Winding Up the Week #79

An end of week recap


Exploring literary Dublin.

A shortened digest comes to you this weekend. It is also a day late, for which I apologise. I have enjoyed a restful week sailing to France with my partner and friends via Dublin, the Scillies and the Channel Islands and now intend to crack on with various reading projects. I also hope to post something about the more literary aspects of my trip over the next few days.

As ever, 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.


* Lit Crit Blogflash *

I’m going to share with you three 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:

WELSH LITERATUREAstonishing guide breathes new life into Welsh literature – Karen at BookerTalk describes The Cambridge History of Welsh Literature, edited by Geraint Evans and Helen Fulton, as “a breathtakingly ambitious undertaking” and “the first truly comprehensive guide to the literary traditions and heritage of Wales.”

A Well-Read Woman by Kate Stewart – “Librarians will enjoy this biography”, writes Chris Wolak of A Well-Read Woman: The Life, Loves, and Legacy of Ruth Rappaport – a German-American Jew who “served as a librarian in a war zone and at the Library of Congress”.

Killing it in Yorkshire: the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate – “Harrogate is one of the places to go if you are interested in crime fiction”, says Sandra van Lente. She reports on the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Festival for Literary Field Kaleidoscope.

* Irresistible Items *

book opened on top of white table beside closed red book and round blue foliage ceramic cup on top of saucer
Umpteen fascinating articles appeared on my bookdar last week. I generally make a point of tweeting my favourite finds (or adding them to my Facebook group page), but in case you missed anything, here are a handful of interesting snippets:


THE TESTAMENTSBBC News: Booker Prize 2019: Margaret Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale sequel on longlist – Margaret Atwood’s follow-up to The Handmaid’s Tale is one of 13 novels on the Booker Prize longlist, despite not being published for several weeks.

The Guardian: Dickens museum buys lost portrait 133 years after it went missing – Mark Brown reveals that a London museum has raised £180,000 to buy a lost Margaret Gillies portrait of the young author found in South African auction.

The New Yorker: The Unlikely History of Faber & Faber – Jonathan Galassi explores the history of British publishing house Faber & Faber.

London Review of Books: My Books – Ian Patterson clears his bookshelves.

Kikkei Asian Review: Found in translation: Thai literature reaches West – “New translators lead contemporary authors out of the global margins”, says Max Crosbie-Jones.

The Paris Review: Crying in the Library – Why old books make Shannon Reed cry.

Public Books: A History of Reading: Alan Marshall and Helen KellerPublic Books and the Sydney Review of Books have partnered to exchange a series of essays with international concerns. [This piece], A History of Reading: Alan Marshall and Helen Keller, by Amanda Tink, was originally published by SRB on May 27, 2019.”

Independent: The top 20 short story collections – Charlotte Cripps selects authors who have “nailed the art of the short story”.

Culture Trip: Turning the Page: The Radical Story of Scotland’s First LGBTQ Bookshop – Stuart Kenny visits Lavender Menace – Scotland’s first LGBTQ bookstore.

Electric Literature: Which Looks Better, Hardcovers or Paperbacks? – “Readers weigh in on 20 pairs of book cover designs”.

Boston Globe: Buzz Aldrin took a tiny book on his historic voyage to the moon. Here’s the backstory – Alyssa Lukpat discovers Buzz Aldrin took a “credit-card-sized” copy of The Autobiography of Robert Hutchings Goddard, Father of the Space Age to the Moon.

The National: The library bus in Afghanistan that is driving change – in pictures – Afghan buses are being used as mobile libraries.

Smithsonian Magazine: A Lost Work by Langston Hughes Examines the Harsh Life on the Chain Gang – Steven Hoelscher discovers that in 1933 Hughes wrote a “powerful essay about race”, which hadn’t previously been published in English”.

Newsroom: How to open a bookstore in Rotorua, Tokoroa and Whakatāne – In Fraser Newman’s regular series on bookshops around New Zealand, he tells of “opening Atlantis Books in Rotorua and Tokoroa – and having to close in Whakatane.”

Library Journal: Social Readers – April Witteveen investigates “millennials’ avid reading habits”.

DUCKS NEWQuartzy: One of this year’s Booker Prize nominees is just a 1,000-page-long sentence – Sangeeta Singh-Kurtz is astonished to find Lucy Ellman’s Ducks, Newburyport consists only of a 1,000-page-long sentence.

Architectural Digest: This Tiny Traveling Bookstore Wanders the French Countryside – “Its creator—and resident—brings literature to small towns whose booksellers have shuttered”, writes Emma Jacobs.

Irish Examiner: We Sell Books: ‘In some ways, the pace of life slowed as a result and people turned again to books’ – Des O’Driscoll talks to the owner of the Skibbereen Bookshop in County Cork about his job.

Leadership: Prize Winning German Author Brigitte Kronauer Dies At 78 – Georg Buechner literary prize-winning author Brigitte Kronauer has died following a long illness.

The New York Times: Beware the Writer as Houseguest – Jessica Francis Kane advises caution when inviting a writer to stay in your home.

Literary Hub: 40 Writer’s Writers Whomst Readers Should Read – “But what about all the writer’s writer’s writer’s writer’s?” asks Emily Temple.

ABC News: Miles Franklin Literary Award: A reader’s guide to the 2019 shortlist – Sarah L’Estrange, Claire Nichols and Kate Evans share their thoughts on Australia’s most prestigious literary prize.

Longreads: Reading Lessons – Irina Dumitrescu believes: “You never stop learning how to read — probably because you also never stop forgetting how to read.”

The Guardian: Prose and cons: Boris Johnson’s long history of fictional cameos – The [UK’s] new PM saw literary potential in his career – as did his own father and a string of other writers. So how does he come across?” asks John Dugdale.

MAKING OF POETRYThe Atlantic: A Book That Examines the Writing Processes of Two Poetry Giants – “William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge once spent a grueling year in nature, subsequently producing some of their most resonant works.”

BBC Culture: Was the poet John Keats a graverobber? – “The English poet originally trained in medicine, where he would have encountered bodysnatchers. Kelly Grovier reveals disquieting clues in odes written 200 years ago.”

Melville House: Five things to know about the Booker longlist – Michael Barron shares a few important details about The Booker Prize 2019.

The Millions: Center for Fiction Names 2019 First Novel Prize Longlist – Here is the 2019 longlist for the Center for Fiction’s 2019 First Novel Prize.

Stylist: Why we need to stop forcing ourselves to finish books we hate – “Guess what?” says Sarah Shaffi. “Nothing bad will happen if you don’t finish a book you don’t like.”



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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32 replies

  1. I hope you and your partner had a lovely, restorative break, Paula.

  2. There is a fascinating prison museum in Dublin and I like the north side of the city too; I hope you enjoyed yourself immensely in such a special place. Contrary to the link, I do think the idea of not finishing books is potentially awkward though, because it is only when we let a text sink in we can decide whether or not it has any enduring literary merit. I have detested the bulk of a book by Charles Bukowski (because of politics), but I had to concede he had a literary gift. I guess the thing is to be choosy about what we select to read in the first instance.

    • There is so much to see in Dublin – this is my third visit but I’ve barely touched on the historical and cultural attractions. I must check out the prison museum next time I’m over there. Yes, I always try to finish books once started. They have to be exceptionally bad for me to admit defeat!

  3. I would like to see more pictures of (or stories about) you taking a break! (That’s a lovely pic of you hiding in Dublin.)

  4. Great to hear you had a lovely time Paula! I’m off to Dublin with work in October but I’m hoping to have some leisure time there too, so I’ll be making notes from your post about your travels 🙂

  5. A day late? After your week, I’m Amazed you posted at all! It sounds wonderful to sail to France with your partner and friends and stop off for sightseeing along the way. A much-needed break I imagine.. did you have a good trip? Love the photo taken in Dublin, so I’ll look forward to reading more about it! I’ve not come across anything about The Testaments but I’m really curious now! I wonder if that’s going to make TV, too? Will check it out. I’m just looking at the BBC article you linked to and further down I spotted the only US author nominated is for a 1,000 page novel that’s made up of only one sentence. What?! 😂
    Caz xx

    • Thank you, Caz – we had a wonderful time. It went far too quickly. I’m very excited about The Testaments. I only hope it lives up to expectations. I hope all is well with you. Are you taking a break this year? 😎

      • No break for me planned, no. I do love the idea of getting away though, even just for one night somewhere would be nice. Maybe I’ll have to stop being so stingy with my money and book a little b&b break on the cheap (last minute, just to make sure the weather is decent as it’s so changeable). Are you glad to be home, or do you wish the trip were a little longer?
        I think the whole year is going too quickly, or is it just me that’s losing my marbles? Not too much longer to wait until you can check out The Testaments, it’ll certainly be interesting to hear what you think of it when it does, and I’ll be up for giving it a read, too.
        I hope the week ahead is a good one for you! 🙂

      • Sometimes it’s good to get away, if only for a day or two. I especially enjoy cruises because they’re far less stressful and physically demanding than flying. I would certainly have been quite happy to remain on board and continue exploring new ports. It was over far too soon. 🛳

        Well, if you’re losing your marbles, then so am I. This year hardly feels as if it’s begun and we’re over half way through! 😉

  6. It’s not true for me that “nothing bad will happen if you don’t finish a book you don’t like.” What happens is that I keep imagining endings. It’s better just to see how it ends, and then it does end.

  7. Enjoy your holiday, Paula. So glad you have got away.

    Some great links here. I was fascinated by the Writer’s writers (though I really didn’t know “whomst” was a word). I was pleased that I had heard of a few of them, though not actually READ many (I guess because I’m not a writer. I did love this comment by the writer:

    “Now, fair warning that “writer’s writers”—at least as declared by critics on the internet in places where I could find them—tend to be white men. Shocking! This of course is due to the hegemonic praise structure that still exists in the literary world (though I dare say it’s getting slowly better) and the fact that—at least according to one known male in the Literary Hub office—educated white men often have a strange need to brag about being their high/obscure taste levels. Why they couldn’t brag about reading obscure books by women of color, who knows.”

    Good to see an Aussie article here again, on our Miles Franklin.

    As for not finishing a book I don’t like, I try very hard not to start such a book, and then I have no problem!

    • Many thanks, Sue. I’m home again having enjoyed every moment of my holiday. 😎

      I’m really glad you enjoyed the links. As ever, I went for a diverse selection in the hope of there being something to interest everyone. Under normal circumstances, I always include at least a couple of Aussie features. 🦘🐨

      • I imagine you with a little portable globe to one side as you assemble your list, with little book-shaped flags to mark the reading regions you are fond of! (There’s nearly always – maybe always always! – a Canadian representative too!

      • Heh, heh! Actually, that’s not a bad idea, Marcie. Yes, it’s unusual for there not to be a Canadian link or three! 🍁

  8. Lovely links as always, Paula. Look forward to hearing about your travels! 😀

  9. I almost enjoyed literary Dublin when I was there too, except that I kept getting sidetracked on the Guinness. At least this allowed my to enjoy some of the wonderful small plays in the pubs!

  10. I’m impressed you still wrote the post, too, Paula! It sounds like you had an amazing trip, and I’m looking forward to the literary adventures! ♥️

    • Thanks Jennifer. It was a lovely break, if a tad warm at times (we Brits aren’t used to temperatures of 40°C), and we enjoyed all our stops immensely. Hope all is good with you and the kits (and the hummers, of course)! 🐱🌺

  11. Another literary smorgasbord, Paula 🙂

  12. So glad you had a restful and enjoyable trip, Paula. I look forward to hearing more from your travels when time allows 🙂

  13. Like you, I’m a little anxious but also so very curious and excited about The Testaments. It seems quite a vote of confidence for it to have appeared on the Booker list. *crosses fingers*

    • MA must be under so much pressure. I feel for her. 😟

      I’m hoping my copy of The Testaments will arrive on the 10th as promised because I’m off on my travels once again the following day. I’m going to be so disappointed if it isn’t in my bag. 😄

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