In Your Inner Hedgehog Alexander McCall Smith adds another volume to his Portuguese Irregular Verb series and you can count on some fine chuckles as he roasts the old school German pedants (like Professor Dr Dr Moritz-Maria von Igelfeld) who scheme mightily about all issues large and small at the tiny Institute of Romance Philology at the University of Regensburg. Academic Freedom is always a topic and von Igelfeld and his colleagues tend to define that as the freedom to do what they like and not be challenged by the lower pecking order who do not approve of what you have done or are doing.
When a new female Deputy-Librarian arrives with the demented idea that the Senior Coffee Room (which has been reserved for Full Chairs since the disappearance of the dinosaurs) should be open to all. It is all hands on deck to repulse the forces of distaff progress. A new doctrine of “compulsory anti-elitism” is in the air and the old profs worry that it will lead to compelling them to do such distasteful things as inviting your neighbors into your home.
The final straw is broken when complaints to the all powerful University Rector lead to a required election for a new Director of the Institute. All employees, ranging from the office cleaners and cafeteria staff to the senior professors are to have equal votes.
There are several other complications, including a loud American on a Post Doc, but since this is McCall-Smith everything is ironed out in the end. Getting there is half the fun with this author and if you are familiar with academic life you will enjoy this one. You can read it in two or three hours max.