Winding up the Week #60

An end of week recap

DEWITHON 19This 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 shared a few thoughts (intermingled with personal memories) on The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer. >> THOUGHTS ON: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society >>

I read and remarked on the first seven chapters of The Autobiography of a Super-tramp by W.H. Davies – the official book of Wales Readathon 19. >> DEWITHON WEEK 1: The Autobiography of a Super-Tramp by W.H. Davies >>


* Week Two of the Wales Readathon *

Dewithon 19 got off to a tremendous start, with a multitude of fascinating features and brilliant book reviews. Please check out the ever-growing list at Wales Readathon 2019.

Karen at BookerTalk shouted-out to Dewithoners on her Twitter feed last Monday. She has created a comprehensive page of 85 books from Wales on her blog, incorporating a “mix of ‘classics’ and contemporary novels and short stories from across the decades and across genres”, and would appreciate “new ideas for which Welsh authors to read”. She hopes to reach 100 before much longer. Can we help? Let’s see if we can.

If you post any content relating to Dewithon on your blogs during the month, please be sure to let me know.

* 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:

LOST CHILDREN ARCHIVELost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli: Recording and bearing witness – Over at A life in books, Susan Osborne discusses Luiselli’s Women’s Prize for Fiction nominated novel about US detention camps. She finds it “humane”, “thoughtful and thought-provoking”.

‘The History of Love’ by Nicole Krauss – Kim Forrester at Reading Matters describes Krauss’s 2005 award-winning historical novel as “wise”, “tender” and “a wonderful read.”

The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See – Jennifer at Tar Heel Reader found the Korean women in this historical novel “strong [and] indomitable of spirit”. The book, she said, was an “unforgettable, indelible read”.

Review of The Backstreets of Purgatory: Delusion and Dark Humor in Glasgow – Helen Taylor’s 2018 debut novel is “profane and darkly humorous” with “well-drawn characters”, writes Rita E. Gould from An Artful Sequence of Words.

Review: The Eight Mountains: A Novel by Paolo Cognetti – Lisa Hayes of Hopewell’s Public Library of Life felt there was “something poetic about the language in this small, quiet, book” and the ending was “not at all what [she] expected”.

Are You Here for What I’m Here For? by Brian Booker – “Deep oppression pervades” this suspenseful 2016 short story collection, says Ben East. Discover why he found it so “unsettling” at Dactyl Review.

* 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 TESTAMENTSThe Guardian: Atwood to launch The Handmaid’s Tale sequel with live broadcast – Mark Brown reveals that a live Atwood interview about The Testaments is going to be filmed at The National Theatre in London on 9th September following the book’s midnight launch.

Women’s Prize For Fiction: Announcing the Women’s Prize 2019 Longlist – This year’s Women’s Prize for Fiction longlist has been revealed.

Book Marks: Carolyn Burke: Five Fascinating Group Biographies – The author of Foursome shares five important books in her life.

Publishers Weekly: After Changes, the Nobel Prize for Literature Returns – The Nobel Prize for Literature returns twelve months after cancelling the 2018 award.

Medium: The Hidden Treasure Beneath My Library – “A true tale of books, librarians, a secret, and more books”, from Nicole Bianchi.

Open Culture: The Medieval Masterpiece, the Book of Kells, Is Now Digitized & Put Online – Josh Jones shares exciting news about a medieval masterpiece being digitized for posterity.

Stylist: The triumphant return of the feminist bookshop – “Women’s bookshops were a vital part of the British feminist movement in the Seventies and Eighties. Now, they’re making a comeback”, writes Moya Crockett.

The Times Literary Supplement: A nose by any other name – “David Coward on the 400th anniversary of the real Cyrano de Bergerac”.

OK Whatever: Zines Are Popping Up in Public Libraries Across the U.S. – “They’ve been around for decades,” writes Jessie Schiewe, “but is the underground art form now going mainstream?”

BBC News: Sir Philip Pullman’s second Book of Dust out in October – Philip Pullman’s second instalment in his Book of Dust series will be released in October.

Book Riot: 16 Nonfiction Books for Fiction Lovers – Sophia LeFevre suggests books that she hopes readers of any genre will find “interesting or impactful.”

The New York Times: The ‘Moral Clarity’ of ‘Slaughterhouse-Five’ at 50 – Kevin Powers is “grateful” Slaughterhouse-Five exists.

Publishers Weekly: 10 Things You (Probably) Didn’t Know About Virginia Woolf – Lyndall Gordon shares some lesser-known biographical facts about Virginia Woolf.

Literary Hub: Reading Women, the Australia Episode! – On Reading Women with Jaclyn Masters and Kendra Winchester.

European Literature Network: A literary visit to Latvia by Anna Maria Espsäter – “Anna Maria Espsäter explores the Latvian literature scene as the country celebrates the centenary of its Declaration of Independence.”

Gulf News: Why are so many people buying books and not reading? – “There are many reasons for the sudden uptick in book-buying. Here are some of the oddest”.

Independent: World Book Day: 10 best children’s books by Enid Blyton – Joe Sommerlad finds that although this “prolific author [is] often attacked for conservative values and limited prose [her] works actually reveal immense versatility and invention”.

The Irish Times: Kaleidoscope: a tool and a toy celebrating Irish writing – Fifty Irish writers from North and South and the diaspora reflect on their writing process.

Lapham’s Quarterly: The Geography of the Odyssey – How to map a myth by Elizabeth Della Zazzera.

The Guardian: Top 10 books about women and the sea – “From Virginia Woolf to Tove Jansson, author Charlotte Runcie chooses books telling maritime stories too rarely told”.

Harper’s Magazine: The Story of Storytelling – Ferris Jabr on what “the hidden relationships of ancient folktales reveal about their evolution—and our own”.



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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24 replies

  1. Thanks, as ever, for the link, Paula. I was so pleased to see the Luiselli on the Women’s Prize for Fiction longlist. It’s such an important book. I’ll be reading the Cognetti next week. The Hopewell review has whetted my appetite nicely.

  2. Grrr, why do you keep pointing out so many tempting links, Paula? How am I going to achieve anything writing-related when I’m chasing up all these wonderful bookish thoughts, critiques and previews?! (And don’t even think of asking if I believe in free will…)

    • Ooh ‘eck! 😕 Though it has to be said, Chris, for someone supposedly “not [achieving] anything writing-related” your posts seem rather bountiful – not to mention absorbing. Just grab a cuppa, put your feet up and treat it as an opportunity to recharge your writing battery! 😉

  3. I loved Karen’s list – it’s been bookmarked for future reference!

  4. Aww, thank you for including my Lisa See review, Paula! I truly loved that book from beginning to end! I thought of you because we’ve had some noisy large flocks of small birds – they must be migrating somewhere? It’s a little too early to head back north, so I’m not sure? It seems like I remember it happening last year. I have no idea what the birds are, but I wondered if they are starlings. It’s quite a beautiful sound! I tried researching it, but did not find the answer. I hope you are having a lovely weekend! ♥️

    • It’s a pleasure, Jennifer. I’m fascinated by the sea, so I’ve added it to my TBR list. Starlings can make all sorts of sounds, they’ve been known to mimic ringing phones and cat’s crying. Were you able to see these mystery birds? Starlings make wonderful patterns in the sky shortly before roosting for the night. Here’s to the hummers returning soon! 🌺🐤

      • They looked small and black, but I was not able to see them close enough to know for sure. I’m going to try to find out more. They seem to be gone today. Yay for the hummers! Cannot wait! ♥️

  5. Paula, you know that when I see ‘library’ and ‘Australia’ I am going to read those articles first, don’t you!

    I did take exception to Nicole Bianchi writing ‘Scientific studies have been conducted to investigate the latter phenomenon that has occurred over the past ten years. And their findings are astounding. Yes, it is true. Hardly anyone reads books anymore’. I would like to see facts to support that statement 😉

  6. I’ve read two of Lisa See’s books – they were OK but didn’t knock my socks off…..
    thanks for the mention of my Welsh book list. Hope I can add the remaining 15 titles to get it to 100.

  7. what a treasure trove of links and juicy bits, Paula, thank you! 🙂

  8. Why buy books and not read them? Because there are only so many hours in a day, silly! 😉 🙂

  9. As always, many thanks for this Paula 🙂

  10. I’m starting to think the promotion of Atwood’s new book is going to be a little over-the-top. I hope, for her sake, it’s a good one!

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