When we’re not busy working on new blog posts, jetsetting to conferences or working on our latest chapter drafts, we’re big fans of finding out what other UofG PGRs and staff are getting up to, from new and exciting research projects, to cheeky glimpses into their offices, or #PGRSelfCare routines. One of the many things we learned from our recent #PGRSelfCare competition was that for some PGRs, there’s nothing they love more than curling up with a good book, or perusing the shelves of the West End’s many book shops. With this in mind, we asked the bloggers and our friends in the PGR office to share what they’ll be reading next.
This summer I plan to fully enjoy being able to read purely for pleasure and not because I ‘have to’ for my thesis! So, my summer booklist is a real mixed bag, from popular fiction through to indulging my love of medical science non-fiction. First, I plan on re-reading all the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. I feel no shame for my love of the historical ‘bodice-ripper’. This month, I also read neurosurgeon Henry Marsh’s new work Admissions: A Life in Brain Surgery. Even if medical science isn’t your thing, this book has some insightful thoughts on the future of our NHS which make it great reading. Pale Rider: The Spanish Flu of 1918 and How It Changed the World by Laura Spinney will also be on my medical booklist. I will also be maintaining my love for crime fiction, by reading the latest offering in the Charlie Parker series by John Connolly: A Game of Ghosts is the latest, while the first in the series is Every Dead Thing. Finally, to keep you company on the summer commute and balmy lunch-breaks, I recommend Stressed Unstressed: Classic Poems to Ease the Mind edited by Jonathan Bate. I always turn to poetry when I feel stressed out and these short texts are great for when you just can’t fit in a novel.
I just read a whole book on flags… it was great! “Worth Dying For: The Power and Politics of Flags”, by journalist and leading foreign affairs authority Tim Marshall, delves into the history and symbolism of the small strips of fabric that come to define both nations and movements. What next? I am trying to decide between ‘Not a Scientist: How Politicians Mistake, Misrepresent, and Utterly Mangle Science” by Dave Levitan or “His Bloody Project”, the debut novel by Scottish author Graeme Macrae Burnet, which revolves around the events of a (fictional) brutal murder in a remote community in the Scottish Highlands in 1869… fact or fiction? Probably neither, the thesis calls.
I used to love reading, but now that I’m reading all day every day for PGR work, I’m more likely to chill with Netflix or Youtube in my spare time. Luckily the holidays are a perfect time to catch up! I’ll be re-reading my ultimate summer novel, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, which is the debut of my favourite writer Michael Chabon (who went on to win a Pulitzer for The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay – which I’d also highly recommend). Set in a sweltering hot 1980 Pittsburgh summer where the protagonist has nothing to do but figure out his future, it gives you the ultimate post-uni holiday vibe where everything is possible. For some more serious reading, I’m looking forward to Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari, as I’ve heard so many good things about it. This book explores the future of mankind and the challenges facing our species – apparently it’s a bit apocalyptic, but I hope it won’t be too depressing! Finally, I want to read Goodbye, Things by Fumio Sasaki, which is an assay exploring the philosophy and history of minimalism. Touching upon principles from Zen Buddhism, it asks the question of whether there’s happiness in having less. As I’ll have to move away again in a year and fit my life into a single suitcase, I hope it’ll inspire me to get rid of some stuff!
You might think it’s strange, but I’ve spent most of the last year reading through as many Stephen King books as I can manage. Reading every single thing that an author has on offer (haha) is something that I do (see my post on ASD if you want some perspective). I’ve just completed the eight-book Dark Tower series and thought, with the new movie coming out soon, I’d start on ‘It’ as I hadn’t read that one before. It’s also one of the novels which is apparently referenced within the Dark Tower books and I’d like to find out where they cross over. Sometimes I need to take a break from reading the same author for a year (it’s not them, it’s me) and, when that happens, I turn to the Guardian’s 100 Greatest Novels of All Time which I’m slowly making my way through. I haven’t actually read much non-fiction since before I started my undergrad way back when: reading some fiction for an hour or two before bed is how I roll—it helps me relax.
Cia Jackson – PGR Office Intern
I went to see Anthony Horowitz at the Edinburgh Book Festival recently, so I’ve been rereading several of his books whilst I wait for his next crime thriller, The Word is Murder, to be published. I freely admit I’m a sucker for Horowitz’s writing, and I was delighted when his latest young adult novel, Never Say Die, was released earlier this summer. It’s over a decade since I first read his series about reluctant teenage spy, Alex Rider, but I’m still firmly of the opinion that nobody quite creates intrigue or deliciously twisted villains quite like Horowitz. If I eventually tire of grisly murders and espionage-associated mayhem, I’ve plenty of comics to enjoy too- ones that aren’t even connected to my thesis, which is always a bonus! I’m a huge fan of Josie and the Pussycats, so I can’t wait to read the first volume of Marguerite Bennett’s take on the characters, as well as catch up on the next instalment of Kelly Thompson’s fantastically uplifting and glamorous Jem & the Holograms.
Sian Collins – Graduate Project Officer
This summer I am planning to make my way through my growing ‘bucket list’ that I started as an English Lit undergrad and continually add to and get sidetracked with. I am currently reading The Power by Naomi Alderman. I was drawn to this book because of its noted parallels to Margaret Atwood’s legendary The Handmaid’s Tale: a book enjoying a surge in popularity due to a captivating TV adaption currently on air. (Side note: I’m ashamed to say that I haven’t read Atwood’s book yet as it sat on my book bucket list and then I couldn’t resist seeing Elisabeth Moss in action before reading…) Back to The Power, the world descends into chaos when a flurry of teenage girls realise they can cause unimaginable pain, even death, with the flick of a finger. The female uprising brings a dystopian era with it and it’s a really interesting take on the concept of power, gender and violence. I’m not usually a sci-fi fan but this has been a fun read. Another book of my bucket list was Gloria Steinem’s autobiographical A Life on the Road. It charts her life as an civil rights campaigner and political organiser originating from her nomadic upbringing with her parents. Wisdom oozes from the pages of this book and is undeniably attributed to her experience travelling the world and understanding individual plight – an inspirational read!
Rebekah Derrett- PGR Administrator
An unplanned delay in airport security meant I had no time to pick up some holiday reading before boarding my plane. However I discovered that you can access a range of titles to download using your Glasgow Libraries card via the Overdrive app. Since then I have been devouring the ‘Maisie Dobbs’ mystery series by Jacqueline Winspear. A cross between Poirot and Foyle’s War and set between the two world wars, Maisie Dobbs, psychologist and investigator delves into unsolved mysteries and crimes which are bound up with the social and emotional legacy of the first world war.
Richard Marshall- Researcher Development Officer
‘Summer Reading’ lists tend towards exercises in one-upmanship, packed either with bleedingly ‘on-trend’ reading or pretentious cultural posturing. I have no intention of reading War and Peace this summer; as a new father, if I get to read anything other than the odd journal article for my own research I will consider this a bonus. Short story collections are called for, by preference works out of copyright that can fill odd moments via a ‘phone or tablet. I’m looking forward to renewing my acquaintance with the shorter cases of Sherlock Holmes; if time permits, I may look up some Kipling or Saki. Grazing for pleasure among such wonderfully varied and conveniently digestible collections, rather than committing to the conquest of some great tome, helped me stay sane during my doctorate; besides, all my book-money is now being spent on nappies!
What are your reading plans for the summer? Do you have any recommendations to share? As ever, let us know in the comments below, or tweet us @UofG_PGRblog.