An end of week recap
Many thanks to all those who wished me a ‘happy birthday’ on 6th August. I shared a photograph of some of the gorgeous books I received in my post, Birthday Book Bonanza – which, as you may see, comprised yet more Jansson and Atwood titles to add to my already overburdened shelves.
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.
THE GOOD, THE BAD & THE TBR >>
I shared a few thoughts on Moominsummer Madness, Tove Jansson’s fourth book in the Moomin series, first published in 1954. This is my first piece for Tove Trove, another tick on my 10 Books of Summer list and my solitary contribution to Women in Translation Month.
Coming soon is another Classics Club and 10 Books of Summer choice, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury – a 1953 science fiction novel about a dystopian world where literature is on the brink of extinction,
PAUSE FOR A POD >>
* Lie Back and Listen *
Here I recommend engaging podcasts I’ve come across during the week. Hopefully you too will enjoy them.
Peter Florence, the Director of Hay Festival, is the Chair of Judges for the 2019 Booker Prize, for which the longlist has recently been announced. You’ll find some excellent summer reading recommendations on the 2nd August spotify podcast (also available on itunes). >> Listen to Peter Florence and Liz Calder discuss the Booker Prize longlist >>
* 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:
What Has to be Said is Unutterable: Contre-Jour by Gabriel Josipovici – Contre-Jour: A triptych after Pierre Bonnard is Melissa Beck’s “first Josipovici book” and this “strange and unexpected story […] intrigued” her. Discover what made her “eager to explore his writings further,” at The Book Binder’s Daughter.
Indrani Ganguly ‘The Rose and The Thorn’ Book Review – Gretchen Bernet-Ward of Thoughts Become Words finds the “era of Indian history from 1916 to 1947 is brought alive” by Ganguly’s historical novel. She declares this story of identical twins “an illuminating blend of fact and fiction”.
Much Ado About Deception and Delusion: Kate Atkinson’s Transcription and London 1940 – Atkinson’s historical mystery is “a terrific novel”, which “pokes some fun at the [BBC’s] earnest innocence of all that wholesome programming for children”, says Josie Holford at Rattlebag and Rhubarb.
Putney by Sofka Zinovieff – “There is no sure-footing for the reader”, says Kate W at booksaremyfavouriteandbest of Zinovieff’s tale about a composer who begins an illicit relationship with an underage girl, but elements of it are “exceptional” and she professes it “gripping”.
Stone and Stanton and Bloomer – Sara Catterall has been reading Alice Stone Blackwell’s 1930 biography of her mother, Lucy Stone – a “charismatic orator” in “the suffrage and abolition and temperance movements.” She was delighted to find the author “a lively writer” who “does not romanticize.”
The Case of the Wandering Scholar by Kate Saunders (2019) – Jane at Beyond Eden Rock was thrilled by the publication of this second Laetitia Rodd Mystery. She wasn’t disappointed: the story contains “a wonderfully rich range of characters” and “there was always something to hold [her] interest”. She hopes “there will be many more” to come in the 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 my Facebook group page), but in case you missed anything, here are a handful of interesting snippets:
BBC News: Crossing Divides: Why I read aloud to strangers – Theopi Skarlatos reports on an online project that’s “asking lovers of literature to read aloud to strangers. But what do participants get out of it?” she wonders.
The Guardian: ‘Rest, Toni Morrison. You were magnificent’: leading writers on the great American author – “After the death of the great Nobel-prizewinning author, Ben Okri, Alice Walker, Elif Shafak and others offer their personal tributes”.
The Paris Review: The Double Life of Karolina Pavlova – Karolina Pavlova was mocked endlessly for daring to be a serious woman writer in nineteenth-century Russia. Driven into exile by scandal, she died utterly forgotten.
Metropolis: Across Space & Time: Translating “Night on the Galactic Railroad” – Eric Margolis on Kenji Miyazawa’s untranslatable masterpiece, Ginga Tetsudou no Your.
The Sydney Morning Herald: Plot twist as small bookshops find their sweet spot – Love Your Bookshop Day takes place today across Australia. Broede Carmody finds many indie stores are expecting crowds.
WIRED: How White Nationalists Have Co-Opted Fan Fiction – C. Brandon Ogbunu finds that “white nationalism applies fantastical details to historical source material but forgets that it is fiction.”
PENTA: Journalist-Turned-Book-Dealer Offers Rare Works by Women – Mareesa Nicosia meets the American writer and book dealer, A.N. Devers, owner of The Second Shelf book store in London.
Radio Canada International: Bookstore in Yellowknife, Northern Canada celebrates 40th anniversary as owner prepares for next chapter – “While brick-and-mortar book stores across Canada face increasing pressure due to online retailers, a downtown Yellowknife, N.W.T. shop has beaten the odds: surviving — and thriving — for 40 years.”
The Asian Age: The capital that lost a literary gold mine – Sean Colin Young finds the “legendary Sunday Book Market at Daryaganj [in India] has been shut down due to an order passed by the high court.”
Knowledge Quest: Why YA Is Important for Adults – Steve Tetreault describes as “epic” a recent “HarperCollins event that featured half a dozen YA authors discussing some of their latest books.”
The Millions: What Would Jane Read? –Kate Gavino reports that readers can now browse a virtual version of Jane Austen’s library at the Burney Centre at McGill University in Montreal.
National Post: Reading a ridiculously long book might seem like a chore, but it offers an unexpected reward – Calum Marsh suggests: “The obsession of the very long book is more comprehensive than the compulsive frenzy of the page-turner”.
Literary Hub: On the Anxiety of Writing Historical Fiction: A User’s Manual – “Caitlin Horrocks offers some advice for writing into the past”.
Radio Praha: Czech National Library scrambles to save thousands of books at risk of decay – “Over 90 percent of books in the Czech National Library printed after the year 1800 are threatened with destruction caused by acid”, says Ruth Fraňková. “Several thousand of them [are now being sent] to Germany to undergo special chemical treatment, called de-acidification.”
Refinery29: I’m A Literary Scout For Film & TV & These Are My Favourite Books – Frankie Mathieson talks to literary scout, Kate Loftus-O’Brien for It’s Lit, a series of discussions about books.
DW: Nora Krug: Replacing German ‘guilt’ with ‘responsibility’ to defend democracy – “Nora Krug is the author of a bestselling graphic memoir titled Heimat, which looks into her family’s involvement in World War II. DW asked her what we can learn from the generation of ‘followers’ of the Nazi Party.”
Sunday Times ZA: Women’s Day: here’s what our female authors have to say – “On August 9 1956 over 20,000 South African women of all races marched to the Union Buildings in Pretoria in protest against ‘pass laws’ enforced by apartheid legislature”, writes Mila de Villiers. “In recognition […] 26 local female authors” were asked to respond to two questions.
Russian Art + Culture: Russian literature masterpieces in Boris Eifman interpretation – “The St Petersburg Eifman Ballet will raise the curtain on the Shanghai Oriental Art Center’s 2019-20 performance season next month with two masterpieces — Anna Karenina and The Brothers Karamazov”.
Read it Forward: Books About Women Reclaiming Their Power – Dianca London Potts asks you to consider her list “a tribute to women’s power and those who possess it on the page and off.”
Publishing Perspectives: Words Without Borders August: ‘We Are Not English’ in Wales – Porter Anderson discusses WWB’s August edition, which focuses for the first time on the Welsh language.
New Statesman America: Why does fiction so often treat the nanny as a psychopath? – “In Lullaby,” writes Annie Lord, “nanny Louise is better at her job than Mary Poppins – that is, until she stabs the baby with a sushi knife.
The Nation: Territory of Dreams – Becca Rothfeld on the world of Bruno Schulz.
Dublin Review of Books: Alarms and Excursions – John Ruskin may be little known today but, as Sean Sheehan discovers, his warnings about the effects of industrial pollution in the Victorian age still read well.
The Atlantic: The Amazon Publishing Juggernaut – “What does the e-commerce giant want with the notoriously fickle world of publishing?” asks Blake Montgomery. “To own your every reading decision”, is his answer.
Cultured Vultures: Bookworms Beware: 5 Novels About The Perils of Reading – Elena Weaver reckons books are “pretty terrible when you think about it, and a bit like the Internet.”
JSTOR Daily: Pulp Fiction Helped Define American Lesbianism – “Between 1950 and 1965, steamy novels about lesbian relationships, marketed to men, inadvertently offered closeted women much-needed representation”, finds Erin Blakemore.
Lit Reactor: How Is Magical Realism Different From Fantasy? – “What separates magical realism from the pack?” asks Christopher Shultz.
Slate: The Dark History Behind the Year’s Bestselling Debut Novel – “Your book club probably already read Where the Crawdads Sing. How much did a long-ago murder in Africa influence Delia Owens’ first novel?” asks Laura Miller.
The Guardian: ‘Help, we’ve finished the Treehouse series’: 10 chapter books for kids to read next – “Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton’s Treehouse phenomenon shows no signs of slowing down” with Australian devotees, says Amelia Lush.
BBC News: Wigtown Book Festival stirs up literary ‘melting pot’ – “Almost 300 events have been unveiled in the festival programme at Scotland’s national book town this year.”
Book Marks: The 9 Meanest Cats in Literature – “From the Cheshire Cat to Behemoth, Macavity to Mrs. Norris”.
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
What a great selection, as usual – quite a few articles I hadn’t come across!
Many thanks, Marina. I hope you find them of interest. 😊
I’m really pleased you had a top birthday and thank you for another list (of fascinating things). I do have a slight phobia about (other) lists, because writers are often tempted to change their article completely to make it up to five, seven or ten points.
In the same way, I am cautious of writers who attack reading or the internet (as above), because we can only communicate the best we can using the available technology. The beauty of the human voice can get you into heaps of trouble in my experience, but it doesn’t mean that I’m going to stop trusting people with alluring accents (the Birmingham accent is my favourite because people often discriminate against it). I suppose I’m simply in favour of all bookworms being bookworms, but have a particularly ponderous way of expressing my thoughts.
Thank you, John. 😃
I agree as regards lists – I’m sure many an article has been altered to make it relevant to the named books. I must confess, I thought the Bookworms Beware piece was rather tongue in cheek but perhaps I was wrong. It seemed far too silly to be serious.
Paula – Thank you so much for including my post. I feel flattered, honoured and humbled all in one. With gratitude. So now I must off and follow your – as always – invaluable links to more discoveries and pleasures.
How do you find the time? (And so glad that you do.)
It’s an absolute pleasure, Josie. I thoroughly enjoy reading your posts. 😊
I suppose I find the time to read articles etc. when I’m out and about. I save them if I feel they might be of interest to the folk who visit my blog. I need to concentrate far more when I’m reading a book (even when I have a pair of noise cancelling headphones stuck on my head), so tend only to do so when I’m alone. Also, I rather enjoy literary link truffling, so it isn’t a chore. 🤓
I still continue to think you are a super natural being with more hours in the day and greater powers of concentration than the average bear. And we are all the beneficiaries of that magical (or is it ‘merely’ predilection plus effort and focus?) gift.
Whatever it is: Certain mere mortals are happy you have it!
Thank you so much for your kind words, Josie. You’ve made this very unremarkable bear blush! 🐻
Nora Krug’s memoir has been on my list for awhile, it sounds so interesting. So many great links as always, Paula! ❤️
Thank you, Rennie. Yes, it does look rather interesting. 😊
Thanks for the link.
The graphic memoir by Krug looks fascinating- I’ll be seeking it out. In the past I’ve done lots of reading about the Holocaust (there is no shortage) but more recently I’ve been looking for stories from a different perspective or about other elements of the War (for example I recently read The Aftermath by Brook which is set in Hamburg during post-war British occupation).
So I looked up that Krug memoir… and a number of other books I found via DW… and am now considerably poorer (in a financial sense but my TBR stack is richer!).
Gosh, that was quick work, Kate! I’m so glad I included that Krug link now. Will you share your thoughts on your blog? 😊
I sure will!
Thank you, Chocoviv! 😊
You are welcome 🙏
A thousand thank yous, Paula, for the mention of my humble blog and recent post of Indrani Ganguly’s novel The Rose And The Thorn. Indrani is a quiet campaigner for women’s rights but I am sure she will give a big smile of delight when I share your link ♥ Gretchen.
You’re very welcome, Gretchen. Fabulous post! 🤗
OMG, you’re such a detective, Paula. I’ve just read The Guardian: ‘Help, we’ve finished the Treehouse series’ 10 chapter books for kids to read next after Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton’s Treehouse, and a bit further down the article was a member of my online writers group Nat Amoore and her new book Secrets of a Schoolyard Millionaire. I must jump on Facebook right now!
Oh good! So glad to have alerted you – even if unintentionally! 😃
How sad to think that our more recent publications are not going to last, having been printed in a way which increases profits but decreases longevity. That truly does seem to be the way of recent generations and only much later are we realizing what it will cost us in the future. Also found the list of 9 mean cats interesting: I wonder if there are, proportionately, as many mean cats as there are mean people – it feels like the people are ahead on that score…but maybe that just says more about my experience than about either cats or people! After all, there are a good number of nice people…
I can’t imagine the meanest of mean cats ever being as bad as the meanest humans! 😿