Winding Up the Week #69

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 nightstand and keep readers abreast of various book-related happenings.


I read and reviewed Conversations with Wilde: A Fictional Dialogue Based on Biographical Facts by Oscar’s grandson, Merlin Holland. It is due to be published by Watkins on 11th June 2019. >> BOOK REVIEW: Conversations with Wilde: A Fictional Dialogue Based on Biographical Facts >>


* Wales Book of the Year 2019 *

The shortlist for the Wales Book of the Year 2019 awards for English and Welsh-language books has been revealed. >> WALES BOOK OF THE YEAR 2019: Shortlist Announced >>

* 20 Books of Summer *

20 BOOKS SUMMERCathy Brown of 746 Books has issued an advance alert for her highly popular reading challenge, 20 Books of Summer. Scheduled to begin on 3rd June and run for three months, until 3rd September, readers are invited to select and then read 20 books from their unread TBR stacks (10 or 15 are permissible, too). If you would like to participate, simply grab the BOS image, post on your blog a list of the titles you intend reading during the summer months and link back to Cathy’s master post from 3rd June. You should also look out for #20booksofsummer on Twitter.

* 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:

AMERICAN SPYAmerican Spy by Lauren Wilkinson – Over at Bookconscious Deb Baker has been reading a newly published spy novel, which she describes as “cerebral” (in the John le Carré sense), “full of wise observations about womanhood” and “a terrific read”.

Travel Tribute to H V Morton and Wales – During a visit to the University of Queensland Alumni Book Fair, Gretchen Bernet-Ward of Thoughts Become Words discovered a 1932 edition of In Search of Wales by H.V. Morton. The experience left her feeling that “interconnections exist everywhere in many forms but none so strongly as with books.”

“Machines Like Me” by Ian McEwan – Martie at Leave Me Alone I Am Reading and Reviewing thinks this novel shows “Ian McEwan at his storytelling best.” She found the author gave “the reader plenty to think about in his what-if alternative world.”

“Take good care of it, it is my life,” said artist Charlotte Salomon about Life? or Theatre? which was also her Life’s Work – Diane at De Beer Necessities shares her thoughts on two books about the artist Charlotte Salomon.

Reading Rambles: The Loving Spirit by Daphne du Maurier – Sandra at A Corner of Cornwall chose to read The Loving Spirit (along with three other titles) for Daphne du Maurier Reading Week. She describes this 1931 novel – the author’s first – as “definitely worth reading but […] perhaps not the place to start”.

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles – John Latham found a “gentle humour” in this novel, which is “ostensibly about Russia”. Discover why he considers it “an attack on totalitarianism” in his review at Cheepcheepcopy.

* 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 New York Times: The Many Lives of Jan Morris – Sarah Lyall interviews 92-year-old Morris in her hometown of Criccieth.

The Guardian: Will Eaves: ‘Life is chancier than we imagine: we’re never far from the edge’ – “Fresh from winning the Wellcome prize […] the novelist talks about creativity, frustration and finding inspiration in the code breaker Alan Turing”.

Interview: We Asked New York’s Booksellers About Sally Rooney Fever – Sarah Nechamkin speaks to NYC booksellers about Sally Rooney’s novels and the people who buy them.

Verso: 5 Book Plan: Non-Fascist Living – “Natasha Lennard, author of Being Numerous, selects five books that shaped her thinking on fascism permeating life under capitalism.”

The Paris Review: Re-Covered: To the One I Love the Best – Ludwig Bemelmans is best known today as an illustrator or as the author of the Madeline books, but Lucy Scholes discovers that “his love letter to his best friend Elsie de Wolfe is profoundly charming.”

BBC: The royal mint releases new 50p coin dedicated to Sherlock Holmes – The royal mint has released a new 50p coin dedicated to Sherlock Holmes for the 160th anniversary of Conan Doyle’s birth.

Brain Pickings: Virginia Woolf on Being Ill and the Strange Transcendence Accessible Amid the Terrors of the Ailing Body – Another superb piece from Maria Popova.

Noteworthy: Reading Arendt Now – Samantha Rose Hill “fell in love” with Hannah Arendt’s work after reading The Human Condition in her freshman year at college.

CBC: A ‘bittersweet’ ending to venerable bookshop’s story – The Book Gallery in Ontario is giving away its entire collection following the death of the owner.

Australian Book Review: This is the way the world ends – Beejay Silcox on dystopian fiction in the age of Trump.

Literary Hub: Joanna Scutts on How We Find—and Lose—Women Writers – “Exhumations and revelations, from Zora Neale Hurston to Bette Howland”.

Electric Literature: 7 Books That Look at Nature Up Close – “Writing that focuses on a brief time in a small, specific ecosystem helps us feel more present in the world”, writes Carrie V. Mullins.

Book Riot: Why is a Literary Collective Translating 100 Classic Indian Novels? – M. Lynx Qualey finds the “Indian Novels Collective (INC) has set itself an ambitious goal.”

World Literature Today: The Role of Intuition in Translation – “After translating more than two hundred titles into Spanish and Catalan, Carles Andreu focuses on his translations of Jennifer Egan’s work to consider the role of intuition”.

The Washington Post: Escape reality with these delightful old-time thrillers. You’ll forget 2020 is almost here. – Set in the 1920s and ’30s, the works of Dornford Yates feature witty crime-fighters zipping around Europe.

Vulture: Siri Hustvedt’s 10 Favorite Books –Siri Hustvedt lists ten titles she would take with her to a desert island.

The Times Literary Supplement: Finding it – “Helen Lederer introduces the Comedy Women in Print Prize”.

Penguin Features: ‘Libraries protected me at my most vulnerable’: Kerry Hudson on why libraries can’t be lost – Kerry Hudson, author of Lowborn, has written an essay for Vintage where she explores the vital role that libraries and books played in her life, and why we must do everything in our power to protect them.

BBC Culture: The 1968 novel that predicted today – “In the first of BBC Culture’s new series on fiction that predicted the future, Hephzibah Anderson looks at the work of John Brunner, whose vision of 2010 was eerily accurate.”

CrimeReads: James M. Cain, The Femme Fatale and the Male Gaze – Sean Carswell on “grappling with the misogynist history of deadly women in noir”.

Deadline: Kristin Scott Thomas Joins Lily James, Armie Hammer In ‘Rebecca’ – A new adaption of Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca is planned for Netflix.

Independent: Simon Armitage named Britain’s new poet laureate – Jack Shepherd writes on Simon Armitage, the UK’s next poet laureate.

Knowledge Quest: Books That Can Make a Difference – School librarian, Maureen Schlosser, shares a few titles that may inspire learners to make a difference.

It’s Nice That: Jon Gray on designing book covers for Zadie Smith, Sally Rooney and other literary giants – “If you were pushed to pick a selection of the most notable book covers of recent years, there’s a very good chance some of Jon Gray’s designs would be in there”, says Daniel Milroy Maher.

Full Stop: In Praise of Bullshitting – Tom LeClair write in praise of literary bullshitting: from Herman Melville to William Gaddis to Gayl Jones.

The New York Times: Why Are There So Many Books About Dogs? – Vanessa Woods And Brian Hare with an essay for book-reading dog-lovers.

Scientific America: Unread Books at Home Still Spark Literacy Habits – Karen Hopkin discovers that growing-up in a house filled with books makes you more intelligent.

LOCUS: Seanan McGuire Guest Post–“Not a Prison” – Fantasy writer, Seanan McGuire, believes genre is “a tool and a gift, not a prison.”

The Guardian: The other side of Black Mirror: literary utopias offer the seeds of better real life – Sandra Newman has concerns that the “rule of cynics and nihilists has led us to a dangerous place, where everything from healthcare to wind farms is declared intrusive, big-state meddling”.



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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30 replies

  1. A positive cornucopia of delights – thank you Paula!:D

  2. Good stuff!!

  3. Really helpful and as always interesting list of articles and reviews of books to read. You are amazing! And thank-you.

  4. So thought-provoking, about the closed bookstore that’s giving away all the books…

  5. I was interested by the Washington Post article about Dornford Yates. I have been collecting the original 1930/40 copies for a few years now since discovering that my mother loved them as a teenager. They are great fun!

  6. Hi Paula,

    Thanks for the link (very kind etc.) With regard to A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles, I’d like to clarify that the author is fairly committed to his Russian setting. It was just my reading that flagged up how totalitarianism need not be connected with the Soviet Union (or Nazi Germany). After all, some Trotskyists accused Stalin of pursuing state capitalism and it is possible to imagine a modern capitalist state having a totalitarian element. It is intriguing that Hannah Arendt features in your list of recommendations, as well as appearing in my tiny blog post. On the television last week, there was a discussion about a current experiment using facial recognition in British policing. Opinion was divided over whether or not this use of data without consent might have a totalitarian aspect. Liberals and socialists seem to share a concern about the future.

  7. Thanks so much for the shout out Paula x

  8. Thank you for the mention, Paula, much appreciated. It made me smile, and I’m still smiling over my new old book of Wales.

    On the other hand, I’m reeling from several articles, especially Beejay Silcox, John Brunner, Sherlock Holmes coin and The Book Gallery…wonders will never cease…

  9. Oh my goodness, you have excelled yourself with this week’s links, Paula! And thank you for the mention 🤗🤗

  10. This is a jam-packed edition Paula. I was so heartened to read the piece about why libraries are important – I fear they are becoming as rare as a local post office in the UK

  11. “growing-up in a house filled with books makes you more intelligent” — I’m going to take this and run with it! 🙂

  12. I’m intrigued by the various responses to the new Ian McEwan novel. HIs books always make me think. And, despite that, he’s also one of those writers, with whom I must be in a particular mood to actually read. Have you tried him before? Lots of good book news this week too. I’m a sucker for Top 10 lists, but this one just reminds me that I have to read Siri Husvedt too.

    • I’ve read a few McEwan novels but not for some time. I saw him at Hay last year and he read a few pages from his then up-and-coming new work. I was intrigued by what I heard and definitely want to read Machines Like Me at some point. Yes, I too love a good list. I’m glad you found some links of interest, Marcie.

  13. I will have to check out the 100 classics of Indian literature right away. Thanks for sharing!

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