Winding Up the Week #83

An end of week recap

WUTW2Having returned from a pleasant week on the coast of Mid Wales, I now intend to make progress with my backlog of unread and unreviewed titles for 10 Books of Summer. I also hope to move forward with the Tove Trove project while preparing for innumerable reading jollies to come this autumn.

It is beautifully sunny here in North Wales, which means I will spend the afternoon reclining in a deckchair among the butterflies and bees with my latest book in hand (possibly balanced on my nose as I take forty winks).

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.


* Lie Back and Listen *


Here I recommend engaging podcasts I’ve come across during the week. Hopefully you too will enjoy them.

In Episode 49 of the Book Club Review podcast, AN Devers talks about The Second Shelf bookstore in London’s Soho, which specialises in rare and antiquarian books, modern first editions, ephemera, manuscripts and rediscovered works by women. For those of you unable to visit in person they also filmed a virtual tour. >> 49. Close-up: The Second Shelf >>


* Cruiselogue *

You may wish to read the first of two posts in which I share a few highlights (along with some snaps) of my recent voyage to France, with a special emphasis on all things literary. The first part of my journey took me over the Irish Sea to Dublin. >> BOOKS AND BOATS: A passage to Honfleur (Part One) >>

* 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:

THE M FEASTThe Mussel Feast, by Birgit Vanderbeke, translated by Jamie Bulloch – Written shortly before the fall of the Berlin Wall, Lisa Hill at ANZ LitLovers LitBlog finds this German novella “has a contemporary resonance [the author] probably didn’t expect when she wrote it in 1990”. It is also, she says, “a record of the overthrow of domestic tyranny and violence”.

Should books be illustrated? – Lory at The Emerald City wonders at what point do “helpful” pictures become “distracting or disturbing?” She seeks your thoughts on illustrated books.

No-No Boy by John Okada – This 1956 Japanese American novel was “a surprise” for Adam at Roof Beam Reader because it wasn’t the story he expected. He describes Okada as a “subtle genius” and his work as “challenging and unique.”

Book Review: The Art Of Dying by Ambrose Parry – Rachel of Bookbound declares this forthcoming historical novel, set in Edinburgh in 1850, to be “a truly engrossing and intelligent read”.

The Collected Schizophrenias by Esmé Weijun Wang – “There are two books inside” this collection of essays concerning Schizophrenia, says Adam Moody at To The Happy None – one personal and the other cultural. Both are “deeply engrossing” but would have “improved if fleshed out more.”

A Library Provides Hope for the Soul in SyriaSyria’s Secret Library: Reading and Redemption in a Town Under Siege by the “BBC reporter Mike Thomson […] gets off to something of a slow start” and “doesn’t gloss over the devastation of war”, says Rennie Sweeney at What’s Nonfiction?. She did, however, find it “inspiring” and “absolutely worth sticking with.”

* Irresistible Items *

photo of cups on wooden trayUmpteen 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:


Publishers Weekly: Buzz Builds for Atwood ‘Handmaid’s Tale’ Follow-up – Claire Kirch predicts Margaret Atwood’s sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale is going to be “the big book” of autumn.

BASIC BLACKCBC Radio: Jason Proctor on the story behind the lost Canadian feminist classic Basic Black with Pearls – Jason Proctor, a CBC reporter in Vancouver, recommends reading Basic Black with Pearls by Helen Weinzweig.

BBC News: Richard Booth: Bookshop owner and ‘king of Hay-on-Wye’ dies – “Richard Booth, who turned Hay-on-Wye into a second-hand bookshop capital, has died aged 80.”

Russian Art + Culture: Lev Shtrum and the New Translation of Vasily Grossman’s Stalingrad – Jagger Biggs on the new translation of Stalingrad, which aims to restore the original vision.

The Guardian: Was Simone de Beauvoir as feminist as we thought? – “Seventy years after The Second Sex reinvented women’s liberation, her legacy has its contradictions – but it should not be overlooked”, says Kate Kirkpatrick.

History Today: Our Graham Greene in Havana – Christopher Hull finds Greene’s “trips to Cuba had an impact on more than just literature.”

The Herald: Marie Colvin biography wins literary award in Edinburgh – A biography of a war correspondent killed in Syria has won the James Tait Black Prize in the centenary year of the awards.

Aeon: Eros at play – Jamie Mackay examines why “the ancient erotic poems of Sappho and Wallada bint al-Mustakfi are far more stimulating than modern pornography”.

DW: From bees to refugees: The German Book Prize releases its longlist – “One of the most prestigious prizes for literature in German will go to one of 20 books selected for consideration.”

BC Local News: Victoria book store begins challenge of moving 500,000 books – The Canadian bookstore, Russell Books, “is moving across the street from its long time Fort Street location”, reports Nicole Crescenzi.

Penguin: Shelf Life: Diane Abbott – In the first of Penguin’s new interview series, British Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott shares five books that have changed her.

Longreads: The Little Book That Lost Its Author – “How will artificial intelligence change literature?” asks Amber Caron.

Bookforum: Lawrence Weschler Remembers Oliver Sacks – Karen Schechner speaks to the author of the biographical memoir, And How Are You, Dr. Sacks?

The Bookseller: Can heat and touch-sensitive book To You replicate human connection? – Caroline Carpenter speaks to British-Cypriot academic and multimedia artist Yiota Demetriou about how and why the To You project was created.

Boston Review: The Other Toni Morrison – “A timely new documentary celebrates Morrison’s novels, but downplays the enduring power of her work as an editor and essayist”, says Joy James.

The Calvert Journal: Odesa’s literature museum is a radical tribute to the city’s multicultural, revolutionary history – “The Black Sea port has long been famous for its unique school of writers, as well as its blend of cultural influences”, writes Owen Hatherley.

GIRLThe Atlantic: Edna O’Brien’s Lonely Girls – “The setting of her new novel is terror-ridden Nigeria, a world away from her native Ireland,” says Terrence Rafferty, “but the psychic territory is familiar.”

Read it Forward: Stunning Books by Writers You Might Not Know – “Pulitzer Prize-winning author Richard Russo recommends great reads by authors who are making waves in the industry.”

The New Yorker: Françoise Sagan, the Great Interrogator of Morality – Rachel Cusk considers Françoise Sagan.

European Literature Network: Queereading: Queeread and queerwrite across the borders of ourselves and others by Maria Jastrzębska – “Queer readers have always had to be good at reading between the lines, searching for hidden meanings, subtexts or reflections between the cracks and at the edges.”

BuzzFeed: 17 Books From Your Aussie Childhood That You’ve Probably Forgotten About – Clare Aston asks to be excused while she sobs into her copy of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie.

BookTrust: ‘Libraries have a power to shape lives’: Why they’re the lifeblood of our communities – “Saadia Faruqi – author of the Yasmin books – explains why she is so passionate about libraries and shares what a difference they can make to young people.”

The Booklist Reader: In Celebration of Women in Translation Month: Asian Women Authors — Part I – The first in a two-part series by Terry Hong, with Part II scheduled for Friday 30th August.

Book Riot: How to Start a Boozy Book Club – Romeo Rosales thinks there’s “nothing better than the combination of drinks and books.”

BBC Culture: The Tale of Genji: The world’s first novel? – “Written 1,000 years ago, the epic story of 11th-Century Japan, The Tale of Genji, was written by Murasaki Shikibu, a woman.”

The Reykjavik Grapevine: Oldest Bookstore In Iceland Celebrates 10,000th Customer – The Old Bookstore in Flateyri is marking an important milestone.

The Guardian: ‘Is that bum trap missing a flesh-bag?’: a guide to Australia’s convict slang – “James Hardy Vaux’s 1819 collection of ‘criminal slang and other impolite terms’ is recognised as Australia’s first dictionary. For its 200th anniversary, Simon Barnard has updated the text”.

Harvard Magazine: A World of Literature – Spencer Lee Lenfield on “David Damrosch’s literary global reach.”

Indian Cultural Forum: Over 200 writers and cultural activists respond to the Kashmir situation: “This is a mockery of democracy” – Over 200 writers and cultural activists make their feelings known about the current state of affairs in Kashmir.

Aleteia: In case you didn’t know, the Vatican Library has been digitized and is online – Daniel Esparza reports that “75,000 codices, 85,000 incunabula and more than a million books have gradually been uploaded to [Aleteia].”

Bustle: Why Do So Many Women Read Thrillers? Because It’s A Safe Space To Own Their Fears – Mary Widdicks believes it’s because it’s a safe space in which to explore their deepest fears.

ABC News: Sydney’s new libraries offer top facilities, but who decides the areas where they’re most needed? – “With a $40 million feature library set to open in Sydney’s inner west next week, and another waterfront facility to open in October, an expert has warned that without strategic oversight from higher levels of government, some areas may miss out”, reports Harriet Tatham.

GULAGThe New Criterion: How the great truth dawned – “Russians revere literature more than anyone else in the world” and “often speak as if life exists to provide material”, writes Gary Saul Morson.

World Economic Forum: How many extra books could you read if you quit social media? – Calculate how many books you might read in a year if you could but refrain from using social media.

Town & Country: Gwyneth Paltrow Hired a Personal Book Curator—Here’s What He Chose For Her Shelves – Olivia Martin talks to “celebrity bibliophile”, Thatcher Wine, who “shares his tips on collecting (and decorating) with books.”



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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25 replies

  1. Enjoy your weekend, Paula. It’s gorgeous here, too. Feels like the last blast of summer.

    • Thank you, Susan. There’s nowhere better to be than old Blighty when the sun is shining. Sadly it doesn’t shine often enough but I’m making the most of it. Hope you too have a lovely weekend. 😎

  2. Wow, thanks for the shout-out!

  3. Really interesting collection of links, Paula! 😀

  4. I should never look at your Wind Up The Week posts, Paula, when I have to go out. I get so absorbed and forget the time. This comment will be continued at a later date… 🙂

    • Ooh ‘eck! Hope you weren’t late for anything important! 🤭

      • No 🙂 it was a talk on research which supports the benefits of animals assisting with physical, mental and emotional well-being in older adults, children’s learning difficulties, blood pressure, PTSD, loneliness, etc. There are a number of organisations but this one is called Happy Paws Happy Hearts via RSPCA adoption centres. Got to cuddle a wriggly puppy!

      • I really enjoyed your post on Happy Paws Happy Hearts. There’s a great deal to be said for the calming and healing powers of animals. The world is a better place when all species live happily together – and in the case of both dogs and cats in particular, it’s a far kinder world when we can help each other. Incidentally, I rather like the sound of that “wriggly puppy”. 🤗

  5. Thanks for the mention, Paula, it’s an honour to be included:)

  6. So many great recommendations, thanks for sharing!

  7. Might have to get that Scotland book set in 1850!

  8. Thanks for sharing, Paula! I’m glad you enjoyed it 🙂

  9. I love catching a glimpse of House of Anansi’s reprints of Canadian classics, this one by Helen Weinzweig’s Basic Black with Pearls, such a smart and sassy novel that deserves to be better known.

    I like Bustle’s article about women owning their own fears through reading thrillers; I know they’re not for everybody, but I prefer when writers acknowledge that women can find empowerment in different places – some women don’t care for thrillers and see them as perpetuating themes revolving around violence against women but I appreciate the angle that says that there are a myriad number of ways to resist and sometimes these are evident in thrillers too!

    (Closer and closer…I’m nearly caught up!)

  10. I was fascinated to read about Basic Black with Pearls as it isn’t a book I’ve ever come across. Now you have also recommended the title, Marcie, I’m adding it to my TBR list.

    I read quite a few whodunnits in my younger years, and I enjoy the occasional thriller, but I’m not overly keen when there’s a lot of graphic violence (especially towards women) – I prefer a plot that makes you think but leaves the most gruesome details to the imagination. However, I understand what Widdicks is saying and feel she may be right to a degree. I don’t know about Canadians but Brits of both sexes are obsessed with crime dramas and thrillers in both book form and on TV, so perhaps the same could be said of men, too. An interesting talking point.

    Yes, you’re positively galloping along now. You’ve definitely caught up with my posts. Many thanks indeed for all your comments, it’s gratifying to know you’ve found so many links of interest.

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