Winding up the Week #67

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.


I shared my thoughts on The Millstone by Margaret Drabble for the 1965 Club. >> 1965 CLUB: The Millstone by Margaret Drabble >>

Look out for my comments on Mary Poppins by the Australian novelist P.L. Travers, which I’m currently reading for The Classics Club.


* 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’s difficult to limit the list to only these few – all of them published over the last week or two:

SHUTTER SNOWI shall have snow on my glassy fingers – Juliana Brina of The [Blank] Garden was struck by the often “poetic and violent images” of Emily Holmes Coleman’s novel, The Shutter of Snow, a study of being a patient in a 19th century mental institution. “Our protagonist”, she says, “seems to be perpetually crossing a thick layer of fog”, and the reader has the sensation of being “trapped in the present continuous of a mind run wild.”

The Stars in the Night by Clare Rhoden – the reality of loss and survival in war and peace – “This novel of Australia” is “a powerful comment on the First World War”, says Joules Barham of Northern Reader. Ultimately, she found that it “flowed and achieved much”.

The Sixteen Trees of the Somme by Lars Mytting – “Wood is central” to this Norwegian novel says Karen at BookerTalk. She found it “cleverly plotted with plenty of surprises” and a “keen observation of the natural landscape”.

After Julius by Elizabeth Jane Howard – Jacqui of JacquiWine’s Journal read this “very carefully constructed novel” for the 1965 Club. She thought it “perceptive” and “beautifully observed”.

Thérèse Raquin, Émile Zola (1867), #ZolAddiction2019 – Over at Relevant Obscurity, Laurie Welch chose one of Zola’s most famous realistic novels for Zoladdiction 2019. She “responded to his simplicity of describing the complicated descent into insanity” and found “the murder mystery really worked for [her].”

Book review: “Educated” by Tara Westover – Julia Rice “found this [memoir] both a shocking and a moving read”. Head over to Julia’s books to discover why it “caused something of a sensation when it was published last year.”

* 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:


Literary Hub: Writing Fiction About Fact: Using Historical Figures As Characters – Steven Rowley on Michael Cunningham, George Saunders and other ‘literary grave-robbers’.

The Guardian: ‘It drives writers mad’: why are authors still sniffy about sci-fi? – Sarah Ditum looks at the reasons behind science fiction’s lack of respectability in the literary world.

Independent: Brexit in fiction: How literature latches on to the theme of political divisions – Erica Wickerson thinks we should look to literature for answers to the “bloody mess” of Brexit.

Public Books: Translators and Other Icons – “Writers are sexy figures”, observes Lily Meyer. She wonders why they get all the attention while translators seem to be invisible?

Aeon: The birth of the book: on Christians, Romans and the codex – Classical scholar, Benjamin Harnett on the history of the codex – the Roman name for a book.

New Statesman America: Tolkien’s first words –John Mullan find that “JRR Tolkien’s fictions grew out of a gift for language and a passion for male friendship, tempered by the horrors of the Western Front.”

Bitch Media: First of Many: Jamia Wilson, Lisa Lucas, and Kima Jones on the Future of What We Read – Lisa Factora-Borchers finds these “pioneers are transforming the future of literary culture for readers and writers of color.”

CBC: Looking back at the extraordinary Simone de Beauvoir on the 70th anniversary of The Second Sex – “To mark the 70th anniversary of the publication of The Second Sex, Writers & Company revisits a conversation from 2008 with three Beauvoir enthusiasts.”

The Conversation: Shakespeare: research blows away stereotypes and reveals teenagers actually love the Bard – Cathy Baldwin’s research disproves the myth that inner-city teenagers prefer video games to Shakespeare.

Los Angeles Times: English translations of Armenian memoirs share diaspora stories with a new generation – Liz Ohanesian focuses on English translations of Armenian memoirs.

RCC: Canadian Independent Bookstore Day – Today, twenty stores across Canada will join in the celebration of Independent Bookstore Day.

The Bookseller: Faber pays tribute to ‘gifted’ author and journalist Lyra McKee – “Tributes have been paid to 29-year-old “gifted” Lyra McKee, a journalist and debut Faber author, who was shot on [18th April] while observing rioting in Londonderry’s Creggan estate”, reports Heloise Wood.

Slate: The Straight Story – Laura Miller reveals that Slate has reviewed the Mueller Report as a work of literature!

Book Marks: The Essential Ian McEwan – “A reading list for the most adapted man in literary fiction”.

The Irish Times: Desert island risks: Robinson Crusoe at 300 – “Daniel Defoe’s 300-year-old novel has enjoyed an immense literary legacy”, says Brian Maye.

CNET: For World Book Day 2019, a new take on an old way to celebrate literature and love – Discover why Patricia Puentes believes 23rd April is “the perfect day to give the gift of literature and roses.”

The Atlantic: People Underestimate How Fun It Is to Do the Same Thing Twice – Joe Pinsker writes in favour of rereading.

npr: Christopher Columbus’ Son Had An Enormous Library. Its Catalog Was Just Found – “The Libro de los Epítomes, a guidebook to the 16th century library of Hernando Colón, recently turned up in a manuscript archive in Denmark”, says Ari Shapiro.

Literary Hub: What Do We Really Mean By ‘Women’s Fiction’? – Rachel Howard recommends six essays on the gendering of books.

The Baffler: Successful People Listen to Audiobooks – Nora Caplan-Bricker reflects on the evolution of audiobooks.

BuzzFeed: 17 Books That Will Change The Way You Think About The World – “From Naomi Klein to Barbara Kingsolver, these authors explain the consequences of our warming planet — and imagine its future”, writes Arianna Rebolini.

The Calvert Journal: In conservative Poland, gay literary couple ‘Maryla Szymiczkowa’ are cutting a defiant path – Jacek Dehnel and Piotr Tarczynski (aka ‘Maryla Szymiczkowa’) discuss “the mechanics of joint authorship, LGBTQ rights in Poland, and their new 19th-century murder mystery series whose heroine is a social climbing housewife.”

Electric Literature: 7 Unlikeliest Friendships in Literature – “Ayşegül Savaş, author of Walking on the Ceiling, recommends fiction about eccentric pairings”.

CrimeReads: Locked-Room Mysteries: A Beginner’s Guide – Gigi Pandian talks impossible crimes, closed circles and fiendish whodunnits.

Longreads: The Women Characters Rarely End Up Free: Remembering Rachel Ingalls – “The recently re-appreciated novelist Rachel Ingalls passed away last month”, writes Ruby Brunton. “She was among a cohort of twentieth-century women writers who were ‘famous for not being famous.’”

Melville House: Bucharest opens Arcul de Triumf to visitors for World Book Night – “Thousands of residents in Bucharest were given the opportunity to look inside the city’s Arcul de Triumf for the country’s Open Books Night.

The Guardian: The Clockwork Condition: lost sequel to A Clockwork Orange discovered – An unfinished manuscript has been found among Anthony Burgess’s papers, which was described by the author as “a major philosophical statement on the contemporary human condition”.

Spine: The Australian Book Design Awards Shortlist – The Shortlist for the 67th Australian Book Design Awards has been announced – the winner will be revealed on 31st May at the State Library of New South Wales in Sydney.

Read it Forward: 13 Reasons Why Book Clubs Are Saving the World – Jessica Mizzi believes that “we need these communities of book-lovers now more than ever before.”



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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19 replies

  1. Wow, what riches! Thank you!

  2. Many thanks for linking to my Elizabeth Jane Howard post, that’s very kind of you!

    Funnily enough, I’ll be reading Tara Westover’s Educated fairly soon as a friend has picked it for our book group. Sounds as if there will be quite a lot to discuss…

  3. That article about translators is so interesting! Thanks for sharing….enjoy the rest of your weekend, Paula!

  4. Another excellent round-up! Being a bit of a bookcover lover, I was blown away by the Australian Book Design Awards Shortlist this year, such glorious children’s illustrations.

  5. Hi Paula, firstly, thanks for the shout out 🙂

    Secondly, Columbus had a son AND he was a librarian! It fascinates me that there were times in history when someone actually thought they could collect all the existing books in the world. Thanks for this article. What a story.

  6. Many great links as always Paula! I was an inner city teen who adored Shakespeare – nice to see research is backing my experience 😀

  7. Thank you for your kind words, Paula, and for featuring my post here. <3
    You linoed so many interesting pieces in this post! it is always a joy to read your weekly recommendations 🙂

  8. I love the idea that book clubs can save the world!

  9. That article on rereading was right up my proverbial street (interesting to see the studies on reviewing too, though). Do you reread often?

    • I seldom reread these days because I simply don’t have time, but I think certain books should definitely be read more than once because you discover something new each time. Do you reread many books, Marcie?

      • *nods* I get it. I started the year by saying that I would reread one each month (not many, given how much I read overall) and hoped I’d do more, but I’m having trouble making time for just one a month. It’s worth it, for sure, but I keep get distracted by fresh reads.

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