Winding up the Week #62

An end of week recap


More Welsh trinkets for sale at 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 15 to 21 of The Autobiography of a Super-tramp by W.H. Davies – the official book of Wales Readathon 19. >> DEWITHON WEEK 3: The Autobiography of a Super-Tramp by W.H. Davies >>


* Doing it for Dewithon *

Many thanks to everybody who contributed reviews and features during week three of Dewithon 19. There has been a wonderfully diverse mixture of entertaining, engrossing and thought-provoking posts – all can be found on the official Wales Readathon 2019 page.

Even our sporting heroes appear to be doing their bit for Dewithon. There was the remarkable Six Nations grand slam victory in Cardiff on the 16th March against fellow Celts, Ireland. Rugby Union is, of course, at the very heart of Welsh culture and the national side enjoy phenomenal support. As I’m sure you can imagine, there was much singing and celebrating in Wales last weekend.

Wales isn’t known for being a great footballing (soccer) nation – although we’ve produced some top-class players over the years (Ryan Giggs and Gareth Bale to name but two). Nevertheless, the Welsh side very occasionally qualify for major international tournaments and set hearts racing. Last Wednesday they beat Trinidad and Tobago 1-0 on home turf in a friendly fixture. Cue a second (third, fourth and fifth) round of revelry in pubs and homes across the nation.

Dewch ymlaen Cymru! (Come on Wales!)

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:

FOUR SOLDIERSFour Soldiers by Hubert Mingarelli, translated from the French by Sam Taylor (Man Booker International Prize 2019) ~ As near to perfect a book as I have ever read. – Dolce Bellezza “will never forget” this book. “Reading it”, she says, “caused a worthy sadness.”

The Uninhabitable Earth – In her thoughtful review of David Wallace-Wells’ newly published The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming, Valorie Grace Hallinan of Books Can Save a Life, describes his meditation on climate change as “bleak”, while asserting we must “become politically active and work, ceaselessly, for swift, dramatic mobilization and change.”

Circe by Madeline Miller – While Adam at Roof Beam Reader finds the prose in Circe “not quite as interesting” as Miller’s The Song of Achilles (which he thought “a masterpiece”), he nevertheless declares it “wonderfully well-done”.

The Krull House by Georges Simenon (tr. Howard Curtis) – Jacqui found this 1939 novel “a timely and prescient read” – not to mention, “a vital story for our troubling times.” Discover why she highly recommends it at JacquiWine’s Journal.

Robert Blake (and Sexton) – Over at Great War Fiction, George Simmers shares some fascinating information from one of his readers regarding his mother’s cousin, Rani Sircar, the author of Dancing Round the Maypole: Growing Out of British India.

‘Three Japanese Short Stories’ by Akutagawa & Others (Penguin Modern #5) – Akylina from The Literary Sisters “really enjoyed [reading] this collection” for the Japanese Literature Challenge 12. She describes the stories as “diverse enough to appeal to people of different tastes.”

* 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:


WALES PUB OF YEARParthian: Parthian Wins Nibbie for Small Press of the Year (Wales Region) – Parthian wins Wales Publisher of the Year in the Nibbies Bookseller at the London Book Fair.

Book Marks: Anita Felicelli on Don Quixote, Zadie Smith, and Democratizing Book Criticism – “I think those of us critics whose primary life activity is to read, who read as if books are food, are always hoping to fall in love with a new book”, says Feicelli.

Culture Trip: Discover the Art of Jazz and Poetry in a Legendary Floating Bookshop – Word on the Water is a 1920s Dutch barge that’s been transformed into a remarkable floating book shop on Regent’s Canal, London.

Electric Lit: Famous Women Authors Share Their Daily Writing Routines – Mason Currey examines the ways in which authors such Edith Wharton, Zadie Smith and Hilary Mantel set their writing schedules.

Harper’s Magazine: Like This or Die – Christian Lorentzen laments the death of the book review in the age of the algorithm.

Aeon: Queering Shakespeare – “So many arguments are given against Shakespeare being gay – yet his sonnets contain their own message, that love is love”, writes Sandra Newman.

Books + Publishing: PRH, Text, Matilda Bookshop and Farrell’s Bookshop awarded at Leading Edge Books Conference – Australian bookstores win awards.

London Review of Books: Such Little TrousersLavinia Greenlaw on Pamela Hansford Johnson.

BBC Culture: How the apocalypse could be a good thing – “In sci-fi novels, people are often cut off from civilisation by a ‘cosy catastrophe’. Sumit Paul-Choudhury looks at how the breakdown of society can usher in a different world.”

The Bookseller: Philip Pullman wins J M Barrie Award – Sir Philip Pullman is the winner of this year’s J M Barrie Award, given annually in recognition of a lifetime’s achievement in delighting children.

Penguin: 60 must-read books by women, as chosen by our readers – Penguin asked its readers for their favourite books by female writers. These are their recommendations.

The Atlantic: The Curious Power of Giving Book Characters the Same Name – According to Nina Martyris: “Leo Tolstoy did it. So did Gabriel García Márquez and the Tintin comics. Sometimes, the unusual literary device can amplify a story’s meaning tremendously.”

VINTAGE: Mothers in classic VINTAGE books – A list of some of our favourite mothers, and depictions of motherhood, in classic literature.

New Statesman: C S Lewis’s story has already been told: why we don’t need a new Narnia book – Francis Spufford’s unauthorized Narnia novel has already received a backlash despite his best efforts.

NPR: A Lost ‘Little Boy’ Nears 100: Poet And Publisher Lawrence Ferlinghetti – The writer and co-founder of bookstore City Lights in San Francisco, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, will turn 100 this weekend. He shares the secret of his longevity with Tom Vitale.

The New Yorker: My Father’s Stack of Books – Kathryn Schulz’s father “loved books ravenously, and his always had a devoured look to them.”

Mental Floss: Where Did the Phrase ‘Red Herring’ Come From? – Emily Petsko seeks the origin of a well-used expression.

Literary Hub: Reading Women: The Australian Episode, Part II – Jaclyn Masters and Kendra Winchester discuss contemporary Australian literature.

Melville House: Thousands of Indonesians have opened their own libraries – “Promoting reading in Indonesia has long been a struggle – so citizens have taken it upon themselves to make books accessible to children”, writes Amelia Stymacks.

Entertainment: J.K. Rowling’s long history of discussing — but not depicting — Dumbledore’s sexuality – J.K. Rowling revealed that Dumbledore was in love with Grindelwald almost 12 years ago, but why wasn’t his sexuality mentioned in the canon text, wonders Devan Coggan?

The Times Literary Supplement: Marvellous strength in diversity – “Michael Caines looks at the market for rare books written by women”.

Bookish: Bookstore Bucket List: 12 Unique Bookstores You Need to Visit – Dana Cuadrado warns you will “lose hours (happily!) in these gorgeous bookshops.”



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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25 replies

  1. So pleased you’ve highlighted a Four Soldiers review, Paula. Such a beautifully expressed book. Jacqui’s excellent review of Krull House showed us that there was a good deal more to Simenon than just Maigret.

  2. My husband has just been reading Simenon but found it a little dull…..

  3. Such a wonderful choice of book reviews and literary articles! You’ve just helped me enrich my reading material for my long weekend 😉 And thank you so much for the mention, too!

  4. What an informative post, chock full of important information! I love all that yoi’ve highlighted here, expanding my knowledge of not only books and authors, but other bloggers, too. I am honored to be mentioned here in such excellent company. Thank you.

  5. Many thanks for including a link to my post, Paula. That’s very kind of you.

  6. Floating bookshop? Too good to be true!

  7. So many lovely links to follow up as usual Paula – thank you! I really want to read Four Soldiers, it sounds great.

  8. I never realised until now how much I needed to know where the phrase “red herring” originated, and luckily you’ve also provided the answer… 😀

  9. I enjoyed taking part in Dewithon with my one read and hope I can get a few more together for next year!

  10. That post about the Japanese short stories sounds good…I’m off to look. And how nice to know that there’s a new Narnia book, even if it’s getting some flack!

  11. I’m so glad to have discovered your blog, and thanks a million for the mention. I hope many people read either Uninhabitable Earth or, perhaps other less dire but equally well written books about climate change. Thank you for all of your wonderful work here, it’s a fabulous site.

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