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 shared a few thoughts on Muriel Spark’s 1974 satirical novel, The Abbess of Crewe, which means another title has been ticked on my 10 Books of Summer 2019 list. >> THOUGHTS ON: The Abbess of Crewe >>
* Watch Out for Witch Week! *
Once again, Lizzie Ross and Chris Lovegrove will host Witch Week from 30th October to 6th November 2019 – and the theme this year is: ‘Villains’. Now in its sixth year, this popular annual event will, as ever, feature guest posts and a readalong, which will appear on Calmgrove. Chris says he and Liz plan to spotlight “selected villains” appearing in the works of Shakespeare, graphic novels, the Chronicles of Narnia, Diana Wynne Jones’ Black Maria and Joan Aiken’s Wolves Chronicles. The official readalong will be “Cart and Cwidder, from Diana Wynne Jones’ fantasy sequence The Dalemark Quartet”. You are “invited to read this beforehand and join in a discussion introduced by an edited online conversation.” For more information please check out Witch Week 2019 is coming.
* 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 Memory Police’ by Yoko Ogawa – Akylina of The Literary Sisters describes this dystopian novel as “a wonderful and terrifying book” and is delighted to find “Ogawa’s apocalyptic magical realism is exactly [her] cup of tea”.
Will and Testament (Arv og miljø) by Vigdis Hjorth (2016) – Norwegian Literature – Caroline at Beauty is a Sleeping Cat finds this “highly literary” novel about repressed memories resurfacing, “dark” but “never depressing.” If you “like stories about dysfunctional families,” she says, “you shouldn’t miss this.”
“…the future’s uncertain and the end is always near…” – The Question Mark by Muriel Jaeger, published as part of the British Library’s Science Fiction Classics series, “turned out to be […] absorbing and interesting”, not to mention “thought-provoking”, according to Karen Langley at Kaggsy’s Bookish Ramblings.
How Dylan Thomas Found Inspiration In A House – Karen at BookerTalk is “curious about the lives of authors” – especially their “routines”, workplaces and “quirky habits”. For this, her first post in a series about the “homes that provided shelter, solace [and] inspiration for some of history’s greatest literary talents”, she explores Dylan Thomas’s “‘wordsplashed hut’, perched on a cliff” in South Wales.
Book review: The Buried Giant, by Kazuo Ishiguro, 2015 – David at The Reading Bug describes this 2015 fantasy set in Britain during the Dark Ages as “an enigmatic, allegorical novel.” He has “minor reservations” but ultimately found it “a genuinely enjoyable read.”
Fantastic Find at the Bookstore #5: Prolific Garis Family – Becky Ross Michael shares news of an exciting discovery she made in one of her favourite second-hand bookstores. Visit Platform Number 4 to find out which “childhood memory in full color [but] in rather tattered shape” came into her possession for a mere $8.00.
* 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:
The Guardian: Address Unknown: the great, forgotten anti-Nazi book everyone must read – “First published in 1938, US author Kathrine Kressmann Taylor’s forgotten classic [Address Unknown] is a devastating work of political fiction that still resonates today”.
BBC Culture: Ten books to read in September – Jane Ciabattari with suggestions ranging from Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments, to Patti Smith’s new memoir.
Literary Hub: How to Review a Novel – “London Review of Books Editor Mary-Kay Wilmers on the language of criticism.”
Georgia Straight: TaiwanFest 2019: Intriguing Connections at a pop-up Taiwanese bookstore – A pop-up bookstore will appear at Taiwanfest, which is happening in Vancouver this weekend.
Smithsonian: When the Public Feared That Library Books Could Spread Deadly Diseases – Joseph Hayes looks back at “The great book scare” of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when panic broke out among readers afraid they could catch deadly infections from coming into contact with library books.
Brittle Paper: 22 Authors, 37 Novels: An African History of the Booker Prize for Fiction – While awaiting the announcement of this year’s Booker shortlist, BP has gathered together a detailed list of every African authored book to be nominated for the Booker Prize for Fiction since its inception.
The Times Literary Supplement: Fruit from suffering – “Ian Buruma on the inner and outer worlds of Anne Frank’s diary”.
Mental Floss: Why Beatrix Potter Ended Up Self-Publishing The Tale of Peter Rabbit – In 1901, after being rejected by six publishers, Beatrix Potter used her savings to privately print The Tale of Peter Rabbit, says Garin Pirnia.
The Verge: Women swept the Hugo Awards — again – Chaim Gartenberg on the women who won the prize honouring the best science fiction and fantasy literature of 2018.
Discover: Audiobooks or Reading? To Our Brains, It Doesn’t Matter – Jennifer Walternew is fascinated to learn that new evidence suggests “to our brains, reading and hearing a story might not be so different.”
The Economist: The writers breathing fresh life into Ugandan literature – “A new generation of authors is inspired by subjects as diverse as oral tradition, corruption and feminism”.
Houston Chronicle: Author Ray Bradbury honored with Illinois hometown statue – The “hometown of the late famed science fiction writer Ray Bradbury marked his birthday with dedication of a statue in his honor.”
The Irish Times: The future of sci-fi never looked so bright – “As a gay female author, Becky Chambers is pushing back against the genre’s traditions”, says John Connolly.
The Sunday Post: The stories of my life: Bookshop owner on hagglers, hardbacks and hitting Hollywood – Alice Hinds reports that The Diary Of A Bookseller, Shaun Bythell’s memoir of “owning and running Scotland’s largest secondhand bookshop” has been “snapped up by a big Los Angeles studio”.
The London Magazine: Essay | The King of Hay-on-Wye – Jane Frank remembers the “maverick anarchist, bookseller and entrepreneur, Richard Booth”.
The New Yorker: Reader, I Googled It – “Amid fears about the death of books,” Dan Chiasson looks at ways of “finding new ways to bring them to life.”
Shondaland: Sarah Broom on Creative Courage and What It Took to Write Her Stunning Memoir, ‘The Yellow House’ – “The author opens up about the struggles and successes that came with writing one of the year’s best — and best-selling — books.”
The Sydney Morning Herald: A bloom of one’s own: Eight writers pen their odes to spring – “Put aside thoughts of moving to Queensland. Take a risk on bare legs. Writers celebrate the arrival of blossom, wisteria and even the allergy-inducing new life of the plane trees.”
Harper’s Magazine: Regarding the Pen of Others – Was Susan Sontag the true author of her ex-husband, Philip’s Rieff’s 1959 book, Freud: The Mind of the Moralist?
Inkstone: Literary award renamed after Hong Kong author calls out ‘fascist’ writer – Rachel Cheung reports on a “leading American literary magazine”, which has “dropped the name of the late sci-fi writer John W. Campbell from a major award” after the winning author labelled him a “fascist”.
Forbes: What If Social Media Platforms Were More Like Libraries? “The Web has long been described as the Library 2.0, a digital reincarnation of the knowledge centers that have long propelled society”, writes Kalev Leetaru.
The Atlantic: The Paradox of Peanuts – “Charles Schulz’s kid characters are precocious, cruel, and nihilistic. They’re also among the most compelling in children’s literature”, according to Bruce Handy.
The Bookseller: The new literary tastemakers: can they be trusted? – “Publishing lecturer Adam Blades looks at how celebrity tastemakers are transforming what we read, and what this means for professional literary criticism.”
Boston Review: Reading Lists: Highway to Hell – “A reading list for our time of climate crisis”, from Rosie Gillies.
The Paris Review: Literary Paper Dolls: Rebecca – Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca “is about a house, only the house is a metaphor for a woman. Really, it’s a book about imposter syndrome.”
Lives in Literature: Three Score & Ten, or Like Ice Under a Terrible Sun – An anthology of literary quotes illustrating every year of one’s life from conception to death, compiled by Wayne Gooderham.
The Curious Reader: Why We Buy Multiple Copies Of The Same Book – Buying “multiple editions of the same book is more common than you think”, says Prasanna Sawant.
The Spectator: Novel explosives of the Cold War – “Orwell’s searing satires as well as samizdat works from Solzhenitsyn and Pasternak proved powerful weapons in the fight against communism”, writes Nicholas Shakespeare.
Independent: Nostalgia for Enid Blyton does not grant her a free pass for her bigotry – “As the Royal Mint receives a backlash for refusing to put the children’s author on a commemorative coin, Roisin O’Connor argues why it was the right decision, and why we must stop trying to erase the problematic traits of our most famous cultural figures”.
Litro: Book Review: Mary Ann Sate, Imbecile, by Alice Jolly – “Upon finishing this book [Jess Gulliver] raised a drink to the many women who worked, mothered, dreamt and died before us, all but forgotten.”
The Japan Times: Understanding the challenging world of the literary translator – “English translations of Japanese books have found an enthusiastic audience around the world, but the contribution of the translator is sometimes overlooked in discussions and reviews in the English media”, says Louise George Kittaka.
Booksellers NZ: Community bookshop wins owners lifetime achievement award – Rob and Kaye Clarke, owners of Paper Plus Coastlands in Paraparaumu, New Zealand, have jointly received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2019 Book Trade Industry Awards.
Library Journal: The A to Z of Gen Z – “What comes to mind when you picture a generation of readers that is frugal and thinks there’s nothing like that new book smell?” asks Christina Vercelletto.
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
That list of African contenders for the Booker prize is a rich source!
Thanks for the link to my Dylan Thomas piece 🙂
It’s a pleasure, as always, Karen.
Thank you so much for the link, Paula. And thanks for putting together so many interesting links.
Witch week sounds like something I might enjoy as well.
You’re very welcome, Caroline. Witch Week always looks great fun. I’m sure Chris and Lizzie would be delighted to have you join them.
I’m definitely thinking about it.
And you’d be very welcome, Caroline!
Thank you. That’s nice to know.
That is, by far, the least condescending and most interesting”how to write a review” piece I’ve ever read! Also, I love everything Becky Chambers has written so far.
I agree, she’s very good.
Another really excellent selection of reading, Paula, and thanks for linking to my Jaeger review! 😀
You’re very welcome, Kaggsy.
I’m honored that you shared the link to my post about the Garis writing family, Paula! So many interesting articles, as always!
It’s a pleasure, Becky. I really enjoyed your post.
Thank you; I really appreciate that!
You’ve exceeded yourself with this wealth of links, Paula, I’ve already looked at three of them! And, like Karen and Kaggsy, grateful for your highlighting Lizzie and my celebration of Witch Week. (Diana Wynne Jones of course part Welsh on her father’s side, you may like to know!) Off to peruse some more…
You’re most welcome, Chris. I’m glad you’re enjoying the links. 😊
You’ve always got so much on the go.
We’re headed to TIFF next week so my nightstand is full of books to read/reread that have been turned into movies heading for the festival.
I hope you have a wonderful time at the festival, Jay. Happy reading. 😊
So many interesting articles you gathered up! Thank you for this wonderful selection and for featuring my review of The Memory Police, too! 🙂
Thank you, Akylina. 😊
A wonderful selection as always Paula! I’m excited at the prospect of a new Patti Smith memoir 🙂
Many thanks, Madame B. I’ve wanted to read the Patti Smith memoirs for an age but never seem to get round to them. I’m sure this must be about the third, so I must get started on the first! 😏
An interesting link to The Spectator. It’s funny how the author can write about Orwell’s experiences in Catalonia without really focusing on why he was there in the first place. His remarkable account of a revolutionary city where the waiters didn’t take tips on principle is worth reading properly. If France and Britain had intervened in Spain against Franco then the world could well have been different. Discussing the real problems of state socialism without properly mentioning the evils of fascism is a revealing ideological choice.
I’ve just read a book by an Albanian who highlighted how vile Nazism came to the little country, before it was displaced by a particularly inefficient and unpleasant form of actually existing socialism.
Retelling the Cold War without describing how liberals, conservatives and socialists defeated fascism before falling out can be done best by someone who is committed to the maintenance of late capitalism’s ecocide. Such people tend to have no respect for democratic norms, as is evident in the British coup, the Brazilian catastrophe, and the development of the Trump agenda.
My tip of the week is to boycott The Spectator!
I wondered if you might pick up on that link, John. I’m totally with you on this one. The Spectator has always had a rather unpleasant right-wing agenda and it isn’t a publication I would normally think of reading. I stumbled quite accidentally on this article and thought I would throw it into the mix!
Do you have a little notebook in which you not only scribble the links but the names of various readers around the world who might be keeping an eye out for that very article you’ve linked to? *grins* Love it.
Thanks Marcie. Quite frequently, having read an article, I conclude it might be of interest to a particular person. I don’t actually keep a notebook stuffed with fellow bloggers’ preferences but I do tend to recall ‘conversations’ and, quite unintentionally, file away in my mind certain details about their literary preferences (if that makes sense). Sad but true. 🤓
I am amazed at the extent of your reading and the amount of links to which you have directed us! What a treasure trove of information you create every week. I appreciate the amount of time, and the involvement you have in the blog-o-sphere.
Thank you so much, Dolce. I’m so glad you find it of interest.
The ‘How Dylan Thomas found Inspiration in a house’ one looks really interesting, will bookmark to read later; it’s fascinating to see where some literary greats were sparked and found their stories and inspiration.
I tried to read the BBC one about 10 books to read in September but on the page there’s the headline, but no books.. really odd! Maybe it’s a glitch.. Will try again later just in case.
Around great WUTW! I hope you have a lovely week, Paula 😊
I would love a place like DT’s hut overlooking the sea.
How odd. The link works fine for me. I scroll down and the list begins with Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments.
Thank you so much, Caz. I hope you have a lovely week, too. 🤗
Now I want to pull my Peanuts comics off the shelf with the childhood reading on it. Lately I’ve been peering over my partner’s shoulder, as he’s been revisiting Calvin & Hobbes, but Schultz has endured too of course!
Do you have multiple copies of the same book? I have a couple of copies of Anne of Green Gables dating to childhood and two copies of a Carol Shields novel but, for the most part, I’ve got singles on my shelves.
I’ve always loved Peanuts – especially snoopy. I’m not so familiar with Calvin & Hobbes.
Thankfully I’m not driven to collect multiple copies of the same title, which is fortunate because I barely have room for the current amassment! 😂