Winding Up the Week #118

An end of week recap

WUTW3This 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.


* Lie Back and Listen *

Here I recommend engaging podcasts and other digital recordings I’ve come across during the week. Hopefully you too will enjoy them.

Head over to the Moomin website to listen to Tove Jansson’s niece read her aunt’s short story ‘The Invisible Child’. Sophia Jansson reflects upon the tale “with the help of a set of pedagogic questions”, which remind young listeners of the importance of the power of caring and empathy. >> Listen to ‘The Invisible Child’ read by Sophia Jansson >>


* 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:

MRS RICKJulie Thorndyke, Mrs Rickaby’s lullaby – While Thorndyke’s first novel probably won’t be “a book for everyone”, it is ideal for those seeking “something gentle and reflective”, says Sue T from Whispering Gums. What’s more, it offers “a little page-turning twist”.

What Elements Make An Ace Book Review? – For day 18 of her excellent A-Z Challenge, Karen at BookerTalk discusses the art of writing a good critique. She describes book reviews as the “cornerstone” of one’s literary blog, which will improve with “regular practice”, and offers pointers to writing a “measured and constructive” piece.

Reading Matters – news from the world of children’s books – If you have an interest in children’s literature, I thoroughly recommend you read Anne Thompson’s weekly post at Library Lady, which takes a look at “some of the latest news about children’s books”. There are oodles of articles and resources to keep you and your kids occupied all weekend.

* Irresistible Items *

beverage book break breakfast

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:


MISS MAC MY DARLINGJSTOR Daily: Sick of Streaming? Try This Really Long Cult Novel – Marguerite Young’s Miss MacIntosh, My Darling is a dense fusion of poetry and prose. One critic says it’s unjustifiably forgotten, says Matthew Wills. 

The New York Times: The Year You Finally Read a Book About Climate Change – A round up of some of the best books on climate change for Earth Day 2020.

Time: Why We Should All Be Keeping Coronavirus Journals – Katherine Sharp Landdeck makes a compelling case for keeping a coronavirus journal.

The Chronicle of Higher Education: A Side Effect of the Covid-19 Pandemic? Reading Got a Lot Harder – Readers are struggling to focus, finds Emma Pettit.

Literary Hub: How Plants Helped Colette Satisfy an Insatiable Desire – “Damon Young on Colette’s life in the garden”.

The Guardian: Carol Ann Duffy leads British poets creating ‘living record’ of coronavirus – “Major names including Imtiaz Dharker, Jackie Kay and father-and-son poets Ian and Andrew McMillan to document outbreak in verse”, finds Alison Flood.

Yahoo News!: Seller of books critical of China leaders attacked in Taiwan – “The founder of a bookshop specializing in texts critical of China’s Communist Party leaders was attacked with red paint in Taiwan […], but suffered no serious physical injuries.”

National Book Tokens: 10 ways to celebrate your love of books at home – NBT have “got your bookish needs covered with a list of 10 ways to celebrate your love of books at home, from joining a virtual book club to embarking on your first readathon.”

Bangkok Times: ‘Phanomthien’ passes away – “Chatchai Wisetsuwannaphum, one of Thailand’s literary greats known by his pen name Phanomthien, has died of natural causes at the age of 89.”

Tor: Will Fantasy Ever Let Black Boys Like Me Be Magic? – Steven Underwood says genre literature “has been stereotyped as a man’s playground for much of the last century and, by courtesy of publishing, being a Whites Only space.” 

Eventbrite: How Have I Not Read This? The New Virtual Book Club – Knopf and Doubleday are collaborating with bookstores on a new virtual book club.

Sydney Review of Books: Pencil Leaners – Jeff Sparrow discovers that the current crisis may lead to a revival of Australia’s Federal Writers’ Project.

TLS: Infecting the teller – In his essay, Brian Vickers discusses Oxford University Press and the “failure of a mathematical approach to Shakespeare’s authorship”.

Jacobin: The Outrageous Optimism of Jean-Paul Sartre – “The French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre died forty years ago […]. Sartre’s philosophy and political values can still inspire struggles for freedom today”, finds Ian Birchall.

London Evening Standard: Candice Carty-Williams and Dawn O’Porter longlisted for 2020 Comedy Women in Print Prize – Laura Hampson looks at this year’s Comedy Women in Print Prize – “the only award in the UK and Ireland to recognise work by funny women”.

Toronto Public Library: Toronto Public Library is providing free books for kids in food hampers distributed through its pop-up library branch food banks – “As part of its ongoing support of Toronto’s food banks, Toronto Public Library (TPL) is providing brand new books for children”. 

Vogue: In an Age of Social Distancing, How Bookstores Are Staying Connected to Their Readers – Mary Billard investigates the ways bookstores are staying in contact with readers during quarantine.

APOCALYPSEThe Paris Review: How to Survive the End of the World: An Interview with Mark O’Connell – Rosa Lyster finds Mark O’Connell’s “eerily prescient new book, Notes From an Apocalypse, looks at the preppers and survivalists who’ve been ready for the end since the beginning.”

The New Indian Express: Bookstore at your door – Steni Simon discovers the “initiative ‘Books by Bicycle’ is helping bibliophiles fight lockdown blues”. 

Readings: Seven Australian debut novels to read in April – “There are so many wonderful works of Australian fiction to celebrate in April. Here, [Readings] collect together seven first-time novels from local authors.”

Russian Art + Culture: Heart of a Dog – A Gift That Keeps on Giving – Anton Sanatov appraises the famous film based on Mikhail Bulgakov’s novel.

Open Culture: Vintage Book & Record Covers Brought to Life in a Mesmerizing Animated Video – Henning M. Lederer reveals a new set of animated vintage covers.

1843: Do you speak corona? A guide to covid-19 slang – “Around the world, coronavirus is changing how we speak. Don’t be a “covidiot” – make sure your pandemic parlance is up to scratch”. 

The Atlantic: Philip Roth’s Terrible Gift of Intimacy – “During his last two decades, we spent thousands of hours in each other’s company. It was a little like a marriage; I couldn’t have done without it”, writes Benjamin Taylor.

CBC: Canadian publisher’s map highlights hundreds of bookstores now selling online – Madeleine Cummings reports that booksellers “amplify online presence to reach customers during pandemic”.

Publishers Weekly: Publishers Weekly Launches #BooksAreEssential – Now more than ever, books are essential to the well-being, education and entertainment of the world’s society and culture. PW is asking its readers to support the industry that make books possible by joining them on a new social media campaign.

Electric Literature: The New Generation of Holocaust Memoirs – “As survivors die, their children and grandchildren are writing about how the Holocaust continues to reverberate”.

Chicago Review of Books: How Do Poets Choose a Collection’s Final Poem? – Sarah Blake asks Kimberly Quiogue Andrews, Leah Huizar, Su Hwang and Natalie Diaz.

Asahi Shimbun: Drone will buzz shelves at Chiba library to check book inventory – “A drone will soon be flying through the shelves of a city library”, says Shigeo Hirai, “but it won’t be disturbing the concentration of patrons or interfering with the daily operation.”

Brain Pickings: Spring in a Pandemic: Mary Shelley on What Makes Life Worth Living and Nature’s Beauty as a Lifeline to Regaining Sanity – Maria Popva on Mary Shelley writing 200 years ago about a pandemic-ravaged world and how nature makes life worth living.

CTGN: Bookstores collaborate with delivery platforms to survive pandemic – “Order online and receive within 30 minutes”, says Gao Ang. “It’s not bubble tea or McDonald’s; instead, it’s books.”

MOMENT OF TENDERNESSPublishers Weekly: The Moment of Tenderness – “This posthumous short story collection from A Wrinkle in Time author L’Engle is ideal for adult fans of the beloved children’s book writer”, says Lisa Vance.

BBC News: How a Daniel Defoe book can teach us about Covid-19 – Vincent Dowd on Defoe’s account of the Great Plague of 1665.

Tehran Times: Iranian bookstores resume activities on Saturday – “Bookstores across Iran were allowed to resume activities from [last] Saturday after a nearly two-month shutdown due to the new coronavirus pandemic.”

Vintage: Where to start reading Roland Barthes – Vintage has created a guide to the books of French essayist, writer, philosopher and literary critic Roland Barthes in memory of his death 40 years ago.



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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31 replies

  1. I’m glad to see that finally one of these “how to write a book review” articles (why are there so many?) emphasizes how important it is to give your own individual perspective!

  2. Kudos to Karen at BookerTalk for all the work she’s done on her A to Z challenge. It’s been fascinating to read the many different ways in which we all approach blogging.

  3. De Beauviour was a fascinating philosopher so I’m particularly grateful for the Sartre link- his novels are so compelling and the pair of them were so prolific.

  4. So happy to know about Library Lady, Paula!

  5. Colette and plants is my perfect read – thank you Paula 🙂

    • Thank YOU, Madame B. Do you keep plants on your fire escape – or perhaps that isn’t permitted (a health and safety issue maybe)? I particularly love wild flowers (some may call them weeds) because I like to encourage butterflies, moths, bees and various beetles to visit. I always think it’s surprising how well certain plants adapt to city life and spring up in seemingly hostile places. For instance, Valerian (not a native, I know, but fabulous for attracting insects) can often be found growing in walls during the summer months. Amazing! 😊🌼

      • Yes, I do keep plants, it’s allowed as long as I keep access available. I have squeezed pots into every available space 😀 I also love wildflowers – field poppies, cornflowers, sweet peas are my favourite flowers. It’s great seeing the bees come. Totally agree its wonderful when plants spring up in places that seem so uninhabitable, it’s so hopeful!

  6. Lovely – Colette and plants for me too – thanks! 😀

  7. Thank you thank you thank you for compiling this list. I have several tabs open, new blogs to read. I might attempt the culture novel too.

  8. A great round up of cultural and social highlights as usual. This one is very fitting for our times! Thanks, Paula. Btw my blog has no reviewing cornerstone. Have done a few in the past but I think I’m with Kate Atkinson on this one!

  9. Thanks for linking to my Julie Thorndyke review. That was a surprise.

    Some fascinating links here again. I’m particularly intrigued by how poets choose the last poem for a collection, because my sense is that a lot of reviewers don’t really consider the order of works in collections (or anthologies). I will also check out the corona stand article – as well as a few others.

  10. Thank you very much for including my weekly Reading Matters Paula, I do appreciate it. As I tend to concentrate on children’s literature for my own blog and reviews I love having your weekly wind up to refer to for everything that I would otherwise miss. It’s my Sunday treat and I look forward to it. Many thanks for all your time and effort.

  11. Excellent links, Paula! I have read a couple and will be back for more. I have shared the Moomin reading with my younger daughter and the article on readers struggling to concentrate I have shared with both daughters. The younger is struggling with her degree studies and the elder works at the Metropolitan Uni. in Manchester teaching students how to access information.

  12. Brilliant collection as always, Paula. I enjoyed “Carol Ann Duffy leads British poets creating ‘living record’ of coronavirus” likewise ephemera for library archives – we are living in an historic event – I typed that in a subdued way. Readings Australia, out of the seven Australian debut novels “The Loudness of Unsaid Things” is making a huge splash.

    • Thank you so much, Gretchen. Yes, I’m sure COVID-19 will be discussed and analysed for years to come. No doubt school kids will study it in the way they currently do the Great War and Spanish flu, for example. Hope you’re keeping safe and well. 😊

  13. True! And, yes, I am tucked up nice and safe, enjoying a lovely cool autumn. Hope you and D are enjoying a sunny springtime.

  14. Hah. Covid slang. Of course. And Covid journals. But also a new collection of stories from Madeleine L’Engle (I loved her Austins series and reread it recently). And bookstores delivering and reopening. What a plethora of articles and posts. Thanks, Paula. None of us has any excuse for not being up-to-date with bookish news now! 😀

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