Bruce Scharlau, Zenon Stavrinides, Roy Turner, James Underwood and Sharon Wheeler...

A weekly look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers

January 30, 2014

Bruce Scharlau, senior teaching fellow in computing science, University of Aberdeen, is reading Raph Koster’s A Theory of Fun for Game Design (O’Reilly Media, 2013). “Koster engagingly places games in the context of fun, play and learning and provides lessons for all us gamers and non-gamers alike. The book is as much about flow and learning as it is about building games that players continue to find fun the longer they are played.”

How to Live, by Martin Cohen

Zenon Stavrinides, tutor in medical ethics, University of Leeds, is reading Martin Cohen’s How to Live: Wise (and Not So Wise) Advice from the Philosophers on Everyday Life (Media Studies Unit, 2013). “A deliciously irreverent work – genuinely philosophical and truly entertaining. It examines the doctrines of canonical philosophers but further, and most entertainingly, takes the mickey out of the philosophical grandees, showing with great relish that the tiny gold nuggets of wisdom are mixed with masses of alluvial deposits that would seriously damage your health if you accepted them.”

English Universities 1852-2012, by Michael Baatz

Roy Turner, former reader in theoretical physics, University of Sussex, is reading Michael Baatz’s English Universities 1852-2012: From Freedom to Control (Downland Publishing, 2013). “It is rare that I have a Damascene moment as a consequence of reading a book. I spent my working life as an academic, doing what academics do, but ignoring the bigger picture. Michael Baatz’s book details the gradual move from independent institutions towards today’s near-complete government control. Academia, wake up!”

Stoner: A Novel, by John Williams

James Underwood, doctoral candidate and tutor in English literature, University of Hull, is reading John Williams’ Stoner: A Novel (Vintage, 2013). “Worthy of all its recent acclaim in this magazine and elsewhere. A quiet yet powerful reminder – if ever we needed one – that universities, and scholarship, do not represent a turning-away from the real world, but a full-on engagement with it.”

Deirdre Unforgiven, by Eamon Carr

Sharon Wheeler, senior lecturer in journalism, University of Portsmouth, is reading Eamon Carr’s Deirdre Unforgiven: A Journal of Sorrows (Doire Press, 2013). “Carr is a true everyman – musician, journalist and poet. This dramatic work fuses his preoccupation with the Irish mythology he explored 30 years ago when he was with the band Horslips, and his more recent journalistic assignments north of the border. It’s an audacious mix of Irish myth, Japanese Noh theatre, reportage and modern history. Utterly bleak and utterly beautiful.”

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