What are you reading?

A weekly look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers

June 20, 2013

Harriet Dunbar-Morris, executive assistant (learning and teaching), University of Bath, is reading Victoria Hislop’s The Thread (Headline Review, 2011). “The third novel by Hislop I’ve read is even better than the previous two (The Island and The Return). She writes about difficult subject matter, but really pulls one into the story by establishing a connection between reader and characters. I knew nothing about the history of Thessaloniki, but this family saga, spanning a century of upheaval in Greece, had me looking forward to bedtime just so I could read more of the Komninos family’s story and live vicariously through the many troubled times they faced. Well-written, engaging history in novel form at its best.”

Small Wars, Far Away Places by Michael Burleigh

Stephen Halliday, panel tutor in history, Institute of Continuing Education, University of Cambridge, is reading Michael Burleigh’s Small Wars, Far Away Places: The Genesis of the Modern World, 1945-65 (Pan Macmillan, 2013). “An intriguing collection of accounts of often forgotten post-war and post-colonial conflicts, marred by strange asides, obscure references and the odd clumsy sentence, but well worth the reader’s effort.”

The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson

Nigel Rodenhurst, disabled students’ allowance administrator at the University of Wales Trinity St David, is reading Howard Jacobson’s The Finkler Question (Bloomsbury, 2011). “Jacobson breathes new life into the familiar questions ‘Who and what is a Jew?’, in a novel in which a gentile is possibly (and possibly not) the victim of an anti-Semitic attack. Slightly old hat, but Jacobson’s compulsive storytelling and wit make it hard to put down.”

Commitment by Olav Maassen, Chris Matts and Chris Geary

Bruce Scharlau, senior teaching fellow in computing science, University of Aberdeen, is reading Olav Maassen, Chris Matts and Chris Geary’s Commitment: A Novel about Managing Project Risk (Hathaway te Brake Publications, 2013). “Commitment stays with you. This graphic business novel about a failing project shows you the implications of the three rules of ‘real options’. Along the way you see that ‘options have value; options expire; and never commit early unless you know why’. You will see options instead of commitments when you’re done.”

They Were Counted by Miklós Bánffy

Sharon Wheeler, senior lecturer in journalism, University of Portsmouth, is reading Miklós Bánffy’s They Were Counted (Arcadia, 2009). “This novel is a total immersion in the social and political world of 19th-century Hungary and the Balkans. Your mileage may vary, though, as to how much you care about the aristocratic cousins through whose eyes the story is told. There are two more books after this sprawling epic – if I’m not back by Christmas, send out a search party.”

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