Winding Up the Week #107

An end of week recap

WUTW3Conditions on the coast are rather wild here at present as Storm Ciara makes land. We’re expecting the lodge to take a battering tonight but at present D, the dogs and I are snugly ensconced under-cover, listening to the rain and wind lash our small home. If the exceptionally high tide doesn’t carry us away, Moomin-like, into the open sea, I hope to respond to all your recent comments tomorrow, which, I’m ashamed to say, have accumulated alarmingly in recent days.

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.


Look out for a post in which I share my thoughts on Olga Tokarczuk’s Flights for Fitzcarraldo Editions Fortnight (16th-29th February).


* Wales Readathon 2020 *

LIT OF WALESIf you would like to take part in Dewithon 20, this is your three-week alert. For the second year I am inviting everyone to take part in the Wales Readathon, which begins on 1st March and runs throughout the month. We had great fun in 2019 – you can see all the fabulous posts right here. For more information on this year’s event, please see >> Are You Ready for Wales Readathon 2020? >>


* One Hundred Years of Solitude ReadAlong *

100 YEARS SOLITUDESilvia Cachia and Ruth of A Great Book Study have announced the One Hundred Years of Solitude ReadAlong (6th March to 17th April 2020), and invite you to follow their official reading schedule. The event begins on the day of Gabriel García Márquez’s birth and concludes on the day of his death. If you have a predilection for this Nobel-winning author’s works, please check out ANNOUNCING: One Hundred Years of Solitude ReadAlong for all the details. Be sure to let the ladies know if you’re planning to take part.

* Lit Crit Blogflash *

I’m going to share with you five 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:

SALT PATHReflections on The Salt Path – Raynor Winn’s 2018 memoir “resonated with [Stargazer from For Book Lovers and Random People] on so many levels”, in particular, with “descriptions of the hiking experience”. She declares it “one of the best and most inspirational books [she’s] read in a long time.”

The Cove: A Lyrical Haunting Narrative of Man Against the Elements – Cynan Jones’ 2016 novella is “packed with intensely atmospheric prose”, says Karen from BookerTalk. She found his book “haunting” and senses it is one she’ll re-read.

André de Richaud – The Author Who Inspired Camus to Become a Writer – Caroline at Beauty is a Sleeping Cat was “curious to find out” why La Douleur “was such a scandalous book” when it was first published in 1930. She feels that for a contemporary reader, several passages were “outspoken but not explicit” but, nevertheless, says the book is “courageous and interesting”.

The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater – Deb Baker at bookconscious “loved” this true crime story about “restorative justice”, describing it as “honest” and “beautiful”.

Theatre review: The Curious Case of a Dog in the Night Time by Mark Haddon – Georgiana from Readers’ High Tea went to Bucharest National Theatre shortly before Christmas to see the play “based on the book of same name by Mark Haddon.” She was impressed with the performance and recommends it “with all [her] heart!”

* Irresistible Items *

wooden toys on top of the books

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:


LOST BOOKLiterary Hub: The Lost Book of Adana Moreau – An excerpt from Michael Zapata’s debut novel The Lost Book of Adana Moreau, the story of a Latin American science fiction writer and her lost manuscript.

Wired: This Startup Wants to Help Indie Booksellers Take on Amazon – Kate Knibbs reports on Bookshop, “an ecommerce start-up intended to help independent bookstores assert themselves online”.

Fine Books & Collections: Special Edition of Atwood’s Testaments Supports Bird Conservation – A special limited edition of Margaret Atwood’s 2019 Booker Prize-winning novel, The Testaments has been published to raise funds for bird conservation, finds Rebecca Rego Barry.

Penguin: Are you guilty of any of these ‘crimes against books’? – “Do you keep your novels pristine, or do you love them to within an inch of their lives?” asks Matt Blake. “From dog-earing to margin-scribbling, these are the most divisive reading ‘sins’ – and the surprising list of authors who endorse them.”

The Hedgehog Review: An Ever More Perfect Novel – “The Great American Novel? Why are we still banging on about that old thing?” wonders Tyler Malone.

BBC US & Canada: Books pulled over ‘literary blackface’ accusations – “The largest bookseller in the US has pulled a new series of ‘culturally diverse’ classic book covers after facing widespread criticism.”

The Paris Review: The Closeting of Carson McCullers – Through her relationships with other women, one can trace the evidence of McCullers’s becoming, as a woman, as a lesbian, and as a writer.

The New Yorker: Joanna Russ, the Science-Fiction Writer Who Said No – “For Russ, science fiction, like feminism, was less about remaking reality than making contact with it”, finds B. D. McClay.

Book Riot: 5 Australian Audiobooks for Your TBR – Kendra Winchester with Novel Gazing, the first episode of a biweekly podcast dedicated to news, recommendations and general goings-on from the world of literary fiction.

Literary Hub: 15 Essential Colombian Novels You Should Read – “Recommendations from Juan Cardenas and Margarita García Robayo, on the eve of Hay Festival Cartagena”.

The Oregonian: Patti Smith hears about break-in, vandalism at small Portland book shop; the author, rock icon and bookstore lover offers help – “After learning about a burglary at Portland’s Passages Bookshop, Patti Smith sent signed copies of her books to the store.”

International Business Times: Dutch Art Sleuth Finds Rare Stolen Copy Of ‘Prince Of Persian Poets’ – “A stolen 15th-century book by the famed Persian poet Hafez has been recovered by a Dutch art detective after an international ‘race against time’ that drew the alleged interest of Iran’s secret service”, says Jan Hennop.

CrimeReads: Agatha Christie’s Greatest Mystery Was Left Unsolved – “In December of 1926, Agatha Christie vanished after an argument with her husband, only to resurface 11 days later. A crime writer explores why we’re still so fascinated with her disappearance.”

The Outline: James Joyce’s grandson and the death of the stubborn literary executor – “Stephen Joyce was notoriously protective of his family’s legacy, much to the consternation of Joyce scholars. But the days of one person holding all of a dead writer’s communications are probably over”, writes B.D. McClay.

The Atlantic: Naming a Kid for a Fictional Character Is High Stakes – Julie Beck finds the “Jolenes and Daeneryses of the world have some baggage to contend with.”

Nature: Isaac Asimov: centenary of the great explainer – “The indefatigably curious chemist and science-fiction icon championed rationality for the common good in 20 million published words”, says David Leslie.

Philadelphia: Women Writers Are Driving Philadelphia’s Literary Renaissance – “How a cluster of talented authors and one low-key but incredibly influential writing group called the Claw are making Philly a lit hotbed.”

Independent: The 10 best European novels, from War and Peace to The Leopard – “Philip Womack looks at what European culture has given us in the form of great literary works by Virgil, Voltaire, Kafka and Olga Tokarczuk”

PIGSFull Stop: Pigs – “Pigs is what happens when a slight modification, a change of degree, makes paradise seem like hell”, says Cory Austin Knudson of Johanna Stoberock’s recently published novel.

Smithsonian: Even in Death, Charles Dickens Left Behind a Riveting Tale of Deceit – “New research unravels the scheme to bury the Victorian writer in Westminster Abbey—against his wishes”, finds Leon Litvack.

Humanities: Dorothy Parker’s Daring Wit – “Her zingers still zing”, says Danny Heitman.

Slate: This New Zealand Fantasy Masterpiece Needs to Be Published in America, Like, Now – Dan Kois would like everyone to read The Absolute Book by New Zealand fantasy writer Elizabeth Knox.

Daily Beast: Venice Is Brilliant Inspiration for Any Writer—and Also Hell – “Venice is ‘the ultimate romantic fantasy capital on the verge of extinction.’ Its beauty has seduced—and frustrated—generations of artists, including this author”, says Christopher Bollen.

BBC News: George Steiner: Holocaust survivor and literary critic dies aged 90 – “Literary critic and essayist George Steiner has died in the UK, aged 90.”

The India Express: Legendary Gujarati bookstore Lokmilap shuts shop after nearly seven decades – “The Bhavnagar bookstore, started by poet Jhaverchand Meghani’s son, which ran a publishing house by the same name, published more than 200 books in Gujarati”, says Parimal A Dabhi.

Library Journal: 67 Compelling Titles | Starred Reviews, Feb., 2020LJ Reviews lists its most anticipated books for February according to genre.

Longreads: ‘I Want Every Sentence To Be Doing Work’: An Interview with Miranda Popkey – “Something I did learn writing this book is that being impressed by something doesn’t mean you should try and do it,” says Popkey.

World Architecture: Wutopia Lab creates layers of green hills on the facade of a bookstore in Wuhan – “Shanghai-based architecture practice Wutopia Lab has completed a new bookstore in Wuhan, China”, namely the Hubei Foreign Language Bookstore.

The Point: Real Characters – Toril Moi on “literary criticism and the existential turn”.

Australian Library and Information Association: How you can help: bushfire recovery – “ALIA has published a statement in response to the ongoing bushfire crisis.”

The Hindu: This virtual reality installation explores the literary world of Kafka in five minutes – A virtual reality installation in Prague lets its users explore the literary world of Franz Kafka.

Vintage: Shelf Life: Anne Enright on the five books that made her – “The Booker Prize-winning author of The Gathering reflects on a lifetime of reading, from Alice in Wonderland to what she learned from Toni Morrison.”

Publishers Weekly: Virus Impacts Publishing In and Out of China – Ed Nawotka reports on how the 2019-nCoV pandemic (better known as the coronavirus) is impacting on global publishing business.

EXPERIMENTThe Moscow Times: ‘The Experiment: Georgia’s Forgotten Revolution 1918-1921’ – Eric Lee’s fascinating book in English about Georgian history is avidly read in Tbilisi and Moscow finds Michele A. Berdy.

The New York Review of Books: Waterlines: On Writing and Sailing – The “sea is everywhere, including in fiction”, says Martin Dumont, who found himself “lost among an ocean of books”.

Electric Literature: 11 Indie Literary Magazines You Should Be Reading – “Steven Watson, founder of Stack, recommends print lit mags.”

The New York Times: New Literary Prize Will Award Over $100,000 to a Female Novelist – “The Carol Shields Prize is an effort to raise the visibility of women writers, in part with a sum that far exceeds many other book awards.”



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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30 replies

  1. Tickled pink by the news of the Carol Shields literary prize, which is the big book news over here for sure these days. The variety of women involved with its establishment is terrific and I’m looking forward to following its progress. Always good, too, to see Joanna Russ’ writing getting some attention. And I was pleased to see the addition to the Vintage 5 with Anne Enright too. Good reading!

    Hopefully the storm wasn’t too much for you. But if one is to be carried away by the tides, doing it Moomin-style does seem like a small comfort. 🙂

  2. Stay warm and dry Paula! Hopefully Ciara will pass soon – it’s not hit London yet but I’m braced…

    • Hope things aren’t too wild in London. We’re having gusts of 80mph at the mo but we’re relatively safe from flooding because our lodge sits on a slight incline. I’m not sure if the same can be said of the homes built right on the sea front. They have flooded in previous years!

  3. Hope the storm doesn’t cause too much disruption, and look forward to your thoughts on Flights! 😀

  4. Thank you again, especially for the Anne Enright article

  5. Thank you for the link. We will be hit by storm Sabine, coming from Germany tomorrow or Monday. One of the strongest ever. Not sure what to think of that. Stay safe.

    • How are things with Storm Sabine? I hope all is well.

      • It has arrived now. But not full force yet. Quite scary. We aren’t used to extreme weather like this. Air ports closed. I’m staying in with the cats. I hope you’re fine too.

      • Having been born in sight of the Irish Sea, I have seen a fair few storms and experienced flooding in the past (from a cloud burst in the middle of June on one occasion), but these sort of weather events occur far more frequently these days (and in unexpected areas). All you can do is batten down the hatches and hope you have good drainage and your home hasn’t been built on a flood plain. If you live near water, it can help if you have access to sand bags, but much depends upon the severity of the inundation. Hopefully, none of this will be pertinent to you and Sabine will pass without incident. Take care and stay indoors to avoid objects blowing about. I’ll be thinking of you and the cats. 🤗

  6. With regard to the impending storm, remember you have already been on a cruise so you are in a really positive position. My friend told me that posh was derived from Port Out Starboard Home, but I checked it out and it was not true (typical of class-related English drivel). I’m sure you’ve already read The Shipping News, which is a delightful novel for weather of this specific variety. Be lucky!

    • Sound advice, John! 🤣

      I’ve heard the same definition of ‘posh’, but as you say, it seems to have been disproved. I was also told PG Wodehouse used it in one of his early 20th century stories, however, this turned out to be incorrect, too. I find the origin of words absolutely fascinating.

      As hailstones bounce off the roof and waves crash on the shore, if I stretch my imagination to breaking point, I can imagine myself in coastal Newfoundland!

  7. What an interesting and resourceful post! Thanks a lot for mentioning my post among the others! 🙂

  8. Thanks for yet another lovely Sunday post and thanks so much for including a link to my review of The Salt Path! Hopefully, Ciara won’t cause any problems for you. It hasn’t been to bad here in central London (the red lanterns in Chinatown falling down doesn’t really compare with flooding and severe travel disruption!)

  9. Wonderful links, thanks! Stay safe in that crazy weather!!!

  10. We’ve had some wacky weather here, too. Instead of snow, we had flooding from thunderstorms that also caused high winds and some tornados, and then the next day, we had some snow flurries. I hope all is ok with your storm, Paula. Did you get any snow? ❄️

  11. I thought this storm was supposed to be over on Sunday evening but its still wild down here – whole road is now covered with hailstones…. I’m abandoning the idea of going out with the Nordic walking group tomorrow. I went on the route last week (along the coast) and almost got blown over….

    Thanks for mentioning my review of Cove.

  12. So much to enjoy! Did you hear Anne Enright on Desert Island Discs? She spoke then too about her time at UEA. Made me feel a little better about having had such times of dearth when I was younger. For me University came at the right moment when I was full of things to write about. I enjoy what she said about Angela Carter … Imagine having her as a tutor! I know someone who knew her as a friend and neighbour – a nice woman who wrote books. It was only later he realised how well she was/is regarded. He counts me now as the second author he has met … Although I do feel guilty that my output is too slow to keep up with his wish that I get another book out while he can still read it!

    • Thank you, Maria. 😊

      I didn’t listen to that episode of Desert Island Discs but I’ve tracked it down on the BBC website and will definitely listen to it at some point. Angela Carter as a tutor? Wow, what a start in life!

      I’m afraid I missed out on the University experience having escaped school at the earliest possible opportunity. Definitely not the happiest days of my life! 🤣

      I’m sure you have plenty of books yet to write but, as the old cliché goes, it’s the quality not the quantity that matters.

      • Let’s hope so, Paula – re: quality, anyway. Often think of Laurie Lee, when he was admonished for ‘only’ writing four books, retorting: Yes but they were good ones! Something along those lines. I too escaped school when I could and didn’t go to University until was 37. Probably perfect timing for me especially as creative writing was at last something you could spend time doing as part of a degree. Picking things up and learning out of interest is still the best as we can go on doing that for years. Hope you enjoy DID when you get to hear it!


  1. Winding Up the Week #108 – Book Jotter

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