Winding up the Week #55

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 Intimate Ties: Two Novellas by Robert Musil – the author’s second book, originally published in 1911. >> Read my review >>

Look out for my thoughts on The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by the late Mary Ann Shaffer, a title I’ve chosen for February’s Monthly Genre Challenge at The Reading Challenge Group.


* Are You Taking Part in the Wales Readathon? *

Dewithon Logo DaffsFebruary is a short month, which means that after harping on (pun not intended) about Dewithon for the last 12 months, the Wales Readathon is a mere four weeks away. Look out for my forthcoming post announcing the official Dewithon book for 2019, which you may wish to join me in reading, and don’t forget to follow the #dewithon19 hashtag on Twitter where you’ll find lots of interesting links to suggested books and writers from Wales.

A massive thank-you to Chris Lovegrove at Calmgrove for his excellent post: Reading about Wales, in which he discusses his plans for the event and hints at “taster posts” in the offing. Chris yr ydych yn wych!

* 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:

CLAUDINE AT SCHOOLColette Week: Day 1 – Claudine at School (1900) – After her successful Novel a Day challenge last May, Madame B is having a week of everything Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette in celebration of the French author’s birthday on 28th January. You can follow her progress at Madame Bibi Lophile.

Book Review: A City in the North, Marta Randall (1976) – Joachim Boaz of Science Fiction and Other Suspect Ruminations found this SF novel “a memorable 70s entry into the anthropological subgenre that raises provoking questions about colonization and ‘civilization.’”

The French Lieutenant’s Woman: The Greatest Post-Modern Novel Ever? – Lauren Pegler had very mixed feelings about by this 1969 John Fowles novel. Discover why at Bookish Byron.

Save Me the Waltz by Zelda Fitzgerald – “The quality of the writing [is] never less than bright and immensely readable,” writes Harriet Devine of “Zelda Fitzgerald’s first and only novel” in her review at Shiny New Books.

The Arsonist by Chloe Hooper – Kate W at booksaremyfavouriteandbest found Hooper’s real-life thriller “both poetic and terrifyingly clear”, declaring it a likely “Stella Prize front-runner.”

* 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 TESTAMENTSToronto Star: Margaret Atwood reveals the cover to her Handmaid’s Tale sequelMargaret Atwood has revealed the cover of her follow-up to The Handmaid’s Tale and joked that it would be set in Ireland.

The Guardian: Annie Proulx on the best books to understand climate change – “The novelist shares her favourite books to help us cope with how our world is changing – and inspire everyone to do something about it”.

The Irish Times: Britain, send your creative refugees our way – “Ireland can capitalise on the Brexit brain drain from across the Irish Sea”, suggests Fintan O’Toole.

BBC News: Man Booker loses £1.6m hedge fund sponsor amid talk of tension – BBC Business reports that: “Britain’s most famous literary award is looking for a new sponsor after hedge fund Man Group said it would end its support after 18 years.” Is this such a bad thing, I wonder?

The New York Times: Jan Morris Looks Back on a Long and Eventful Life – Alexander McCall Smith on Jan Morris and her new book.

The Guardian: The Cut Out Girl by Bart van Es wins Costa book of the year – Alison Flood announces the winner of the Costa book awards.

Mashable: Lord of the Binges – Chris Taylor reckons “anyone can binge-watch the ‘Lord of the Rings’ movies”, but he thinks the “real challenge in our distracted age” is “reading the book in a day.” Hmm.

Electric Literature: 7 Books by Women about 1950s Gender Dynamics – “Angela Readman, author of Something Like Breathing, recommends literature about women during the postwar boom”.

Literary Hub: How to Explore Literary Yorkshire – Lauren Cocking on “moody moors, seaside cliffs, and the legacies of literary greats”.

Indie88: The top used bookstores in Toronto – “Bookworms, literary lovers, and creativity connoisseurs, get ready because this one’s for you”, says Chelsea Brimstin.

Medium: How Tolstoy Can Save Putin’s Soul – “If only Putin preferred Tolstoy over Dostoevsky, the relationship between Russia and the West would be much kinder and more productive,” writes Andrew D. Kaufman.

World of Buzz: The First BookXcess Outlet Opens in Penang with The Longest Bookshelf in Malaysia! – Tara Thiagarajan reports on the new BookXcess store in Penang, which claims to have the longest bookshelves in Malaysia.

Bookish: The Seven People You’ll Find in Every Book Club – Kelly Gallucci takes a light-hearted look at seven personality types likely to be found in a book club.

World Crunch: Is This The Final Chapter For World’s Iconic Bookshops? – “From Madrid to Cork to Shanghai, some of the most revered old bookshops are closing doors as they face pressure from big chains and e-readers”, warns Benjamin Witte.

Slate: Don’t @ Me – Heather Schwedel thinks authors “have a good case against people who bad-mouth their books on Twitter, then drag them into the conversation.”

Vulture: Welcome to the Bold and Blocky Instagram Era of Book Covers – “You can have your eye candy and read it, too”, says Margot Boyer-Dry.

The Paris Review: What Che Guevara and Fidel Castro Read – Tony Perrottet discovers that even “the most macho fighters […] would be seen hunched over books.”

BBC Wales News: Dylan Thomas literary prize longlist unveiled – “A Swansea-born nurse-turned-novelist and a Costa novel award winner are among 12 nominees on the International Dylan Thomas Prize longlist.”

Inc.: New Study: Reading Fiction Really Will Make You Nicer and More Empathetic – “A definitive new study has great news for book lovers: Yes, reading fiction boosts your EQ”, finds Jessica Stillman.

The Guardian: Behrouz Boochani: detained asylum seeker wins Australia’s richest literary prize – An asylum seeker detained on Manus Island has won the Victorian prize for literature.

The Bookseller: Publishers warn of increasing visa trouble for authors – British publishers are concerned about the increasing problems of authors getting visas for international travel.

Electric Literature: 11 Books That Prove There’s Nothing Wrong with Self-Publishing – Brianne Alphonso introduces us to a selection of “wildly successful authors who took matters into their own hands”.

The New York Times: What Is a Book Critic’s Responsibility When a Work Is Rediscovered? – “It’s not enough to give thanks that the work of so many women writers is being revived”, writes Parul Sehgal. “We need to ask why it vanished in the first place.”



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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32 replies

  1. Diolch yn fawr iawn, Paula — or, to use a Pembrokeshire Wenglish term, your Dewithon concept is splendigedig! Can’t believe another week has gone by since the last Wind Up: where does the time go? I’ve barely followed up your most interesting links from last week!

  2. Thanks, as ever, for taking the time to put this together, Paula. I’ve already enjoyed Madame Bibi’s excellent Colette week.

  3. A lot of good books.

  4. I am going to read it often in the near future so I can follow all these promising links. Thank you!

    I wish you a nice weekend


  5. That’s an interesting selection of links, as usual! I’m hoping to take part in the readathon, although I’m not sure what I’ll be reading yet.

    • Thank you, Helen. I’m so pleased you’ll be taking part in Dewithon. I’m due to announce the ‘official’ book any day now for those who like to share their reading experience, but of course, you are encouraged to read whatever most appeals to you. 😊

  6. So much literary food for thought there, Paula 🙂 The first one I latched onto was Kelly Gallucci’s The Seven People You’ll Find in Every Book Club because it’s true! I can go one step further, the person who reads the book in a foreign language. Intelligent or just showing off?

  7. I love the Snippets section and your ecclectic choices.

  8. Fascinating roundup as always, Paula. So many gems here. I am looking forward to #dewithon19. Dw i’n dysgu siarad Cymraeg because I miss Wales so much!

  9. You definitely had umpteen links this week, Paula! I’m going to have so much fun! I can’t wait for the official book choice. I’m hoping it’s one I’ll want to read too! Happy week ahead, my friend! We are having warm weather here- in the upper 50s and 60s, giving us a taste of early spring (and then it will probably snow, or turn arctic right after!). ♥️ 🌷

    • I hope I’ve made the right choice of book for Dewithon. I’ve gone for something that I hope will appeal to readers from different countries. I’m envious of your warmth – it’s been brrrr here. I hope you too have a happy and productive week. Gobeithio y bydd yr haul bob amser yn disgleirio arnoch chi a’r cathod (may the sun always shine on you and the puss cats). 😎🌺🐈 💙

  10. My thoughts on The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society.

    Did you know that the Germans occupied the British island of Guernsey for five years during WW II? In this epistolary novel, through the eyes of Juliet, the authors tell the stories of islanders of all ages and backgrounds. The characters are portrayed with a deft touch as their foibles and humanity are explored. There is even some romance. It is trite to say but the characters felt like friends with whom I wanted to spend lots of time. Highly recommended! Enjoy finding out what the pie is and why it was created.

    I hope that you enjoy the book, Paula.

    • Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts, Joyce. 😊

      It’s quite terrifying to think that the Nazis came so close to invading mainland Britain and must have been a dreadful ordeal for the islanders. I visited Jersey many years ago and went to see the war tunnels and underground hospital, which had been dug-out using slave labour. The passageways were so claustrophobic but it was worth visiting the complex to understand a little of what the Channel Islanders endured during WWII.

      As for the book, I’m enjoying it immensely!

      • I am glad that you are enjoying the book! When I first learned about the invasion, I could not believe it! It’s so close to Britain and was so very scary. Visiting must have been intense. There is a movie on Amazon of the book. I will watch it eventually but I am still living with the characters in my mind and I’m not ready to see the movie version of them. As always, know that I appreciate all of the work that you put into your blog. It is very impressive.

  11. I’ve requested a copy of the Davies book from the library, in hopes that it will arrive in a timely fashion for the Reading Wales event!

  12. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is one of my favorites and I liked the movie adaptation as well. I am so excited about the Handmaid’s sequel.!

  13. I’m behind because I was away the week this came out and have spent the last week catching up. I love and dread this post of yours Paula…. It’s so great but it gives me so much more reading too. There are at least 5 articles here that I really want to read, for a start.

    Margaret Atwood’s comment on her cover made me laugh. Does that mean she had no say? I know authors often don’t but I thought those of standing had some sway.

    Love seeing Kate’s review of The arsonist highlighted. As we now know it has been long listed and is a good chance I’d say for the short-list.

    But now, I have some clicking and reading to do.

  14. Paula, I’m really loving the article links you provide. How is it that you come across so many?

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