Winding Up the Week #40

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.


I read the remarkable short story collection Ficciones by Jorge Luis Borges for the 1944 Club. It was also my third selection from The Classics Club list. >> 1944 CLUB: Ficciones by Jorge Luis Borges >>

I shared my thoughts on Roald Dahl’s Matilda and the recently released Matilda at 30: Chief Executive of the British Library with new illustrations by Quentin Blake. >> REREADING: Matilda by Roald Dahl >>

Look out for my comments on Shirley Jackson’s 1959 supernatural thriller, The Haunting of Hill House. Something suitably creepy for All Hallows’ Eve and another pick for The Classics Club.


* Lit Crit Blogflash *

GIFTS OF READINGI’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 Gifts of Reading by Robert Macfarlane – The always witty and entertaining Izzy at Thinking and Inking describes Macfarlane’s essay about books as “slim, sharp” and “heart-warming”.

Feminist Fridays: Masturbation Madness? Holly at Nut Free Nerd has been reading Philip Roth’s 1969 bestseller Portnoy’s Complaint for a senior seminar. She has issues with its “blatant sexism” and wonders why we aren’t reading about masturbation “from a woman’s point of view?”

Carol by Patricia Highsmith – “Themes of attachment and abandonment were remarkably well done”, writes Kate at booksaremyfavouriteandbest of Highsmith’s 1952 story of romantic obsession.

Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata – This recently published Japanese novel is a “story that stays with you,” according to Deb Baker at bookconscious.

Tales from the Book Trade – The author Victoria Blake works in a second-hand charity book shop. In this amusing post she shares her experiences over the course of one day.

The Eternally Dithering Kafka: Some Final Thoughts on Stach’s The Decisive Years – Melissa Beck of The Book Binder’s Daughter has read 1000 pages of Reiner Stach’s three volume Kafka biography and is “completely absorbed” in the narrative.

* 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 Guardian: Milkman is a bold choice but it’s unlikely to please booksellers – “Anna Burns’s Booker winner is experimental, even baffling,” says Claire Armitstead, “but it does speak to our era”.

The New Yorker: Growing Up in the Library – Susan Orlean is: “Learning and relearning what it means to have a book on borrowed time.”

The Paris Review: Feminize Your Canon: Violet Trefusis – In an irony Trefusis wouldn’t have appreciated, her literary immortality derives not from her own oeuvre but from her roles in other writer’s fiction.

Signature: Awards Introduction: 6 Literary Prizes and a Few Winning Books We Love – Jennie Yabroff discusses the most coveted literary prizes and some of the authors who won them.

Vulture: We Regret to Inform You That Little Women Is Not a Feminist Novel – Is Little Women a feminist novel? Hillary Kelly thinks not.

CrimeReads: The Art of the Painstaking Sherlock Recreation – Rebecca Romney visits 221B Baker Street in Pennsylvania.

Londontopia: Stanfords, My Favorite Bookstore in London, Is Moving From its Iconic Current Location after More than a CenturyStanfords, London’s prestigious travel bookstore is moving for the first time in 117 years.

Literary Hub: On the Impossibility of Locating the Line Between Fiction and Non – “Michelle Bailat-Jones is tired of answering the same questions”.

Bookish: From Hobbit Hole to Secret Garden: 10 Literary Vacation Spots for Book Lovers – Myfanwy Collins has pulled together a selection of literary holiday spots “you’ll want to write home about.”

Mental Floss: New Study Confirms Growing Up in a Home Filled With Books Is Good for You – A new report has shown that “people who grow up with books at home tend to have higher reading comprehension and better mathematical and digital communication skills”, writes Emily Petsko.

Signature: What David Copperfield Reveals About Marriage in the 19th Century – Charles Dickens’s intimate novel, David Copperfield, takes readers into the domestic sphere to witness how men treat women and children behind closed doors.

Unbound Worlds: 21 of the Best Horror Books by Women – Women authors don’t always get the recognition they deserve in the horror world, so Emily Hughes has pulled together some of her favourites.

First Things: The Bookish Life – What’s the point of a bookish life? Author Joseph Epstein writes on how to read and why.

The New York Times: Val McDermid on What It’s Like Judging the Man Booker Prize – A look behind the scenes at the Man Booker Award.

Nylon: 7 Black Folklore Books Everyone Should Read – A fascinating selection of titles from Taylor Bryant.



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 or comment below. 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. I was a bit bemused by the tone of that Guardian article on Anna Burns, suggesting that Milkman wouldn’t sell and calling it a ‘plucky’ book. Sounds like you’ve had a great reading week – as always, thanks for the links.

    • Many thanks, Cathy. Yes, I thought it was rather a case of ‘damned with faint praise’. I haven’t yet read Milkman, but I’m guessing it’s a bit different from the usual Booker winners – though, surely that’s a positive development. It isn’t good to get stuck in a rut, so Burns’ novel may be a very good thing for the competition!

      • I’m about two-thirds through and really enjoying it. Sure it is an unusual narrative style, but it’s not overly ‘difficult’ and it is incredibly funny.

  2. Love that New Yorker piece Susan Orlean wrote about growing up in the library. Her new book is just fantastic. So many wonderful links as always, Paula! I’m always looking forward to what you find each week 🙂

  3. Melissa’s posts on the Kafka biography are a labour of literary love. Nice to see them on here, Paula.

  4. Damn I didn’t know that about Little Women. While I didn’t necessarily think of it as a feminist novel it comes out as a surprise how patriarchal it sounds. Great links as per your usual standards.

  5. Great post as always, Paula! ♥️ That article by Susan Orlean has me so excited about The Library Book because I have that one to read! I hope you are having a lovely weekend! The fall transition is finally happening- cold tonight, so it’ll zap some plants and probably the last of my blooms. The leaves are all still very green. 🍁 🍂 🍃 ♥️ 🦋

    • Thank you, Jennifer. I look forward to discovering your thoughts on The Library Book – I rather fancy reading it myself. So, you’ve finally joined us drowning in a sea of leaves. The colours look stunning here – perhaps, when they start to change, you could use them in your photos. The squirrels are busy collecting provisions for the winter and our house has been overrun with Harlequin ladybirds after our unusually hot summer. They’re very sweet but will insist on landing on my Kindle when I’m reading with the lights off at night! 🐞🏡🍂📚💙

      • Oh my goodness, I thought you had real birds landing on your Kindle at night, and I gave that a quick google! We call them ladybugs here, but I love calling them ladybirds! Yes, I would love to use some leaves in my pictures- great idea! I am worried that most will be brown from our oaks, but I may borrow some from the neighbors who have more colors. I don’t think they’ll mind if I take a few leaves from their piles. 😂 I will keep you posted about The Library Book! 🐞 🐦 ♥️

      • Hah! Yes, of course: ladybugs. I’m quite relieved actual birds aren’t landing on my Kindle at night. It would be rather distracting! 🦃 I definitely think you should half-inch (pinch) some leaves from your neighbours. 🤣🐞🍂💙

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