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.
PAUSE FOR A POD >>
* 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.
I found the recently aired BBC documentary on Seamus Heaney most interesting. The programme, which is now available on BBC iPlayer, offers a “portrait of [the] Nobel Prize-winning poet [six] years after his death, [in which] his family recalls the experiences that inspired his finest poems.” >> Seamus Heaney and the music of what happens >>
To coincide with the 80th anniversary of his birth, Faber & Faber also shared a “special post written for Faber Members by the documentary’s award–winning director Adam Low.” >> Seamus Heaney and the Music of What Happens: Adam Low’s Director’s Diary >>
* 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:
Find Me by Andre Aciman – Adam at Roof Beam Reader finds Andre Aciman’s latest novel – the sequel to Call Me By Your Name – is “not quite as compelling or moving as the original”, however, it is “likely be a rewarding read for those who were fans” of the first book.
A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood – “There’s no question [this 1964 LGBTQ+ classic] was a novel ahead of its time”, says Nirmala from Red Lips and Bibliomaniacs. Moreover, she finds Isherwood’s prose “subtle” and “moving”.
Book Review: 82년생 김지영 / Kim Ji-Young, Born 1982 by Cho Nam-Joo – Mallika Ramachandran at Literary Potpourri was impressed by this “2016 Korean novel, now translated into English”. She declares it “impactful”, fast moving and “like non-fiction at times”.
Best books of 2019 – a list of lists – Kate W of booksaremyfavouriteandbest shares her annual, end-of-year list of all the important ‘Best of 2019’ picks from a variety of newspapers and magazines. Keep checking back for frequent updates.
On my bookshelf – Sweet Tooth, Ian McEwan 2012 – “McEwan is convincing as a woman” in this tale of espionage and seduction, says Michael Graeme from The Rivendale Review, which ends with “a satisfyingly crafty twist”.
“The Mindful Writer” by Dinty W. Moore – Moore’s 2012 book on the creative process and how to cultivate good writing habits is “sure to make you more aware, not only of your thoughts but to life around you”, finds Shelly Lora at Books We’ve Read. “This is the work of a mindful writer”, she concludes.
* 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 Washington Post: A.R. Moxon’s ‘The Revisionaries’ might be the weirdest novel of the year – “Can reading a novel trigger a nervous breakdown?” wonders Ron Charles. Moxon’s outlandish tale left him “baffled, dazzled, angered and awed.”
Words Without Borders: Your Holiday Gift Guide to Reading in Translation – WWB Daily recommends “exciting recent international titles for all of the readers in your life.”
The Walrus: Elizabeth Smart Died in 1986. Her Work Still Haunts Me – “Poetic genius, bohemian, copywriter: she taught [Dale Hrabi] to never compromise”,
Moomin: Midsummer Madness will bring the spirit of Moominvalley to Helsinki on Midsummer Eve – “The new international festival, inspired by the philosophy of Tove Jansson’s Moomin books, will bring new Midsummer traditions in the urban Helsinki style.”
World Literature Today: Immigration and Transformation: My Literary Metamorphosis – Reyna Grande writes for numerous reasons but, she says, when she was a young girl, “writing for [her] was simply an act of survival. [She] wasn’t trying to save the world. [She] was trying to save [herself].”
Australian Book Review: Books of the Year 2019 – As selected by ABR critics and writers.
Texas Observer: Why I Started a Book Club in the Harris County Jail – Amalia Beckner believes “education programs make jails safer and reduce rates of recidivism when people reenter society.”
Vox: The convoluted world of best-seller lists, explained – Constance Grady puts bestseller lists under the microscope.
Time: ‘What If Harry Potter Had Been Black?’ Tomi Adeyemi on Representation and Fostering Empathy Through Her Epic Fantasy Series – Annabel Gutterman finds “Tomi Adeyemi wants to wrap her readers in a ‘dangerous but warm’ blanket.”
Live Science: Can People Really Learn to ‘Speed Read’? Marcus Woo discovers “faster isn’t necessarily better (or even possible).”
Book Trust: A little history of reading: How the first books came to be – “Books and storytelling have long been part of our human identity. Author Cerrie Burnell shows this is why stories are for everyone – whatever your background.”
The Conversation: African literary prizes are contested – but writers’ groups are reshaping them – African literary prizes are slowly becoming more relevant and richer, thanks to writers organising on the continent.
The Curious Reader: The Ultimate Guide To Creating Your Own Reading Challenge – For anyone looking to explore new genres, authors and books, here is an easy-to-follow guide that will help in creating your own reading challenge.
Electric Literature: Literary-Inspired Decoration Ideas for a Horrifying White House Christmas – “If you liked the ‘hallway from The Shining‘ theme or last year’s Angela Carter nightmare, you’ll love what comes next”, says Elyse Martin.
ATHENA: What We’re Fighting For – The new alliance taking on Amazon.
Independent: Bad Sex in Fiction Award: Didier Decoin and John Harvey both selected as winners – “’Ultimately there was no separating the winners,’ say judges”.
The Paris Review: To Be Mary MacLane – Upon its release in 1902, The Story of Mary MacLane was an immediate sensation. Nothing like it had ever been seen before, and the fact that it was the work of a teenage girl living in Butte, Montana, made the scandal complete.
History Today: Books of the Year 2019 – Covering Hong Kong, the anniversary of the Peterloo Massacre, porcine inebriation and the Battle of Algiers, nine historians select their favourite books of the past year.
Fine Books & Collectables: Playwright Arthur Miller’s Archive Opens to Researchers – “The complete archive of Arthur Miller, one of America’s most acclaimed playwrights, is now available for teaching and research use at the Harry Ransom Center at The University of Texas at Austin.”
Dublin Review of Books: Macavity was there – Founded in 1929, Faber & Faber had the benefit of the best connections and an astute director who also happened to be one of Britain’s greatest poets – but it might not have survived as an independent publisher had it not been for a certain collection of children’s verse, finds Matthew Parkinson Bennett.
Commonweal: ‘True’ Stories? – Fiction is hard, as is non-fiction, but both for different reasons: the need to ensure accuracy, the risk of angering subjects. Helene Stapinski knows both require writing talent.
Entertainment Weekly: Dictionary.com names ‘existential’ as word of the year – “Forky would probably approve”, says Christian Holub.
CBC News: These kittens live inside a N.S. bookstore, to the delight of customers – “They run the place,” the owner of Otis and Clementine’s Books And Coffee tells Aly Thomson.
The Nation: Why Racists (and Liberals!) Keep Writing for Quillette – “The online magazine of the “intellectual dark web” is repackaging discredited race science”, says Donna Minkowitz.
The Telegraph: John Banville on Elizabeth Bowen: “As a practitioner of the shorter form she was the supreme genius of her time” – “A new collection of Elizabeth Bowen’s tales proves she was the ‘supreme genius’ of short fiction, says John Banville”.
TLS: Curious incidents – Heather O’ Donoghue on classic crime fiction as social history.
Glamour: Romance is a Billion-Dollar Industry – Why is the billion-dollar romance novel industry still so overlooked?
World Economic Forum: Britain’s poet laureate has created a prize to highlight poetry about the climate crisis – Funded by poet laureate Simon Armitage’s salary, The Laurel Prize will be awarded to the best collection of nature or environmental poetry to raise awareness of the climate crisis.
CrimeReads: The Crime Stories of New Zealand – “In an isolated island country, crime (storytelling) is on the rise.”
BBC News: Greta Thunberg’s ‘urgent’ book earns Waterstones author award – “Greta Thunberg has been named author of the year by Waterstones for her “inspirational” book No One Is Too Small To Make A Difference.”
Bookninja: Travelling bookstore sheds the wheels – “BC’s travelling bookmobile Iron Dog Books has decided to take a page out of rural Ontario’s playbook and put that beast up on blocks in the front yard.”
Five Books: The Best George Orwell Books – Stephanie Kelley speaks to D J Taylor about five of Orwell’s most important books.
The New York Times: Latin Dictionary’s Journey: A to Zythum in 125 Years (and Counting) – “Researchers in Germany have been working on the Thesaurus Linguae Latinae since the 1890s. They hope to finish in 2050, but that might be optimistic”, writes Annalisa Quinn.
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