Winding Up the Week #109

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.


* 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:

CHECKMATECheckmate by Dorothy Dunnett (1975) – Jane from Beyond Eden Rock felt “emotionally drained” upon finishing the “sixth and final volume of the Lymond Chronicles” – a series she describes as “vividly realised”. She shares her favourite moments from the book and regrets she will never know what happens next.

Fullers Bookshop in Hobart- 100th Birthday – The host of TravellinPenguin recently attended a “wonderful event” honouring the 100th birthday of Fuller’s Bookshop – a “family oriented, independent” bookstore in Tasmania’s capital city. She left “feeling very fortunate” to be part of the “large reading community” of Hobart.

Finding Fortune: Documenting and Imagining the Life of Rose Fortune (1774-1864) by Brenda J. Thompson – Thompson has done an “admirable job” of bringing an “important historical figure to light” says James Fisher of The Miramichi Reader. He was also impressed with Nova Scotia’s SSP Publications’ production of the book, “the cover” in particular.

* Irresistible Items *

floral ceramic cup and saucer above open book

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:


GLASSTOWNEvening Standard: Book of the Week: Glass Town by Isabel Greenberg – Claire Harman on the “weird and wonderful world of the Brontës”, which is “brought to life in beautiful, blazing colour”.

Nature: Panicking about societal collapse? Plunder the bookshelves – “As civilization seems to be lurching towards a cliff edge, historical case studies are giving way to big data in authors’ search for understanding”, says Laura Spinney.

The Irish Times: Charting the evolving story of Ireland’s literary history – “What we call ‘Irish literature’ had a long birth across centuries of conflict and change”, finds Claire Connolly.

Bookforum: The Nobel Women of Eastern Europe – An Eastern European reading list from Stephanie Newman.

Australian Book Designers Association: 2020 Award Longlist – The longlists for the 2020 Australian Book Design Awards have been announced.

South China Morning Post: Coronavirus: China’s private bookstores struggling to survive as sales drop 90 per cent, stores remain closed – Sidney Leng reports bookstore sales in China have fallen 90% since the start of the outbreak.

Wired: The Hottest New Literary Genre Is ‘Doomer Lit’ – “Stories about climate disaster have entertained us for years. Now they’re getting more unforgiving and dire”, says Kate Knibbs.

Book Riot: Toward a Philosophy on Book Collecting – Isabelle Popp shares her thoughts on developing a philosophy on book collecting.

Buzzfeed: Book Nook Shelf Inserts Are Really Cool, And Everyone Should Know They Exist — Here Are 14 Of The Most Creative Ones You’ll See – “Taking bookcases to a new, magical level!”

Irish Examiner: Bookseller to the Stars’: Chapters Bookstore Dublin inadvertently launch parody sketch series – A parody training video made by Chapters Bookstore in Dublin on ‘how to shelve books’ has gone viral on social media.

The Atlantic: How to Murder Harry Potter – Kaitlyn Tiffany discovers that in deathfic, “writers of fan fiction find unexpected comfort in killing off their favorite popular characters.”

The Star: African queer literature and its implications in changing times – “To read works by queer writers or of queer concerns is not to lose one’s comfort zone”, says Justus Kizito Siboe Makokha.

TLS: Iris Murdoch and the power of love – “Anil Gomes considers Murdoch’s view that morality is real and that, with the right conceptual resources, we can perceive it”.

The Public Domain Review: When Dorothy Parker Got Fired from Vanity Fair – “Jonathan Goldman explores the beginnings of the famed New York group and how Parker’s determination to speak her mind — even when it angered men in positions of power — gave her pride of place within it.”

The Millions: Craft Corner: The Millions Interviews Sarah Moss – The author of Ghost Wall opens up about inhabiting the bodies of her characters, her writing process and the craft of fiction.

MAGICAL LANGUAGE OTHERSThe Japanese Times: ‘The Magical Language of Others’: A Korean-American memoir that will shatter stereotypes – Published last month, E.J. Koh’s memoir The Magical Language of Others, is “heavy stuff from a young woman writing about her own family” says Nicolas Gattig.

London Review of Books: Hats One Dreamed about – Tessa Hadley read her way through “quite a few [Elizabeth Bowen] books” but when she had finished, she “hardly knew what had happened in them”.

Words Without Borders: Letter from Beirut: Writing as Memory in the “Capital of Amnesia” – Maya Jaggi believes that if the collapse of the nation-state reinvented the Lebanese novel, its reconstruction could galvanize literature.

Sunday Times SA: COJ Libraries shortlisted for International Excellence Award – “The City of Johannesburg’s (COJ) Libraries have been shortlisted for the London Book Fair International Excellence Awards 2020 for the Library of the Year Award.”

The Walrus: The Challenge of Addressing Slavery in Children’s Stories – “Where history has ignored the lives of Black Canadians, writers like Christopher Paul Curtis have turned painful realities into powerful narratives”, finds Donna Bailey Nurse.

Book Riot: Explore Icelandic Literary Culture – Blair Carpenter discovers four places to visit when taking a literary tour of Iceland.

CrimeReads: The Girl in the Mansion: How Gothic Romances Became Domestic Noirs – “Domestic suspense is the modern incarnation of the mid-century Gothic romance.”

Lambada Literary: What Literature Taught Me About Infatuation & Romance – Gay writer, Frederick McKindra, was recently asked “how literature had instructed [his] love life. He “struggled to offer a response.”

AP News: 5 things I learned from binge-reading a 50-book crime series – Sophia Rosenbaum relates her experience of reading a 50-book series over five months.

Hurriyet Daily News: Grand bookstore in Istanbul allocates all profits to strays – Kitap Koala, a new bookstore in Istanbul, is donating all its profits to supporting animal shelters.

Elite Daily: 9 Airbnbs With Libraries That Belle From ‘Beauty & The Beast’ Would Book – Rachel Chapman suggests you book into an Airbnb with its own library for your next getaway.

The Nation: The Act of Recounting – As he witnessed the dissolution of civil society under a series of repressive governments, the Argentine novelist and critic Ricardo Piglia began recording the most mundane parts of everyday life, finds Jessica Loudis.

ROMANCE IN MThe New York Times: A Book So Far Ahead of Its Time, It Took 87 Years to Find a Publisher – Claude McKay’s novel Romance in Marseille deals with queer love, postcolonialism and the legacy of slavery. It also complicates ideas about the Harlem Renaissance”, says Talya Zax.

Inside Retail Australia: Dymocks opens new store in Brisbane – Dymocks, the Australian bookstore chain, has opened a new store in Brisbane.

Fast Company: Black Twitter makes the case for Lorde-Morrison Day in honor of two literary giants – Starr Rhett Rocque reports “Twitter is asking that we celebrate two towering American writers on what would be their 86th and 89th birthdays.”

Slate: Fiction Can Help Us Sympathize With the Worst Men of #MeToo – An opinion piece from Lili Loofbourow arguing that fiction can help us sympathize with bad men.



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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24 replies

  1. I like the ‘doomer lit’ label although my heart always sinks when a proof from that genre pops through my letterbox.

  2. I had no idea what a book nook shelf insert was, and now I know, I want one! Or ten! I want them all 😀

  3. Spaces on bookshelves? What a novel idea! If I had them I would ill them books!

  4. I’ve been rereading Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents and thinking about cli-fi and “doomer lit” so I like the word “anhedonia.” I’ve got to get my hands on a copy of Weather soon.

  5. Thanks Paula – great links as always!

  6. Great post! I’m off now to have a click on some of the links you’ve highlighted.

  7. So many posts that I want to read, thanks for sharing them Paula. Doomer Lit is a bit scary, but very timely.

  8. Fascinating article about Dorothy Parker! Thanks for all the great links, Paula.

  9. I love that you featured Pam’s great post on the Fuller’s bookshop anniversary celebration, Paula. It was a lovely post.

    A few articles interest me, including the book nook shelves one, the Slate one on sympathising with bad men, the Iris Murdoch one, and others. But the first one that I’ll read is the airbnb one because I just stayed at an airbnb in Melbourne last month and took photos of their books. It was a small selection – as it was a little studio apartment – but it was an excellent collection. I wasn’t surprised, because the couple who own it are, they told us, retired librarians! I liked their taste.

    I hope your new home is working out really well for you.

  10. As usual, REALLY interesting articles, Paula. I am happy for Dymocks bookstores, they have sticking power and their newest location is in the heart of the city.

    How to Murder Harry Potter and what Kaitlyn Tiffany discovers about deathfic is very quirky.

  11. Yes, Brissie is a sprawling city. I won’t drive into the CBD but catch a bus which stops close-by the new Dymocks. Coincidently I am making room on my shelves 😉

  12. And how doubly unfortunate that, in a country in which citizens have not always been “free” to read, that now China’s readers will have even more limited choices as their booksellers struggle economically under the current restrictions.

    Great selection of links. I hope you and yours have had a good week!

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