An end of week recap
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.
THE GOOD, THE BAD & THE TBR >>
I read and shared my impressions of Ali Smith’s 2015 short story collection, Public library and other stories. This title has been languishing in my TBR pile for quite some time and I found it the ideal book to dip-into when time permitted. >> See my thoughts >>
Look out for my musings on the late Penelope Fitzgerald’s 1978 novel, The Bookshop – yet another title I’ve been meaning to read for an age. I have a couple of her other works lined-up to read this year, too.
* Lit Crit Blogflash *
I’m going to share with you five 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:
Both real and magical – Chris Lovegrove at Calmgrove found The Plankton Collector by Cath Barton (winner of the New Welsh Writing Awards AmeriCymru Prize for the Novella in 2017) a “powerful debut work.” He has reviewed it in “preparation for March’s Wales Readathon aka Dewithon19”. Diolch yn fawr iawn, Chris.
Academia or Life? Joanna Cannan’s High Table – Over at Finding Time to Write, Marina Sofia explains what happened when seeking out works by the daughter of an Oxford don. She found this 1931 novel, “charmingly written with many astute observations”.
Fantastic Find at the Bookstore #3: Mapping the Months – Becky Ross Michael has been collecting 1940s Dell Map Back Mysteries “for decades.” Read her fascinating post at Platform Number 4 about “these often smelly old mysteries that wear such fun art work”.
Dead Souls by Gogol – Interesting but challenging – Emma at Book Around The Corner found everything about reading Nikolai Gogol’s 1842 Russian comic classic “a challenge”, but ultimately, was “glad” she persevered.
* 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: Meet the hottest-tipped debut novelists of 2019 – At the start of each year The Observer tracks down writers of exceptional first novels, which this time (with only one man on their list), “looks like being the year of women…”
The London Review of Books: Alan Bennett’s Diary for 2018 – It’s that time of year when tradition dictates we read some of the best bits from Alan Bennett’s previous year’s diary.
The Atlantic – Why 1984 Isn’t Banned in China – “Censorship in the country is more complicated than many Westerners imagine.”
The New York Times: In Praise of Iris Murdoch – “Why did I need to keep Iris Murdoch’s novels to myself?” asks Susan Scarf Merrell.
Literary Hub: A Brief History of Children’s Books: Nasty, Brutish, and Short – Jennifer Traig on the “bizarre violence” of early children’s literature.
Booksellers NZ: New Zealand Bookshop Numbers On the Rise – Booksellers NZ added seven new members last year, bringing the association’s total to nearly 200 stores.
Vulture: The Villainous Bitch Has Become the Most Boring Trend in Literature – Hillary Kelly thinks the psychopathic she-beast is a cliché that needs to go.
Bookseller: Crowdfunder launches for London’s first black feminist bookshop – “A digital consultant has launched a crowdfunder to create London’s first black feminist bookshop”, writes Heloise Wood.
Los Angeles Review of Books: Why Literature Professors Turned Against Authors — Or Did They? – “Since the 1940s, among professors of literature, attributing significance to authors’ intentions has been taboo and déclassé”, writes John Farrell.
SWI: Hungarian-born author wins top Swiss literary award – The Hungarian-born author, Zsuzsanna Gahse has won the top Swiss literary award for her life’s work.
Vox: This font you know from old pulp novels is all over new books – According to Kaitlyn Tiffany: “An approachable-witchy 1938 typeface is the hand-cut, calligraphic answer to colder modern sans-serifs.”
Reshareworthy: Woman Transforms Rotting Tree In Her Yard Into Charming Neighborhood Library – “An artist in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho is charming the Internet with her repurposing of an old rotting tree.”
Medium: George Eliot’s “Middlemarch” and Memory – Xi Chen looks at what this classic teaches us about the past.
The Irish Times: A woman walks into a bar and walks out writing a novel – “Anne Griffin grew up listening to stories but it’s the written word that truly won her heart”.
Book Riot: 5 Small-Press Books You Won’t Want to Miss – Rebecca Hussey has “made a commitment to read more small-press books”. She shares five of her favourites.
The Independent: Why is reading in the pub so enjoyable? In praise of a very British pastime – “From literary pub crawls to famous fictitious water holes, the humble boozer has long had an important place in literature, insists Kieran Devlin”.
Books + Publishing: Children’s authors honoured on postage stamps – Australia Post is honouring five children’s authors on its ‘Australian legends of children’s literature’ postage stamp series, as part of its 2019 Legends Awards.
The New York Times: The Hunt for the Nazi Loot Still Sitting on Library Shelves – Milton Esterow discovers the “hunt for the millions of books stolen by the Nazis during World War II has been pursued quietly and diligently for decades”.
Electric Literature: The 20 Most Instagrammable Bookstore Cats – Jo Lou finds “something magical about stepping into a bookstore and finding a cat lounging on a well-worn arm chair surrounded by rows and rows of books.”
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.