Winding Up the Week #104

An end of week recap

WUTW3This 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 book blogger, Elisabeth van der Meer of A Russian Affair in a recent episode of the podcast Tea Toast & Trivia. She discusses with host Rebecca Budd: “the life and work of the brilliant writer, Ivan Turgenev, and the complicated relationships that existed between the great Russian writers.” Tune in to >> Season 2. Episode 4: Elisabeth on Ivan Turgenev >>


* The Moomins and the Great Baltic Rescue *

OURSEA LOGOSince there has been such interest in the Tove Trove project, I thought it worth highlighting #OURSEA, a one-year campaign organized by Moomin Characters Ltd and partners to save the Baltic Sea from eutrophication. This stretch of water was a great source of inspiration to Tove Jansson during her life, so you may like to find out how you too can help this cause.

Read >> #OURSEA: Help the Moomins Save the Baltic Sea >>

* Fitzcarraldo Editions Fortnight *

FITZCARALDO EDITIONSHow would you like to join Lizzy Siddal of Lizzy’s Literary Life and Karen Langley of Kaggsy’s Bookish Ramblings as they read and blog their way through their Fitzcarraldo Editions stacks? “Founded in 2014, [the publisher’s] distinctive blue/white paperback originals with French flaps are gaining steady recognition in the literary world”, says Lizzy. It specializes in contemporary fiction and essays, including Svetlana Alexievich and Olga Tokarczuk, Nobel Prize in Literature laureates in 2015 and 2018. “Diaries have been coordinated,” confirms Kaggsy, and all are “welcome to join [the intrepid two in their quest].” So, if you have any Fitzcarraldo’s sitting on your bookshelves, get yourself over to Announcing Fitzcarraldo Editions Fortnight #fitzcarraldofortnight and consider joining the ladies for Fitzcarraldo Editions Fortnight (16th-29th February 2020).

* 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:

CATS FROM WORLDIf Cats Disappeared from the World – This “Japanese magic realism novel” by Genki Kawamura is “unusual”, says Angharad of Tinted Edges, but she would have preferred him to “have committed more fully to his concept and spent less time on the exposition of a backstory”. She did, however, “quite [enjoy] the story”.

The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics by Olivia Waite – Chris Wolak’s first book of the decade was this “lesbian romance novel” set in England in 1816. She declares it “a smart and sexy read” combining “many of [her] favorite things”, such as “history, reclaiming women’s work, and lesbians.” It was, she says, a “good experience”.

Review 1460: The Story Keeper – Kay of Whatmeread found this “historical suspense novel” by Anna Mazzola both “atmospheric” and “entertaining”. Set on the Isle of Skye, it “nicely blends the folklore of the area with more sinister themes.”

* Irresistible Items *

opened book near ceramic mugUmpteen 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:


INSIDE CRITICSThe American Scholar: Why Book Reviewing Isn’t Going Anywhere –Scott Nover meets a researcher exploring the future of critiquing books.

The Guardian: Rent rises force revered LGBT bookshop out of Paris’s gay district – “Les Mots à La Bouche’s move from the Marais shows loss of cultural heritage, activists say”.

BBC News: ‘First Middle-earth scholar’ Christopher Tolkien dies – “Christopher Tolkien, who edited and published the posthumous works of his father, Lord of the Rings writer JRR Tolkien, has died aged 95.”

Archilovers: A rural capsule hotel in a bookstore – A bookstore in an ancient Chinese village has created a capsule hotel, which can accommodate 20 people.

Town & Country: The 17 Must-Read Books of Winter 2020 – “Buzzy novels, compulsively readable memoirs, and a few guilty pleasures.”

CrimeReads: Reviving the Traditional Mystery for a 21st Century Audience – “Traditional mysteries used to be all about restoring the status quo. Now, they’re just about good people, striving.”

Book Marks: Sarah Moss on Wolf Hall, Miriam Toews, and King Lear – The author of Ghost Wall answers several “rapid-fire” questions about books that have shaped her life.

Book Riot: Curl Up With These Cozy Cat Mystery Books – P.N. Hinton urges you to check out her suggested cat mystery books for your winter reading.

Publishers Weekly: Book Sales Up in U.K. and France – Book sales are booming in the UK and France according to Ed Nawotka.

Entertainment Weekly: EW’s winter thriller preview: Your complete guide to the season’s best page-turners – David Canfield, Leah Greenblatt and Seija Rankin with “this winter’s must reads.”

The Irish Times: Can a work of fiction about the Holocaust be inaccurate? – “There’s a large quantity of new Holocaust fiction,” says Patrick Freyne, but “experts are worried about quality”.

Sahara Reporters: Nigerian Author, Chukwuemeka Ike, Dies At 88 – “Chukwuemeka Ike, one of Nigeria’s most read novelists, has died.”

Deadline: BBC & Warner Bros To Blend Natural History & Fantasy For Doc On JK Rowling’s ‘Fantastic Beasts’ Creatures – According to Jake Kanter, the BBC, Warner Bros and the UK’s Natural History Museum “are partnering on an hour-long documentary that will explore the connections between JK Rowling’s mythical Fantastic Beasts creatures and real animals that have roamed Earth.”

The Washington Post: Reading will supposedly make you a better person. That’s not the real reason to pick up a book. – Mark Athitakis is “irked by how readily news of these [reading studies go] viral” because, for him, “fiction is a kind of Schrödinger’s box”.

Quill & Quire: Loan Stars: Librarians pick their upcoming favourite January/February titles – “Canadian library staff vote for their most-anticipated upcoming books, via BookNet Canada’s Loan Stars readers-advisory program and the Canadian Urban Libraries Council.”

Atlas Obscura: The Best 18th-Century Toilets Were Designed to Look Like Books – Jessica Leigh Hester introduces us to 18th century toilets that were made to look like books.

Brittle Paper: It Is 50 Years Since Nigeria’s Biafran War: Here Are Books to Read – A selection of “notable books—nonfiction books, memoirs, novels, short story collections—that deal with the [Biafran] War.”

NOTHING NEWThe Sydney Morning Herald: A first-hand account of the joys of second-hand – Frances Atkinson discusses Robyn Annear’s Nothing New: A History of Second-Hand and the “romance” of “finding a beauty in the ruins”.

Wales Arts Review: Writers’ Rooms | Gillian Clarke – We peek into the “big oak and glass room built on the south end of [an] old longhouse”, which serves as Welsh poet and playwright, Gillian Clarke’s writing space.

Literary Hub: Finding the Literature I Needed Everywhere But University – Jessica Andrews on seeing herself in the writing of Adrienne Rich, Jeanette Winterson, Audre Lorde and others.

The Moscow Times: Immersive Pushkin-Themed Park to Open in St. Petersburg in 2023 – “St. Petersburg is set to open a sprawling, immersive theme park that will bring iconic Russian writer Alexander Pushkin’s fairy tales and poems to life in 2023.”

Tor: How Tolkien and The Lord of the Rings Changed Publishing Forever – “Sometimes, the right book comes along with the right message at the right time and […] ushers in a new age”, writes Alan Brown.

KQED: San Francisco’s 49-Year-Old Russian Bookstore Opens a Progressive New Chapter – Globus Books has a “cult following among Russian-speaking bibliophiles around the world”, finds Nastia Voynovskaya

Euronews: Shakespeare’s First Folio: Rare 1623 collection expected to fetch $6m at auction – A folio “studied by 18th Century scholar Edmond Malone,” and “exhibited as part of the 1951 Festival of Britain”, will “go under the hammer in April”, says Jez Fielder.

SWI: Sibylle Berg wins Switzerland’s top literary prize – “The Zurich-based writer Sibylle Berg has been awarded this year’s Swiss Grand Prix Literature for her life’s work.”

BBC News: Petersfield Bookshop inundated after ‘tumbleweed’ tweet – “A 100-year-old bookshop has been inundated with orders after tweeting it had a “tumbleweed” day in which it had not sold a single book.”

NPR: How To Start A Book Club That Actually Meets – The folk at NPR have plenty of useful tips if you’re intending to start a book club, including an episode of their Life Kit podcast devoted to scheduling, book choice and everything else you’ll need to make sure your group meets regularly.

Khmer Times: 33 cities, 11 countries and a whole lot of books – “Dubbed the world’s biggest book sale, the Big Bad Wolf Book Sale has made its presence known in over 30 cities around the world.”

Oxford Mail: The Woodstock Bookshop to close its doors – Liam Rice reports that the “owner of an independent bookshop is looking to find new owners for her popular West Oxfordshire store.”

The Guardian: Australian fiction is already challenging the idea that catastrophic bushfire is normal – “The stories we tell about bushfire are changing. Our writers have been grappling with its link to climate crisis for years”, says Aussie ecofiction expert Rachel Fetherston.

The Calvert Journal: ‘Men are everywhere’: Svetlana Alexievich to launch publishing house for women writers – Paula Erizanu reveals the “Belarusian Nobel Laureate Svetlana Alexievich is opening a new publishing house exclusively dedicated to printing female authors.”

BOOK PARTSThe Spectator: From frontispiece to endpapers: the last word on the book – “A study of book parts, including dust jackets, footnotes, dedications, bibliographies and indexes, turns out to be surprisingly rich, odd and interesting”, finds Ian Sansom.

The New Republic: Can Amazon Finally Crack the Bestseller Code? – “The retail giant is publishing commercial fiction by famous authors. Publishers should be terrified”, warns Alex Shephard.

The Mainichi: 2 novelists named for Japan’s Akutagawa, Naoki literary awards – Makoto Furukawa and Soichi Kawagoe have respectively won the Akutagawa and Naoki prizes.

The Cut: Remembering Elizabeth Wurtzel, a Proudly Difficult Person – “She had a tiny nuclear reactor where the rest of us have a breastbone,” says Benjamin Wallace.



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

Tags: , , , , , ,

29 replies

  1. A bumper collection of links this week – that’ll keep me occupied for ages!! And thanks for linking to the Fitcarraldo Fortnight – it should be great fun and the more that join in the better! 😀

  2. Thanks for including my thoughts on my first read of the DECADE.

    You always round up the most interesting links! I’ll be back to click on more than a few later today.

  3. So many great links Paula – I’ll be busy the rest of the weekend 🙂

  4. I especially enjoyed “How To Start A Book Club That Actually Meets.” I was wondering recently about possibly giving out the questions ahead of time at our book club, and this article reinforces that idea. Thanks, Paula!

  5. Once again, great compilation. My favorites: T&C Winter Book List, The Amazon publishing article, and the one about Elizabeth Wurtzel. Have a nice weekend.

  6. Good news on the increase in book sales. Audiobook listening figures are up too I hear which is one of the big surprises because its been seen so much in the past as something only older people enjoyed. But its getting a much younger audience.

    My favourite podcast this last week has been the latest Tea or Books episode which had a good discussion on whether authors should write only what they know

  7. Another hurrah for Neil Gaiman (and the Petersfield Bookshop)!

  8. It is really interesting to have a link to an obituary so thank you for sharing. I am old-fashioned in that I like obituaries to be largely positive; I suppose I feel that the dead person has no capacity to reply. I do feel that Ms Wurtzel must have been awkward, but although I have only read one of her books I hope that some of her work is much appreciated in the future. The philosopher Roger Scruton died recently and I wished that his dreadful racism had been forgotten about for a week or two. I mean that there are lots of complex people and awful racists still alive for folk to have a go at if they need to! With the climate emergency, we may all be getting closer to death much sooner than we think. On that cheerful note, I’m turning the heating down.

    • I don’t believe there’s any such thing as a person who’s all good or all bad – though most of us incline one or the other way to varying degrees. When a person dies, it’s important to find the positives in their life (if only for the sake of their still living loved-ones) but without attempting a complete whitewash of their character. We’re such complicated creatures and perfection definitely isn’t one of our defining traits.

      Be sure you’re wearing a good set of thermals and a thick woolly scarf before turning down the heating, John. It’s a chilly one today! 🥶

  9. The article about the Holocaust and literature is extremely interesting (I have read a few Holocaust ‘novels’ over the last few years, each with increasing discomfort and I think Wiesel’s words capture why – “A novel about Treblinka is either not a novel or it’s not about Treblinka.”

    • It’s a difficult one, isn’t it, Kate. Where do you draw the line between fact and fiction? A novel, by its very definition, is a work of narrative fiction, so strictly speaking there should be no onus whatsoever on the author to stick to facts. Modern readers have come to enjoy these hybrids but also seem to expect complete authenticity. Muddling truth with make-believe may make for a powerful story but we can’t reasonably expect them to be factual accounts – surely that’s the job of the biographer or historian.

      • I guess it also comes down to the ‘tastefulness’ of the fictitious details – I feel some books are gratuitous and that’s what I avoid. I will continue to be choosy about my Holocaust reading!

  10. Hello from Vancouver, Canada. This is the first time that I have stopped by (love the name) I am so glad that I found your place! What a brilliant post – thank you for adding Elisabeth from A Russian Affair – she has a remarkable understanding of Russian Literature. I’m looking forward to our ongoing conversation.

    • Hello there. Good to meet you. Am I correct in thinking you’re Rebecca Budd, the lady behind the fabulous Tea Toast & Trivia podcast? You certainly host a multitude of fascinating blogs. I’m so glad you enjoyed the post. Elizabeth is indeed a great authority on Russian literature – your discussion with her was enthralling. Thank you so much for nipping in to introduce yourself. Hope to see you again soon.

      • Yes, I am. Thank you so much for sharing Elisabeth’s podcast. Plans are to have another when she returns from her travels in Japan. And speaking of Podcasts, would you be open to head into the “podcast from a distance” unknown. Let me know. I’m learning to reach across the miles using FaceTime. I’m delighted that I found your blog and am looking forward to our ongoing conversation. 2020, a new year, a new decade. So much to explore and share. You will see me again!

      • I very much appreciate you considering me for a future podcast but, unfortunately, I don’t make ideal interview material. I’m HFA and pretty useless when it comes to public speaking, as it takes me some time to arrange my thoughts into a coherent response – by which point, I’ve no doubt, your listeners would have gone off to make a cup of tea and feed the cat. Thank you so much for asking, though. However, if you’re planning a literary-themed podcast, please do let me know in advance and I’ll gladly give it plug on WUTW. I really look forward to chatting with you again. 😊

  11. Another brilliant list, Paula, which I shall slowly wend my way through 🙂

  12. Those images of the capsule hotel and bookshop are just fascinating: I can’t stop staring! 😀


  1. Bookish (and not so bookish) Thoughts | booksaremyfavouriteandbest

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: