What are you reading?

A weekly look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers

November 29, 2012

Camilla Adelle, researcher in environmental policy, University of East Anglia, is reading Lorenzo Fioramonti's Gross Domestic Problem: The Politics Behind the World's Most Powerful Number (Zed Books, 2013). "Gross domestic product has become a mantra dominating public life and driving government policy. By unpacking this well-known statistic - what it measures, what it doesn't and why - this offers an accessible insight into the history and politics behind GDP and presents an alternative vision of how to organise our economy. Food for thought!"

Andrew Crines, lecturer in politics, University of Huddersfield, is reading Richard Hayton's Reconstructing Conservatism? The Conservative Party in Opposition, 1997-2010 (Manchester University Press, 2012). "In an excellent reappraisal of recent Conservative Party history, Hayton discusses the extent to which the Tory party truly modernised between 1997 and 2010. He argues that the Conservatives remain essentially economically libertarian, socially conservative and effectively dogmatic about the British state. This is a must-read for anyone interested in contemporary conservatism and modern British politics."

Paul Greatrix, registrar, University of Nottingham, is reading Chad Harbach's The Art of Fielding (Fourth Estate, 2012). "In general I do like a campus novel. However, I don't like baseball, and there is rather a lot of it in this story of the campus experiences of ballplayers Henry, Mike and Owen and their interactions with the college president and his daughter. Despite this, it is all reasonably entertaining and rolls along well (until the end) and the lead characters are quite engaging. The key message in my view: baseball and academia don't mix terribly well."

Peter Mills, senior lecturer in media and popular culture, Leeds Metropolitan University, is re-reading Olaf Stapledon's Sirius (Gollancz, 2011). "First published in 1944, this is the most readable of Stapledon's brilliant if archaic philosophical novels: the tale of a dog blessed and cursed with human intelligence after Dr Moreau-like experiments. It has no happy ending but offers canny and startling insights on the human race from an articulate, empathetic outsider. My PhD concerned Stapledon, and this remains my favourite of his books."

Peter J. Smith, reader in Renaissance literature, Nottingham Trent University, is reading Jamaica Kincaid's Annie John (Picador, 1985). "In an incisive evocation of adolescence, Kincaid captures the intransigence of her teenage narrator. The Antigua- set novella evokes the island's vibrant exoticism and the insularity of Annie's upbringing. Her fraught relationship with her radiant mother drives her to leave, and her destination - England - casts a residual colonial shadow over the ending. Lyrical and subtle throughout, this is an afternoon well spent."

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