What are you reading?

A weekly look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers

August 15, 2013

Tim Forsyth, professor of environment and development, London School of Economics, is reading Mark P. Hampton’s Backpacker Tourism and Economic Development: Perspectives from the Less Developed World (Routledge, 2013). “A colourful and absorbing analysis of the history and economic impact of backpackers. Full of personal anecdotes from previous travellers, plus primary research about economic benefits arising from activities such as Full Moon Parties. It shows how backpacking has changed from ‘hippies’ to higher-spending tourists, often on gap years. An impressive, entertaining work that advances studies of both economic development and tourism.”

The Fight by Norman Mailer

Paul Greatrix, registrar, University of Nottingham, is reading Norman Mailer’s The Fight (Penguin, 2000). “A superb account of the 1974 Foreman versus Ali fight – the ‘Rumble in the Jungle’. I don’t like boxing, but Mailer’s writing does as much as anyone can to persuade that it is closer to art than pure violence. Covering the surreal build-up and all of the action, Ali, Foreman and Mailer himself all emerge as fascinating and complex characters.”

The Country and the City by Raymond Williams

Julian Preece, professor of German, Swansea University, is reading Raymond Williams’ The Country and the City (Spokesman, 2011). “First published 40 years ago, Williams’ masterpiece is still fresh and topical because he writes about ideology with learning worn lightly and in a timeless critical style. The great tradition of English literature may not be as central as it once was, but Williams shows us that behind all myths and stereotypes lies material life that feeds them.”

Mary Boleyn by Alison Weir

Sara Read, lecturer in English and Society for Renaissance Studies postdoctoral fellow in the department of English and drama, Loughborough University, is reading Alison Weir’s Mary Boleyn: ‘The Great and Infamous Whore’ (Vintage, 2012). “Weir states correctly that this book is as much a historiography as it is a biography; she engages and overturns previous presumptions about Anne Boleyn’s older, and ultimately more fortunate, sister. In doing so, Weir not only extricates Mary from the historical description of her as a ‘great and infamous whore’ but aptly demonstrates the prevailing sexual double standards at the Tudor court.”

A Life Too Short by Ronald Reng

Sharon Wheeler, senior lecturer in journalism, University of Portsmouth, is reading Ronald Reng’s A Life Too Short: The Tragedy of Robert Enke (Yellow Jersey, 2012). “Why does an international footballer with the world at his feet decide to take his own life? That’s the question posed by this biography of Germany’s Robert Enke, who stepped in front of a train in 2009. Reng, a family friend, narrates a tale of an elite sportsman racked by self-doubt and depression. It’s pitched perfectly – intensely moving without becoming overly emotional or morbid.”

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