Winding up the Week #52

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 and reviewed Philip Ardagh’s The Moomins: The World of Moominvalley, a wonderfully illustrated introduction to Tove Jansson and her Moomins – published by Macmillan Children’s Books in 2017. >> Read my review >>


* 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:

frenchmanFrenchman’s Creek by Daphne du Maurier Review – Jane at What Jane Read Next found this 1941 historical romance to be “a rollicking, swashbuckling adventure”.

Refuge, An Unnatural History of Family and Place by Terry Tempest Williams – Claire McAlpine of Word by Word finds the writing in this 1991 memoir “is at times poetic, sometimes scientific, passionate and honest”.

A Natural Curiosity and The Gates of Ivory by Margaret Drabble – Deb Baker of Bookconscious completed the final two volumes in The Radiant Way trilogy. She compares Drabble’s books to those of Jane Austen because they not only “examine the lives of particular families but also the life of a society”.

Witty, Sharply Smart Essays on All Kinds of Thickness – Over at What’s Nonfiction? Rennie finds Tressie McMillan Cottom’s writing “powerfully affecting and intensely well crafted” in her new collection: Thick: And Other Essays.

The World Broke in Two – Bill Goldstein – “If you are even remotely interested in Modernist writers then this book is a gem”, says Jennifer Cameron of The World Broke in Two: Virginia Woolf, T. S. Eliot, D. H. Lawrence, E. M. Forster and the Year that Changed Literature in her review at Who ate all the books?.

[REVIEW] Wanderer by Sarah Léon, translated by John Cullen @OtherPress – Nikola at Breathing Through Pages recommends this newly translated debut novel if “you’re someone who likes their reads to be more on the psychological side”.

* 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:


The Observer: Better read than dead: how Geoff Dyer got to know his bookshelves better – The author, Geoff Dyer reveals the books he finally read in 2018 after years of house moves and clear-outs.

The Paris Review: Re-Covered: The World My Wilderness – “In her new monthly column Re-Covered, Lucy Scholes exhumes the out-of-print books that shouldn’t be.” This month she looks at Rose Macaulay’s penultimate novel.

The New York Times: Virginia Woolf? Snob! Richard Wright? Sexist! Dostoyevsky? Anti-Semite! – Brian Morton on how to read works with difficult themes.

Culture Trip: Culture Trip Wishlist: Literary Destinations 2019 – “If perusing second-hand bookshops, catching an international book festival or visiting historic literary haunts is your idea of the perfect trip, then these locations should be on your list”, writes Julia Wytrazek.

Los Angeles Review of Books: “Innumerable Intentions and Charms”: On Gary Browning’s “Why Iris Murdoch Matters” – Kieran Setiya discovers Murdoch believed that “description is never neutral, that our relentless egos block understanding, and that the answer to egotism is love.”

Vulture: Conspiracy Fiction Once Helped Us Tell the Truth. Now It’s a Weapon for Liars. – Alan Glynn discovers what happens when conspiracy fiction becomes reality.

The Jakarta Post: Historic library weaves ‘Harry Potter’-style tourist magic in Rio – Marie Hospital and Marc Burleigh report from the amazing Royal Portuguese Reading Room in Rio de Janeiro.

Book Riot: Dear American Publishers: Please Trust Your Audience To Appreciate Non-American English – A plea to American publishers from Jen Sherman.

The Washington Post: How paperback redesigns give publishers a second chance at winning readers – “A paperback release is a second chance of sorts”, writes Nicole Y. Chung.

The Guardian: Independent bookshops grow for second year after 20-year decline – Alison Flood finds that after a small increase in 2017, “figures show their ranks swelled by 15 stores last year in the face of ‘an increasingly challenging landscape’”.

Refinery29: How To Read More In 2019, According To Your Favorite Authors – Elena Nicolaou asks contemporary authors for reading tips.

The Bookseller: Rooney crowned youngest ever Costa Novel Award winner – The 27-year-old Irish writer became the youngest author ever to win the Costa Novel Award with her second novel, Normal People.

Forbes: 7 Publishing Insights Revealed By Last Year’s Top 100 Bestselling Books – Adam Rowe looks at seven publishing industry-related insights from last year’s top 100 bestselling books.

Wired: Sci-Fi Writers Are Grappling With a Post-Trump Reality – Science-fiction writers in the US have started imagining what the future will look like after years of the Trump administration.

Medium: Want to Read More? Give Up Sooner – Steven Michael Mann believes that perfectionism slows your reading rate.

Open Culture: The Largest J.R.R. Tolkien Exhibit in Generations Is Coming to the U.S.: Original Drawings, Manuscripts, Maps & More – The “countless Lord of the Rings enthusiasts in America have their chance to behold [Tolkien’s) materials first-hand”, reveals Colin Marshall.

The Guardian: What we gain from keeping books – and why it doesn’t need to be ‘joy’ – Anakana Schofield believes “one’s personal library should do much more than anthologise warm feelings”.

Spine: A Look at Interior Book Design with Jordan Wannemacher – It’s well known that cover design matters, but Mary Ryan Karnes discovers the visual elements of a book don’t stop at the jacket.

Electric Literature: 8 Books About Immortality – “Is living forever a blessing or a curse?” asks Frances Yackel.

The Millions: Most Anticipated: The Great First-Half 2019 Book PreviewThe Millions has published the first of its bi-annual roundup of books to look out for over the coming year.

Sierra: Jonathan Franzen’s Controversial Stance on Climate Action – “The author talks birds, climate failure, and how to find meaning in dark times”.

Global English Editing: World Reading Habits in 2018 (Infographic) – Brendan Brown has an infographic on world reading habits in 2018.



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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37 replies

  1. Frenchman’s Creek is indeed a rollicking adventure.

  2. Yet again, several fascinating links, thanks, Paula! Reading and even tweeting.

    A bit disappointed to see the UK quite middling when it comes to reading habits but interesting to see Eleanor Oliphant riding high. And Harry Potter almost sweeping the board in Aus. Plus that plea to US publishers about non American English usage, that gets my goat too!

    • Thanks Chris. I know what you mean about the non US English – we seem to cope when things are reversed. While I’m aware of the difference in spelling, it doesn’t unduly bother me. 🤔

      • For me it’s about nuance: if I read “He’d gotten the check” I totally get it in a North American novel, but to see it in a US edition of a British novel completely breaks the spell.

        And don’t get me started about the correct British way to pronounce ‘harass’ in a period drama or even ‘surveillance’ (like surveyor, it should sound as though there was a ‘y’ in the middle). I’ve heard both spoken thus in dramas supposedly set before the 80s (I gave up ‘Downton Abbey’ when Hugh Bonneville uttered a killer line with “upward learning curve” in it).

      • I’m with you there, Chris. Certain words grate on the old King Lears. I have never quite come to terms with BBC News readers using the American pronunciation for ‘controversy’. Although they started this quite a number of years ago, it never fails to get my teeth on edge. I am, and shall always remain, a CONtroversy person – never conTROversy! 🤣

  3. I was very cheered by the Guardian article on independent bookshops and even more so by a piece in The Bookseller suggesting that sales in indies were strong at Christmas. Perhaps the message is finally getting through about Amazon and their appalling working practices. Great wind-up, as ever, Paula.

  4. Thanks for including me! Interesting articles shared below – I love The Millions’ books of 2019 because it contains many amazing upcoming titles!

  5. Great round-up as always Paula! I took a look at the world reading habits post & infographic, so sad to see that only ‘74% of Americans have read a book in the past 12 months’ and that in the UK the average is only 6 minutes of reading per day. I can’t imagine more than a day without a book! Have a lovely weekend xx

  6. Love Tove Jansson’s stories from the summer and winter books. Thank you kindly for linking to my review of that creative nonfiction, ‘almost classic’ Refuge.
    I’ve often wondered about those translations from American to British English, if an American publisher were to publish a book in the UK I can understand readers tolerance for the different spellings, but when a British publisher purchases an American novel I can see that they might have issues of credibility if they were to publish it without changing certain spellings.
    Maybe that’s part of the issue, country rights.
    Personally, I read both American versions and British versions and a lot of works translated from languages other than English, as long as I avoid making comparisons, it tends to be fine, that said making comparisons with readers reading alternate translations of Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin when I did a readalong of that was actually quite interesting and added to the joy of reading.

  7. As always you’ve given us a wealth of great material to read…. You also reminded me to out Fisherman’s Creek on my classics club list

  8. Nice round up, Paula! Your range of article reading always impresses me.

    The NYT article is especially interesting to me as a younger reader who comes from a perspective different from the author’s. On the one hand, I’d agree it seems narrow minded to dismiss anything written over fifty years ago as old fashioned and out of date. On the other, I think the question of “Why should I read this problematic classic?” is valid and can’t necessarily be answered in a general way, as the author tries to do in his article. Curious to hear your thoughts.

  9. Outstanding again, Paula! I will slowly work my way through! But I have to mention Jen Sherman’s letter Dear American Publishers. As a reader, writer and friend of Australian authors, it really gets me hot under the collar that our books are Americanised as mentioned – or worse, they are smoothed over and made generic. Surely this is an insult to US readers?

  10. “When will there be good news?” Well – just wait for a BookJotter post. Thank-you!

  11. As ever, thanks for a stimulating smorgasbord of links to articles that I would never have seen, left to my own devices. I particularly enjoyed the Guardian article, written in bracing tones, by Anakana Schofield, dismissing the Kondo approach to our bookshelves. I’m a fan!

  12. Thanks for mentioning my blog. Love your weekly wind ups. Xxx

  13. The Millions Great First Half and Great Second Half are the two lists I look forward to most every year. 🙂

  14. Thanks for sharing the review, Paula! Glad you liked it! 🙂

  15. I enjoyed “Better Read Than Dead.”

  16. I am thinking of you and your partner.

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