Winding Up the Week #86

An end of week recap


This week I’m winding things up from Northern Cyprus. Unfortunately, this means part two of Books and Boats: A Passage to Honfleur will appear after my return to the UK. C’est la vie! At present, I’m simply too slothful and content in the company of Maggie Atwood (see accompanying photograph) to worry.

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.


* Tove Trove Developments *

Over at Calmgrove, Chris Lovegrove very kindly posted an informative piece about my Tove Jansson project. Having previously read and reviewed The Summer Book (1972) and Art in Nature (1978), he intends to turn his attention to “a selection of tales […] put together under the title The Winter Book (2006)”. Chris’s posts are never less than intriguing and enlightening, so I very much look forward to reading his thoughts on this posthumous collection.

Several fascinating titles have been recommended by fellow book bloggers with an interest in the author, including Tove Jansson: Work and Love by Tuula Karjalainen (Elisabeth M from A Russian Affair) and The Woman Who Borrowed Memories: Selected Stories, published by New York Review Books Classics, which Marcie from Buried in Print very wisely suggests would be useful for North American readers with an interest in sampling Jansson’s work but who may “have difficulty finding Euro-editions.”

A big thank-you to the many who have expressed such enthusiasm for this project. Please do keep sharing your Tove Trove posts, comments and suggestions.

* Lit Crit Blogflash *

I’m going to share with you four 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:


Redemption – Friedrich Gorenstein’s “writing is raw” and his 1979 novel “one more masterpiece to have survived the terror of the Soviet era”, says Amalia Gavea at The Opinionated Reader.

Sanditon by Jane Austen – Although reading “unpublished and unfinished works by an author always makes [Rachel from Book Snob] feel slightly uncomfortable”, she was “glad” to have read this title because it gave her “much to reflect on and added a richness to [her] reading of [Austen’s] completed novels.”

The Lager Queen of Minnesota: A Novel by J. Ryan Stradal – Lisa Hayes of Hopewell’s Public Library of Life suggests an alternative subtitle to this Midwestern American novel might be: “Empowerment Through Beer.” She found the author “pitch-perfect on her characters voices, vibes, values, and valor” and “enjoyed [the] book from start to finish”

Gravity is the Thing by Jaclyn Moriarty – Nirmala of Red Lips and Bibliomaniacs has never “felt [so] good after reading a novel that deals with grief and loss”. In fact, not only was it a “wildly funny and a delightfully quirky novel” but she guarantees it will “leave you laughing out loud, even when tears flow down your face!”

* Irresistible Items *

clear glass teacup with coffee beverage

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 New York Times: ‘I’m Too Old to Be Scared by Much’: Margaret Atwood on Her ‘Handmaid’s Tale’ Sequel – “The writer talks about her new book, effective yelling and the character who’s too good to kill.”

Public Books: Who Cares about Literary Prizes? – “Who really cares about literary prizes? And what can they tell us about reading, publishing, and canon making today?”

Lapham’s Quarterly: The Book Disease – Mark Purcell looks at the history of bibliomania.

BBC Culture: How India’s ancient myths are being rewritten – “Modern writers are retelling India’s legendary Hindu tales – often through a feminist lens. Why is this important?” Akanksha Singh investigates.

Independent: ‘Darkness comes from unexpected places’: JK Rowling teases Harry Potter announcement – Harry Potter readers suspect JK Rowling may have hinted at a new sequel.

BuzzFeed: 15 Bookstores In Sydney That Are Just Perfect For Bookworms – Clare Aston selects her favourite Sydney book shops.

Polygon: Ursula Le Guin’s Earthsea Cycle being adapted for TV – Not for the first time, Ursula Le Guin’s fantasy, the Earthsea Cycle, is being adapted for television.

Yahoo!: HK bookseller held in China raises $100,000 to open Taiwan store – “A Hong Kong bookseller who disappeared into Chinese custody for half a year raised nearly $100,000 in less than a day on Friday as he tries to open a new store in Taiwan.”

Chicago Review of Books: Re-Reading All of Margaret Atwood’s Novels in 2019 – “This year The Edible Woman turns 50 – and it’s still relevant”, says Terri-Jane Dow.

Book Riot: Why are Books That Shape? From Codices to Kindles, Why This Rectangle Stays Golden – “Anyone who has ever tried to organize their bookshelves can tell you that books are not a standard size”, writes Danika Ellis.

The Cornell Daily Sun: The Indie Bookstore Dilemma – Andrea Yang argues in favour of buying books from indie bookstores rather than online.

The Guardian: Revolutionary romance novels and Bookers on beer coasters: what we learned at Melbourne writers’ festival – “Richard Flanagan reveals how not to lose a first draft, Betty Grumble weaponises art, and intersectional feminism gets raunchy”.

The Curious Reader: Benders, Blenders And Dementors: How To Make A Magic System – Does your favourite fantasy book use a hard or a soft magic system? Find out the difference between the two in this piece from Aditya Nair.

DW: Authors react to growing populism at the German-Israeli lit fest – “What can literature do to counter propaganda, lies and distorted language? At the German-Israeli Literature Festival, writers Priya Basil and Sami Berdugo reflected on how to deal with populism and polarization.”

Advocate: Brazilian YouTuber Hands Out Free LGBTQ Books in Protest of Censorship – According to Trudy Ring: “A Brazilian YouTube star distributed 14,000 LGBTQ-themed books for free at Rio de Janeiro’s international book fair in protest of censorship efforts by the city’s mayor.”

ArabLit: 7 Finalists for the 2019 Prix de la Littérature Arabe – Seven finalists have been announced for the Prix de la Littérature Arabe, a Francophone award that celebrates books written by Arabs in French or translated from Arabic to French.

The Mit Press Reader: Exploring Drug-Induced Synesthesia – “To see how drug use can cause synesthesia, Crétien van Campen][ reviewed two centuries’ worth of bizarre literary and pharmacological experiments.”

The Washington Post: How not to mourn a beloved author – “When we reduce writers like Toni Morrison to a series of inspirational quotes, we miss the things that made them great”, says Sandra Newman.

History Today: The Cultured Women of Essex – “We should take more notice of the work of those once despised and disregarded”, says Eleanor Parker.

The Japan Times: A literary platform for the collected writers of Kyoto – Stephen Mansfield visits Writers in Kyoto, an English-language literary salon formed by writer John Dougill in 2015 to create a “sense of community” for writers connected to Japan’s imperial capital.

The Paris Review: A Very Short List of Very Short Novels with Very Short Commentary – Alice McDermott recommends her favourite short novels.

Electric Literature: A Victorian Novelist Attempts To Write Queer Characters Without Getting Censored – “They were simply good friends! Barely even friends. They had never met, actually.”

Los Angeles Review of Books: Who Gets Emily Dickinson? – It’ easy to miss the real scandal in Wild Nights with Emily, the recent Emily Dickinson biopic written and directed by Madeleine Olnek”, says Seth Perlow.

Melville House: On the 10th anniversary of Hans Fallada’s Every Man Dies Alone – Kevin Murphy discovers Fallada’s work “has become a world-wide phenomenon, with his books in translation and on bestseller lists around the world”.

Real Simple: People Who Read Before Bed Not Only Sleep Better, But Eat More Healthily and Make More Money – According to Maggie Seaver, a new “sleep survey proves the benefits of a pre-snooze read go well beyond relaxation”.

6sqft: A history of Book Row, NYC’s long-time downtown haven for bibliophiles – Alexandra Alexa on a new history of New York’s Book Row.

Vice: Libraries and Archivists Are Scanning and Uploading Books That Are Secretly in the Public Domain – “Millions of books are secretly in the public domain thanks to a copyright loophole, a new project seeks to put them on the Internet Archive.”

Culture Trip: This Hotel in a 700-Year-Old City in Portugal Is a Book-Lover’s Heaven – “Portugal is […] perfect for bibliophiles, and it is home to some of the most beautiful bookstores and libraries in the world”, writes Nina Santos.

BBC News: Secret diary of ‘Polish Anne Frank’ Renia Spiegel to be published – “The secret diary of a Polish-born Jewish teenager murdered by the Nazis in 1942 is to be published after 70 years lying untouched in a bank vault.”

The New York Times: Kiran Nagarkar, Novelist Who Chronicled Mumbai Life, Dies at 77 – “His writing was bawdy, irreverent and joyous but also held up a mirror to uncomfortable truths”, says Shalini Venugopal Bhagat.

The Irish Times: Richard Dawkins: ‘Brexit is now a religion. They don’t mind if they destroy the country’ – “The atheist biologist has written a new book about God but what really worries him is closer to home”.

Quartz Africa: The Zimbabwean writer who was Robert Mugabe’s nemesis – The writer and iconoclast, Dambudzo Marechera was Mugabe’s tormentor until his early AIDS related death in 1987.



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. That’s a fascinating article on the retelling of Indian myths – thanks for the link. Hope you are enjoying The Testaments!

  2. “Sleep Junkie’s survey takers who read before bed make an average income of $39,779, while non-readers make $36,094.”

    You invariably link to some provocative stuff. I suppose the essence of any practice is that it is has a theory behind it. Reading before bed for some people is a behaviour that seems divorced from the twisted logic of late capitalism. But the survey sells reading through the logic of the Protestant work ethic. We will all be healthy, wealthy and wise if we obey instructions- it’s like a Harry Potter fantasy for adults.

    Atwood is being interviewed a lot at the moment, so when you’ve finished her latest you might view her latest performances on your return from your deserved sojourn (I think she is going to tell Mary Beard a thing or two).

  3. It’s like licorice allsorts, which one do I choose? I thought this article was too good to be true “Real Simple: People Who Read Before Bed Not Only Sleep Better, But Eat More Healthily and Make More Money”!

  4. Τhank you so much, Paula!!

  5. Love this and I am eager to hear about The Testaments.
    Yay to reading before bed, eating healthier and making more money, LOL.

  6. Your spot in Northern Cyprus looks just gorgeous! Hope you’re enjoying your time there, and The Testaments! I just finished it today. I loved Aunt Lydia’s part most. Can’t wait to hear what you think of it. Have fun and safe travels home!

    • Thank you so much, Rennie. It’s a beautiful spot – we come here every September to spend time with friends in their lovely apartment. I agree re. The Testaments: Aunt Lydia’s bits were so well written. 😊

  7. I’ll bookmark that list of Sydney bookshops for next time I visit. Loved the article about the size of books.

    Hope you enjoy The Testaments. I rushed out and bought it but haven’t started it yet! (it’s next on my list).

  8. Great links again Paula – I’ll look forward to your thoughts on the Atwood! 😀

    • Many thanks, Kaggsy. I’m slowly collecting my thoughts regarding The Testaments. I was impressed, having been nervous that Atwood might not pull it off a second time. I need not have worried – the woman’s a genius! 🤣

  9. Always love articles about bookstores, especially those with such great photos!

  10. Very intriguing set of links this week – there’s my Sunday afternoon disappearing down a few rabbit holes 😉

  11. Thanks so much for mentioning my intention to join in your Jansson reading project, Paula, and for linking to my previous two Jansson reviews, much appreciated! Also, thanks for the panoply of literary links, a few of which I’ve already checked out.

  12. I can’t wait to hear what you make of The Testaments Paula! I feel a bit conflicted about it so I’m relieved to hear you’re enjoying it.

  13. Introduced to Jansson while in Finland, I read her Moomin series. Though “meant” for children, reading them as an adult I find her stories to be filled with realism while providing great comfort in times of grief and loss.

  14. Ohhhh, is that a ribbon in your copy of The Testaments? After having heard the readings from the launch (not in London, but overseas in a theatre broadcast) I am so intrigued.

    The preview for that Emily Dickinson film looks so interesting! And I thought the scan of the rereading of Atwood’s novels was fun. I wish I’d had/taken time to do that too!


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