An end of week recap
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 >>
I read and reviewed Carmen Maria Machado’s absorbing and brilliantly unorthodox account of an abusive relationship, which is due for publication in the UK on 2nd January 2020. I read this title for Nonfiction November 2019. >> BOOK REVIEW: In the Dream House: A Memoir >>
* Christmas 24 Hour Readathon *
To get you in the mood for Christmas, Clara – also known as The bookworm of Notre-Dame – is organizing another 24 hour readathon. It will take place from midnight on Sunday 22nd December until midnight on the 23rd. She says that despite the event’s title, it is “more about the end of the year holidays/winter” and “whatever you celebrate, whatever you feel like reading” is fine. You can find out all about this festive reading jolly and prepare yourselves for the challenges at Christmas 24h readathon announcement.
* 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 Five by Hallie Rubenhold – Clare from A Little Blog of Books feels The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper really deserved to win this year’s Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction. She declares it an “eye-opening and skilfully written book”, which finally gives “voice to the five women whose stories have been unheard for so long.”
Do children never learn? – In her 1902 children’s classic, Five Children and It, Edith Nesbit was “writing not just for children but also for adults, herself included”, says Chris Lovegrove of Calmgrove. Although, he didn’t find this fantasy “as captivating as [he] might have hoped”, he was enthralled by “the Psammead”.
You’re neither unnatural, nor abominable, nor mad – Juliana Brina at The [Blank] Garden wonders if Radclyffe Hall’s 1928 The Well of Loneliness is “the most depressing queer novel ever written?” She also asks what it says “about our society that, to this day, such a depressing book […] still figures in many coming out stories as a source of support?”
* 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 Sydney Morning Herald: What happens when a great novelist becomes a character in a novel? – Helen Elliott discovers “George Eliot is the beating heart of this brilliant novel by Kathy O’Shaugnessy.”
The Guardian: Irish novelist Edna O’Brien wins lifetime achievement award – “Country Girls author receives £40,000 David Cohen prize seen as Nobel precursor”, writes Sian Cain.
The Calvert Journal: These 5 books lay bare what life was really like when communism fell in Eastern Europe – Paula Erizanu marks “30 years since the momentous 1989 revolutions that swept the former Eastern Bloc [with] five books that offer a glimpse into life behind the Iron Curtain and chronicle its fall.”
Fine Books & Collections: Books about Books Holiday 2019 Edition – FB&C’s quarterly roundup of books about books is heavy on heavy books, i.e. oversized, coffee-table tomes, the kind you might give or wish to receive as a holiday gift”, writes Rebecca Rego Barry.
Metropolis: Mind the Gap – Eric Margolis on the “ongoing battle to translate Japan’s leading literary women”.
ABC: Clive James — writer, TV broadcaster and critic — dies aged 80 – “One of Australia’s most acclaimed cultural exports, Clive James, has died in England aged 80.”
Book Riot: A Beginner’s Guide to Chinese Science Fiction – “Chinese science fiction is a diverse, undeniably unique type of sci-fi”, writes Mya Nunnally.
Entertainment Weekly: Your complete guide to 2019’s literary awards season – “Which novels are the heavyweights? Which first-time novelists the breakouts?” David Canfield requests you Indulge him as he breaks down “all of the trends this awards season…for books”.
Publishers Weekly: Montreal’s Book and Translation Fair Stirs Envy – “The Salon du Livre de Montréal took place in Canada last week”, says Ed Nawotka. “The event is one of the highlights of the literary calendar in Quebéc, bringing in more than 100,000 people”.
News.com: Co-op Bookshop collapses into administration owing $15 million – Frank Chung reports on the sad news that the “company behind iconic Australian retail brands Co-op Bookshop and Australian Geographic has collapsed owing millions of dollars.”
The Irish Times: Bernardine Evaristo: ‘If there is no humour, my writing doesn’t work’ – The author of Girl, Woman, Other, talks to John Self about being funny and sharing the Booker with Margaret Atwood.
Aeon: Trigger warnings don’t help people cope with distressing material – Christian Jarrett examines the scientific case against trigger warnings.
ArabLit: English & Arabic: A List of Bilingual Books – The novelist Layla al-Ammar searches for bilingual Arabic-English books.
BBC News: Joe Orton: Target hit for statue of ‘sexual rebel’ playwright – “A campaign to raise money for a statue in memory of 1960s playwright Joe Orton has hit its target.”
Wired: The Pride and Prejudice of Fan Culture – Why Star Trek and Game of Thrones nerds owe a debt to Jane Austen obsessives.”
Spine: Lynn Buckley on Designing Maaza Mengiste’s The Shadow King – Lynn Buckley, an Associate Art Director at Penguin Books, talks Vyki Hendy through her process for designing the stunning cover for Maaza Mengiste’s The Shadow King.
The Times Literary Supplement: Royally adorned – John-Mark Philo on the “discovery of a translation of Tacitus by Elizabeth I”.
Bitch Media: When Authors Behave Badly on Twitter – Rachel Charlene Lewis wonders if authors have a responsibility to be more careful with how they wield social media?
Columbia News: Leslie Jamison on Essays and How She Couldn’t Write Without Reading – “Her students constantly inspire her, as does living and working in New York”, finds Eve Glasberg.
The Curious Reader: 14 Non-Fiction Books By Indian Authors Releasing In December 2019 – The culinary history of Kerala, the story of the Dalai Lama’s escape from Tibet and many other non-fiction books by Indian authors coming this December.
London Evening Standard: The Costa Book Awards shortlist for 2019 has been announced – Laura Hampson reveals “Jonathan Coe, Candice Carty-Williams and Lindsey Hilsum” have made the lists.
The Moscow Times: Pushkin’s Classic ‘Eugene Onegin’ Sells for $150K in London – A rare set of Alexandra Pushkin’s famous novel was sold for £118,750 at Christie’s auction house in London.
New Statesman: A cure of one’s own – “After years of dismissal, a new wave of literature sees women confronting an epidemic of underdiagnosed chronic pain conditions”, says Imogen West-Knights.
NPR: Nicole Krauss And Zeruya Shalev On Israel, Jewishness And Defying Reader Expectations – Nicole Krauss and Zeruya Shalev are friends – and authors whose work is deeply bound up in their Jewish and Israeli identities – but both struggle with the pressure to represent those identities.
Poetry Foundation: Out of Frame – “George Platt Lynes failed as a writer. As a photographer, he shot some of the most iconic literary portraits of the 20th century”, finds Allen Ellenzweig.
Smithsonian: The Best Books of 2019 – “In [its] efforts to increase and diffuse knowledge, [the Smithsonian magazine] highly recommend these 45 titles released this year”.
Vulture: In the 2010s, The Handmaid’s Tale Arrived – “Her novels speculated about lab-grown meat, environmental catastrophe, and the diminishment of reproductive autonomy. Does anything shock her anymore?” wonders Molly Young.
Book Trust: Here are the young activists that can make the world a better place – “Are you in need of inspiration and feel-good news? Then meet the young people that are filling author Laura Wood with hope.”
New York Public Library: The Best Books of 2019 – NYPL librarians highlight their favourite books written for adults and published in 2019.
The Guardian: Writing is tough. My book went so unnoticed I won an award for it – “How do you cope with knowing that the project you poured years of your life into is not quite setting the world on fire?” asks Ilka Tampke.
The Island Now: Dolphin bookshop doing swimmingly for over 70 years – “Dolphin Bookshop & Café has been a part of the Port Washington business district for over 70 years”, says Robert Pelaez.
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.
Categories: Winding Up the Week