Winding up the Week #58

An end of week recap

Winding Up the Week #11My weekly digest arrives rather later than usual but, nonetheless, on the correct day (just!). It has been quite a fraught week and I’ve done very little work on my blog since last Saturday. As those of you who read WUTW #57 will know, my partner was hospitalized following complications with chemotherapy. We later learned she had sepsis and was fortunate to have been pumped with antibiotics before deteriorating further. She came home a couple of days ago, and the intention now is to halve her next batch of chemo. Hopefully this won’t happen again.

Many thanks indeed to everyone for their kind words and good wishes – your lovely comments really do lift the spirit. We have a long way to go but remain positive.

As ever, 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.


On the horizon is Nina Stibbe’s new novel, Reasons to be Cheerful, which is due to be published by Viking on 28th March.


* The Wales Readathon 2019 *

To whet appetites for the forthcoming Wales Readathon, I dug out a review of a memorable theatre performance from the archives. >> A Dewithon 19 Taster >>

* 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:

CATCHING THE LIGHTCatching the Light by Susan Sinnott – “Once [Naomi MacKinnon at Consumed by Ink] got into this book, [she found] it was very hard to put down.” She loved “the small-town Newfoundland setting” and felt the “characters really [shone] through.”

More Was Lost by Eleanor Perényi – Jacqui describes Perényi’s 1946 memoir as “superb”. Discover why she “highly” recommends it at JacquiWine’s Journal.

If Beale Street Could Talk by James Baldwin – Claire McAlpine at Word by Word “recommend[s] without hesitation” Baldwin’s 1974 novel about “the harsh, unjust realities of everyday life in America for black people.”

A Travelogue In Search Of What’s Making Russia Great Again – Rennie at What’s Nonfiction? felt that while In Putin’s Footsteps by Nina Khrushcheva and Jeffrey Tayler sometimes overreached itself, it was on the whole a “descriptive” and “evocative travelogue”.

Rule Britannia – Daphne Du Maurier (1972) – Over at Heavenali, Ali Hope declares Du Maurier’s final novel “marvellously compelling” and “oddly appropriate reading material for the current chaos we find ourselves in.”

The Baron in the Trees – After reading Italo Calvino’s whimsical 1957 novel, Silvia Cachia found herself pondering magical realism. She describes the book as a “fantastical scenario” of “Cosimo’s life in the trees”.

* 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: Shelf policing: how books (and cacti) make women too ‘spiky’ for men – The Daily Mail offers advice on “how to avoid turning your home into a MANrepeller”. Apparently, books can be “offputting to men”! Are they the sort of men a men a self-respecting book-reader would want in their life, one wonders?

The Paris Review: Weird Time in Frankenstein – “When I started reading Frankenstein, I was thinking about time”, writes Elisa Gabbert in her column, Mess with a Classic.

The New York Times: Betty Ballantine, Who Helped Introduce Paperbacks, Dies at 99 – “Betty Ballantine, who with her husband helped transform reading habits in the pre-internet age by introducing inexpensive [Penguin] paperback books to Americans, died on Feb. 12 in Bearsville, N.Y.”

The New Yorker: Do We Write Differently on a Screen? – Tim Parks wonders if he should “turn off the Wi-Fi” and “work silently on paper”?

Open Culture: 800 Illuminated Medieval Manuscripts Are Now Online: Browse & Download Them Courtesy of the British Library and Bibliothèque Nationale de France – Josh Jones discovers a treasure trove for admirers of medieval literature.

The Bookseller: Verso Books launches ‘bold’ fiction imprint – “Radical publisher Verso Books is launching its own fiction imprint this September, promising a string of “politically astute” novels, reveals Mark Chandler.

Literary Hub: If They Gave Oscars to Books, Our 2018 Nominees – Emily Temple urges us to consider Literary Hub’s third annual Academy Awards for Books the “Fake Book Oscars”. She says, “they’re extra fun because you don’t even have to dress up”!

Vintage: Where to start reading Amos Oz’s books – An introduction to the books of one of Israel’s greatest authors.

AV/NEWS: Here’s how Netflix is squeezing 13 episodes out of Green Eggs And Ham – Randall Colburn discovers just how the streaming service intends to stretch its adaption of Dr. Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham into 13 episodes.

Culture Trip: Banned Books Reveal American Anxieties Around the LGBTQ Community – An examination of the titles removed from libraries and schools over the years “reveals deeper truths about the evolving cultural concerns of the United States.”

Public Books: The Once and Future Bolaño – A decade ago, Roberto Bolaño was at the height of literary fashion. Then his bubble burst. His work continues to limp out into the market.

Electric Literature: 7 Books About Worlds Within Worlds – “Mark Mayer, author of Aerialists, recommends novels with hidden realities”.

Book Riot: Should Bookstores Charge for Events? – Charging for literary events would provide much needed revenue for bookshops, however, it would also make those same events less accessible. Fee or no fee? wonders Melody Schreiber.

Readings: The Readings Children’s Book Prize shortlist 2019 – The Readings Children’s Book Prize, which celebrates exciting new voices in Australian children’s literature, has announced its 2019 shortlist.

CrimeReads: 9 Mysteries That Will Take You on a Journey From Paris to the South of France – Travelling the French countryside through crime fiction with Deborah Lawrenson.

The Booklist Reader: Title Trend: The Nouns of Full Names (YA Edition) – Eleanor Roth discovers that from “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn to The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, authors have used ‘the noun of full name’ titling method to effectively pitch their stories to readers, giving them the who and the what right off the bat.”

Independent: Naomi Alderman novel ‘The Power’ to be adapted for Amazon Prime series – Clémence Michallon on the adaption of Alderman’s 2016 science fiction novel.

The Atlantic: The Lab Discovering DNA in Old Books – “Even the beeswax used in seals is rich with data about the past, including the flowers that grew in that region year to year”, writes Sarah Zhang.



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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45 replies

  1. Oh gosh, Paula, poor you and your partner – what a time you’re both having. Fingers crossed all is now calm and improving. x

  2. Everything crossed for you and your partner, Paula. I hope this week will be an easier one for you both.

  3. Best of everything in books and health for you both. And thank you as always for such interesting posts. (And if you ever had to skip one – or more – well, we would miss it but sometimes other things just take precedence over the demanding needs of your impatient readership!

    Cheers. And love.

  4. I hope that the coming weeks will become easier for your partner and for you, Paula! I enjoyed your post as always and was especially interested in the article about Betty Ballantine AND the one with descriptions of stories set in France (I’ve never been, but love books set there:)

  5. Chemotherapy in my experience – not as in me, but in close friends – can be almost as bad as the disease (except that in the long run it will hopefully beat the disease.) I’m very sorry that you have had a bad start with it and hope that the next lighter dose round will be much better tolerated. All the best for you both.

    As always, you have posted some interesting links. I’ll particularly follow up the one about whether you write differently on a screen, and a couple of others including the Amos Oz one as I bought one of his books a few years ago, but still haven’t found a slot in which to read it.

    • Thank you, Sue. As you say, chemo can be life threatening as well as life saving. Everyone is different and getting the dose just right for each person is terribly difficult.

      So glad you enjoyed the links. 😊

  6. Another fab selection, Paula! Love how you always manage to find an Australian article 😉 and regarding Tim Parks of The New Yorker ‘writing differently on a screen’ I can hear my writing mentor saying ‘no contest’, she’s all for handwriting/scribbling preferably with a pencil.

    Hope the bumpy Chemo journey is starting to level out and things are running more smoothly now.

  7. Wishing you and your partner all the very best, Paula. Many thanks for linking to my Perenyi piece, very kind of you.

  8. Thank you for another interesting post which in the circumstances I find remarkable. I’m sorry that you have had such a difficult week and hope that things are easier for you both in the coming weeks.

  9. I met my lifelong partner in a library—not at all offputting to me, if anything ‘on-putting’!

    Charging for literary events: book-signings are usually free, aren’t they? But I know that our local bookshop charges for talks by authors promoting their books (the cost usually including a copy of the book) and that hasn’t stopped relatively large venues of around 250 being sold out. And of course the literary festival events are usually very accessible, the tickets typically £10 and under (though not including a book many attendees bring their own copy or buy one at the door for signing).

    I believe Philip Pullman justifiably made a song and dance about no fee being paid for author appearances, but as I haven’t yet followed up your link I assume this fact was alluded to there.

    Not long to Dewithon! I’ve scheduled a few posts for then already…

  10. So glad to hear that she’s home, Paula. Hoping that this week is an easier one for you both.

  11. Oh gosh, narrow miss with the sepsis! O_o Hope everything goes a bit more smoothly from now on.
    Funnily, I just started reading The Power for an online book group, and I’m not all that surprised about the TV adaptation! Sign me up 🙂

  12. I do hope your partner is feeling better soon, what a tough time for you both. Great links as always – that Daily Mail story about books being MANrepellant would have been funny if it wasn’t so maddening!

  13. Somehow I missed your previous WUTW post Paula, I’m not sure how that happened but I’m so pleased to hear your partner is doing a lot better after sepsis. Hopefully the future chemos, grim as they are, will all go according to plan. Wishing you both some moments of respite – probably Olive will be involved!

    • Don’t worry, Madame B, it’s next to impossible to keep up with everyone’s posts. Thank you for your kind words. Olive is an absolute delight. Her antics make us laugh and she’s so affectionate. 😊

  14. I am sorry about the health challenges, I hope things start mend soon.

    Thanks a lot for the short out. I am going to be visiting all the other goodness you paired me with in this post.

  15. I cannot imagine how scary all that must have been for you both, I hope you and your partner are doing better. And chemo sucks, big time. Hang in there and hope everything works out. xx

  16. Best wishes to you and your partner – hope the remaining chemo is less traumatic!

  17. Thank you for linking to my review of Catching the Light. It was a lovely surprise to see that this morning!
    I have to admit, I’m kind of curious to know how they’re going to get 13 episodes out of Green Eggs and Ham. 🙂

    So glad to hear that your partner is home – sending positive thoughts your way! xo

  18. I’m so sorry to hear about the difficulties last week, Paula. I read above that Olive is there now (YAY- it seemed it took forever for this day to come!), and hopefully she’s adding lots of warmth and love as only a doggie can. Thinking of you and your partner and sending warm wishes for this week and every other one. ♥️

    • Thank you, Jennifer. The second chemo session starts on Thursday, so we’ll just have to hope all is well with the lower dose.

      Yes indeedy, Miss Olive arrived safely in her crate – a bit fed up but otherwise in fine fettle. She’s already become part of the family and is getting on especially well with Lilly. She’s a very happy, smiley dog and makes us smile, too.

      I hope your young feline family are doing well – you too, of course! Hugs to all of you. 🤗

  19. I’m so sorry to hear about the troubles with your partner…sending you both lots of positive thoughts for getting through this. I hope she’s feeling better! Here’s hoping this week is treating you well already.

    And thanks for sharing my review, so glad you liked it!


  1. Sept more choses about me: Versatile blogger award – Chomeuse with a Chou

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