Winding Up the Week #44

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 Bodily Harm for Margaret Atwood Reading Month, an immensely enjoyable book blogging event that runs throughout November. >> READING: Bodily Harm by Margaret Atwood >>

Look out for my thoughts on the quintessential YA adventure novel, Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson, which I read for The Classics Club.

Next up is The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion for Nonfiction November.

Coming soon is a new translation of Franz Kafka’s The Unhappiness of Being a Single Man: Essential Stories, which will be published by Pushkin Press as part of the Pushkin Collection series.


* Next in Nonfiction November *

It’s week three of the month-long celebration of favourite non-fiction reads. In this post I look at becoming an expert on Penguin Books. >> NONFICTION NOVEMBER: Week 3 – Becoming the Expert >>

* Lit Crit Blogflash *

THE DIVINERSI’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 Diviners – Margaret Laurence (1974) – Ali Hope at Heavenali found the characters “wonderfully memorable” and the storytelling “rich” in the final novel of Canadian author Margaret Laurence’s Manawaka sequence.

‘America’ by Franz Kafka (GLM VIII) – Over at Intermittencies of the Mind Jonathan rereads Kafka’s first novel for German Literature Month and finds it both “excellent” and “humorous”.

Milkman by Anna Burns – Claire McAlpine at Word by Word wonders how the author could “sustain this kind of writing […] day after day” and what it must be like to live in such a “stifling” community? She declares this 2018 Man Booker Prize winner “astounding”.

Early Riser by Jasper Fforde – “The sheer wintriness of this book […] motivates the plot”, writes David Harris for Shiny New Books in his critique of this new title. He does, however, think it “an excellent addition to Fforde’s imaginary worlds”.

The Better Angels of Our Nature, by Steven Pinker (Thoughts on ‘Womens Rights and the Decline of Rape and Battering’) – Lisa Hill has her reservations about Pinker’s provocative but popular history of violence. She shares her thoughts on Chapter 7, ‘The Rights Revolution’ at ANZ LitLovers LitBlog.

A 1950s career woman: GWENLLIAN MEYRICK, Against the Stream (1953)Furrowed Middlebrow (published by Dean Street Press) examines a “time capsule” about a woman’s “efforts to claim a career for herself” in a fuddy-duddy England of the 1950s.

* 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 Irish Times: Serhii Plokhy’s Chernobyl wins 2018 Baillie Gifford Prize – A Harvard professor has won the UK’s most prestigious non-fiction prize with Chernobyl: The History of a Nuclear Catastrophe.

Book Riot: Launching the Arabic Translation of THE HANDMAID’S TALERewayat Reads debuted the first Arabic translation of The Handmaid’s Tale at this year’s Sharjah International Book Fair.

The Guardian: Pretentious, impenetrable, hard work … better? Why we need difficult books – This year’s Booker-winner Milkman has been criticised for being challenging. But are we confusing readability with literary value?” asks Sam Leith.

The Paris Review: In Defense of Puns – James Geary finds that punning has long been considered the lowest form of wit, when, in fact, it is among the highest.

Metropolis: Five Female Japanese Writers You Should Be Reading – Jessica Esa shares her thoughts on the best contemporary female Japanese authors with English translated novels.

Varsity: Why it’s okay not to read the book first – Vee Tames explains why she believes we need adaptions and “how they can be gloriously enriching”.

CrimeReads: Who Watches The Watchers? Spoiler Alert: We Do – Claire Fuller writes on the many visions of voyeurism in crime fiction.

The New Yorker: How Climate-Change Fiction, or “Cli-Fi,” Forces Us to Confront the Incipient Death of the Planet – Katy Waldman introduces us to an “online collection of speculative short stories” that “explores and gently transfigures the incomprehensible realities of climate change.”

The Southern Reporter: The Mainstreet Trading Company triumphs as Britain’s Best Small Shop of 2018 – An independent bookshop, The Mainstreet Trading Company’s Bookshop & Café in St Boswells, has been named Britain’s Best Small Shop of 2018.

Women’s Prize For Fiction: Revealing the 2019 Women’s Prize Judges – The 2019 Women’s Prize for Fiction judging panel has been revealed.

Medium: The Libraries (and Librarians) That Shape Our Lives – “Libraries go deep. Everyone, it seems, has their favourite library or librarian”, writes Susan Orlean in this piece for the Library Stories Collection.

Goodreads: The Art of Buying a Book for a Serious Reader – Discovering the perfect books for keen readers is more difficult than many people think. Tom Nissley has some tips for successfully gifting books.

Fine Books & Collections: Russian Literary First Editions Coming up at Christie’s – Early 19th and 20th-century texts from one of the most significant private collections of Russian literature in America will be up for auction at Christie’s later this month.

Literary Ladies Guide: Books for Book Lovers: Bookshops, Libraries, Reading, & Bibliomania – Nava Atlas suggests “a slew of books for book lovers that celebrate the passion for the page.”

Melville House: Fell behind on your 2018 reading goals? Here’s how to get back on track – Stephanie Valente has five tips to help you “crush your reading targets”.

The Guardian: ‘Terrible times are coming’: The Holocaust diary that lay unread for 70 years – “Jewish teenager Renia Spiegel was executed in Poland days after her 18th birthday”, writes Alison Flood. “Decades after her diary resurfaced in America, it is finally set to be read by the world”.

WWD: La Hune Bookstore Reopens With Ellen von Unwerth Exhibition – Fleur Burlet reports on the reopening of La Hune, the famous Left Bank bookstore, after a year of refurbishment following a fire.

iai news: 70 Philosophy Books Everyone Should Read – “From Ancient Greece to Postmodernism, this list has you covered…”

Electric Literature: Your Favorite Children’s Book Heroes: Where Are They Now? – “Adults have failed us,” says Erin Bartnett, “so here are the children we’d like to imagine growing up to do a better job”.



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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20 replies

  1. Thanks for the mention!

  2. I liked the list of philosophy books-especially good to see that they had entries on Japanese ans African philosophy which one doesn’t come across as often.

  3. Very pleased to see Hiromi Kawakami mentioned in the 5 Female Japanese writers – I find her novels such a joy. I’ll explore the other 4 mentioned too! Wonderful round-up as always Paula 🙂

    • I’m ashamed to say I’ve read nothing by Kawakami, but as you think so highly of her I will make a real effort to seek out her novels. As I’m sure you agree, there are simply so many wonderful authors in the world (not to mention those no longer living) and not enough hours in one’s lifetime to read all their works. Nevertheless, we have immense fun trying!

  4. The article on reading goals will be a good one to refer back to when we all come to think of 2019 goals. I may not do any goals this year – I am so bad at sticking to them

  5. The cli-fi article is interesting, isn’t it? Other collections centered around the theme seem all too likely to appear. Hope you enjoy The Year of Magical Thinking!

  6. I loved The Year of Magical Thinking – look forward to hearing what you think of it

  7. Huge fan of Jasper Fforde, thanks for alerting me to David Harris’ review of Early Riser. I’ve been waiting soooo long for this new book!

  8. Oh, you wonderful thing, you! As I type this I am up to Chapter Four and it’s decidedly different in a cool way.

  9. I cannot believe that it’s already time to announce the Women’s Fiction Prize judges; I feel like the 2018 prize has just been announced (and my reading progress through this year’s list would suggest that’s true too!) Also, The Handmaid’s Tale in Arabic: wicked cool! And now I’m off to read that review of The Diviners! Great round-up, as usual. (And, thanks again for your support of #MARM before and during this month. Did you get your slice of cake via Naomi’s blog?)


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