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 >>
* Willa Cather Short Story Project *
To celebrate her ninth blogversary, Chris Wolak at WildmooBooks is set to start The Willa Cather Short Story Project on the 1st February – a literary challenge that involves reading all of Cather’s short stories at the rate of one per month (over a 20 month-period). She invites others to join her “reading journey”, either for “the whole thing” or merely to dip-in “here and there.” If you are an admirer of this Pulitzer Prize-winning American novelist, but like Chris, are far less familiar with her short stories, you may like to look through the official reading list and schedule by clicking the Willa Cather tab on the drop-down menu. Chris intends to “post a reminder of which story to read on the second Wednesday of the month, then on the fourth Wednesday of the month [she’ll] post [her] response to having read the story and will invite you to share your thoughts in the comments or a link to your comments.”
* 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:
The Strawberry Girl – Lisa Stromme – Lizzy Siddal at Lizzy’s Literary Life describes this 2016 historical novel about an affair between Edvard Munch and a young Norwegian artists’ model as “a darn good yarn.”
The Mask of Fu Manchu (1932) by Sax Rohmer – George Simmers of Sheffield Hallam University’s Reading 1900-1950 blog says that although this old pulp fiction mystery novel is “absolute tosh”, he “enjoyed it” in part because Rohmer was so “good at creating suspense”.
Wolf Country by Tünde Farrand: All too plausible – Susan at A life in books found this recently published dystopian novel “an all too plausible story, well told”, but was somewhat let down by its ending.
“The Transformative Power of Reading and Writing” – Over at the fabulous Folklore & Literacy blog, Leslie Reese discusses two books that “make [her] think about [her] inherited relationship to literacy.”
Crime in the Blackout – Karen Langley of Kaggsy’s Bookish Ramblings found E.C.R. Lorac’s 1945 crime novel a “punchy and powerful addition” to the British Library Crime Classics list.
Tell Them of Battles, Kings and Elephants – Mathias Enard – Enard’s historical novel is “poised between past and future,” writes David Hebblethwaite in his review at David’s Book World.
* 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 Guardian: Diana Athill was the sharpest of wits and finest of friends – The much-respected writer and editor Diana Athill died last Thursday at the age of 101. Damian Barr remembers her warmly.
BBC Newsround: Anne Frank’s diary: Books that have changed the world – Ahead of Holocaust Memorial Day on Sunday 27th January, the BBC are remembering Anne Frank’s diary.
Medium: My Year of Not Buying Books – After reading a piece by Ann Patchett in The New York Times entitled ‘My Year of No Shopping’, Pamela Newton felt inspired to do something similar with her books.
World Literature Today: Remembering Mary Oliver: The Poetics of Grieving and Comfort – A tribute by the Editors of WLT to poet Mary Oliver (1935-2019).
The Times Literary Supplement: The Republic of Consciousness Prize 2019 longlist – The longlist of the annual prize for small presses.
Literary Hub: What We Don’t Know About Sylvia Plath – Emily Van Duyne on revelations from a chance graveside encounter.
Mental Floss: Can You Tell an Author’s Identity By Looking at Punctuation Alone? A Study Just Found Out. – Lucas Reilly looks at the possibility of identifying an author from his or her punctuation.
The New York Review of Books: Can a Translation Be a Masterpiece, Too? – “To imagine […] that Henry James could ever be to the Italians what he is to us, or Giovanni Verga to us what he is to Italians, is nonsense”, writes Tim Parks.
Crime Reads: Mothers and Daughters and Psychological Thrillers – Lisa Levy on the “perilous territory of mother-daughter relationships” in crime fiction.
The Bookseller: SoA demands Internet Archive stops lending books ‘unlawfully’ – The Society of Authors has demanded the Internet Archive’s Open Library stops lending books ‘unlawfully’ online in the UK,” writes Katie Mansfield.
The Guardian: Summer beach reads: 10 Australian books set by the sea – As part of the Australia’s Best Beaches series, Liz Ellison seeks out stories that “plunge into the depths of the Australian psyche”.
The New Yorker: How to Read the Good Books – In his regular column, A Critic At Large, Adam Gopnik asks if sacred texts can resist and reward modern readers.
Vulture: The Millions Will Live on, But the Indie Book Blog Is Dead – Kat Rosenfield believes that a popular source of outsider reviews, which was recently acquired by Publishers Weekly, is essentially the last of its kind.
Culture Trip: This Legendary LGBTQ Bookshop Is Celebrating a Milestone – This month, London bookshop Gay’s the Word celebrates 40 years of serving and supporting the LGBTQ community.
Words Without Borders: What the Happiest Kids in the World Are Reading – “Translator Michele Hutchison, co-author (with Rina Mae Acosta) of The Happiest Kids in the World: How Dutch Parents Help their Kids by Doing Less, explores the relationship between happiness and the books that are available to Dutch children”.
Vintage: Remembering Derek Jarman: AIDS activist, diarist, writer – “Derek Jarman was 52 years old when he died of AIDS-related illnesses in February 1994. 25 years on, friends and writers reflect on the many aspects of his work.”
Yle Uutiset: Finland’s flagship library so popular it’s running out of books – “As many as 5,000 books per day were checked out of Helsinki’s Oodi library last month.”
Book Riot: For the Love of Everything, Let’s Make Book Recaps a Thing – “Put a recap chapter in the beginning of each installment in a series”, suggests Mya Nunnally.
NextShark: 7 Stunningly Beautiful Bookstores Across Asia – Fabulous photographs of seven of Asia’s most dramatically designed and beautiful bookstores.
The Guardian: Medieval book coffer shows appetite for mobile reading ‘is nothing new’ – Oxford’s Bodleian has acquired rare box dated to late 1400s, which was used to transport 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.