Winding Up the Week #19

An end of week recap

Winding Up the Week #11This is a weekly post in which I summarize books read, reviewed and currently on my TBR shelf. In addition to a variety of literary titbits, I look ahead to forthcoming features, see what’s on the night-stand and keep readers abreast of various book-related happenings.


The official Blog Tour for Why Do Birds Suddenly Disappear? 200 birds, 12 months, 1 lapsed birdwatcher by Lev Parikian finally reached Book Jotter on Friday. I’ve been itching to share my thoughts on this memoir with you since the author first invited me to join his tour back in March. >> Here’s my review >>

I read and reviewed Books for Living: A Reader’s Guide to Life by Will Schwable, author of the best-selling The End of Your Life Book Club. I found his latest literary odyssey a bracing experience. >> Read my thoughts >>

Look out for my reflections on an old classic from 1937: Scoop by Evelyn Waugh, which I’m reading for May’s Monthly Genre Challenge (Comedy/Tragedy) with The 2018 Reading Challenge Group on Goodreads.

Next up is Caoilinn Hughes’s debut novel, Orchid & The Wasp, about tough, thoughtful, savvy Dublin-dweller, Gael Foess. It’s due for publication by Oneworld on 7th June.

Coming soon are two short books about the literature of Wales, which I intend to feature in a forthcoming Dewithon post.


* Guess Where I’ll Be Next Week? *

Next Saturday I will by writing to you from the famous Hay Festival. It is possible my planned ‘Hay Happenings’ posts won’t be as regular as intended because I won’t have constant internet access, but I will do my damnedest to keep you updated with frequent, on-site dispatches.

* A Short But Controversial Life *

It’s 130 years since the publication of Reuben Sachs by Amy Levy, an often misunderstood novel about the unfulfilled lives of Victorian women. I have long admired this work for its radical take on marriage but would have remained ignorant of its existence had Persephone Books not rescued it from oblivion in 2001. It was then I read it for the first time and discovered how remarkably courageous it was for its time. >> My thoughts on Amy Levy >>

* Lit Crit Blogflash *

El HachoI’m going to share with you six of my favourite literary posts from around the blogosphere. There are so many talented writers posting high-quality book features and reviews, it was difficult to whittle this list down to only these few – all of them published over the last week or so:

Her execution was used as a warning to other politically active women – A fascinating piece from Karen at Kaggsy’s Bookish Ramblings on the French playwright, feminist and revolutionary, Olympe de Gouges.

Reading rambles: reading in situ – Sandra at A Corner of Cornwall reflects on reading books in context and shares her thoughts on The Birdwatcher by William Shaw.

‘Despised and Rejected’ by Rose Allatini – There is an interesting post on Rose Allatini’s 1918 novel, Despised and Rejected, one of Persephone’s new spring titles, from Kirsty at The Literary Sisters blog. She describes it as “one of the pioneering gay novels of the twentieth century.”

Light on a CrimeCalmgrove’s Chris Lovegrove shares his thoughts on Georges Simenon’s Maigret in Holland, a novel first published in 1931 and set in the Dutch coastal town of Delfzjil.

El Hacho by Luis Carrasco: A Spanish fable – A lovely review of a novella set in Andalucia from Susan at A Life in Books – it’s the first book to be published by époque press.

Eleanor Limprecht, The passengers (#BookReview) – An astute and entertaining review of Eleanor Limprecht’s third novel, The Passengers, from Sue at Whispering Gums.

* Fab Features *

Umpteen fascinating articles appeared on my bookdar last week. I generally make a point of tweeting my favourite finds, but in case you missed anything, here are a handful of interesting snippets:


The Guardian: Fourth most published book in English language to go online – Mark Brown tells us how Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne (1789) by Rev Gilbert White inspired generations of naturalists including Charles Darwin.

Publishers Weekly: 10 Scariest Horror StoriesVictoria Nelson’s list of favourite horror stories include titles from H. P. Lovecraft, Leonora Carrington, Robert Aickman and more.

The Mission: Reading Books Will Help You Build These 7 Habits – Chad Grills explains why he believes books are “the most undervalued and under-appreciated technology in the world.”

The Guardian: Never-ending nightmare: why feminist dystopias must stop torturing women – “The Handmaid’s Tale has inspired a new generation of writers whose dystopian worlds are ever more bleak, dark and sadistic. But where is the hope?” asks Sarah Ditum.

Pacific Standard: How to Protect Rare Books and Manuscripts From the Ravages of Climate Change – Almost all archives are at risk from disasters or changing temperatures, writes Sophie Yeo. So why have archivists been so slow to take preventive measures?

Vulture: Sheila Heti, Ben Lerner, Tao Lin: How ‘Auto’ Is ‘Autofiction’? – The term ‘autofiction’ has been in use for the past decade – but is it accurate?

Unbound Worlds: Our 13 Favorite Science Books of the Past Two Decades – Keith Rice selects a few of his favourite popular science books “to entertain, stimulate, and most importantly, enlighten.”

BBC News: British Book Awards: Philip Pullman and Gail Honeyman dominatePhilip Pullman has been named author of the year at the British Book Awards for his “outstanding” success.

Book Riot: Watch the Trailer for the Documentary About Ursula K. Le Guin – Watch the trailer for the upcoming, crowdsourced film following the life of Ursula K. Le Guin.

The Paris Review: Gertrude Stein’s Mutual Portraiture Society – Between 1908 and her death, Gertrude Stein created over a hundred prose portraits (or “word paintings.”), many of which were reciprocated by visual artists.

Joe: Seven books about a capital city you probably don’t know enough about – London: “not just a capital city or a city of culture, but a city of the world and a city of all cultures,” writes Dom Nolan.

Signature: Our 25 Favorite Opening Lines in Literature – There’s something to be said for a memorable opening line. In the opinion of Keith Rice, he’s found “twenty-five of the very best first lines in literature.”



If there is something you would particularly like to see on Winding Up the Week or if you have any suggestions, questions or comments for Book Jotter in general, please drop me a line. I would be delighted to hear from you.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. I wish you a week bountiful in books and rich in reading.

NB In this feature, ‘winding up’ refers to the act of concluding something and should not be confused with the British expression: ‘wind-up’ – an age-old pastime of ‘winding-up’ friends and family by teasing or playing pranks on them. If you would like to know more about this expression, there’s an excellent description on Urban Dictionary.

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14 replies

  1. Thanks so much for making a post from me one of your 6 blog posts for the last week or so. I feel quite chuffed.

    I sometimes think about doing posts like this, but I never get around to doing it. I’ve enjoyed yours.

  2. Thanks so much for the link, Paula. El Hacho is a little gem of a book! Have fun in Hay.

  3. Wonderful post, Paula! I can’t wait to read your thoughts on Orchid and the Wasp. I have that one coming up soon and have high hopes. Hope you are having a great weekend!

  4. Thanks for linking to my post, and also for all the other fascinating links. So jealous of you going to Hay…..

  5. I’m very late – but my thanks too Paula; I feel very honoured to be included in your round-up 🙂 I’m already behind with reading posts and now I have several more articles to catch up on: I can never resist these tantalising links you offer us! I had read Signature’s 25 opening lines (and was gratified to find I have read quite a number of those books mentioned). So that’s one down!

    Enjoy Hay!

  6. Holy buckets! You had an incredibly busy week, Paula! I am super impressed. How on earth do you manage all this?

    I am quite excited to hear about what happens at the Hay Festival. No pressure to keep us informed, but I’m super excited!

    Ugh. That Guardian post about how dystopian literature needs to stop harming women both thrilled me and scared me. I mean, the reason so much dystopian lit features harming women is that we cannot imagine a future where this stops. Right? I feel it’s only appropriate to embrace it. And then watch and see if the dystopian trends change as women become more equal globally.

    • Well, I have more time these days because my partner and I sold our business last October (after building it up from scratch and working hard for 26 years), so I’m at last free to devote myself to books.

      Yes, I will definitely do my best to post updates from Hay. I can’t wait to get there!

      I’m in agreement with you, Jackie. There is good reason for all the current dystopian literature featuring women. It gets people talking and thinking about really important issues, which can only be a positive thing.

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