An end of week recap
I should like to apologise to those of you who have left comments on my posts to which I haven’t yet responded. This week was rather full-on, but I hope to catch up shortly. D has completed her radiotherapy and, while feeling somewhat unwell with shingles, which is apparently quite common in cancer patients, we are both elated that the worst of her treatments have come to an end. We’re busy hatching plans for the coming months and they don’t include daily hospital visits and a multitude of medications.
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.
THE GOOD, THE BAD & THE TBR >>
VIEW A VID >>
* Preparing to go to Press *
I’m not asking you to pause for a pod this week but to view a fascinating (well, I think so) video.
Watch how the London Review of Books used to put together the magazine with scalpel and glue. Wonderful stuff! >> The Lost Art of Paste-Up >>
* Read Margaret Atwood in November *
It’s almost time for Margaret Atwood Reading Month and I’m hoping very much to take part again this year in some form or another. Hosted by two of my favourite Canadian book bloggers, Naomi at Consumed by Ink and Marcie at Buried In Print, this annual literary jolly is “inspired by decades of reading Margaret Atwood’s words: journalism and fiction, poetry and comics.” It runs from 1st to 30th November 2019 (incorporating Atwood’s 80th birthday on the 18th) and everyone is invited to join in the fun. You merely need to read one piece of work or more by the author and share your thoughts in a post. This year the ladies intend to “focus on the worlds of The Handmaid’s Tale and The Testaments”, so please feel free to do likewise should you wish. You’ll find all the details and plenty of suggestions for taking part over at Margaret Atwood Reading Month 2019 #MARM.
* Berlin Alexanderplatz Reading Schedule *
You may recall me mentioning German Literature Month IX in WUTW #87, which runs throughout the month of November. For those of you hoping to join Lizzy and Caroline in commemorating the centennial of the founding of the Weimar Republic, they have now posted a schedule for the Berlin Alexanderplatz readalong. Please check out the Berlin Alexanderplatz Reading Schedule for detailed instructions.
* Lit Crit Blogflash *
I’m going to share with you three 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 Peacock Spring by Rumer Godden (1975) – “The prose is rich and evocative [and] the attention to detail is exactly right”, says Jane from Beyond Eden Rock of Godden’s novel set in India.
A Nobel mess – Over at Biblibio, Meytal Radzinski has been ruminating on the recently revealed Nobel award winners for 2018 and 2019, which she finds “frustrating and disappointing.” Peter Handke’s “win feels dirty” and “[Olga] Tokarczuk deserved better”, she writes. Why, she wonders “do women always have to bear the burden of unsavory men?”
Caution. Reading in Progress! Class – “Gesa Stedman [at Literary Field Kaleidoscope] takes a look at a recent trend in publishing, and comments on a number of memoirs and novels which focus on class issues.”
* 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: Margaret Atwood and Bernardine Evaristo share Booker prize 2019 – The judging panel broke the rules to choose The Testaments and Girl, Woman, Other as joint winners of the Booker.
Brittle Paper: Bernardine Evaristo: Your Guide to All Eight Books by the Booker Prize Winner – In celebration of Bernadine Evaristo’s Booker win, Otosirieze Obi-Young provides details of every book she has published.
The Times Literary Supplement: Ode to skimming – “Daisy Hildyard on reading and our attention spans”.
JSTOR Daily: The Patron Saint of Bookstores – “100 years ago, Sylvia Beach, the first publisher of James Joyce’s Ulysses, opened the doors to her legendary bookstore, Shakespeare & Co.”, writes Jamison Pfeifer.
Literary Hub: Nordic Noir, Beloved Trolls, Dark Absurdity, and More – “Elizabeth DeNoma recommends a dozen great books from Scandinavia”.
The Hindu: The library at Kanayannur – “A village gears up to celebrate 75 years of its library with a 300 sq. ft wall art that chronicles history and myth”, finds Shilpa Nair Anand.
Book Riot: Some Observations From Library Tourism – Having visited 112 libraries in six different countries and many different settings, Jen Sherman has a few observations of note.
The Nation: Next Year the Nobel Committee for Literature Needs to Look Beyond Europe’s Borders – “Despite the differences between Olga Tokarczuk and Peter Handke, they both reflect a divided Europe as viewed only from within its borders”, says Jennifer Wilson.
ABC News: First female head of Nobel’s literature award body has died – “Sara Danius, the first woman to lead the Swedish institution that awards the Nobel Prize in literature, has died at age 57.”
BBC News: John le Carré: ‘Politicians love chaos – it gives them authority’ – “Ahead of the release of his latest novel, novelist and former MI6 spy John le Carré talks to [James Naughtie] about our world leaders and why ‘human decency’ must prevail.”
Publishers Weekly: What’s an Influencer Worth to Books? – “Two editors turned ghostwriters ask what social media stars bring to publishing”.
Entertainment Weekly: Master Class: EW puts Ann Patchett and Elizabeth Strout in conversation – Leah Greenblatt spends time with “two of the most decorated women in modern American letters”.
Books + Publishing: Owners of The Hobart Bookshop to retire – The owners of The Hobart Bookshop in Tasmania are about to retire after almost 30 years in business.
Vox: Have we gotten any happier over 200 years? Researchers analyzed millions of books to find out. – “Here’s what our literature reveals about our well-being, according to a sentiment analysis algorithm”, says Sigal Samuel.
The Polish Book Institute: Translators on the work of Olga Tokarczuk – Translators share their thoughts on the importance of Tokarczuk’s work.
The Sydney Morning Herald: Is crime Melbourne’s hottest export? – Jane Harper’s bestseller The Dry has an international fascination with Australia’s crime fiction.
Publishing Perspectives: Canada Previews the ‘Colorful Fabric’ of its Frankfurt 2020 Guest of Honor Program – “A delegation of Canadian publishers, creatives, and officials offered a preview of the country’s plans for its turn as Frankfurt’s Guest of Honor in 2020.”
The Moscow Times: Tolstoy’s War and Peace Left Russia for the First Time – Tolstoy’s penned words about the horror of war will be on display in Geneva until March 2020.
Melville House: A complaint describing a children’s book on potty training as “filth” helps it become a bestseller – In 2018, British blogger turned children’s author Simon Harris self-published Little Budgie’s Done A Fudgie. It became a bestseller thanks to a disgusted complainant.
Document Journal: Assata Shakur to Ta-Nehisi Coates: Talib Kweli’s 5-step literary guide to overcoming adversity – “The legendary rapper, who, along with Yasiin Bey, saved a pioneering African-American bookstore in the 90s, curates a booklist for self-reflection and revolution.”
B&N Reads: Announcing the 2019 National Book Awards Finalists – Molly Schoemann-McCann with the details of the twenty-five finalists in the 2019 National Book Awards.
Birmingham Mail: Rare Harry Potter book sells for £50,000 after being kept for decades in code-locked briefcase – James Rodger reports “the hardback book is one of just 500 original copies of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone released in 1997 when JK Rowling was relatively unknown”.
Full Stop: The Spirit of Discovery – Mollie Elizabeth Pyne wonders if, “by revisiting places of queer erasure, both of the city and [her own], and by using movement as a method for storytelling, [she] could re-map and re-narrate [her] queer disorientation within Plymouth.”
Inkstone: 4 facts about Can Xue, China’s foremost avant-garde writer – Alan Wong with “four things you need to know about Can Xue.”
BBC News: Reading Gaol: Oscar Wilde prison put up for sale – “The jail where playwright Oscar Wilde was a prisoner has been put up for sale, the Ministry of Justice has said.”
Independent: Dhaka: where a literary festival can still make a difference – “The annual event in Bangladesh is a celebration of ideas in an old-fashioned sense, writes Ed Cumming, it provides a space for thoughts the political leaders might not want to hear”.
The Irish Times: Writers on the wall have words with Fiona Gartland – “The crime writer and Irish Times journalist is helped to focus by an unlikely source”.
The Haitian Times: Storybook Collection Features Bi-lingual Haitian Female Protagonists – “The bilingual Haitian Creole-English storybooks feature Haitian girls of color and provide insight into the rich culture of Haiti.”
Literary Hub: 50 Fictional Librarians, Ranked – Emily Temple with a list of “totally unscientific, clearly incomplete, undoubtedly age-biased ranking of the best fictional librarians from film, literature, television, and the internet.”
The Paris Review: Emeric Pressburger’s Lost Nazi Novel – In her monthly column discussing out-of-print books, Lucy Scholes discovers that although the films of Powell and Pressburger are admired the world over, any mention of The Glass Pearls is unlikely to ring a bell.
The Public Domain Review: Our Masterpiece Is the Private Life: In Pursuit of the “Real” Chateaubriand – Chateaubriand hoped his 2,000-page book would be published only after his death but was struck by financial hardship, finds Alex Andriesse.
The New York Times: Harold Bloom, Critic Who Championed Western Canon, Dies at 89 – “Called the most notorious literary critic in America, Professor Bloom argued for the superiority of giants like Shakespeare, Chaucer and Kafka.”
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.