Winding Up the Week #96

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.


* 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.

Listen to Alice B. Toklas (Gertrude Stein’s life partner) read her infamous recipe for Hashish Fudge in this 1963 recording from Pacifica Radio. It was originally included in her 1954 collection of recipes and memories from her time with Stein, The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook. >> Listen to: How to make Hashish Fudge >>


* Bookending Winter 2019 *

Bookending WinterClo at Cuppa Clo and Sam at Fictionally Sam have some “wintry fun” lined up for the book blogging community. Bookending Winter (#BEwinter19) – “one of the quarterly events, running under the umbrella term ‘Bookend Events’” – will take place throughout the month of December. The ladies have organized daily prompts, Twitter chats and plenty more to keep participants engrossed during the chilly weather (hot weather for those in the southern hemisphere, of course). Head over to Bookending Winter 2019 Announcement for further details and to sign-up for this regular book blogging jolly.

* 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:

MISS PETMiss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson – a Persephone favourite – Joules Barham at Northern Reader describes Watson’s tale of a “downtrodden governess” as a “delightful book which was a little shocking in 1938” – it “reveals much about the life of women in the interwar period”.

Book review: “The Lathe of Heaven” by Ursula K Le Guin – Julia Rice of Julia’s books found Le Guin’s 1971 sci-fi novel a “fascinating story” and “enjoyed the philosophical journey”. She recommends it to those who would “like to try something a little different.”

Tragic Thirst for a Wilder Existence: The Immoralist by André Gide – Melissa Beck at The Book Binder’s Daughter found the “perfect read for [her] post-Proust reading funk” in Gide’s 1902 literary masterpiece.

Michel Houellebecq “Submission” – book review – Ada of litcritpop was initially “curious” about Houellebecq’s “controversial” 2015 novel but was left with “some pretty serious reservations” – not least about its “reductive portrayal of Islam”.

UCLan Publishing | A New Episode in my Publishing Journey – A fascinating post about gaining work experience in the publishing industry from Lauren at Bookish Byron. UCLan, she says, enabled her to gain “skills in [everything from] editorial to marketing, sales to publicity.”

A Post about Persephone – Jessica Norrie attended “a talk” at London’s Persephone Books – the “prettiest of shops”, which left her with the sensation of having “entered the 1940s”.

* Irresistible Items *

photo of pizza near coffee

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:


AKINCBC: Why Emma Donoghue wanted to write about family, generation gaps and the legacy of WW II in her latest novel – The Irish-Canadian writer speaks to Shelagh Rogers about writing her latest novel, Akin.

Vintage: Atwood at 80: How her work shaped the lives of authors and activists – “As Margaret Atwood turns 80, [Vintage] asked some of [its] favourite writers and activists about how they discovered her work. They [reveal] how her writing influenced them and which of her books are closest to their hearts.”

The Local Italy: Venice’s legendary ‘waterproof’ bookshop overwhelmed by floods – The recent downpour was “too much even for one famous Venice bookstore which had resigned itself to constant flooding, keeping its books inside bathtubs and boats.”

AAWW: What’s at Stake in Keeping Asian American Classics in Print – “Earlier this year, Penguin released a competing edition of John Okada’s 1957 novel No-No Boy, claiming that it was in the public domain. They didn’t grasp how the history of the novel’s publication is as important as the novel,” writes Shawn Wong.

Books + Publishing: Christmas predictions: Nat Latter from Rabble Books & Games in Perth – “In the lead-up to Christmas [B+P] is asking booksellers across [Australia] to predict their biggest sellers and surprise sellers.”

Slate: The Disappearance of John M. Ford – “I wanted to learn why a beloved science fiction writer fell into obscurity after his death. I didn’t expect that I would help bring his books back to life”, writes Isaac Butler.

Entertainment Weekly: Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels are the best book series of the decade – Darren Franich reports on Elena Ferrante’s Neopolitan Novels being named Entertainment Weekly’s best series of the decade.

The Telegraph: Oscar Wilde ring ‘stolen in Hatton Garden heist’ found by art detective – Brendan McFadden reports on the discovery of a golden ring given by Oscar Wilde to a friend, which was stolen over 20 years ago.

Taiwan News: World’s first 24-hour bookstore to close after 30 years in Taiwan – “Eslite’s Dunnan store to hold events [and] book sales before ending operations in May”, says Ching-Tse Cheng.

AP News: Sweden rejects Chinese criticism of press freedom prize – Sweden has rejected Chinese criticism over the recipient of its Tucholsky literary prize.

The Guardian: ‘Your throat hurts. Your brain hurts’: the secret life of the audiobook star – “As the business booms, narrators talk tricky accents, lonely shifts and tackling 100 pages a day”.

Radical Reads: David Byrne’s Lending Library – “For London’s 2015 Meltdown festival, curator David Byrne shipped 200+ books over from his New York home to create a lending library for attendees.”

Largehearted Boy: Largehearted Boy’s List of Online “Best Book of 2019” Lists  – A useful year-end book list (updated daily).

BBC News: Jack the Ripper victims’ biography wins book prize – “A book that tells the ‘untold’ stories of the women killed by Jack the Ripper has won a literary prize.”

Book Riot: A Brief Introduction to Bestselling Writer Isabel Allende – Mariela Santos Muñiz on the Chilean author of over 20 works in the ‘magic realism’ tradition.

History Extra: Julia Lovell’s Maoism: A Global History wins 2019 Cundill History Prize – “The China expert and translator of Chinese literature Julia Lovell has been named the winner of the $75,000 Cundill History Prize at a ceremony in Montreal.”

THREE WOMENLondon Evening Standard: Foyles names Lisa Taddeo’s Three Women as one of its books of the year – “The much-lauded book took the top prize in the non-fiction category”, finds Laura Hampson.

The Cut: Sadly, I Like Reading Books on My Phone Now – Katie Heaney defends reading books on the phone.

The Intercept: Peter Handke Won the Nobel Prize After Two Jurors Fell for a Conspiracy Theory About the Bosnia War – Peter Maass claims two jurors on the Nobel committee relied on a discredited conspiracy theory about the Bosnia war to defend Peter Handke’s work.

Book Marks: Five Books that Deal with Nature in a Sensual Way – Nina MacLaughlin, the author of Wake, Siren, speaks to Jane Ciabattari about five books in her life.

Literary Hub: The 10 Best Translated Novels of the Decade – Emily Temple names Lit Hub’s choice of the best novels translated into and published in English between 2010 and 2019.

Culture Trip: Is This the Most Beautiful Library in Europe? – Diana Bocco explores the spectacular Baroque Library in Prague, which dates back to 1722.

Galley Beggar Press: The Galley Beggar Press Girly Swot Christmas Quiz – Thirty questions to test your knowledge of female literature and the brilliance of brainy ladies.

ABC News: How a Melbourne ‘mutilation’ mystery almost 200 years in the making was solved by a chance encounter – “When State Library Victoria historian Anna Welch opened the pages of an almost 200-year-old book three years ago, her heart sank and her mouth went dry”, says Rachel Clayton.

First Things: Ibsen’s Soulcraft – Algis Valiunas considers “one of modernity’s great dramatists”.

ArabLit: The Story of 50 Years of Algerian Crime Fiction in 60+ Books – “What does crime fiction look like when set in a society where the justice system is broken?” asks Nadia Ghanem.

Fine Books & Collections: The Magician’s Library – “The former curator of David Copperfield’s library discusses the enchanting combination of books and magic”.

Independent: I love women-only anthologies – I just wish they didn’t have to exist – “In her latest book column, Ceri Radford explores a slow-burn trend for anthologies that champion women’s long marginalised stories, as well as a whole slew of jauntily feminist children’s titles. She finds the female-only focus faintly depressing”.

Lit Reactor: 5 Bestsellers That Started Out As NaNoWriMo Projects – Emmanuel Nataf with five books written during NaNoWriMo that went onto become bestsellers.

THE STREETThe Bookseller: Virago aims for ‘major reappraisal’ of Ann Petry’s work with 2020 reissues – Katherine Cowdrey reveals “Virago Modern Classics is publishing two novels by Ann Petry next year, The Street and The Narrows, in a bid to spark ‘a major reappraisal’ of the author’s work.”

BBC Culture: George Eliot: The genius who scandalised society – “On the 200th anniversary of George Eliot’s birth, Hephzibah Anderson explores how the author was as revolutionary in life as in her novel writing.”

Publishers Weekly: B&N Cuts Freelance Writers from Its Teen and SFF Blogs – At Barnes & Noble, freelance bloggers covering young adult and science fiction/fantasy literature have been given their marching orders.

The Walrus: The Making of Margaret Atwood – Tajja Isen and Daniel Viola with an “oral history of the writer’s journey from student poet to cultural prophet”.



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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23 replies

  1. Some great links as always, Paula. I’m now tempted to go and re-read Miss Pettigrew…. Love that book!

  2. A fascinating link to the understandably negative Houellebecq review. His politics are roughly opposite to mine. However, when I read ‘Atomised, also known as The Elementary Particles ( French: Les Particules élémentaires)’ in the Netherlands, I did find that there was something oddly compelling about it. It might have been something to do with the style (though it was a translation) or the nice coffee that I was drinking. Do you ever feel interested in fiction which lacks social wisdom but which speaks to you in a way that illustrates the diversity of thinking?

    • I haven’t read anything by Houellebecq (although I’ve read plenty about him), so can’t comment specifically on his work, but I think I know what you mean about diversity of thinking. Few people have criticised his abilities as a writer because he’s obviously talented – it’s more about his ideas and the way he presents them in his novels. His characters may be unsavoury to some readers but no doubt allow them into the minds of people completely unlike themselves. It gives one an opportunity to understand the rationale of those on the opposite side of an argument and possibly build bridges in real life.

  3. Chunks of literary posts to chew on this week, Paula. I especially liked the mystery of the missing beetles! In my time in libraries, I think more things were put between book pages than ever snipped out. Unless I mention cookbooks, that’s a whole new area of sneakery 😉

  4. Thanks for linking to my review Paula. 🙂

  5. I especially enjoyed the piece about Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels, Paula. I read the first one with my library book club. It was interesting, but I haven’t been “called back” to read the others. Maybe it was a bit too gritty, real or uncomfortable? So intriguing that we don’t know this author’s true identity!

  6. I have been a fan of Donoghue since reading Room, I find her perspective on voices interesting. I think Akin will be a good read. Taddeo’s Three Women was a good read, although I felt the overall undertone was one of sadness. Great story on The Cut regarding reading on a phone. I’ve always loved reading physical copies and on my Kindle. Over the past few weeks due to a new job, reading on my phone (via the kindle app) has been the only way to get in reading time. This truly frustrates me, but reading is reading I suppose! I love to read so much that as long as I can get some in trumps the format. Have a great week.

    • I never thought I could adapt to reading on a phone but I’ve discovered a good book is just as engrossing on a tiny screen as a Kindle. That said, I do love the feel of an actual book.

      How are things going with your new job? I hope you’re finding it rewarding.

      Enjoy your week, too. 😊

      • I completely agree. You have to read where and whenever you can squeeze it. Thanks for asking, my new job is going well I think. It’s a complete career change (Im training as an ophthalmic tech). I needed something new. It’s not in publishing or anything book-related, but oh well 🙂

  7. So I know I already commented on your post, but Heany’s article has stayed with me for the last few days regarding being sad to read on her phone. Although I have just been posting on non-fiction books this week, I think I’m going to post in a similar vein of her article and place a link to her’s-since that was my inspiration. Thank you again for finding and sharing such wonderful articles.

  8. I offer a spot to link up each weekend at Sunday Salon on my blog. I’d love to have you join us. There are no requirements. It’s just a place to share our reading weeks with others.

  9. Look at you, sneaking in TWO Margaret Atwood links! Well, she is turning 80 (well, was, in November, I’ve fallen behind in online chats once more) so worth a little more chatter.

    It’s interesting that Virago is going to republish The Street and The Narrows by Ann Petry. I just came across an Everyman’s edition (those tidy little hardcovers with thin paper and tiny print and a ribbon for marking one’s place) yesterday and was surprised that I haven’t yet read either. You know how it is with some books, that get closet to the actual reading stack and then fall back again. But the nice thing about nearing the end of the year is the idea that the NEXT reading year will (magically?) contain many more reading hours and solve all those unanswered questions!

    • I too have a mental picture of all the books I will read in 2020 – it reaches the ceiling and will be conquered with little difficulty. It’s odd because I had a similar mountain at the start of 2019 but sadly it morphed into a mere bump in the ground. Not to worry, everything will be different next year! 😉

  10. Yup! *nods vehemently* I’m on your team.

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