An end of week recap
This is a Coronatome Special – so called because it’s a tad longer than usual to keep all you self-isolationers occupied.
I hope everyone is coping and keeping safe during these crazy COVID-19 times. Life continues much as usual in our little corner of Mid Wales, until it comes to shopping – and then we are faced with empty shelves where once there were toilet rolls, soap and pasta.
I notice several of you are posting daily updates from your places of quarantine or writing helpful features to keep fellow literature lovers engrossed. Good for you. The book blogging community is coming together and it’s a cheering thing to see.
Are you making therapeutic reading lists? More than ever, as an inveterate listophile, I’m creating book lists, forthcoming feature lists, general job lists and so on, ad infinitum. I take great pleasure in completing tasks and then checking them off with my favourite red Pilot MR Retro felt-tip pen. I’m probably revealing far too much about my anorakish ways, but in my experience, it’s the smallest things in life which bring greatest satisfaction and keep one sane.
As ever, this is a weekly post in which I summarise 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.
* Week Three of the Wales Readathon *
Week three of Dewithon 20, our month-long celebration of literature from and about Wales, went gratifyingly well considering all that is happening in the world. An eclectic assortment of features and reviews were posted by fellow book bloggers – which can be found on the official Wales Readathon 2020 page. At the end of March, I intend to update the Wales Readathon Library with all the books reviewed and discussed during this year’s event. Hopefully this will enable others to follow-up the various titles should they so wish.
Should you be either taking part or following the progress of this year’s official readathon book, One Moonlit Night by Caradog Prichard, I have now posted my thoughts on chapters 9-11. >> DEWITHON 20 WEEK 3: One Moonlit Night by Caradog Prichard >>
If you post any content relating to Dewithon on your blogs, please be sure to let me know.
* 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:
James Joyce by Edna O’Brien – Over at Shiny New Books, Rob Spence reviews an “exhilarating romp through” the life of Joyce written by one of our “most significant modern Irish writers”. He says,“anyone coming fresh to Joyce will find much to startle and inform them here.”
Ten Bookish Things to do while self-isolated at home – Lisa Hill at ANZ LitLovers LitBlog has come up with “ten suggestions [to] keep you busy if you have to stay home for 14 days.” She says: “There is a vast army of readers out there who love books and will happily chat about them”, which means that while you “may be by yourself, […] you do not have to be lonely.”
Gogol – Nikolai Gogol “can be funny, sad, satirical, witty, lyrical” and has kept Chris Harding of The Book Trunk “laughing and crying on a slow-moving train to Newcastle” with his collection, And the Earth Will Sit On the Moon from Pushkin Press.
This Lovely City by Louise Hare – London scarred by War and its reception of the unfamiliar – “There is so much to savour in this historical fiction novel”, says Joules Barham from Northern Reader of this newly published title. It reminded her “strongly of Andrea Levy’s wonderful Small Island” and she declares it “a book which is really worth tracking down.”
Little Eyes by Samanta Schweblin (translated from the Spanish by Megan McDowell, Booker International Prize 2020) An incredibly unusual, and important, book. – Meredith Smith of Dolce Bellezza has “never read a book like” Schweblin’s “magnificent” science fiction title. Her imagination “is extraordinary, and the world she brings to life is frightening”.
About Time I Read It: Prisoner of Tehran by Marina Nemat – Nemat’s 2007 memoir “isn’t a bad book, just a sad one”, says Mark Curnell from Maphead’s Book Blog. “But it’s a well-written account of a story that needs to be told.”
* 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 Calvert Journal: Armenia’s Narine Abgaryan weaves a story of transgenerational trauma amid the folds of fairytale prose – “Already a sensation in Russia and the Caucasus, Armenian writer Narine Abgaryan’s first work to be translated into English unpicks the anguish and agony that sends shockwaves through families.”
Moomin: Tove Jansson and Finnish art acknowledged with a flag day in Finland – The Finnish Ministry of Internal Affairs recently announced that Tove Jansson and the Finnish art will get its own flag day – on her birthday, 9th August.
The Guardian: Delivery by skateboard? Coronavirus sees indie booksellers get inventive – “As customers self-isolate, independent bookshops are set to take a hit – but many are offering storytime streams, discounts and even phone calls for the lonely”, finds Alison Flood.
Yale Climate Connections: 15 books about women leading the way on climate change – “These fiction and non-fiction selections show how women are affected by climate change and how they’re fighting back.”
The Irish Times: English head, Irish heart: how a deserted cottage inspired me to write – “Nuala Ellwood recalls an uncanny time in Mayo with her father, TV journalist Luke Casey”.
KQED: Bookstores Face Weeks of Closure Just as Readers Need Them Most – “Like many small businesses deemed non-essential, Bay Area bookstores will close to the public”, says Sarah Hotchkiss. This will involve “sending their staff home and sheltering in place by county or city mandate.”
TLS: Cloud of unknowing – Sam Leith asks: “What’s the point of book reviews?”
Penguin: How Britain’s independent bookshops are rallying to help readers during the Coronavirus crisis– “With self-isolation becoming a reality for many people, indies up and down the country are thinking of new ways to keep us reading. Here’s a list to help you find yours.”
The New York Times: The World of Books Braces for a Newly Ominous Future – “Publishers, bookstores and authors are struggling to confront and limit the financial fallout from the unfolding coronavirus crisis”, says Alexandra Alter.
BBC News: Bernardine Evaristo celebrates black writers in Bristol libraries – “A Booker Prize winner who has chosen her top 20 black British writers is involved in a project that will see works by them available in libraries.”
The Globe And Mail: Canada’s book publishers scramble to cope with the impact of coronavirus– Becky Toyne reports that publishers are “working overtime to address the constantly changing reality of a world retreating from public interaction”.
Quartz: China is coming after author Mario Vargas Llosa for saying the coronavirus originated there – “In its ongoing campaign to spin the global narrative over the origins of the novel coronavirus, China is leaving no stone unturned. Its latest target: Peruvian author Mario Vargas Llosa.”
The Bookseller: Foyles launches first library in retirement home – “Foyles has launched its first specially curated library in a retirement home, as part of its partnership with property developer Elysian.”
Melville House: Care to rent Dashiell Hammett’s old apartment? – “Do you love noir fiction, have $1850 per month, and could handle living in something (alarmingly) called a microstudio?” asks Alyea Canada.
The Cut: How I Get It Done: Parul Sehgal, Book Critic – Parul Sehgal is a book critic at the New York Times. She’s known for her clear-eyed, razor-sharp reviews”, says Bridget Read.
Refinery29: These Powerful Women Are Changing The Literary Landscape – Kristin Iversen discovers “there’s one prevailing theme in the literary world right now, it’s that the industry’s most influential members […] are overwhelmingly women”.
Vulture: Why Is Pandemic Fiction So Comforting Right Now? – Kathryn VanArendonk on the comfort of pandemic fiction.
Quill & Quire: Looking for a new audiobook and to support local indies? Canadian booksellers sign up with Libro.fm – Sue Carter reports: “Canadian independent booksellers are now offering audiobooks via Libro.fm, a Seattle-based company that partners with brick-and-mortar retailers to sell titles online.”
Bustle: A Tiny Harry Potter Book Is Going Up For Auction & Could Fetch £150,000 – Aoife Hanna finds that “a tiny Harry Potter book going up for auction is expected to fetch up to £150,000.”
Book Riot: 50+ Beautiful Bujo Spread Ideas to Track Your Reading – “Now, some of you may be asking yourselves, ‘What are bujos?’” says Nina Grauer. “So here’s a brief introduction: bujos, or bullet journals”.
The Millions: On the Road with Héctor Tobar – In his new novel, The Last Great Road Bum, Héctor Tobar chronicles the life of a failed writer who became an American Che Guevara.
History Extra: Censoring Anne Frank: how her famous diary has been edited through history – “Anne Frank’s diary was first published in 1947, two years after her death, and her words are now immortalised as a symbol of the victims of the Holocaust. But was it the story that Anne intended for us to read?”
IGN: Minecraft Library Created to Combat Censorship in Oppressed Countries – “Oppressive regimes block websites, but they don’t block Minecraft”, says Joe Skrebels.
France 24: So much time to read and Italy’s bookstores closed – “Plenty of time to read and no bookstores open — such is the situation in Italy under coronavirus lockdown that is making independent booksellers see red.”
CrimeReads: The Uncanny Appeal of the Seaside Mystery – “For our deepest mysteries, we keep returning to the shore”, finds Jo Jakeman.
Good Housekeeping: 10 of the best books to calm anxiety – Joanne Finney “shares the reads that have helped her”.
The Bookseller: Regional Independent Bookshop of the Year Award winners announced – “The winners of [Britain’s] regional and country round of the Independent Bookshop of the Year Award have been announced, with nine shops in contention for an overall prize of £5,000.”
The Smart Set: Sounds of Silence – Matthew Duffus contemplates writer’s block.
The New Republic: The Pandemic Imagination – Siddhartha Deb finds that “in the works of Camus and Thomas Mann, an outbreak reveals how dysfunctional society already was.”
BBC Culture: Why Octavia E Butler’s novels are so relevant today – “The visionary sci-fi author envisaged an alternate future that foresaw many aspects of life today, from big pharma to Trumpism. Now she has a cult following, writes Hephzibah Anderson.”
Books + Publishing: Australian Reading Hour expands, rebrands as Australia Reads – “The Australian Reading Hour campaign will expand this year to encompass 17 days of activities from 1–17 September, under the new name Australia Reads.”
Brittle Paper: COVID-19: How Some African Authors Are Reacting to the Pandemic – “Like everyone else across the world, our favorite authors are confronted with the threat of COVID-19. Here, [Brittle Paper] document some of their reactions on social media to the pandemic.”
CBC: Margaret Atwood says the future depends on what we do now – “In a prescient conversation recorded before the pandemic, the writer reviews the lessons of history”.
DW: Colm Tóibín – On Writing and Ireland – “Writing as an act of liberation. Colm Tóibín, one of the the most distinguished English writers, talks about women, music, and his home in Ireland.”
Literary Hub: How you can support bookstores during the coronavirus pandemic. – “Though most bookstores are closing their doors to the public, you can still buy books from them”, says Jonny Diamond.
AllAfrica: Nigeria: Chimamanda Adichie Denies Plagiarism Claim Over ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’ – “Best-selling author, Chimamanda Adichie, has refuted a claim that she plagiarised her Orange prize-winning book, Half of a Yellow Sun from the author of Sade [by] Anne Giwa-Amu”, writes Aishat Babatunde.
Electric Literature: A Love Letter to a Gay Haven During the AIDS Pandemic – “Paul Lisicky on writing his memoir Later and living in a town where queerness was the dominant culture”.
Vibe: The Genius Of Virginia Hamilton: Celebrating A Literary Icon – “The award-winning author was one of the most prolific writers in history.”
Literary Tourist: Ben & Jerry’s to the Big Apple, Steven Heller & Sonny Mehta – Nigel Beale explores the literary nooks and crannies of New York City.
South China Morning Post: How a Hong Kong bookstore owner is creating a new way of consuming the written word – “Flow Books owner Surdham Lam plans to turn his second-hand book store into the Flow-brary, a lending library with a difference”.
The Guardian: ‘My family are too frightened to read my book’: meet Europe’s most exciting authors – “From a Dutch bestseller about childhood loss to a passionate lesbian romance in France, a refugee’s journey from Iraq and the dark side of Sweden … six novelists telling fresh stories about Europe”.
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
Wow! So much to enjoy – thank you Paula. Here’s hoping your local shop gets restocked soon – I’m hoping the stockpiling madness is abating. Keep safe 🙂
Thank you, Madame B. You would think people must be well stocked-up by now but there seems to be no end to their hoarding ways. I don’t know how they do it because the local shop limits the number of toilet rolls, hand sanitizers etc. you can buy at the mo. They must keep coming back in various disguises!
I hope you’re adapting to working from home. I know London is suffering more than the rest of the country, so please do take care. 🤗
Thank you Paula, you too 🙂
Thank you for the Shiny link. 🙂 Off to explore some of those many links now…
It’s a pleasure, Annabel. I always enjoy the Shiny New Books reviews. Hope you enjoy this week’s links. 😊
Lots of interesting reading as always, thank you!
Thanks you so much. I hope you are keeping safe and well. 😊
Thank you so much for including my review of This Lonely City. There are so many interesting links here! (It should keep me going for a while!)
You’re very welcome, Joules. I know I can always rely on you to post fascinating and thought provoking reviews. Stay safe. 😊
I am so impressed by this contribution! You are a hard worker.
That’s such a kind thing to say, Joyce. Thank you so much. 🤗
I hope all is well with you and you’re staying safe and strong.
This is such a stressful time. I so look forward to returning a more normal time.
Blogging has helped a little. It definitely provides a focus.
I think we’re all learning how best to cope with the situation as we go along. It’s unprecedented but it’s the same for all of us, no matter where we live in the world. Book people are some of the nicest, most supportive people I’ve come across, so at least we can chat to each other. 🤗
Perfectly said, Paula.
Thank you so much for the link – it is very kind of you.
You’re very welcome, Christine. 😊
I liked the link to the Anne Frank diary story. When the library is closed, there is a porridge deficit in the supermarket, and the COVID-19 death toll is shooting upwards, it is sensible to remember other tragedies. I believe it was the evolutionary psychologist Steven Pinker who used to annoy people by saying humanity had never had it better, but when you think about the diary you can still see where he was coming from.
Although economic austerity was deliberate, COVID-19 isn’t- so it is likely that we may all die of an accident which is somehow reassuring. That said, I’m not sure what I think about the complexities of the editing process with regard to the diary. Be lucky Comrade Paula & remember the value of doing nothing.
I first read my mum’s copy of Anne Frank’s diary when I was seven-years-old and it had a profound effect on the way I viewed the world from that point forward. People have lived comparatively uneventful lives in the UK and the west in general since 1945 (plus the dwindling war generation is now mainly made up of people who were children at the time – my ma included), so the present upheaval has come as an immense shock to the vast majority. Most of us have lived relatively charmed lives, cushioned from the worst things in society, and it’s taking time to sink in, especially with those who would normally take little or no notice of the wider world. I agree, awareness of humanity’s travails in different eras or parts of the world is important in coping with the present crisis. Reading as widely as possible is more vital than ever.
Thank you Comrade John. My absolute favourite from A. A. Milne: “If the person you are talking to doesn’t appear to be listening, be patient. It may simply be that he has a small piece of fluff in his ear.”
Wonderfully bookish links to keep me busy during isolation – thank you Paula! 😀
Thank you, Kaggsy. I hope you are gradually working your way through those prodigious book mountains. 😃
Thanks for the link, I reckon it’s going to take me a week to get through all the wonderful things you’ve shared here.
All the same, I’d to share another: one of my friends has taught writing in community contexts and schools for many years, and she has posted a series of ‘lessons’ — not for writers aspiring to publication, but for people to use writing as solace, and for fun. The activities she suggests are also suitable for children as well as adults seeking to make sense of what’s happening now. Her latest post is Writing A Recipe For A Good Mood and you can find it at https://mairineil.com/, and then follow the tags at the bottom of her post to discover more.
All the best, Lisa x
Many thanks, Lisa. I’ll check that link out. 😊
Thanks for the link to the Octavia Butler article, I’m reading Kindred now and really enjoying it, I’ve been wanting to read her work for a while and now is the perfect opportunity.
Good idea about a list of therapeutic reads too, I prefer that to dystopian lists, I think we need to be aware of what we “literary literally’ consume!
Very true, Claire. I’m so glad you found the article of interest. 😊
Thanks Paula for another great post. I’m glad to hear that you are going well in your lovely new place.
So many great articles here. Weirdly, with all this time – well some because I have my elderly mother staying with me so that takes up some of my freed up time – I’m feeling restless and unable to read more or even do those tasks you keep putting off because you have no time. Maybe with a few more days under my belt, I will settle down to it.
My favourite bookshop – No Alibis Bookstore in Belfast – was featured in that Guardian article about the inventiveness of indie booksellers! Great round -up, hope you are keeping safe and well xx
Thank you, Cathy. We’re fine so far. Hope all is good with you. 😊
I hope you’re going to share some of those reading lists ???
That item about the situation in Italy was interesting. I can understand the frustrations of independent booksellers who don’t have the deep pockets people like Amazon have. It does sound odd however that you can buy perfume but not books…
Nothing seems to make sense any more. Strange days! 🤯
Such a great collection of links and information – I’ll be coming back here, Paula! 😀
Thank you, Ola. It’s always good to hear from you. Hope you’re staying safe. 😃
Thanks, Paula! Yes, as safe as we can in the current conditions, with a month of level 4 lockdown! Reading seems now the truly safest option for entertainment. 😀
The Vulture piece on pandemic reading is interesting, but it leaves out the book that describes our current situation in what seems a now-prescient way, A Song for a New Day by Sarah Pinsker. https://necromancyneverpays.wordpress.com/2019/09/26/a-song-for-a-new-day/
Many thanks, Jeanne. 😃
Such wonderful reading there, Paula, I will have to make lunch and come back to settle in for the afternoon!
Just a postscript about your Facebook page and its interesting posts (which have featured my blog entries on numerous occasions) I have decided to suspend my Facebook page for the unforeseeable future. Not so much because of the Corona Virus but the ridiculous social media trivia surrounding it. Hence I will not be able to Like your future Facebook entries.
Okay, Gretchen. Many thanks for letting me know. 😊
Lists are good, Paula! I’ll bookmark this to come back to this afternoon, so thank you for keeping all of us in stock of reading material. Stay safe & as well as possible ♥
Many thanks, Caz. You too – these are worrying times. 🤗
What a bounty of good articles and features to explore this week! The process behind the editing and presentation of Anne Frank’s diaries is so interesting! And of course you know i always love to peel at the bookstore news. Also, pleased to see talk of Octavia Butler and Virginia Hamilton – wonderful and inspiring writers for sure. And all the efforts to work with new economic and social realities just now – fascinating stuff. But maybe my favourite this week is the image of and information about the library of banned books in Minecraft. Wheee – I love that!
I haven’t been posting much myself (or even reading), but it’s so cheering to see everyone else still going at it. I’m finally at the stage of trying to catch up a bit with other blogs, and then maybe I’ll see to my own. You’d think I’d have more time than usual for those things, but having everyone at home all the time is quite time consuming! But all is well here, and I’m happy to hear things are with you as well! xo