Alumni Services

February 2016

This month’s bookshelf embraces everything from a poetry collection born out of Scotland’s flourishing spoken word scene to an atlas exploring the rich diversity of Scotland’s railway network.


Author Claire Askew
Degree English Literature MA(H), Creative Writing MSc, Creative Writing PhD
Book This changes things

This changes things is Claire Askew’s first full collection, coming after years of work in Scotland’s flourishing poetry and spoken word scene.

Her poems focus on the lives and experiences of women – particularly the socially or economically marginalised – at pains both to empathise and to recognise the limits of this empathy. They embody a need to acknowledge and challenge the poet’s privileged position as documenter and outsider, a responsibility to the poem’s political message and to that message’s human subject.

This changes things draws much of its strength from this exploration of inbetweenness. Claire Askew’s purposeful deployment of objects, lighting effects and liminal spaces implicates her reader in the poem’s argument, holds up a mirror and asks us to pay attention. The book’s romantic relationships, depictions of frustrated travel or social mobility, are bound up in its awareness of the systems of power that permit no true state of innocence. Even the final poem, ‘Hydra’ – with its celebration of the body and its senses – cannot ultimately allow us off the hook.

This changes things unsettles the homely and recognisable. In its compromised, imperfect characters and narratives, it proposes a radical way of translating neoliberal Britain.

This changes things



Author Kim Chamberlain, nee Andanar
Degree Linguistics MA(H)

The 5 Minute Brain Workout for Kids

The third in a series of 5 Minute Brain Workout books, Kim Chamberlain’s latest book offers 365 educational word and language puzzles, enough for one a day. Each puzzle takes around 5 minutes to complete, providing kids with a short daily brain workout.

From Alphabet Teasers and Mini Word Sudoku puzzles, to Speed Words and Word Store games, children can learn about acronyms, anagrams, definitions, rhyming words, syllables, word structure, and more. It will help them learn new words, spell better, problem solve, and have better concentration.

There are ten levels of puzzles from easy to challenging, plus answers at the back and kid-friendly graphics. Suitable for parents and teachers it’s an educational way to keep children occupied and help them improve their language skills. Aimed at children approximately age eight and upwards, and even suitable for adults.

The 5 Minute Brain Workout for Kids



Author Amy Liptrot
Degree English Literature MA(H)
Book The Outrun

When Amy Liptrot returns to Orkney after more than a decade away, she is drawn back to the Outrun on the sheep farm where she grew up. Approaching the land that was once home, memories of her childhood merge with the recent events that have set her on this journey.

Amy was shaped by the cycle of the seasons, birth and death on the farm, and her father's mental illness, which were as much a part of her childhood as the wild, carefree existence on Orkney. But as she grew up, she longed to leave this remote life. She moved to London and found herself in a hedonistic cycle. Unable to control her drinking, alcohol gradually took over. Now thirty, she finds herself washed up back home on Orkney, standing unstable at the cliff edge, trying to come to terms with what happened to her in London.

Spending early mornings swimming in the bracingly cold sea, the days tracking Orkney's wildlife - puffins nesting on sea stacks, arctic terns swooping close enough to feel their wings - and nights searching the sky for the Merry Dancers, Amy slowly makes the journey towards recovery from addiction.

The Outrun is a beautiful, inspiring book about living on the edge, about the pull between island and city, and about the ability of the sea, the land, the wind and the moon to restore life and renew hope.

The Outrun



Author Margaret G. Sim
Degree Divinity PhD
Book A Relevant Way to Read: A New Approach to Exegesis and Communication

An erudite introduction to relevance theory and its application to biblical criticism, illustrated through an examination of a selection of New Testament texts.

In A Relevant Way to Read, Margaret G. Sim draws on her in-depth knowledge of New Testament Greek to forge a new exegesis of the Gospels and Paul's letters. Locating her studies in the linguistic concept of relevance theory, which contends that all our utterances are laden with crucial yet invisible context, Sim embarks on a journey through some of the New Testament's most troubling verses. Here she recovers some of that lost information with a meticulous analysis that should enlighten both the experienced biblical scholar and the novice.

Whether discussing Paul's masterful use of irony to shame the Corinthians, or introducing the ground-breaking ideas behind relevance theory into a whole new field of study, Margaret G. Sim demonstrates her vast learning and experience while putting her complex subject into plain words for the developing student.

A Relevant Way to Read: A New Approach to Exegesis and Communication



Author David Spaven

Geography MA


The Railway Atlas of Scotland

The rich diversity of Scotland’s railway network has never before been the subject of a specialist atlas. This book showcases 181 topographical and railway maps, telling the story of the country’s railways from the early nineteenth century to the present day. Researched and written by David Spaven – who co-wrote the best-selling Mapping the Railways on the history of Britain’s rail network – this beautiful atlas allows the reader to understand the bigger story of the effects of the railway on the landscape and the impact of Scotland’s distinctive geography on the pattern of railway development over a period of nearly two hundred years.

 The unique map selection is supported by an informative commentary on key cartographic, geographical and historical features, and will appeal not just to railway enthusiasts and those who appreciate the beauty of maps, but also to readers fascinated by the role of railways in Scottish history.

The Railway Atlas of Scotland

Please note

All of the further information links listed are the external websites of the book publisher, the author, or the bookseller. The University of Edinburgh is not responsible for the content and functionality of these sites.