Winding up the Week #49

An end of week recap

POPNLILTomorrow I will be heading off to the coast for a few days with my partner and dogs, which is why I’m winding up the week a day early.

I hope those of you who celebrate Christmas have a wonderful time over the next few days and discover a ginormous pile of books under the tree (as you can see, there are two plump Labradors under mine!).

As ever, 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.

Happy reading everyone. See you next Saturday!


I shared my thoughts on The Wind in the Willows, one of the most adored children’s novels of all time, written by Kenneth Grahame. >> Read: THE CLASSICS CLUB: The Wind in the Willows >>


* Lit Crit Blogflash *

FRIEDAI’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:

Frieda by Annabel Abbs: A Sideways Look at D.H. Lawrence – Rebecca Foster of Bookish Becks has “a weakness for ‘famous wives’ books” but assures us we need “no prior knowledge to fall in love [with Frieda Lawrence’s] vivacity” in this recently published historical novel.

An Alternative Christmas Reading List! – Over at 746 Books Cathy Brown has come up with a selection of Christmas-themed books for “outsiders, loners and those with broken hearts”.

book review: The Penguin Book of Japanese Short Stories – Rachel from pace, amore, libri “spent a while with this collection” and found it “stronger than the sum of its parts.”

Penguin Moderns: Georges Simenon and William Carlos Williams – Kirsty at The Literary Sisters describes Georges Simenon’s Letter To My Mother, a confessional letter to his dead mother, as “tender and honest”.

From transcript to transmissionTranscription by Kate Atkinson is a “sensitively written and gripping novel” according to Chris Lovegrove at Calmgrove.

A Little Something for Rebecca West Day – Jane features Rebecca West in her excellent Birthday Book of Underappreciated Lady Authors series at Beyond Eden Rock.

* Irresistible Items *

Umpteen fascinating articles appeared on my bookdar last week. I generally make a point of tweeting my favourite finds (or adding them to our Facebook group page), but in case you missed anything, here are a handful of interesting snippets:


CHRISTMAS TREEVintage: Jeanette Winterson’s Christmas Recommendations – Jeanette Winterson donned her antlers and talked to Vintage about what she’ll be reading and giving this Christmas.

The Guardian: A good bookshop is not just about the books – at last we realise that – “Amazon may have lower prices, but it can never replace a real shop with a book lover on hand to guide us”, writes Sian Cain in her opinion piece.

The Paris Review: Pat Barker, The Art of Fiction No. 243 – Pat Barker converses with the columnist Valerie Stivers at her home in Durham.

The New York Times: A Dissident Chinese Novelist Finds Echoes of Mao, and Orwell – Ma Jian, an exiled Chinese novelist living in London, speaks to Mike Ives about his work.

Brain Pickings: Emily Dickinson’s Electric Love Letters to Susan Gilbert – “Four months before her twentieth birthday, Emily Dickinson […] met the person who became her first love and remained her greatest”, writes Maria Popova

Time: How If Beale Street Could Talk Author James Baldwin Went From Literary Critic to Civil-Rights Icon – “History changed around James Baldwin”, writes Olivia B. Waxman, and as it did, he went from being a literary critic to a civil rights icon within his own lifetime.

The Bookseller: Oxford University Press announces new Dahl titles – Charlotte Eyre reveals that “following on from the success of the Roald Dahl Dictionary, Oxford University Press will publish two more books about Dahl’s words in 2019.”

Vox: Instagram is helping save the indie bookstore – Nisha Chittal believes that the visual appeal of independent bookstores plays well on Instagram and is boosting sales.

Book Riot: Start a Tradition with Short Stories for Christmas – Jesse Doogan urges us to celebrate Yuletide by reading stories such as The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry and others.

Brain Pickings: The Loveliest Children’s Books of 2018 – Maria Popova shares “the loveliest such timeless, ageless illustrated philosophies for living that [she has] read in 2018”.

The Bookseller: Heather Marks wins 2018 Quarto Translations Award – This year’s Quarto Translations Diversity Award has been won by a story set in both 18th century Bristol and the Caribbean.

Society of Environmental Journalists: ‘Cli-Fi’ a New Horizon for Climate Change Writers – Dan Bloom discovers environmental writers are reaching new horizons as interest in cli-fi, or climate fiction, rises.

The Guardian: Bleak house: the dark truth behind Charles Dickens’ Christmas obsession – A new report examines Charles Dickens’ traumatic childhood, his obsession with Christmas and dark truths behind his famous tale.

Books in the Media: Best Thrillers and Crime Fiction 2018: The Critics’ Picks – Best of the year selections collated from major daily newspapers.

The Paris Review: Feminize Your Canon: Anna Kavan – Emma Garman explores the life of Anna Kavan, a British novelist, short story writer and painter who originally published under her first married name, Helen Ferguson.

The Island Review: Birdland – Anna Iltnere asked “a handful of writers, a photographer, an artist and a marine biologist to choose an island of birds and tell [her] something about it, and to name their favourite bird.” Read stories by Michael Brooke, Tim Dee, Kittie Jones, Jennifer Lavers, Amy Liptrot, Adam Nicolson and Marianne Taylor.

The Weekly Standard: Life Begins at Baron – According to Joseph Epstein, Marcel Proust started his writing life as a snob but ended it as the great critic of snobbery.

Unbound Worlds: The Word for Empathy is Sci-Fi: On Le Guin, Kress, and Kindness – Jaime Green firmly believes that the “real gift of Ursula K. Le Guin’s writing was in how she used sci-fi to expand our understanding and empathy. But she wasn’t alone: Nancy Kress has done the same.”



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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30 replies

  1. Have fun! Happy holidays!

  2. Two adorable dogs patiently waiting for Santa, or a treat, or both! Have a happy holidays and, again, thanks for all the interesting links. I’m off to have a surf.

  3. Thanks for sharing my post! Have a lovely holiday 🙂

  4. Oh my goodness, the sweetness and love in those eyes, Paula! What kind of lab is the darker lab? He or she has the most beautiful coloring. Lighter than a chocolate, but darker than a yellow? I hope you have an amazing holiday at the coast! As ever, I’m so grateful to know you! Safe travels and best wishes always! ♥️ 🎄 🎁 🎅 ❄️ ⛄️

    • Thank you, Jennifer. Lilly is a Fox Red Labrador – which is a US breed. She has a lovely temperament. Poppy, the lighter one, is quite an old girl now but she’s very loyal and loving. I hope you also have a wonderful Christmas. I’m so glad to know you, too. All the best. 🐾⛄🎄🐧📚

      • Oh my goodness, here I am in the US, and I’ve not heard or seen a Fox Red. I LOVE her. We had Irish Setters growing up (along with other setters), and I’m wondering if they created the breed with a touch of setter? I will look it up. Poppy is just as beautiful. Labs are wonderful dogs. Enjoy your holiday! Xo

      • Thank you so much. I think Fox Reds are a relatively new breed. Oh, I love Irish Setters – beautiful dogs. 💙🐾🐶

  5. Have a lovely break, Paula.

  6. Lots of goodies here as per usual, Paula, so thanks so much. Hope you have a lovely break—it all seems to have rushed up on us in a hurry and I can barely take breath, so do take it nice and easy! Nadolig Llawen a Blwyddyn Newydd Dda 🎄

  7. Doggies > Adorbs

  8. Isn’t it time we heard from Poppy and Lilly about the books they most enjoyed in 2018 and what they’re looking forward to in 2019???

  9. I am loving the picture of your adorable dogs and I will have to share them with a friend who loves dogs as well. As per your usual all your links are interesting.

  10. Those dogs are beautiful! Have a wonderful break! 😀

  11. I’ve really enjoyed these posts, even though I don’t often comment on them. Have a lovely break!

  12. In among so many good things it was great to find out about the ‘Feminize your Canon’ column in ‘The Paris Review’. Thanks, Paula

  13. Your dogs are gorgeous! Have a lovely Christmas Paula 🙂

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