Winding Up the Week #93

An end of week recap


I’m heading for the Mid Wales coast tomorrow morning with my partner and three dogs. While there, I hope to read The Edible Woman for Margaret Atwood Reading Month (#MARM), which is now underway, and spend time in the company of good friends (with their beautiful Doberman, George). I expect to be away for a week or so but will, of course, remain in touch.

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 shared my thoughts on Ray Bradbury’s 1953 dystopian novel, Fahrenheit 451, which imagines a future American society where books are forbidden, and ‘firemen’ burn those that are found. >> THE CLASSICS CLUB: Fahrenheit 451 >>


* The House of Mirth Readalong *

HOUSE OF MIRTHI have been alerted to another reading event you may wish to cram into your already hectic autumn/winter schedules: The House of Mirth Read-Along. Hosted by Cleo from Classical Carousel, it is taking place from 1st November to 15th December 2019, which means it’s already off and running. Edith Wharton “makes her usual commentary on society at the turn of the century, but in this book does it in a way that is not only effective but creative,” says Cleo. If you would like to join her and others reading this classic 1905 novel, please head over to The House of Mirth Read-Along for further details.

* Paul Magrs Reading Challenge *

PMYou are cordially invited to join Liz Dexter at Adventures in reading, running and working from home on her latest literary adventure: The Paul Magrs Reading Challenge (#magrsathon). The author is a “fiction and non-fiction writer who made the brave and bold decision to write magic realism novels set on a council estate in the North-East of England”, says Liz. She is going to read one book a month starting with Aisles, first published in 2003, for the simple reason “it features Iris Murdoch as a character and [she’s] just finishing off [her] Iris Murdoch readalong at the moment.” She will “share a post at the end of the month with what’s coming up and will [publish] a page on [her] website with the schedule.” Liz would be delighted if you will participate by reading “some or all of the novels” and perhaps write posts or make comments after each book. The fun begins in January 2020 and there will be giveaways! See Special announcement: it’s my new reading challenge for 2020! for all the details thus far.

* 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:

VIRAGO CELEBRATIONBook Perfect – Over at Thoughts Become Words, Gretchen Bernet-Ward expresses admiration for Virago, the international publisher of books by women, rhapsodizing over the anthology Writers As Readers: A Celebration of the Virago Modern Classics, with which she instantly “fell in love”.

Tokyo Ueno Station – Jan Hicks describes Miri Yū’s 2014 novel as “a ghost story, an alternative history of Japan and a critique of Japanese society.” Head over to What I Think About When I Think About Reading to find out how Yū’s writing “captures the loss and anger of being a social outcast.”

FranKissStein – Jeanne Griggs of Necromancy Never Pays describes Jeanette Winterson’s latest novel, in which “women get the last word”, as “a very good re-hashing [of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein] with new and wonderfully re-mixed ideas.”

Theatre review: The Mousetrap by Agatha Christie – Georgiana from Readers’ High Tea found going to see ‘The Mousetrap’ at the National Theatre in Bucharest “surprising and exciting!” She recommends this “classic murder mystery” to everyone.

Faces on the Tip of My Tongue by Emmanuelle Pagano (transl. Jennifer Higgins and Sophie Lewis): Interconnected lives – Susan Osborne of A life in books declares this short story collection set in rural France, “beautifully executed” and another “triumph” for Peirene Press.

A Spell of Winter – “Having read most of [Helen Dunmore’s] work,” Amalia Gavea was so impressed with this title from 1995, she wondered if she dare adjudge it the author’s “finest novel”. Find out at The Opinionated Reader.

* Irresistible Items *

sunflowers on 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:


Literary Hub: A Most Rare Compendium: An 18th-Century Guide to Magical Treasure Hunting? – Hereward Tilton on the strangest of manuscripts.

PEANUTS PAPERSThe Christian Science Monitor: ‘The Peanuts Papers’: How a comic strip shaped the lives of writers and artists – “Peanuts was one of the most influential American comics. [Bob Blaisdell finds this] new collection of meditative, charming essays explores the strip’s cultural impact.”

CBC: New Margaret Atwood documentary chronicles the year she wrote The Testaments – “A new documentary about Margaret Atwood is coming in time for the iconic author’s 80th birthday.”

The Observer: Diaries expose ‘strong brew’ of Ripley novelist Patricia Highsmith’s dark thoughts – Edward Helmore on the “controversial views of the late American writer [which are] to be revealed by publication of her private notebooks”.

BBC News: Shortlist for Saltire book awards unveiled – “Works by prize-winning author Lucy Ellmann and criminologist David Wilson are among this year’s shortlist for Scotland’s national book awards.”

The Millions: Readers Don’t Need to Be Babied: A Conversation on Translating Japanese Literature – Translators Emily Balistrieri and Andrew Cunningham discuss their experiences translating Tomihiko Morimi and their impressions of his work.

CTV News: Governor General’s prize a ‘double-edged sword’ for trans poet Gwen Benaway – Trans poet Gwen Benaway experienced “intense fear and panic” upon learning she had won Canada’s Governor General’s prize.

Brain Pickings: An Occasion for Unselfing: Iris Murdoch on Imperfection as Integral to Goodness and How the Beauty of Nature and Art Leavens Our Most Unselfish Impulses – Maria Popova on Murdoch’s “1970 masterpiece”, The Sovereignty of Good.

The Guardian: My early diaries filled me with so much shame I burned them. I’m publishing the rest – “Revisiting a diary forces you to confront ‘ugly, foolish behaviour’, writes Helen Garner. Pulling together a book of extracts was instructive – but not easy”.

World Economic Forum: 6 dystopian novels that resonate today – “1962 was the year climate fiction came to the fore”, says Kate Whiting.

Book Riots: How to Score Audiobook ARCs – Arvyn Cerézo with tips on obtaining free audiobook ARCs.

Metro: Who was Sylvia Plath, subject of today’s Google Doodle? – Did anyone spot the Sylvia Path Google Doodle on 27th October?

Longreads: Beautiful Women, Ugly Scenes: On Novelist Nettie Jones and the Madness of ‘Fish Tales’ – “Edited by Toni Morrison, the 1983 novel Fish Tales by Nettie Jones was supposed to set the literary world on fire. It didn’t.”

The Japan Times: Tokyo’s Jimbocho neighborhood won’t close the chapter on books – “Thousands of bibliophiles” flock to Tokyo’s Jinbocho neighbourhood for the Kanda Used Book Festival. Manami Okazaki discovers “150 mostly secondhand bookstores lie in close proximity to Jimbocho Station.”

The First News: Doctors of literature – “The Nobel Prize for Olga Tokarczuk was an immense achievement, but probably no one in Poland was surprised. Books written by very talented Polish women authors have been growing for several years”, says Sergiusz Pinkwart.

The Curious Reader: Why I Prefer Paperbacks Over Hardcovers – Pulkit Singh talks about why her loyalty lies with paperbacks.

Atlas Obscura: What It’s Like to Build and Operate a Tiny Traveling Bookshop – Emily Monaco discovers how a French theatre director crowdsourced a “roving bookstore”.

BOWS BOOKSOpen Culture: Bowie’s Bookshelf: A New Essay Collection on The 100 Books That Changed David Bowie’s Life – “Like some rock stars of his generation, David Bowie had a literary cast of mind; unlike most of those colleagues, he also made his association with books explicit”, writes Colin Marshall.

FSG Work in Progress: Eve Langley, or Oscar Wilde – Shaun Prescott on “Australia’s Poet of Portent”.

The Irish Times: Bob Johnston: my 10 years in the Gutter – “The owner of one of Dublin’s most popular bookshops celebrates a decade in business”.

Spectator Life: The best hotels for book lovers – Violet Hudson gives her pick of “the UK and Europe’s best, most decadent hotels with literary links, perfect for your next cerebral break.”

The Siasat Daily: In Hyderabad, a bastion of Urdu, the language is slipping fast – “Once intrinsic parts of Hyderabad’s literary landscape, Urdu bookstores are on the wane”.

New Statesman: I used to cringe at Irish novels, plays and television, but one book changed all that – Megan Nolan extols The Butcher Boy, published in 1992, which, she says, was a “turning point for Irish literature.”

Vulture: Who Gave You the Right to Tell That Story? – “Ten authors on the most divisive question in fiction, and the times they wrote outside their own identities.”

House Beautiful: “Lord of The Rings” Author J.R.R Tolkien’s England Home Is Selling for $6 Million – Megan Uy reveals J.R.R Tolkien’s home in Oxford, in which he wrote The Hobbit and parts of ‘The Lord of the Rings’ trilogy, has gone on the market.

amNewYork: The secret to The Mysterious Bookshop’s 40-plus years of success – “The TriBeCa shop, with floor-to-ceiling wooden bookshelves, is ‘the oldest and largest mystery bookstore in the world’” finds Melissa Kravitz.

Stylist: Great female writers are nothing new – what’s new is recognition – “Women writers are not a new phenomenon, but you wouldn’t know it by comments made by Nobel Prize for Literature committee chair Anders Olsson”, writes Emily Reynolds.

Smithsonian: Gold Fever! Deadly Cold! And the Amazing True Adventures of Jack London in the Wild – “In 1897, the California native went to the frozen North looking for gold. What he found instead was the great American novel”.

Elle: Gloria Steinem on Her New Book, Fox News, and Helping Greta Thunberg Save the Planet – Rose Minutaglio finds Gloria Steinem is keen to help Greta Thunberg.

Cultured Vultures: How I Went From Book Reader To Book Collector – Natasha Alvar hopes one day that reading will become effortless again because “books are worth it.”

The Paris Review: The Cult of the Imperfect – According to Umberto Eco, “The Count of Monte Cristo is one of the most exciting novels ever written, and on the other hand is one of the most badly written novels of all time and in any literature.”

BBC Culture: Ten books to read in November – “From essential essays to a secret fantasia, here are some reading ideas for the month ahead, picked by Jane Ciabattari.”

FORGOTTEN JOURNEYWords Without Borders: Silvina Ocampo in English – “In anticipation of City Lights’s publication of Silvina Ocampo’s Forgotten Journey […] and The Promise […], Argentine writer and critic María Agustina Pardini reflects on Ocampo’s writing and legacy and speaks with the translators of the forthcoming works.

Publishers Weekly: BookLife Launches Paid Review Service for Self-Pubbed Books – John Maher announces the launch of BookLife Review’s new paid reviews service for self-published authors.

Citizen Times: Bag of snakes brings new library policy in Madison County – Paul Moon reports: Madison County Public Library need “a new policy governing service animals [after] a man walked into the Marshall branch carrying a bag of snakes”.



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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34 replies

  1. That book on Bowie would be especially fascinating. He influenced so many, but what influenced him?

  2. Thanks so much for the link, Paula. Always pleased to help spread the word about Peirene and their brilliant list. And delighted to see Amalia’s piece on Helen Dunmore’s A Spell of Winter here, too. A very fine novel from a very fine writer, much missed.

  3. Great links, as always, Paula. I especially enjoyed reading about the traveling bookshop in France and The Mysterious Bookshop in New York!

  4. Thank you so much for sharing my Paul Magrs-athon – much appreciated. I’m really looking forward to it, and I’ve enjoyed picking through some of your reading recommendations, too!

  5. Τhank you so much for the mention, Paula!

  6. Edible Woman is a strange book – quite disturbing.
    Hope the weather on the coast gets better than it is today. You’ll be washed away otherwise

    • Yes it is rather odd. I’m about half way through. 🤔

      Thank you, Karen. I was thinking along those lines myself. We’ll probably be swept away attempting to take the dogs for a walk on the beach!

  7. Thanks for helping me spread the word about FrankKissStein! It’s such an interesting and well-written book. I’m glad to see Butler’s Parable of the Sower on the list of dystopian novels that resonate today. I just finished writing a proposal for a SF conference (ICFA), a presentation about climate change predictions in the Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents. The second one, a sequel, is where she predicts a dangerous demagogue president whose line is “make America great again.”

  8. This post is packed with interesting resources, I love it!
    Thanks a lot for sharing my post, I’m really glad to see that you enjoyed my theatre review! 😊

  9. A great selection as usual Paula! Hope you all have a lovely holiday 🙂

  10. On another note. I simply love the picture with the book and sunflowers, two of my favorite things in life.

  11. Another heady bundle of reading goodies, Paula! And thank you so much for the mention ♥ I am pleased and proud that you added me.

    P.S. Helen Garner sparked a wave of angst amongst Aussie writers ‘Should I or shouldn’t I burn my darlings?’. I’m an archivist (read hoarder) so I keep it all.

  12. I hope you’re having a relaxing Holiday, sipping tea/coffee/hot chocolate/beer/wine/water and enjoying The Edible Woman! Looking forward to your thoughts! 🙂

  13. Lots of good leads, as usual, Paula. Hope you all have a lovely time in Wales.

  14. Hope that weather wasn’t too challenging! Bracing perhaps followed by sunshine. Lovely to see Gretchen’s Thoughts Become Words featured in your round up.

    • Thank you, Maria. Thankfully, the weather has been really pleasant so far. Yes, I very much enjoy Gretchen’s posts – subjectwise one never quite knows what to expect but they’re always articulate and engaging. 😊

  15. I’m really enjoying the monthly BBC Culture lists: on this one, I really enjoyed the Shannon Pufahl. Such a great read. (I think you might like it too.)

    And the article from The Paris Review, on the “Cult of the Imperfect”? Love it. I’m all for loving the imperfect.

  16. Wow, so many here to follow up – particularly the Japan ones (given my recent fourth trip there), the Eve Langley one, and the one on Who gave you the right to tell the story. But others too. This is a stellar crop!

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