Winding Up the Week #85

An end of week recap

WUTW2We’re having a Friday wind up this week because it’s my partner’s birthday tomorrow and I will be giving her my undivided attention for the duration. She deserves spoiling after all she has been through over the last 10 months.

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.


I read and reviewed Starling Days by the British-American author Rowan Hisayo Buchanan – a grim story of loneliness, isolation and unhappiness, played out between London and New York. >> Book Review: Starling Days >>

Look out for my thoughts on Ray Bradbury’s 1953 dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451, which I read for The Classics Club and my sadly uncompleted 10 Books of Summer 2019.

Coming soon is my review of The Man Who Saw Everything, the new novel from British playwright, novelist and poet Deborah Levy.


* Lie Back and Listen *


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

Be sure to listen to NPR’s pre-publication excerpt of Margaret Atwood reading from The Testaments, her sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, due for publication on 10th September. >> Hear Margaret Atwood’s Exclusive Reading of The Testaments >>


* 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:

USERS MANUAL‘Life: A User’s Manual (Ch. 51)’ by Georges Perec – Jonathan at Intermittencies of the Mind is slowly reading Perec’s unclassifiable 1978 masterwork and has reached Chapter 51. “It’s a fun book that can be maddening at times,” he says, but he finds the author’s various lists rather “dull”. He is left with many unanswered questions.

Britain’s best literary-inspired afternoon teas – If, like Lucy of The Literary Edit, you “love combining your penchant for books with a tipple or two, [she’s] rounded up Britain’s best literary-inspired afternoon teas”.

Jocelyn Moorhouse, Unconditional love: A memoir of filmmaking and motherhood – Sue T from Whispering Gums found this stylistically “traditional memoir” of a filmmaker’s career and personal life: “generous” and plainly-told. It will, she says, appeal to those interested in “Australian filmmaking [and] families with autistic members”.

book review: Isolde by Irina Odoevtseva – Rachel at pace, amore, libri declared this 1929 work by a Russian author “thoroughly enjoyable” if “dark” at times. Indeed, it turned out to be “a really solid gem of a book”.

Platform Seven by Louise Doughty – Doughty’s latest novel “is a very effective domestic psychological thriller”, says Clare from A Little Blog of Books. She predicts “it’s likely to be [a] commercially successful one too.”

Pulp Fiction Surprise – Over at Rattlebag and Rhubarb, Josie Holford has a large bag full of abandoned “mid 20th century pulp fiction” in need of a new home. She did, however, discover a rather fascinating “collector’s item” amongst the “drug store porn”!

* Irresistible Items *

coffee and cake near book

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: Margaret Atwood: ‘She’s ahead of everyone in the room’ – As excitement mounts for The Testaments, the sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, [Johanna Thomas-Corr talks] to publishers and fellow writers about the great novelist”.

The Telegraph: The 2019 Booker Prize shortlist gives voice to the marginalised – and literary big-hitters – Jake Kerridge advises those planning to read the whole of this year’s Booker shortlist between now and the announcement of the winner on 14th October to “lock up your smartphone, rent out your TV set and book plenty of time off work.”

CON BOOKSELLERThe Bookseller: Confessions of a Bookseller: day 1 takeover – “To mark the release of his second book, Confessions of a Bookseller, Shaun Bythell—who owns The Bookshop in Wigtown—shares his diary extracts.”

Brain Pickings: 20-Year-Old Lord Byron’s Moving Elegy for His Beloved Dog – Byron’s poem about the death of a beloved dog is “the most heartfelt this Romantic bad boy ever composed”, says Maria Popova.

BBC News: Tiffany Francis-Baker: How forests shaped our literary heritage and inspired a nation – Tiffany Francis-Baker, the writer-in-residence at the Forestry Commission, finds inspiration among the trees.

Bookforum: From a Whisper to a Scream – Joanne O’Leary examines the “disquieting fiction of Nancy Hale”.

The Irish Times: The future of reading: Paperback, hardback or augmented reality? – Shane Hegarty predicts that “the ‘book’ of 2059 may evolve as combination of storytelling, gaming and social media”.

Outside: Insects Are Having a Literary Moment – “Two new books show the scary and whimsical sides of our constant outdoor companions”, says Heather Hansman.

New York Public Library: Saddle Up For Fierce Female Westerns! – Amanda Pagan has gathered a list of her favourite western literature featuring female leads.

World Literature Today: Reimagining Folktales, But for the Ear: A Conversation with Mahsuda Snaith – Carolyne Larrington discusses with Snaith The Panther’s Tale, one of eight new reinterpretations of traditional British folktales by contemporary female writers.

Time: 42 Most Anticipated Books of Fall 2019 – Annabel Gutterman reveals her “most anticipated books of fall”.

Penguin Features: How the world finally caught up with Jeanette Winterson – “From Extinction Rebellion and ‘protest as spectacle’ to gender fluidity and fake news, Jeanette Winterson’s fiction has consistently foreshadowed the biggest issues of our times. As she marks her sixtieth birthday, John Self celebrates a novelist always one step ahead”.

Houston Press: Where Has the Horror Section of Bookstores Gone? – “If you want to browse a horror section of a physical bookstore, you’re almost certainly going to have to go to Half-Price Books to find one”, says Jef Rouner.

Times of India: Tech to grant 7,000 rare books a new lease of life – Vibha Sharma reports 7,000 rare books published before 1916 are to be sent to the Indira Gandhi National Centre to be digitalised and preserved.

Sunday Times ZA: Q&A with author, playwright and theatremaker Fatima Dike – Carla Lever speaks to Fatima Dike about democracy, stories and theatre in South Africa.

YEAR OF MONKEYThe New York Times: How Susan Sontag Influenced Patti Smith’s Reading Life – “She advised me to read more German authors,” says the writer and singer, whose latest memoir is Year of the Monkey.

Spine: A Conversation with Peter Mendelsund on Writing – Daniel Benneworth-Gray speaks to the former Associate Art Director of Alfred A. Knopf turned author, Peter Mendelsund, about his “latest adventure between the covers.”

The Scotsman: Harry Potter fans descend on King’s Cross to mark annual return to Hogwarts – Hundreds of Harry Potter fans turned up at London’s King’s Cross station to mark the first day back at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Refinery29: The Seductive World Of Jane Austen Super-Fans – Joanna Cresswell ventures deep into the world of Janeites – “a network of Jane Austen super fans connected by their love of the author, reading and the Regency period.”

Quill & Quire: WLU Press to offer free ebooks in support of incarcerated poet Rita Wong – Wilfrid Laurier University Press are supporting a poet imprisoned for occupying a Kinder Morgan worksite in protest at the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

Lambada Literary Review: A New Publishing Venture Reissues Gay and Lesbian Crime Fiction from 60s-90s – John Copenhaver on ReQueered Tales, a new venture in rescuing notable gay and lesbian mystery, suspense and horror fiction from obscurity.

The Japan Times: Female writers in Japan are finally being heard – Alex Barreia is pleased to discover that Japanese women are finally starting to receive domestic and international recognition.

Entertainment Weekly: Catholic school in Tennessee bans Harry Potter books for containing ‘actual curses’ – “Apparently it’s 1999 again”, says Rachel Yang, as a “Catholic school in Tennessee has banned students from checking out the Harry Potter books because the pastor felt the series contained ‘actual curses and spells’”.

Washington Square News: New York’s Indie Bookstores Survive by Promoting Community, Providing Experience – Julie Goldberg finds that because “rent hikes and Amazon pose a continuous threat to the city’s independent bookstores, small business owners [have tuned] into community interests and [re-defined] what a bookstore can be.

NBC News: Here’s how the literary world is shedding light on the lives of undocumented kids and teens – Lakshmi Gandhi on first- and second-generation immigrant authors whose books for young readers depict the lives of undocumented children and teenagers.

The New Yorker: Can You Write a Novel as a Group? – “The stories of three fiction-writing collectives, on three different continents”, from Ceridwen Dovey.

Catapult: Remembering Catapult instructor Jade Sharma – “Jade Sharma died on July 24, 2019. She was 39 years old.”

Publishers Weekly: Translator Grossman to Be Honored by Words Without Borders – Ed Nawotka reveals translator Edith Grossman “will receive the 2019 Ottaway Award for the Promotion of International Literature from translation advocacy organization Words Without Borders.”

MOTHER BRONTESThe Telegraph: Was the Brontës’ mother Maria Branwell raised by pirates? – Samantha Ellis on The Mother of the Brontës by Sharon Wright.

The Sydney Morning Herald: Books that changed me: Joy Rhoades – Joy Rhoades found James Joyce’s The Dubliners taught her a lot about writing and structure.

Tablet: Was B. Traven Jewish? – Paul Berman examines the unresolved mystery of the author of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. Was he a German Jew?

The Strand Magazine: Detectives and Their Food – Carla Neggers wonders if our favourite fictional detectives food eating habits reveal or create their characters?



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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33 replies

  1. As per your usual, hum-drum, quotidian, everyday and ordinary: Brilliant!
    And thank you.

  2. I didn’t know Louise Doughty had a new book! Great news, thank you 🙂 Have a great weekend.

  3. Thanks for all the great ideas of bookish things to listen to and read. Enjoy a wonderful birthday celebration together; you both deserve it!

  4. Many happy returns to your partner, Paula.. I hope you have a lovely pampering day together.

  5. A wonderful selection as usual Paula! Wishing your partner a very happy birthday – I hope you have a lovely weekend.

  6. Thanks Paula for including my Jocelyn Moorhouse post. I feel chuffed being included in your list of talented bloggers.

    You have some even more links here than usual that really interest me. I’m off to Japan in less than two weeks, and while I don’t expect to have time to read much, I’m keen to read that article on Japanese women writers. The Janeites article interests me too.

    As for the Shane Hegarty article in The Irish Times, my thinking (without reading the article yet) is that the “or” should be an “and” because I can’t see traditional books and reading being REPLACED, but I can see new forms being added. Just like we still have Radio while all sorts of other mass media systems have been invented since and are being offered to us?

    PS I hope you and your partner have a great birthday celebration. This year’s will be extra meaningful I’m sure. x

  7. I’m excited for The Testaments, I loved reading that NPR excerpt this week too. I was worried it might just be holding on to the recent surge of attention for the book from the TV show but it sounds like it’s going to be really good.

    I hope you and your partner have a wonderful time celebrating her and her birthday! xxxx

  8. Happy Birthday to your partner, Paula! I hope you have a wonderful weekend of celebration of great health! ♥️

    • Thank you so much, Jennifer. I hope the big storm missed you this time. I heard it was heading for the Carolinas. Perhaps you should invest in some wellies and galoshes for the kits! 🤗

      • We were ok here- just high winds, but my dad is right on the coast, and it was difficult night. The problem was the tornados that spun off the hurricane, and one was quite close to my mom’s house. Also, lots of flash flooding and that’s not over yet. It will take several days for the water levels to go back down. That said, it could be so much worse, and we are grateful. Thanks so much for thinking of us. ♥️

      • It sounds terrifying! I remember you saying your dad lives on the coast. Stay safe. 🤗

  9. Another super selection and many happy returns to your partner! 😀

  10. Many Many happy returns to your partner for tomorrow, she does indeed deserve to be spoiled rotten! Here’s to the coming year being smooth sailing and all good health!

  11. Oo, there is so much here…I need time to digest it all. I am interested especially in the Western women, Patti Smith and detectives and food…how fun!

    May you and your partner celebrate life with great gusto this weekend <3

  12. Wishing D a very happy birthday 🤗 Hope you both have a special weekend Paula 😀

  13. I had no idea about the Hogwarts reunion, what fun – next year!

  14. Thank you so much for sharing my review! 🙂

  15. Is your partner’s birthday on the 7th then? (Mine too!) Happy Birthday to her!

    Also, I enjoyed reading the links to the Fierce Female Westerns. I’ve just read one myself, Shannon Pufahl’s On Swift Stories, a very atmospheric and layered novel. Well, kind of, as it’s set in the American West (California and Nevada) a few decades ago. It’s not exactly a light read – literary and it takes some time – but it’s a beautiful story (and I’m a sucker for a good love story).

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