A couple of weeks ago I reblogged a post from Pat Thomson

“This post began in exactly this way, with a five am wondering about what my favorite academic books would say about – and to – me. As I started to go through the books I’d put on a very, very short list I realized – and it was one of those kind of Homer Simpson d’oh moments – that the books I most valued were ones which were the kind of work I’d love to do.

So I want to suggest here that it could be helpful to think, more often than I have been doing, not simply about the research that you want to do, but also the kind of writing that you aspire to. When thinking about answers to the question “ What academic work do I want to be known for?” the answer might just as well be about the quality of the writing as the actual subject matter…”

I’ve been thinking about it on and off ever since, and I said that I would blog about my favourite academic books.  I have two authors in mind.  The first is my supervisor Glyn Redworth, the second, Michael Wood.  It’s dawned on me that I like their writing for the same reason: although it’s based on scholarship, it retains bounce and spark. I have always wondered why academic writing is so often flat and lifeless.  Theirs isn’t.  Although Michael Wood’s ‘Conquistadors’ series was on television when I was writing my undergraduate dissertation  (there, that dates me) and hooked me (any man who takes his tea bags up the Amazon and then makes a brew on camera is my hero), it was his book ‘In Search of England‘ that I read a few years later that I thought was really beautiful.  And Glyn’s book on the Spanish Match, ‘The Prince and the Infanta‘ was a gift from my first child long before he could actually be responsible for any gifts himself!  But that’s not the only reason I like it, although it’s a good enough one.  Both have a musicality to the writing.  It’s lyrical.  And I suspect that, as a musician, that’s what I appreciate in writing and what I would like to emulate in my own work.  Perhaps my thesis is not the place for it.  Perhaps it is.

I only know that if I could write half as well as either of them, I’d be a very happy girl.

 

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