What are you reading?

A weekly look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers

January 14, 2010

Lewis Dartnell is an astrobiology researcher at University College London. "I currently have Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose (Vintage, 2004) on my bedside table. I've got a pile of books on the go at the moment, but I'm finding this the perfect mind-clearing tonic after a day in the lab. I love the genre of historical intrigue or fantastical story (Foucault's Pendulum is one of my favourite novels), and so I'm also a big fan of Jorge Luis Borges."

Willy Maley, professor of Renaissance studies, University of Glasgow, is reading Alain Badiou's The Meaning of Sarkozy, translated by David Fernbach (Verso, 2009). "A brilliant polemic on what the new French President stands for, and what the Left should never stand for. Written in the tradition of Marx's Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, Badiou's book bristles with angry intelligence, excavating the ore of hope from a politics of paralysis and prejudice."

Simon Mitton is a fellow of St Edmund's College, Cambridge. "It is the 400th anniversary of Galileo's discovery of the satellites of Jupiter. He published his observations of 7 January-2 March 1610 in Sidereus Nuncius (A Sidereal Message). William Shea's new translation of this revolutionary account (Science History Publications, 2009) is accompanied by extensive notes that illuminate how Galileo, with his spyglass, provided the evidence that the Sun is at the centre of the solar system."

Nigel Rodenhurst, an Arts and Humanities Research Council studentship-funded doctoral candidate at Aberystwyth University, is reading Paul Alexander's Salinger: A Biography (Renaissance Books, 1999). "The subject of Alexander's biography, thinly concealed by a clear narrative of Salinger's life and career, is to investigate the reasons behind the author's fabled seclusion. Alexander suggests that it may be a highly polished tactic to increase book sales or conversely a necessity occasioned by Salinger's interest in very young females. Compelling but in places highly speculative."

Loredana Salis is a lecturer in the faculty of arts, Universita di Sassari, Italy. "Some books are truly, intrinsically, unspeakably haunting, and William Golding's 1954 masterpiece Lord of the Flies (Faber and Faber, 2009) is no doubt one of them. Centred on a group of 12 youths stranded on a desert island, this novel speaks to the contemporary reader - the Big Brother and Lost generation, that is - as much as it looks back to George Orwell's apocalyptic vision in Nineteen Eighty Four. An absolute must."

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