Winding up the Week #57

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.


Sadly, I’ve no reviews to share with you this week because my partner was hospitalized on Monday after receiving chemo the previous Friday and becoming poorly. Hopefully I will have something new for you in WUTW #58.


* 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:

GLASS WOMANThe Glass Woman by Caroline Lea (2019) – Jane at Beyond Eden Rock found the writing “dark and lovely” but had “reservations” about the structure of this intriguing historical novel set in 17th century Iceland.

‘Collected Stories’ by Richard Yates – “Some readers may find Yates a bit bleak”, warns Jonathan, although he thinks it is merely “a bit ‘grubby’ at times.” Discover why at Intermittencies of the Mind.

My “Hello” to Philip Roth! – Davida Chazan of The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog was “pleasantly surprised to find out how very nicely [this 1959 collection had] aged.” In fact, she says, “some stories [were] practically evergreen in their subject matter.”

‘The Thing Around Your Neck’ by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – Although Susana Faria felt this 2009 short story collection had a “slightly repetitive tone”, she found the characters “fascinating” and “wanted to know more about their lives”. Read her full review at A Bag Full of Stories.

Sacred Darkness by Levan Berdzenishvili – Nirmala of Red Lips and Bibliomaniacs found Berdzenishvili’s “semi-autobiographical novel” about the Soviet gulags a real eye-opener.

Listening to Literary Podcasts – Over at The Book Stop, Deb (aka CurlyGeek) explores the world of literary podcasts.

* 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:


BBC News: Obituary: Andrea Levy – “Andrea Levy, who has died of cancer at the age of 62, told the stories of the Windrush generation with humour and compassion.”

Humanities: Ursula K. Le Guin Was a Creator of Worlds – “Places, real and imaginary, were important to Ursula Le Guin”, writes Julie Phillips.

Literary Tourist: London’s Rich Store of Publishing Houses and Bookstores: Day 1 – Nigel Beale explores London’s many literary nooks and crannies.

Longreads: Stalin’s Scheherazade – An unremarkable writer, Mikhail Sholokhov somehow rose to fame in his early twenties. Critics said it was too good to be true – they were right.

The Chronicle of Higher Education: How a Dispute Over the N-Word Became a Dispiriting Farce – “Since when is reading James Baldwin out loud in class an academic crime?” asks Randall Kennedy.

The Guardian: There’s no shame in reading whatever books you want – literary snobs be damned – “After discovering most novels of ‘literary value’ are written by dead white men, Emily Maguire asks, who gets to decide? And what’s the criteria?”

Electric Literature: The Center for Fiction’s New Home Reflects a Change in How We Read – “A modern space addresses the needs of modern readers and writers”.

Vanity Fair: Kazuo Ishiguro Was Knighted by Prince Charles – Erin Vanderhoof reports on the popular Japanese-born British novelist becoming a knight.

The Paris Review: Reading in the Age of Constant Distraction – Twenty-five years ago, Sven Birkerts declared that a diminution of reading would diminish our sense of self. Have his fears come to pass? asks Mairead Small Staid.

Publishers Weekly: 10 Essential Scary Books by Women – Maryse Meijer shares a selection of books by “storytellers whose work has kept [her] up at night, wondering about [her] own relationship to the fantastic horrors they depict.”

Book Riot: We’re Celebrating Historical Fiction Day! – An abundance of lists for Historical Fiction Day.

Mail Online: Ups and downs of life in a bookshop: Chinese store leaves customers on a stairway to literary heaven – “The Zhongshuge Bookstore in Hangzhou, China is a world of optical illusions with thousands of books inside”, writes Zoie O’brien.

The Times Literary Supplement: Iris Murdoch and the power of love – “Anil Gomes considers Murdoch’s view that morality is real and that, with the right conceptual resources, we can perceive it.”

Smithsonian: How 18th-Century Writers Created the Genre of Popular Science – Lorraine Boissoneault explains why “French writers such as Voltaire and Bernard le Bovier de Fontenelle helped shape the Enlightenment with stories of science”.

The Calvert Journal: Infinite Jest comes to Russia. Why translators finally took on the ‘untranslatable’ novel – “One of the most important — and untranslatable — novels written in English has finally been translated and published in Russian”, writes Josh Nadeau.

CBC: 6 must-read Canadian nonfiction works for Black History Month 2019 – Ryan B. Patrick thinks these “recent works of nonfiction by black Canadian authors help inform, illustrate and shape national viewpoints, truths and experiences.”

The New York Times: The Hit Podcasters Breaking Down Harry Potter, Chapter by Chapter – Renan Borelli has discovered a podcast that breaks down Harry Potter chapter by chapter.

NPR: Random House Copy Chief: Stand Tall, Wordsmiths! (But Choose Your Battles) – Benjamin Dryer speaks to Terry Gross about “wan intensifiers” and being a stickler for grammar and punctuation.

Literary Hub: 5 Reasons a Writer Should Move to Brisbane – Kim Bussing thinks life in Australia’s sunshine state capital sounds like the bee’s knees.

Los Angeles Times: Burglar hits legendary bookstore, steals rare edition of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ – A thief stole “at least 20 books” from Baldwin’s Book Barn in Philadelphia, including a rare edition of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird.



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.

Categories: Winding Up the Week

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

44 replies

  1. Fingers crossed that things are looking up for your partner.

  2. I didn’t realise you were supporting your partner through treatment. It’s pretty aggressive treatment unfortunately. Hope he begins to feel better soon. I’m amazed you managed to do this piece given the circumstances

  3. I appreciate this reminder that I’ve been meaning to pursue more literary podcasts!

  4. Thank you for the link to Kim Bussing’s article ‘5 Reasons a Writer Should Move to Brisbane’ and I agree with her thoughts 🙂 Wish she had mentioned our extensive library system, great for launching author careers.

    On a personal note, Paula, kindest wishes, I hope all goes well with your partner.

  5. Thinking of you and your partner, Paula. Sending love and positive healing thoughts. ♥️

  6. Thanks so much for your post, Paula. Having also supported a partner through chemo, I feel for you both. I hope it will help sustain you to know your work here is valued. What a great round up again! Am very interested in the article about Brisbane (and the response from ThoughtsBecomeWords) as a writer friend has just moved there. I will make sure she sees this. Sending good wishes to you and your partner.

  7. Thinking of you as you provide caring support Paula, I hope that writing these posts and staying in touch with the blogging community gives you joy as you navigate this period. Sending healing thoughts.

  8. I hope this week will be a better one for both you and your partner, Paula.

  9. Hi Paula,

    Sorry to hear such news. I do think there is much more to life than blogging, and I’m sure all your readers are wishing you and yours positive thoughts. Virginia Woolf wrote the following paragraph which reminds us that literature presents a partial view of human experience:

    “CONSIDERING how common illness is, how tremen-
    dous the spiritual change that it brings, how aston-
    ishing, when the lights of health go down, the undiscovered
    countries that are then disclosed, what wastes and deserts
    of the soul a slight attack of influenza brings to light, what
    precipices and lawns sprinkled with bright flowers a little
    rise of temperature reveals, what ancient and obdurate
    oaks are uprooted in us in the act of sickness, how we go
    down into the pit of death and feel the waters of annihilation
    close above our heads and wake thinking to find ourselves
    in the presence of the angels and the harpers when we
    have a tooth out and come to the surface in the dentist’s
    arm chair and confuse his ‘Rinse the mouth—rinse the
    mouth’ with the greeting of the Deity stooping from the
    floor of Heaven to welcome us—when we think of this
    an infinitely more, as we are so frequently forced to
    think of it, it becomes strange indeed that illness has not
    taken its place with love, battle, and jealousy among the
    prime themes of literature. Novels, one would have
    thought, would have been devoted to influenza; epic
    poems to typhoid; odes to pneumonia, lyrics to tooth-
    ache. But no; with a few exceptions…”

    Please be lucky.

  10. Bookmarking Stalin’s Scheherazade, that sounds fascinating…thanks as always for coming up with so many good reads, Paula!

  11. Really sorry to hear about your partner. Chemo sucks. Fingers crossed for you both getting through this as smoothly as possible xx

  12. Of course it’s awful that he had his beautiful books stolen, but I don’t often hear about a burglar with such good taste!

    Sad to hear about Andrea Levy.

    All the best to you and your partner, Paula. xo

  13. So sorry to hear about your partner, and sending love and positive vibes. x

  14. Sorry to hear that your partner is struggling. 🙁

  15. I hope your partner gets well soon, Paula. Sending hugs your way. <3 I didn't know of Andrea Levy's passing until I came across it in here. I'm still in shock! 🙁

  16. So sorry to hear your partner is having a hard time, Paula. Great links as ever – I was shocked to hear the news about Andrea Levy. I had problems with both Small Island and The Long Song, but always thought she was a writer who had so much more to give. I’ll have to go back and read her earlier work.

  17. Thinking of you and your partner, Paula. I hope things stabilise very soon ❤️️

  18. Off to read a few of those linked articles–thanks!

  19. “*irresistable items*’ indeed! I’m going to send the link regarding scary stories written by women to a friend of mine whose cup of tea this is!

  20. Sending you and your partner strength and good thoughts.
    When online bookishness is a pleasant distraction, do indulge, but if it starts to feel burdensome, know that we will wait for you 🙂
    Off to follow some of your links now!


  1. Winding up the Week #58 – Book Jotter

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: