An end of week recap
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 nightstand and keep readers abreast of various book-related happenings.
THE GOOD, THE BAD & THE TBR >>
I read and reviewed the Stella prize-winning novel The Museum of Modern Love by Australian author, Heather Rose. >> BOOK REVIEW: The Museum of Modern Love >>
* Indigenous Literature Week 2019 *
Lisa Hill at ANZ LitLovers LitBlog will once again host Indigenous Literature Week from 7th to 14th July, “to coincide”, she says, “with NAIDOC Week” in Australia. The aim of this reading jolly is to “make more people aware of indigenous writing”. You are therefore invited to participate by reading “Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and Maori literature” or indigenous literature from anywhere else in the world, including Canada, Guyana, USA, Basque Country, South-Central Asia and Oaxaca. Simply let Lisa know you would like to take part by leaving a comment beneath her post announcing the event. Here you’ll also find all you need to know about taking part. Please use the #IndigLitWeek and #NAIDOC2019 hashtags 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:
A perfectly-formed novella – There “is nothing superfluous in the text, just beautiful writing”, says Annabel Gaskell of West – Carys Davies’s Wales Book of the Year shortlisted historical novel. Discover why it’s “an epic in miniature” at AnnaBookBel.
Found Drowned by Laurie Glenn Norris – Over at Consumed by Ink, Naomi MacKinnon found herself “mesmerized” by this Canadian author’s writing, leading her to declare the ending: “deeply satisfying”.
Nigel Featherstone, Bodies of men (#BookReview) – Sue T at Whispering Gums found Featherstone’s “war novel that questions war” to be “brave”, “edgy” in tone and “a very good read.”
And the 2019 Woman’s Prize for Fiction goes to – ‘An American Marriage’ by Tayari Jones – The winner of this year’s Women’s Prize for Fiction is a “moving story” and an “accomplished novel”. Read the review at Shoshi’s Book Blog.
Winter Journal by Paul Auster – Laura Frey found her first choice for 20 Books of Summer 2019 was “a little cringey” on race and “experimental in form” but a “coherent piece of writing”. Head over to Reading in Bed to discover why Paul Auster and Jonathan Franzen were engaged in conversation.
The Listening Eye (1955) by Patricia Wentworth – Although “modern art doesn’t come off too well” in this classic mystery novel, and the plot is “ridiculously simple”, Dead Yesterday “enjoyed almost every minute” of No. 28 in the Miss Silver series.
* 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:
Book Marks: Tayari Jones Wins the 2019 Women’s Prize for Fiction – For her acclaimed novel about a marriage torn apart by injustice, An American Marriage.
BBC News: Hay Festival ticket sales up by 5,000 over 11 days – “More than 278,000 tickets were sold over the 11 days of the Hay Festival, up 5,000 on last year, organisers say.”
The Guardian: Turkey puts novelists including Elif Shafak under investigation – The Turkish authorities have put novelists whose fiction tackles such subjects as child abuse and sexual violence under investigation.
Lit Reactor: The Most Nonsensical Terms Used in Book Blurbs – Peter Derk on blurbs he can’t bear.
CBC Books: Watch Olive Senior deliver Margaret Laurence Lecture, ‘A Writer’s Life’ – You can watch the award-winning Jamaican-Canadian writer Olive Senior delivering this year’s Margaret Laurence Lecture: A Writer’s Life from Halifax.
Book Riot: When Childhood Books Should Not Be Revisited – “Sometimes the books we read as children work wonderfully until we revisit them as adults”, cautions Abby Hargreaves.
The Hudson Review – The Genesis of “Mary Ventura and the Ninth Kingdom” – Karen V. Kukil finds Sylvia Plath was “hungry for new experiences” when she wrote Mary Ventura and the Ninth Kingdom in 1952.
Literary Hub: The Radical Power of Writing in the First-Person Plural – Lynn Steger Strong mulls over the power of using the first-person plural in literature.
ABDA: ABDA Award Winners 2019 – The Australian Book Designers Association (ABDA) announced the winners of the 2019 Australian Book Design Awards at an event in Sydney on 31st May.
The Conversation: Scientists and poets are more alike than you might think – “Science and poetry haven’t always got along”, says Sam Illingworth – but he discovers there have been exceptions.
CrimeReads: The Small Crime Within the Larger Crime – Karen Lord with six works in which we are warned to seek the roots of violence in history.
Electric Literature: The Battle of the Book Cover: U.K. versus U.S. – “Who will win?” asks Andrea Oh.
The Irish Times: The very different Chaucer connection in Ireland and England – Marion Turner finds “the author of The Canterbury Tales later used English because it allowed more people a voice”.
BBC News: Waterstones boss takes helm at Barnes & Noble – “The boss of UK book retailer Waterstones is being parachuted in to help the turnaround of giant US chain Barnes & Noble.”
Condé Nast Traveler: Writing My Love Story at the Strand, New York’s Most Iconic Bookstore – Mitchell Kuga describes the Strand Book Store as a “place where fantastical stories have the potential to come true.”
Los Angeles Review of Books: In Search of the Naples — and Women — of Ferrante’s Novels – Lucia Benavides goes in search of the real-life setting of a quartet of novels and faces up to the doubter within.
Metro: You can run a London bookshop for the day, just like Hugh Grant in Notting Hill – Natasha Salmon discovers that Offside Books, a second-hand bookshop in London, “has opened its doors, so you can pretend to be Hugh Grant for the day.”
Stack: The 9 best literary magazines in the world right now – According to Kitty Drake.
Books + Publishing: ABA booksellers of the year 2019 finalists announced – Ten finalists are vying for the two 2019 Australian Booksellers Association booksellers of the year awards.
The Oprah Magazine: 50 Unapologetically Queer Authors Share the Best LGBTQ Books of All Time – Fifty queer writers share their favourite reads with Michelle Hart.
Poetry Foundation: Emily Dickinson Museum Receives $22 Million Gift – Harriet Staff reports on some very exciting news for the Emily Dickinson Museum in Amherst, MA.
Russian Art + Culture: 10 Books You Should Read to Understand Russian History – A list of books that will “help you to understand Russia’s past and present”.
Read it Forward: Why We Love Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine – Abbe Wright invites you to celebrate Eleanor Oliphant Day on 22nd June 2019.
BBC Culture: Can reading really improve your mental health? – “In the toughest of times, fiction can be an important remedy, as a panel of top authors discussed at a special BBC Culture event at the Hay Festival”.
Literary Hub: Why We Write About This Thing Called the Future – “Naomi Alderman on The Heads of Cerberus and the Invention of Progress”.
BookPage: Historical fiction reigns supreme once again – “Historical fiction is hot again”, says Lauren Willig.
Nature: A world history of imagination, mapping our cosmic context, and India’s urban forests: Books in brief – “Barbara Kiser reviews five of the week’s best science picks.”
ABC Arts: Best winter reads of 2019 – “ABC’s book experts have compiled a list of the best books to keep you warm” this winter.
The London Library: Living Library at Teatulia – A visit to the Teatulia tea shop in Covent Garden – an establishment featuring a “living bookshelf”.
The Verge: 11 new science fiction and fantasy books to check out in early June – “Stories about magicians, digital afterlives, and starfighter pilots” from Andrew Liptak.
Public Books: Madeline Miller on “Circe,” Mythological Realism, and Literary Correctives – John Plotz and Gina Turrigiano in conversation with Madeline Miller.
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.
Categories: Winding Up the Week
Thank you! 😊
Thanks! Some very interesting links there – off to check out the Russians and Sylvia Plath
Thank you, Kaggsy. I thought of you when I spotted the Russian link! 😊
I’ve now added another two books to my wishlist… ;D
“you can pretend to be Hugh Grant for the day.” I don’t know why but that just cracked me up. And thank you for the Russian history book list, I haven’t read any of those and hadn’t even heard of several of them, but want to read them all! I have two of them so going to start there. Thank you! Hope the week treated you and your partner well, Paula 🙂
The Hugh Grant thing is rather funny. I’m sure many young people will be left scratching their heads wondering what on earth it can mean. I tend to think non-readers of a certain generation will always associate book shops with a certain rom-com! 🤣 Hope you enjoy those Russian titles.
D had her final chemo a week last Tuesday, so that’s a huge hurdle cleared. Thank you so much for asking. 🤗
Thanks for helping to promote ILW!
You’re very welcome, Lisa. I hope the event is a big success! 😊
Thank you, Paula, as always including articles from the rest of the world. According to Kitty Drake it seems ‘The 9 Best Literary Magazines in the World Right Now’ only reside in the northern hemisphere. I do wonder if the other half of the world was deemed unworthy or just ignored.
Don’t mind me, I’m giving up coffee and getting a bit snippy at the ‘whole’ world.
I agree about the Kitty Drake piece. It’s deeply aggravating to be so rudely ignored. I am myself guilty of being culturally over-westernized, but meeting exciting and intriguing folk such as yourself has made me aware of my ignorance. I find myself genuinely fascinated by Australian literature (for instance) these days. It hasn’t done much to reduce my TBR mountain but it has certainly widened my reading horizons in a positive way.
I love the term “snippy” (I have visions of being set upon by an aggressive pair of pinking shears). It’s not an adjective you hear in the UK – we tend to say “snappy”, but I much prefer your word. I’m rather fond of my morning coffee – although, I’m more a tea drinker – but would struggle to give up the latter, so I’m full of admiration for your determination. 🤗
Thank you for the compliment, Paula. Never thought I’d be in the “exciting and intriguing folk” class 🙂 Also pleased to read that you are climbing the TBR mountain of diverse literature. If you really want to plunge off the top, try reading the surprise smash hit Boy Swallows Universe by Aussie author Trent Dalton. Different to say the least.
I think of snappy more in terms of being a snappy dresser. Thank you for the no-coffee support. I’m not as jittery today 😉 it takes a long time for the caffeine (and the delicious taste of coffee) to leave one’s system. But vive le thé, it is most refreshing!
Yes, that Trent Dalton keeps popping up on my bookdar. I think it’s trying to tell me something! 🤔
We use “snappy” similarly but not very often these days. Do you use the term “crabby” for being in a “snippy” mood? That’s another word of which I’m rather fond. 🦀
I believe Blow My Skull Off is a traditional Australian brew. Have you considered it as an alternative to Coffee? 🥴
Trent is an all-round nice guy, I think that’s part of his author mystic 🙂
Oh, I remember Lucy in Peanuts always being crabby, she immortalised crabby in my mind!
Deary me, Paula, how do you know so much about rocket fuel like Blow My Skull Off? A lethal mix if ever there was one. Actually I think it’s pretty tame now the millennials have got hold of it. No, I’ll stick to a cuppa tea and a sweet bikkie.
Ahh, that would be telling! 😉 I don’t blame you one bit, Gretchen! 😂
Such interesting articles. I especially liked the insights into book blurbs and the info about Elinor Oliphant day, since I recently read the book!
Thank you, Becky. I’m glad you found the links of interest. 😊
I always find something, Paula!
Thanks for the link, Paula – and it’s particularly appropriate this month because Nigel Featherstone is a queer author.
And, thanks too for promoting Lisa’s Indigenous Literature Week.
Again, a few great links for me to follow up …
You’re most welcome, Sue. I was fascinated by your review of Featherstone’s novel. I’ve now added it to my TBR list. Gulp!
Glad you enjoyed my weekly wind up. 😊
Love it Paula. Impressed by the work it involves too.
Thanks so much for the link. West was such a perfect book – it’ll definitely feature in my year end best of.
You’re very welcome, Annabel. I’m really pleased you rate West so highly. I think it’s quite a strong contender to win this year’s Wales Book of the Year fiction award. 😊
So shocking to see Elif Shafak’s situation profiled. And we, who witnessed Salman Rushdie’s fatwa, who expected that the world would move away from that fear and hatred, are still surprised. *sigh*
Nice collection of articles though!
Salman Rushdie spoke at Hay Fest last year when I was there. You wouldn’t believe the security involved (firearms offers all over the place). It seemed so odd as this isn’t really the norm in the UK, let alone in a small Welsh town hosting a book festival. When one considers the fatwa was lifted some years ago, it proved to me he will never truly be safe again.
Sadly, writers are so often persecuted by corrupt states. As we know, many were sent to Gulags under the Communist regime, and modern-day authors and journalists are still arrested and otherwise victimised in China and Russia (to name but two guilty countries). The only positive thing we can take from this happening is to realise that the bigger the bully, the more they fear the written word. No one has yet improved on the expression: “The pen is mightier than the sword” – because it’s so true.
I can’t believe I’ve actually read the Women’s Prize winner – so unusual for me. I haven’t read any of the others, though, so have no idea how it compares!
Thanks so much for including my review of “Found Drowned” – I loved it!
I’m off to read about Carys Davies’ “perfectly-formed novella”… sounds wonderful.
I had read a couple of the shortlisted titles, but not the winner.
It’s a pleasure, as always, Naomi. 😊