Winding Up the Week #71

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 signed-up for Cathy Brown’s popular literary jolly, 20 Books of Summer (3rd June – 3rd September) and hope (but don’t altogether expect) to complete my reading list in the allotted time. >> 10 Books of Summer 2019 >>


* New Welsh Writing Awards 2019 *

The winning manuscripts for this year’s New Welsh Writing Awards have been revealed. >> NEW WELSH WRITING AWARDS 2019: Winners Announced >>

MOBY DICK* Moby Dick Readalong *

“The 1st August 2019 is [Herman] Melville’s 200th birthday,” says Brona of Brona’s Books, which strikes her as being “an auspicious start date” for the Moby Dick Readalong (1st August 2019 – 29th February 2020). She plans first to “read a chapter of the book then listen to the matching podcast episode from the Moby Dick Big Read” website. If you are game for “30 weeks of Moby Dick” at the rate of four and half chapters a week, you are invited to join Brona and friends in tackling Melville’s 1850 masterpiece. You can also follow the event on Twitter by using the hashtag #MobyDickReadalong.

* 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:

A START IN LIFEBook Review: A Start in Life by Anita Brookner – Kathy Hamilton of The Female Scriblerian felt Brookner’s debut novel (first published in 1981) reads like “the work of an author in [her] prime”. The story, she discovered, contains both “loneliness” and “wit”.

Postcard from the Hay Festival – Julia Rice recounts her adventures at this year’s Hay Festival on Julia’s Books. Among her highlights were “Anna Burns talking with Gaby Wood about her Man Booker prize-winning novel”, Naomi Wolf discussing her “latest book” and a chance encounter with Maxine Peake.

Night and Day, Virginia Woolf (1919) – Woolf’s novel may well have benefitted from “heavy editing” but Laurie Welch at Relevant Obscurity still “enjoyed” the writing, “especially the myriad conversations”, which were “so well done”.

Lux by Elizabeth Cook – In her review for Shiny New Books Julie Barham describes Cook’s recently released historical novel as “an immensely profound book.” She recommends it for numerous reasons including its “deep insights into the characters’ thoughts” and because “the writing flows so well”.

Review 1357: Memories: From Moscow to the Black Sea – Kay at Whatmeread found Teffi’s 1931 account of her “harrowing” journey to Odessa is “written in a lively, quirky style with a great deal of humor”.

The Shape of the Ruins – Jan Hicks of What I Think About When I Think About Reading “adored” this 2018 Juan Gabriel Vásquez novel of “connections obscured by the twists and turns”.

* 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: The Uncertain Future of Sweden’s Floating Libraries – Anjie Zheng on “the boats bringing books to thousands who need them”.

The Times Literary Supplement: Fiction of facts – “Alice Attlee considers what the fashion for autofiction means for the relationship between an author and their work”.

Merriam-Webster: Summer Reading Picks from M-W Staffers – Merriam-Webster asked its staff to divulge what they are “currently enjoying, what they’re looking forward to, and what they think [their readers will] love too.”

Forbes: Readers Still Prefer Physical Books – Ellen Duffer finds a new survey regarding reading habits shows consumers still prefer physical books.

Khaleej Times: For the love of reading – Sukayna Kazmi speaks to the owner of a bookshop in Dubai about his “ideas for getting youngsters interested in books again”.

1843: James Ellroy finally has happiness in his sights – “What happens when America’s darkest crime writer sees the light? Leo Robson meets him at home in Colorado to find out”.

CrimeReads: Fairy Tales Are Really Just Hard-Boiled Crime Stories – Steph Post explores “the dark, twisted world of classic fairy tales”.

Vox: How to publish classic books that aren’t just by dead white men – Constance Grady discovers two new classic book series that showcase forgotten books by marginalized authors.

The New York Times: The Book Lover’s Guide to Summer – Joumana Khatib suggests you “light the grill, slather on the sunblock — and grab a book.”

The New Republic: A Novelist’s Life in America’s Underbelly – “Nelson Algren infused his best writing with passionate political conviction”, says Vivian Gornick.

Commentary: The Achievement of Vasily Grossman – Was this Russian author “the greatest writer of the past century?” asks Joseph Epstein.

BBC News: Julia Donaldson: Children’s authors ‘don’t get recognition’ – “Children’s authors and illustrators are failing to get recognition, despite huge sales”, according to The Gruffalo writer Julia Donaldson.

Bloomberg: Amazon Is Poised to Unleash a Long-Feared Purge of Small Suppliers – According to a report, bulk Amazon orders are poised to dry up for thousands of mostly smaller suppliers over the next few months.

Melville House: Thousands of Franz Kafka’s confidant’s personal documents recovered – The German authorities handed over to Israel 5,000 personal documents once owned by Franz Kafka’s confidant, Max Brod, reports Michael Seidlinger.

The Washington Post: In 10 years, Little Free Libraries have made a big impact – Kris Coronado reports: “Book-sharing idea spread from Wisconsin to front yards and school yards around the world.”

NPR: When Tea Reaches Its Boiling Point In Fiction, So Too May The Story – Nina Martyris’s essay on tea drinking touches on Dickens, Dostoevsky, Naguib Mahfouz and Harry Potter.

The Sydney Morning Herald: Bookmarks: A new check on diversity in Australian publishing – “Natalie Kon-Yu wants to improve the publication in Australia of First Nation writers and writers of colour”, says Jason Steger.

Culture Vulture: Revisiting Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, 20 Years Later – Pete Kirkpatrick celebrates the 20th anniversary of Prisoner of Azkaban.

Electric Literature: The Doomed Friendship That Helped Define African American Literature – “Yuval Taylor on his book Zora and Langston, and the collaboration and conflict between these great writers”.

The Guardian: Historian speaks of ‘constant trolling’ over Jack the Ripper book – “Angry reaction to story of victims’ lives is extraordinary, says Hallie Rubenhold”.

Bookforum: Tell Me Everything – The literary art of concealing secrets has gone, says Christian Lorentzen. Novelists now put self-consciousness at the forefront of everything.

The Paris Review: What Really Killed Walt Whitman? – Could milk punch have ‘done for’ one of America’s most celebrated poets? Caleb Johnson investigates.

Vulture: What Is a Beach Read, and Why? – The anatomy of a marketing concept, plus lots of new summer favourites from Allison Duncan.

Read it Forward: Why We’ll Always Love Small-Town Libraries – “Casey Cep, author of Furious Hours, reminds us that small-town libraries are irreplaceable and essential.”

Vanity Fair: Taffy Brodesser-Akner’s Guide to a Perfect Summer – In addition to which, “five more authors [give] their best advice on travel, music, and books inspired by their transportive new novels.”

NoveList: Media Mentions in NoveList and NoveList Plus – Jenny Schafer has discovered a way to track media mentions of a specific title.

The Bookseller: Wellcome Book Prize suspended – “The Wellcome Book Prize has been suspended following 10 years of the award.”

The Telegraph India: Unusual gift: pile of books greets groom – Anshuman Phadikar reports that a member of a bride’s family announced “that nearly 1,000 books worth Rs 1 lakh were gifted to [their son-in-law] because he loves to read”.

Quill & Quire: Canadian library users buy more books – According to Sue Carter, a “new survey by BookNet Canada reports that, on average, Canadian library-goers buy more books than those who don’t frequent libraries at all.”

The New Yorker: Ingeborg Bachmann’s “Malina” Is the Truest Portrait of Female Consciousness Since Sappho – Rachel Kushner found in Malina “a portrait, in language, of female consciousness, truer than anything written since Sappho’s Fragment 31.”

The Literary Element: Kindle: Yes or No? – Ignacio Zambello on his love-hate relationship with his Kindle.



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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27 replies

  1. I missed that Wellcome Prize announcement earlier this week. Such a shame. It often showcases books that might otherwise slip through the cracks. Thanks, as ever, for a great set of links, Paula.

  2. So much to follow up on! I definitely want to read some of those classics that aren’t by dead white men (I have read and enjoyed plenty of those). Thanks for rounding these items up for us, Paula.

  3. The article on little free libraries was interesting. I suspect they are more popular in US than here in UK. I tried to get people in my village interested in setting one up – only to find people were really snide. They couldnt understand the intent was not to replace the current ‘free’ council run library

  4. I too had missed the sad news about the Wellcome Prize, but I’ve been unwell, then on holidays and had also missed the announcement about the winner!

    Thank you for the lovely shout out about my MD readalong – we should have quite a good sized group for it.

  5. What a bumper crop of links this week – a lot to investigate!

  6. Thanks for linking to my review of The Shape of the Ruins, Paula. I hope it inspires some of your readers to pick up this wonderful book.

    I’m thinking about the 20 Books of Summer readathon, but it’s taken me five months to get to 30 books this year, so I doubt it’ll happen!

    • Your review tempts me to read The Shape of the Ruins. I’ve read a lot less than you this year, Jan. Sometimes everyday life gets in the way of good books. 😞

      • I hope you do get time to read it. It’s one of the cleverest, most creative and literary books I’ve read in a while.

        I know exactly what you mean about everyday life getting in the way. I’ve made a selection of twenty books and will see how I go. If nothing else, it’s motivation to whittle down one of the two teetering piles of books to be read!

  7. I think I’ve missed a couple of these in the busyness of life, so much go back and check as I enjoy them immensely. I have already clicked on a couple of links – including the interesting one about the history of “beach reads”, and the Jason Steger discussion on diversity in Australian publishing.

  8. I liked the wedding gift that the man’s in-laws gave him! Lucky chap.

  9. Floating libraries: wonderful! That’s an interesting stat about Canadian book buyers who use the library being also big book-buyers: that certainly holds true in my experience! 🙂

    • I would love to visit a floating library. Yes that piece about Canadian library users caught my eye. I wonder if the results would be similar in other countries? It’s certainly yet another good reason to ensure libraries remain open – so many are closing in the UK at present. 😞

      • Also, not to be picky, but the study is sponsored by OverDrive, so the focus must have been on digital materials, which would mean that someone purchasing 6.1 books in a month could just be buying short serial mysteries or stories in epub form, which isn’t quite the same thing, but they’re still called books. It also does not mean that they have ever even set foot in a library branch! (Also, on a side note, the library in the picture is one of my favourites – such an amazing collection to browse!)

  10. Moby Dick Readalong in August sounds very auspicious – I’ve been eyeing Moby Dick for a long time, now I won’t have any more excuses 😉

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