Winding Up the Week #89

An end of week recap

WUTW2This 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.


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

Coming soon is the novella Le Bal by the Jewish novelist Irène Némirovsky who died in Auschwitz, German Occupied Poland in 1942. I will be reading this for the 1930 Club.


* Bits and Books *

1000 FOLLOWSAnother of those congratulatory disc-shaped thingamawhatsits appeared in my notifications a few days ago informing me Book Jotter had reached (exceeded, in fact) 1,000 follower. Thank-you WordPress for the heads-up, but more importantly, oodles of gratitude to all those who regularly read and comment on my posts. You’re a marvellous bunch!

If you, like Clara, admire Bram Stoker’s famous 1897 Gothic horror novel, Dracula, you may very well enjoy taking part in her new readalong, A Vampire at Notre-Dame, which runs from Monday 21st to Sunday 27th of October. She has planned “tons of fun activities” in addition to “buddy reading” – all you have to do is read the book before the event ends. For further details please head over to TBOND.

BOOKS ARE MY BAGIn case it slipped your mind, here is a reminder that it’s Bookshop Day – the biggest single day of new book releases of the year. Annually, on 5th October, authors, readers and bookshops across the UK celebrate the crucial role of high street bookstores and, as usual, Books Are My Bag are offering a limited-edition tote bag (designed this year by Yehrin Tong), which is available exclusively in bookshops up and down the country. So, please take yourself off to your favourite local bookseller and show you care.

* 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:

CHILLI BEANChina in September: Chilli Bean Paste and Noisy Families – Marina Sofia at Finding Time to Write found this Chinese novel by Yan Ge about a family with a chilli bean paste factory, “fun, operatic [and] over the top”!

REVIEW!! The Mating Habits of Stags by Ray Robinson – Amy Louise from The Shelf of Unread Books praises Robinson’s “lyrical novel” for its “rhapsodic blend of the sublime and the savage and its beautiful exploration of the ripples of human existence.”

Literary escapade: Proust and the centennial of his Prix Goncourt – In her latest post, Emma discusses the Gallerie Gallimard in Paris celebrating the centenary of Proust winning “the most prestigious French literary prize”. She says his “win was a scandal at the time”. Discover why at Book Around The Corner.

Book Review: The Caravaners by Elizabeth von Arnimn – This “intelligent and deeply humorous book”, first published in 1909, is not only a “brilliant satire and social commentary” but “a powerful warning” of the “trouble” brewing in Europe, says Rachel at Bookbound.

Book of the month: Juan Marsé – Ann Morgan of A year of reading the world loves “meeting translators.” Here she examines Juan Marsé’s The Snares of Memory, translated from Spanish into English by Nick Caistor, whom she caught up with last month to record a podcast for the Royal Literary Fund.

The soul of kindness – After listening to Backlisted’s Podcast, The Soul of Kindness, by Elizabeth Taylor, featuring Virago founder Carmen Callil, Chris Harding of The Book Trunk re-read this 1964 novel, declaring it “witty and ironic, with never a word out of place”.

* Irresistible Items *

breakfast set

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:


HOLOCAUST JOURNALNPR: Renia Spiegel’s Diary Survived The Holocaust. People Are Finally Reading It – This isn’t the story of Anne Frank. This is the diary of Renia Spiegel, written as a teenager in Poland. No one knows how it survived the war but in the 1950s, Renia’s former boyfriend turned up on the doorstep of her surviving family, diary in hand.

Book Marks: A Beginner’s Guide to Becoming Obsessed with Jeanette Winterson – Katie Yee thinks Jeanette Winterson is “the perfect author to get obsessive about” and has a theory that her books “come into your life exactly when you need them.”

The Guardian: Before the internet broke my attention span I read books compulsively. Now, it takes willpower – My brain on a good book is a better place”, says Josephine Tovey. “But carving out space for one requires carefully devised strategies”.

Wallpaper: An Oxford college library gets a makeover courtesy of Wright & Wright Architects – “A 17th century secret passage at an Oxford University college has been transformed into a library”.

The Christian Science Monitor: Rewriting the historical epic: African women writers go big – “What history is worth telling? That’s the question at the heart of a new generation of African women writers who are turning to sprawling epics and recasting the leads in world events”, says Ryan Lenora Brown.

Nature: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: 40 years of parody and predictions – “Douglas Adams’s satirical science-fiction classic still seems prescient, writes Shamini Bundell.”

The New York Review of Books: Fascinated to Presume: In Defense of Fiction – Zadie Smith wonders whether, historically, fiction has given rise to compassion or been an instrument for containment?

The Sydney Morning Herald: One for the books: the unlikely renaissance of libraries in the digital age – In a fast-paced, digital age of quid pro quo, libraries stand as safe places where people help other people. Jane Cadzow finds their renaissance is as much about community as their literary riches.

American Booksellers Association: Upon Marking Their First Anniversaries, Four New Bookstore Owners Look Back – The owners of four new bookstores talk about their first year in business.

The Reykjavík Grapevine: Interweaving Reality And Imagination: Ian McEwan Accepts Literature Prize – Ian McEwan has won the Halldór Laxness International Literary Prize.

The New Yorker: The Fallen Worlds of Philip Pullman – Alexandra Schwartz talks to Pullman about “writing fantasy, hating Tolkien, and the journey from innocence to experience.”

BBC News: Lady Chatterley’s Lover: Bristol Uni acquires judge’s trial copy – “The judge’s trial copy of Lady Chatterley’s Lover used in the 1960s landmark obscenity trial has been acquired by the University of Bristol.”

The New Republic: The Far Right’s Apocalyptic Literary Canon – “When Trump tweets about ‘civil war,’ he’s echoing books about race wars and nationalist coups that a violent fringe has long cherished”, says Ian Allen.

The Guardian: ‘Give up and go to the pub’: Australia’s top authors on beating writer’s block – “Nominees for the 2019 Prime Minister’s Literary awards share their tips on tackling the monster that plagues all writers”.

The Bay Area Reporter: LGBTQ History Month: Authors and activism: A history of LGBT bookstores – Jason Villemez looks back at the history of LGBTQ bookstores from the 1970s.

FISHINGThe Tyee: Remembering Edith Iglauer, a Consummate Chronicler of Canada – Mary Schendlinger writes: “Fishing with John introduced thousands to life on the BC coast, but it was just part of the writer’s vast legacy.”

Aeon: For Rachel Carson, wonder was a radical state of mind – In her “poetic prose about the wonders of the natural world” Rachel Carson “reminds us to look up, go outside, and really see what lies beyond ourselves”, finds Jennifer Stitt.

Vulture: Yes, Margaret Atwood Has Seen the Sexy Handmaid Costume – “And she’s underwhelmed”, says Claire Lampen.

The Times Literary Supplement: The slow clean – “Mikaella Clements on the role of baths in twentieth-century literature”.

Stylist: Book burnout: Are our reading habits making us feel guilty, embarrassed and tired? – Hollie Richardson asks a few questions about literature. If they “make you feel overwhelmed,” she says, “you could very well have a case of book burnout.”

Publishers Weekly: Tariffs on E.U. Goods to Include Books – Jim Milliot reports on the new tariffs imposed by the Trump administration which will include books coming into the US from the UK and Germany.

The Paris Review: Books Won’t Die – Leah Price is “confident that the experience of immersion in a world made of words will survive if […] readers continue to carve out places and times to have words with one another.”

Pushkin Press: A Guide to… Forgotten Female Crime Writers – Editor, Daniel Seton, encourages readers to seek out “forgotten geniuses of crime writing.” He discusses Margaret Millar and provides a “list of unjustly overlooked women in crime”.

Publishing Perspectives: Rising Traction for Australia’s Indigenous Publishing – “’There has never been a better time for Indigenous publishing,’ says one publisher, as Indigenous writings find staying power on Australia’s bestseller lists.”

New Statesman: Small literary presses dominate the Goldsmiths Prize shortlist – “Alongside books by Deborah Levy and Mark Haddon, the prize for ‘literature at its most novel’ has chosen politically engaged works from independent publishers for its 2019 shortlist”, writes Ellen Peirson-Hagger.

Literary Hub: The Secret to Shopping in Used Bookstores – According to Kelsey Rexroat, the first step is to “surrender all expectations”.

Edinburgh Evening News: Three Edinburgh libraries to trial dog-friendly days – “Dogs in a library? But their paws can’t hold books? You must be barking mad,” jokes Jacob Farr.

Comic Book: Harry Potter Website Pottermore to Close and Make Way for New Site – Megan Peters reveals the Pottermore website will be shutting down to make way for The Wizarding World.

VOICES UNDERGROUNDSunday Times South Africa: Anti-apartheid activists share stories of loss & betrayal at book launch – Mila de Villiers on Voices from the Underground: Eighteen Life Stories from Umkhonto We Sizwe’s Ashley Kriel Detachment, which details the lives of members of the ANC’s underground activists.

Time: 15 New Books You Should Read in October – “Building on [Time’s recent selection of the] most anticipated books of the fall,” Annabel Gutterman shares “a crop of new October releases [which examine] transformations both big and small.”

Forbes: Fiction Ghostwriting Is Bigger Than Ever – Adam Rowe on “the future of books and the business of storytelling.”



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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30 replies

  1. Well done on the landmark 🙂

  2. Congrats on hitting the 1000 mark. Although stats are not everything its still good to know that someone out there is reading you!
    I’d missed the Books are My Bag date – now it’s too late since I’m nowhere near a bookshop. Drat

  3. Congrats on the 1000 followers. I reached the same landmark the same week!

    Great post and thanks a lot for mentioning my billet about Proust’s Goncourt.

  4. Thank you so much for the mention – really appreciate it, especially as I am trying to get the blog up and running again. I do enjoy your weekly round-ups: it’s interesting to get a general view of what’s happening in the world of books.

    • It’s a pleasure, Chris. I’ve long admired Taylor’s short fiction but have yet to read one of her novels. After reading your post I rather think ‘The soul of kindness’ is the ideal place to start. I’m really glad to hear you enjoy WUTW. 😃

  5. Well done – a very well deserved number of followers! And thanks for the wonderful cornucopia of links once more – it’s so encouraging to see how much bookishness there is out there on the net. Look forward to your contribution to the 1930 Club! :DD

  6. The article on internet and reading time was interesting (not sure it offered tonnes of strategies but did give food for thought). So many friends ask how I find so much time to read and the simple answer is, I make it. I would prefer a book over Facebook. Bu that’s not the answer they want to hear… so I usually suggest that they give a new book a solid half hour so that they can get stuck into it – far more likely to want to go back to it once you’re engaged.

    • I watch very little TV, which people sometimes find odd, but I would far rather read a book.You’re spot on when you say making an initial effort to pick up a book will very often “engage” a reader.They don’t know what they’re missing! 😉

  7. Lots to read! “And she’s underwhelmed, says Claire Lampen” has to be the quote of the week 🙂

    Interesting article on “Three Edinburgh libraries to trial dog-friendly days” and I hope it comes about. It sounds similar to Australia’s Story Dogs which go into school libraries and the children read to the dog one-on-one because a dog doesn’t judge or correct and is a patient listener.

    • It made me laugh, too, Gretchen! 🤭

      I’ve heard of the reading to a dog scheme but I’m not sure if it’s been adopted in the UK. It’s a wonderful idea. My rabble certainly give the appearance of taking in every word I say when I talk to them (head on one side, ears cocked etc.), so I can see how it works with children. A great big gold star for the person who came up with the idea. 😃

  8. Congratulations on getting 1000 followers! I enjoyed the articles on books v internet and also baths in the 20th century.

  9. Wow. How can you read and write so much? I need to come back and try to read a few of the links that caught my attention.

  10. A significant milestone – well done! And very well deserved, you consistently provide us with so much great content. This week is no exception 😊

  11. Surprisingly, I’m in favor of “cross-epidermal reanimation.”

    • It took me a few minutes to recall whereabouts you’d found that quote, then it came back to me, of course, Zadie Smith. Who else? That’s a fabulous piece she’s written for NYRB, isn’t it? 😃

  12. Omg thank you so much for talking about #AVampireAtNotreDame 😀

  13. I just read Zadie Smith’s essay a couple of days ago — such a great piece!
    I’m looking forward to learning what you think of Fahrenheit 451.
    And thanks for the Elizabeth von Arnim recommendation — I love “Enchanted April” (and was really surprised that she also wrote “Mr. Skeffington — such a strange tale). It’s available online, so I’ve added it to my TO READ list of online books — someday!

  14. What fun: I love the idea of little badges arriving as notifications of that kind of thing! Congrats.

    That’s a great essay by Zadie Smith. And I’m struck by the tones in that Elizabeth von Arnim novel (The Caravaners) which seem to hint of dark times to come, as it sounds eerily relevant.

    And, I loved that Backlisted episode. So cool to listen to the discussion about Elizabeth Taylor’s writing!

    Have a good week!

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