An end of week recap
As quarantine continues without a definite end in sight, the way we read, work and connect with others is changing. Nobody is quite sure what to expect when we finally attempt to step back into our former lives but, thankfully, we do at least have literature to help us stay psychologically and emotionally balanced.
Hang on in there, readerly folk. Every story has an ending, though not always the one we expect.
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.
Wales Readathon 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:
Book of the month: Nino Haratischvili – Ann Morgan of A year of reading the world suggests you read The Eighth Life if “you’re cooped up at home at the moment”. This “lengthy, quality” historical novel, “which has won multiple awards”, will provide “much-needed escapism” and “will teach you many things.”
Motifs, emotions and myth – Chris Lovegrove of Calmgrove found his reactions to reading “Jenny Nimmo’s haunting children’s fantasy The Snow Spider” were “many”. He appreciated its “rootedness in Welsh culture” and the “beautiful writing” made him “cry, twice”.
The independent bookstores and publishers still sending out lockdown literary deliveries – Over at Nothing in the Rulebook, Professor Wu rounds up “some of the independent literary heroes continuing to supply and deliver books to readers amid the coronavirus pandemic”.
* 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 Guardian: Albert Camus novel The Plague leads surge of pestilence fiction – “Author’s daughter explains 1947’s book’s renewed appeal during coronavirus lockdown”.
The Paris Review: The Fabulous Forgotten Life of Vita Sackville-West – Rebecca Dinerstein Knight on “the bestselling bisexual baroness who wrote over thirty-five books that made an ingenious mockery of 1920s societal norms”.
Lapham’s Quarterly: Viral News – Samuel Pepys and “blogging the Great Plague of 1665.”
Evening Standard: Books to read to get you through the Coronavirus pandemic – As Penguin rushes to reprint Albert Camus’s classic plague novel, La Peste, there is an appetite for books about the end of days. Writers select their favourites.
New York Public Library: Library-Themed Backgrounds for Your Next Video Call – Alana Mohamed invites you to “check out” some of her favourite images of the library.
Los Angeles Times: Harry Potter and the coronavirus crisis: J.K. Rowling launches a new activity website for kids – “Harry Potter is here to save the day”, says Christi Carras.
The Bookseller: Women’s Prize for Fiction awards ceremony postponed to September – Mark Chandler reveals the “Women’s Prize for Fiction award ceremony has been postponed until September because of the coronavirus pandemic.”
The Jakarta Post: Nobel laureate quits French books prize over pedophile writer – The Nobel prize-winning writer J.M.G. Le Clezio has resigned from the jury of one of France’s top literary prizes because it honoured Gabriel Matzneff.
Quill & Quire: RMB publisher Don Gorman’s Google Map featuring Canadian bookstores offering delivery – “Rocky Mountain Books publisher Don Gorman has created a Google Map that tracks all of the independent bookstores across Canada that are offering deliver and pick-up services.”
The Irish Times: Poets launch Unlaunched Books podcast – “Poets and Irish Times reviewers John McAuliffe and Seán Hewitt, along with Victoria Kennefick, [are to] host a new weekly podcast, Unlaunched Books.”
Guardian Australian: From gripping sagas to personal essays: Australian books for the coronavirus lockdown – “Whether you read for self-preservation or to finally work through your unread piles, here are some recommendations” from Roz Bellamy.
Cultured Vultures: Literary Nuggets: Why A Midsummer Night’s Dream Is Shakespeare’s Greatest Comedy – “Feel good laughs don’t come much better than this”, says Nat Wassell .
Literary Hub: 13 Books You Should Read in April – “Recommended reading from Lit Hub staff and contributors”.
Longreads: “The Leaky Vessel”: On Lewis Carroll and the Perils of Being Female – “Rachel Vorona Cote on how the Victorian era’s restrictive prescriptions for acceptable female behavior pollute society to this day.”
CrimeReads: Agatha Christie is the Best-Selling Novelist in History. – Olivia Rutigliano looks back on 100 years of the Queen of Crime.
Al Jazeera: From Sa’di to Boccaccio: The literary legacy of pandemics – Hamid Dabashi thinks literature “can help us survive this pandemic with a healthy constellation of our mental, moral, and critical faculties.”
The New Yorker: Inside Tove Jansson’s Private Universe – “Best known as the creator of the Moomins, Jansson was a cartoonist, writer, and creator of all sorts, whose fans clamored for more of her strange and enthralling fictional worlds”, writes Sheila Heti.
Melville House: Looks like everyone suddenly found time to finish that novel – Athena Bryan finds agents are “reporting an inundation of submissions in recent days.”
Brittle Paper: Bernardine Evaristo’s Latest Short Story, Her 12th Published, Is a Juicy Satire on Gender, Race, & Academia – “She might have eight books published […], but Bernardine Evaristo is not so much of a devotee to the short fiction form, with only around 12 published over her four-decade creative career.”
Columbia Journalism Review: COVID-19 is spawning a global press-freedom crackdown – Joel Simon reports that the Covid-19 pandemic is spawning a global press-freedom crackdown.
NPR: ‘A Matter Of Common Decency’: What Literature Can Teach Us About Epidemics – Melissa Block talks to educators and authors about what literature can teach us about dealing with epidemics.
Japan Today: Tsutaya Tokyo Roppongi reopens with brand new look, concept – Tokyo’s ‘foreign bookstore’ has reopened, finds Mai Shoji.
The Globe and Mail: Canada’s independent booksellers try to weather the coronavirus storm – Marsha Lederman finds that Canada’s indie bookstores are finding ways to work through the pandemic.
Wanted in Rome: How Rome’s English-language bookshops are coping with lockdown – “Rome’s English-language bookshops are battling the difficult days of lockdown with a series of initiatives and promotions.”
Penguin: 8 environmental classics to get you in the mood for spring – “For a reminder that spring is still happening outside, [Penguin are] welcoming the season with a curated list of some of the best environmental and ecological writing from Penguin Classics.”
Bookforum: Stockholm, Are You Listening? – Gerald Howard explains why he thinks Don DeLillo deserves the Nobel.
The Baffler: I’m Not Feeling Good at All – Jess Bergman on the “perplexingly alienated women of recent American fiction”.
Vintage Books: Acts of kindness – celebrating our nurses and the NHS – “In 2018, retired nurse Christie Watson wrote her memoir, The Language of Kindness. Christie is now joining the taskforce to fight the Covid-19 pandemic and is returning to the NHS.”
American Libraries: How to Sanitize Collections in a Pandemic – “Conservators weigh in on the mysteries of materials handling during COVID-19”.
Tor: Books in Which No Bad Things Happen – Jo Walton seeks books in which no bad things happen.
Time: Take a Moment to Dip Into the Miniature World of This Library For Birds Livestream – Cady Lang finds a library that is staying open during the lockdown – for wild birds!
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