An end of week recap
This 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 GOOD, THE BAD & THE TBR >>
I read for the first time the classic novel, Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne, which begins one ill-fated evening at London’s Reform Club when Phileas Fogg rashly makes a £20,000 wager with his companions to travel around the world in 80 days. No simple matter in 1872. >> See my thoughts >>
Look out for my review of The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai, which is out with Little, Brown Book Group UK on 5th July.
Next up is Bottled Goods by Sophie van Llewyn – a novella-in-flash that draws upon magic realism to weave a tale of everyday troubles in 1970s communist Romania.
Coming soon is a novel by one of my favourite authors, Pat Barker, so my expectations are running extremely (but I hope not unreasonably) high. The Silence of the Girls, which is due to be published by Penguin Books (UK) on 30th August, is a reimagining of the most famous conflict in literature: the legendary Trojan War.
* Reading. Looking. Thinking. *
We have a new feature on Book Jotter that enables me to ramble on about almost anything (whoopee! I hear you cry). You are invited to participate in Three Things…
Katie at Brunching Bookworms posted the very first Three Things... and, as I hoped, it is a delightful melange of topics, incorporating as it does a fascinating article discovered in a magazine, a documentary about Orcas kept in captivity and a charity run in which Katie and her friend Amy will be taking part to raise money for Cancer Research UK. Good luck ladies!
* Reading Wales Update *
Many thanks indeed to those of you who continue to share your thoughts and suggestions concerning Dewithon 2019. One or two interesting bits and bobs have turned up in recent weeks. I thought them worth mentioning:
Gretchen, my well-read and always supportive blogging buddy from Thoughts Become Words, shared some very interesting information about Welsh place names turning up in Australia. After reading my recent post on A Pocket Guide: The Literature of Wales, she commented: “I realised how many poetic Welsh names there are in Australia (especially in New South Wales) from Anglesey beach of my childhood to many local suburbs like Ebbw Vale aka Glyn Ebwy.” She described the first Welsh settlers who travelled by ship to her own area as, “trail-blazing pioneers” with, “at least 10 children per family.” She went on to explain: “Their trades were varied and their adaptability skills were first-rate!” She kindly supplied, “a local newspaper article on [her] historic Welsh church.” This link is worth following for the photographs alone, especially the one in which three radiantly smiling ladies are shown adorned in traditional Welsh dress.
You may also like to read Gretchen’s post, ‘The Last Dragonslayer’ by Jasper Fford, in which she looks at the 2010 novel by her “literary Welsh hero”, Jasper Fford – a London born author of absurdist fiction for young adults who has for many years lived and written in Wales. His popular works of fantasy are therefore eligible for Reading Wales.
Another great ally of Book Jotter is my multitalented blogmate, Chris from Calmgrove. He is a huge admirer of the late and much lamented Joan Aiken, a writer who specialised in supernatural fiction and children’s alternative history novels. An English author, Aiken was, as Chris has previously commented, “much indebted to Welsh culture in her children’s books.” He has discussed this topic in previous features on his blog, however, in his most recent piece, “A small slipshod girl”, he introduces us to Dido Twite. Dewithoners may also enjoy reading his article: Hell hath no fury.
In her post, Books That Make Me Want to Travel, Lark of Bookwyrm’s Hoard reveals that it was The Chronicles of Prydain by the American fantasy novelist, Lloyd Alexander that, “first awakened a love for Wales in [her] heart.” She says, although she’s, “read other books set in or about Wales, including at least one mystery series and a number of non-fiction books delving into whether the Arthurian myths have any historical basis,” it was the above named series, along with The Grey King and Silver on the Tree by Susan Cooper, The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart and The Mabinogion that turned her on to Cymru.
* Lit Crit Blogflash *
I’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 limit the list to only these few – all of them published over the last week or two:
The Whale Caller by Zakes Mda [bookreview] – Karen at BookerTalk reviews a South African novel about a man who becomes deeply attached to a Southern right whale. She describes it as, “simply a love story albeit a rather unusual one.”
20 Books of Summer #1 – Why have I never read Kent Haruf before? – Annabel Gaskella wonders why it has taken her so long to read anything by the late Kent Haruf. She shares her delight in his 2015 novel Our Souls at Night at Annabookbel as part of her 20 Books of Summer challenge, which is hosted by Cathy of 746 Books.
40 Years On, The Black Consciousness Reader Commemorates Steve Biko’s Murder: It’s Time – Diane at De Beer Necessities was “completely drawn into” The Black Consciousness Reader, a collection of writings about a current revival of Black Consciousness in South Africa.
“Three Lives” by Gertrude Stein – Art Educator, Jan Looper Smith of In the Loop, has written a fascinating piece for Books We’ve Read about Gertrude Stein’s innovative first collection of three stories about working-class women.
The Subtle Joys of Traveling Alone – Rennie, the versatile American writer, editor, proofreader and German to English translator at What’s Nonfiction? reviews Stephanie Rosenbloom’s new book about the meaningfulness of travelling alone.
Conferencing (and my Guard Your Daughters paper) – Simon, who loves napping but hates parsnips (I feel the same way about sprouts, Simon) shares his experiences of attending the British Women Writers 1930-1970 Conference in Chichester at Stuck in a Book.
* Irresistible Items *
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 Startup: Your Brain on Reading (Why Your Brain Needs You to Read Every Day) – Thomas Oppong explains why it is essential to read every day.
BOOKRIOT: On Having Empty Shelves: Less Can Be More – Lewis Parsons is a reader, professional librarian and a writer who doesn’t own many books. He explains why.
The New York Times Magazine: The Strange Case of the Missing Joyce Scholar – Two decades ago, a renowned professor promised to produce a flawless version of Ulysses. Then he disappeared.
The Guardian: Morality clauses: are publishers right to police writers? – “Offensive opinions. Bullying. Sexual misconduct. As the literary world is rocked by scandal US publishers are asking authors to sign contracts with ‘morality clauses’. Are they really the answer?” asks Claire Armitstead.
TLS: The least event – Gill Partington says the ‘skoob’ works of John Latham are, “a strange experience for the bibliophile.”
Signature: 10 Fantastic Books by Chinese and Chinese-American Authors – Keith Rice has chosen ten books by Chinese and Chinese-American authors, which he believes, “paint a vivid picture of life in America as a Chinese immigrant.”
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.
Categories: Winding Up the Week
Thanks for the link Paula. I recommend Our Souls at Night to everyone!
You’re very welcome, Annabel. I enjoyed reading your review.
That was kind of you to mention my review. Glad to know the Dewithon 2019 is getting traction and support.
You’re very welcome, Karen. Yes, there has certainly been a fair bit of interest in Dewithon. Fingers crossed there are plenty of participants come March!
I think I can rustle up one or two
Music to my ears (or books to my eyes in this instance)! 😊
Lovely to see mention of Susan Cooper and Joan Aiken, two favourites for many years!
I haven’t read anything by Susan Cooper!
Oh, you must! Fabulous writer!
Interesting links! I read the Chronicles of Prydain back in the day, round the same time I read the Susan Cooper books. In fact, I think I still have them somewhere in the house, after all those decades… 🙂
It’s odd but they never really came on to my radar, Karen.
So much great content for me to explore, Paula! Wonderful post! I felt the same as Annabel about Haruf- why did I wait so long to read him, and now I hoard much of his backlist unread to savor at a later time. Happy weekend to you!
Thank you, Jennifer. I hope you have a lovely weekend, too! 🤗
I have The Silence of the Girls on my TBR as well – I’ve not actually read any Pat Barker before, but I’m looking forward to this one!
Thanks for your comment, Ellie. Pat Barker writes superbly on people affected by war – the Regeneration trilogy (set in WWI) is quite brilliant. I don’t believe she’s attempted any conflict so far back as Trojan War in previous books, so it will be interesting to see where she goes with this one.
The Regeneration trilogy has been on my TBR for forever! Hopefully if I enjoy this one, I might actually get round to her earlier works.
I’m glad you liked the review, thank you so much for sharing and for your kind words, Paula!
You’re more than welcome, Rennie. I enjoy reading all your reviews.
As usual, a wonderfully varied feast to explore 🙂 (Hence it takes me a while!) I’ve wanted to read Haruf for a long time so it was a delight to read Annabel’s soaring review. I’m also – deep breath – seriously looking at streamlining my books. Not that I have that many, but still more than I think I want or need. The Minimalist Bookshelf is very reassuring!
Thanks, Sandra. Ooh, you’re brave! Any idea how the streamlining is to be done? Actually, I agree that keeping every single book can get a bit silly – but a minimalist bookshelf? I wish you luck.🍀 🤞
It’s still just an idea at the moment, Paula, but it all began with your 100 book library post! The scheme may remain nothing more than an abstract for quite a while, but it was good to see that a librarian thinks along similar lines 🙂
Oh ‘eck! It’s all my fault! 😕
Delighted and embarrassed and pleased that you mentioned me, Paula 🙂 I shall blame ill-health and blurry eyes for not replying sooner but I am honoured that you took the time and care. Your abundant blog is an inspiration!
You’re very welcome, Gretchen. Thank you for your continued support. Also, much appreciation for your kind and encouraging words. I hope all is well and you are feeling better. I thought I hadn’t seen so much of you recently – you’re missed when you’re not about. 🤗