What are you reading? – 18 June 2015

A weekly look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers

June 18, 2015
Books on bookshelf

Thom Brooks, professor of law and government, Durham University, is reading Robert Hutton’s Would They Lie to You? How to Spin Friends and Manipulate People (Elliott & Thompson, 2014). “This is the ultimate codebreaker guide to the doublespeak and ‘uncommunication’ used far too often in politics. A must-read for any aspiring politician – or anyone wanting to understand what they’re saying!”

Carina Buckley, learning skills tutor, Southampton Solent University, is reading Susanna Hislop’s Stories in the Stars: An Atlas of Constellations (Cornerstone, 2014), illustrated by Hannah Waldron. “In this delightful book, both bedtime reading and reference, Hislop attaches a story to each of the 88 constellations, from histories of astronomers and navigators, to tales of mythological personalities and more personal responses, such as a fiction or a memory. Accompanied by Waldron’s bold graphics, this account presents the sky as a map of storymaking that connects us, however we name the stars.”

Stephen Halliday, panel tutor in history, Institute of Continuing Education, University of Cambridge, is reading Jeremy Lewis’ Shades of Greene: One Generation of an English Family (Vintage, 2011). “Twelve remarkable cousins from Berkhamsted; six of them the ‘Rich Greenes’ and six the ‘Intellectual Greenes’; Graham, the famous author; Hugh, the director-general of the BBC; Raymond, the distinguished endocrinologist and mountaineer; Ben, the hapless internee; Barbara, the intrepid traveller; Felix, the organisation man and mystic; Herbert, the black sheep; and five others. The references, alas, are incomprehensible to this experienced reader.”

Geraldine Perriam, honorary research associate in the School of Geographical and Earth Sciences, University of Glasgow, is reading James Rebanks’ The Shepherd’s Life: A Tale of the Lake District (Allen Lane, 2015). “This book is about ‘a family and a farm’ and ‘people who get forgotten in the modern world’. There are pithy observations on education, too. Some soft-palmed urban academic will probably colonise the book, but text and author should be allowed to speak for themselves, which they do here, beautifully. Note: the author also tweets regularly about the shepherd’s life at @herdyshepherd1.”

Martin Raul Racca, doctoral candidate in history, Instituto Superior de Profesorado N° 62, Casilda, Argentina, is reading Carlo Ginzburg’s The Cheese and the Worms: The Cosmos of a Sixteenth-Century Miller (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992). “A brilliant book about a 16th-century Italian miller who was sentenced to death because he said life evolved the way cheese rots. Ginzburg’s approach – big pictures inferred from small clues – was revolutionary at the time, and this 1976 book would go on to spawn an entire new genre of historiography, the ‘microhistory’.”

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