An end of week recap
Tomorrow 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!
THE GOOD, THE BAD & THE TBR >>
* 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:
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 transmission – Transcription by Kate Atkinson is a “sensitively written and gripping novel” according to Chris Lovegrove at Calmgrove.
* 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:
Vintage: 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.