Winding up the Week #61

An end of week recap


Welsh gifts for sale in Bellis’.

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.


I read and remarked on chapters eight to 14 of The Autobiography of a Super-tramp by W.H. Davies – the official book of Wales Readathon 19. >> DEWITHON WEEK 2: The Autobiography of a Super-Tramp by W.H. Davies >>


* Week Three of the Wales Readathon *

Week two of Dewithon 19, our month-long celebration of literature from and about Wales, went gratifyingly well. An eclectic assortment of features and reviews were posted by fellow book bloggers – which can be found on the official Wales Readathon 2019 page. At the end of March, I intend to publish a round-up of all the books reviewed and discussed during event. Hopefully this will enable others to follow-up the various titles should they so wish.

Slightly off topic: Storm Gareth hit the UK during the week, bringing with him power cuts and localised flooding. I can’t help but wonder if Met Eireann, the Irish Weather service who chose the name, had heard on the grapevine about us celebrating Dewithon this month, because the chosen moniker is, of course, a very popular forename in Wales (with probable Welsh origins). While it seems unlikely the Met Office had inside information about our readathon, it is worth mentioning that Gareth is believed to relate to the name Geraint, or the word gwaredd, meaning ‘gentleness’ in the Welsh language – so not entirely appropriate under the circumstances.

Thank you so much to everyone taking part. You are all rhyfeddol (wonderful)!

If you post any content relating to Dewithon on your blogs, 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:

PENELOPIAD‘The Penelopiad’ by Margaret Atwood – Susana Faria at A Bag Full of Stories found Margaret Atwood’s 2005 retelling of an ancient myth highlighted the ways in which “patriarchal society puts women in conflict with each other”, but she also felt it gave “a voice to the less fortunate Maids.”

I’d like to recommend: Cheerful Weather for the Wedding. – The precise detail and “economical writing” of Julia Strachey’s 1932 novel reminded Cath Humphris of Katherine Mansfield’s The Garden Party.”

The Silver Road – Stina Jackson – “This is [Lizzy Siddal’s] kind of crime novel.” Head over to Lizzy’s Literary Life to discover why she was so completely “gripped” by this 2018 mystery novel.

Review: Ever Alice by H.J. Ramsay – “This was a fun sequel to [Lewis Carroll’s] Alice”, writes Mallika Ramachandran at Literary Potpourri, – a book she “enjoyed reading […] very much” – though, not quite as much as she had hoped.

The History Mystery of Thomas Paine’s Afterlife – Although the work of Thomas Paine wouldn’t normally be Rennie Sweeney’s “go-to reading material”, she found The Trouble with Tom by Paul Collins both “fascinating” and “unengaging” in equal parts. Discover why Paine’s afterlife was so quirky at What’s Nonfiction?.

Book Review: There There by Tommy Orange – “Identity is […] at the heart” of this Canadian novel “written from an Aboriginal perspective”, says Anne Logan from I’ve Read This. She recommends you pick it up!

* 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: ‘I can get any novel I want in 30 seconds’: can book piracy be stopped? – “As publishers struggle with ‘whack-a-mole’ websites, experts, authors and Guardian readers who illegally download books, assess the damage”, writes Katy Guest.

The Chronicle of Higher Education: Critical Correctness – “Some literary scholars would like to escape politics. But is that even possible?” asks Bruce Robbins.

Popula: On Owning Many Books – Mik Awake thinks book-hoarding “is less cute if you think of it as book-privatizing.”

Tablet: Confessions of a Sensitivity Reader – “Trying to make children’s books more authentic and less stereotype-ridden isn’t censorship”, says Marjorie Ingall.

Melville House: Buying the home that inspired Wuthering Heights may bring you one step closer to 19th cent. gothic realness – Alex Primiani wonders if you might have a spare £1.25 million to buy Ponden Hall, a 17th century property in West Yorkshire that inspired Wuthering Heights.

CrimeReads: Why Does It Matter Who Wrote Nancy Drew, Anyway? – Radha Vatsal discusses the “author as brand” and the “syndicate behind so many classic series”.

The Times Literary Supplement: Touching the untouchable – Thirty years on, Hanif Kureishi remembers the fatwa against Salman Rushdie.

Book Marks: Savage Classic Reviews of Your Favorite Red Flag Books – Which books are automatic ‘red flags’ for you? Apparently, some titles are for reading in the privacy of your bedroom!

The New York Review of Books: Does Talking About Books Make Us More Cosmopolitan? – “What is the deeper purpose, if any, of our disagreements and discussions about books?” asks Tim Parks.

Fast Company: What late poet Seamus Heaney’s last text tells us about our digital lives – “The short text that the Nobel-prize winning Irish poet sent to his wife before his death says so much about the magic and ephemerality of our digital communications”, writes John West.

Independent: Why Marie Kondo needs to remember that our books tell us who we are – “As Daisy Buchanan has discovered, books betray us in the best way possible”.

Quartzy: The joy of books is lost when we treat reading as self-improvement – As an adult, “passionate reader” Sally O’Reilly feels she has lost her way. She wonders what became of the “pure immersion in an imagined world” she experienced as a child?

Vulture: John Lanchester’s Fiction Tells the Truth – “The British author knows all about self-deception”, writes Cody Delistraty. “His new novel is the warning we desperately need.”

Book Riot: I am a Unicorn Among Book Lovers: I Like Not Keeping Books – Heather Bottoms admits she avoids keeping books.

The Guardian: ‘A dream’: out of print memoir shortlisted for 2019 Stella prize – “Sydney writer Vicki Laveau-Harvie joins five others in the running for the $50,000 prize for Australian women’s writing”.

The Paris Review: Feminize Your Canon: Eliot Bliss – Emma Garman on the life of a “prolific lesbian writer from the British Caribbean who may have had a strong influence on the work of Jean Rhys.”

Books + Publishing: First novel translated from Uzbek to English wins €20k EBRD Literature PrizeThe Devils’ Dance by Hamid Ismailov (translated by Donald Rayfield) has been awarded the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) Literature Prize for a translated work of literary fiction.

JSTOR Daily: Being a Victorian Librarian Was Oh-So-Dangerous – “In the late 19th century, more women were becoming librarians. Experts like Melvil Dewey predicted they would suffer ill health, strain, and breakdowns”, writes Livia Gershon.

Library Journal: National Book Critics Circle Names 2018 Winners – Barbara Hoffert sums up “an evening that was a celebration not just of books but of the entire critical endeavor.”

Electric Literature: Do We Still Need the Nobel Prize in Literature? – “After last year’s scandal the Academy is awarding two prizes — and attempting to change”.

Stylist: Bookworms, you’ll love these atmospheric London library bars – “Library bars have become a bit of a London cult favourite”.



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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35 replies

  1. Thanks for mentioning my review! 😊

  2. Cute dracul…looks just like my cat when she’s angry:)

  3. I completely missed The Paris Review article on Eliot Bliss. Thanks for sharing it, and so many other goodies!

  4. Thanks for the great links! I especially enjoyed the articles from Tablet and Crime Reads.

  5. I had no idea about then Storm Gareth thing and meaning gentleness in welsh – very contradictory for its use in describing our recent weather! Some really interesting further reading too, I’m quite curious about the Quartzy one one joy of reading being lost when we treat it as self-improvement. I think the same when I do things like crosswords and view it not as downtime and enjoyment (because then I’d feel guilty for not being productive) but as keeping my brain active.
    I hope you have a lovely weekend, whatever you’re up to – Happy reading! 🙂
    Caz xx

  6. Great round up as always Paula – you always find so many interesting links! 😀

  7. Thank you – how wonderful that Gareth means gentleness!

  8. Great links as always. I enjoyed the Guardian article on book piracy and I see the Marie Kondo debate is STILL raging on 🙂

  9. Am having a good giggle about book hoarding being any kind of cute, be it more or less cute. 😀

    I second the rec for Tommy Orange’s debut novel, There There. (It also just won something at the NBCC awards too!)

  10. Thank you so much for mentioning my review. I’m glad you enjoyed it. 🙂

  11. Just read that Guardian article about e-book piracy. Can’t believe that people who have enough money think its ok to steal like this.

  12. Thanks for the share 🙂

  13. Book privatisation? Pfft!! 😉

    • I’m with Calypte, ‘book-privatisation’ is a phrase that is so wrong.

      First (and quite apart from that intrusive and unnecessary ‘z’) privatisation is the removal of a public service from public ownership, which quite evidently copies of books are not—that’s why they’re sold in multiples, not a print rum of one.

      Secondly ‘privatisation’ implies a dog in the manger approach (as perhaps does the word ‘hoard’) which is not always the case with those with groaning, er, bookcases. We’re not all Smaug-like; and indeed the ‘wordhoard’ of Anglo-Saxon poetry is found combined with the word ‘unlocked’, implying some vocabulary-sharing is going on…

    • I agree with you both – I found the idea a bit silly, if I’m honest – but thought I’d chuck it into the mix! 😈

  14. Your Wales Readathon page is shaping up nicely! I have to investigate more closely.
    I love that little stuffed dragon!

  15. I was so interested in that Guardian article about internet piracy this week too. What a conundrum the industry is facing. Fascinating links as always, and thanks so much for sharing my review, I’m thrilled you liked it!

  16. I love the idea of a library bar. I was reading this piracy article earlier this week and I was kinda agreeing at several places. Interesting links as well!

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