?

A weekly look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers

November 15, 2012

Charlotte Beyer, senior lecturer in English literature, University of Gloucestershire, is reading Kate North's Bistro (Cinnamon Press, 2012). "I am really enjoying this new collection; it is definitely one of this year's poetry highlights for me. These astutely crafted and finely detailed poems exude vitality. Treating themes such as desire, loss, change and physicality, North's poetry explores the dimensions of place. Cosmopolitan in outlook, yet often anchored in specific settings, her knowing, sensitive poems draw assured pictures of evolving identities and relationships."

Megan Crawford, reader in the Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge, is reading Henning Mankell's One Step Behind (Vintage, 2012). "One of my secret vices is an addiction to detective novels. Having covered the murderous city of Oxford with Inspector Morse and enjoyed the dynamism of V.I. Warshawski, I came rather late to middle-aged male angst and detection in Sweden. This novel is classic Wallander because it combines an intriguing case with his own inner reflections on life, mortality and encroaching bodily fragility. You know he is never going to change his lifestyle but you secretly hope he will. For me, that makes a good read."

Paul Greatrix, registrar, University of Nottingham, is reading Alison Moore's The Lighthouse (Salt Publishing, 2012)."This Booker-shortlisted debut from a former staff member at Lakeside Arts at the University of Nottingham is a slim, well-written and powerful novel. Following the route of the recently separated protagonist Futh as he heads for a week's walking in Germany, the novel takes us back to his parents' separation and his own desperate childhood. But the couple who run his chosen hotel also have problems. Very good indeed."

Nigel Rodenhurst, disabled students' allowance administrator at the University of Wales Trinity St David, is reading Janna Malamud Smith's My Father is a Book: A Memoir of Bernard Malamud (Houghton Mifflin, 2006). "This contains all that can be illuminating in an author's biography. Malamud's daughter combines intimate personal memories with psychological insight (she is a practising therapist) and throws new light on her father's characters and themes. Moving from the first page; sincere and not at all blighted by sentimentality.

Robert Eaglestone, professor of contemporary literature and thought, Royal Holloway, University of London, is reading David L.Martin's Curious Visions of Modernity: Enchantment, Magic, and the Sacred (MIT Press, 2011). "This dense and illuminating book argues that in its making of maps, creating collections and anatomising the body, the Enlightenment both repressed and - in so doing - brought to light what it claimed to be against: magic and religion. Appropriately, in a book about the limits of academic knowing, it is also, unusually, an experiment in academic writing, mixing genres, times, politics and the personal."

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