What are you reading?

A weekly look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers

August 29, 2013

Roger Brown, professor of higher education policy, Liverpool Hope University, retires at the end of this month. “I’m reading NHS SOS: How the NHS was Betrayed and How We Can Save It [Oneworld, 2013] edited by Jacky Davis and Raymond Tallis. As well as being an extremely accessible account of the recent reforms to the NHS, the book offers some fascinating parallels with the coalition government’s unmandated reforms to higher education. A strongly recommended read.”

The Silver Star, by Jeannette Walls

Amanda Leigh Cox, doctoral candidate in translation studies, peace and conflict at Concordia University, Canada, is reading Jeannette Walls’ The Silver Star (Scribner, 2013). “Walls again delves into tragicomic family dysfunction in this novel set in 1970s America. Twelve-year-old Bean narrates as she and her 15-year-old sister Liz head from California to an estranged uncle’s vast rural Virginia acreage, when their delusional mother disappears. Walls’ compelling characters display nuance and charm; the plot is engaging but straightforward – all the requisites for an entertaining read.”

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, by Rachel Joyce

Rebecca Huxley-Binns, professor of legal education, Nottingham Law School, is reading Rachel Joyce’s The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry (Black Swan, 2013). “A poignant and warming tale of one man’s life and love, which unfolds as he undertakes an unexpected walk from Dorset to Berwick-upon-Tweed. I readily identified with many of the characters Harold meets on his trip. This novel offers a perceptive and realistic snapshot of people and their relationships (and secrets), with a depth of emotion that made me smile, nod my head, and even brought me to tears a few times.”

Our Village, by Mary Russell Mitford

R. C. Richardson, emeritus professor of history at the University of Winchester, is reading Mary Russell Mitford’s Our Village (Arc Manor, 2009). “These sketches, first published in the early 19th century, depict an idyllic rural arcadia; a society defined by good order, neighbourliness and respectability whose high points were May Day celebrations, village weddings and cricket matches, and from which unwanted intrusions such as enclosure and newfangled farm machinery were kept at bay. Harsh economic realities are never seen. For Mitford, hay-making is simply a ‘delightful’ occupation and contentment is to be found even in poverty.”

Clandestino: In Search of Manu Chao, by Peter Culshaw

Sharon Wheeler, senior lecturer in journalism, University of Portsmouth, is reading Peter Culshaw’s Clandestino: In Search of Manu Chao (Serpent’s Tail, 2013). “Mano Negra were France’s answer to The Pogues. More than a decade on, Culshaw goes in search of enigmatic lead singer Manu Chao, and finds himself on a manic pursuit around the world. Any tale that includes train journeys through Colombia and making records in a Buenos Aires mental asylum is never going to be your average music biography.”

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