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”.
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