Winding Up the Week #120

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.


I finally shared my thoughts on Colette’s stunning novella, Chéri, for the 1920 Club – a mere three-weeks after the event ended. >> 1920 CLUB: Chéri by Colette >> 


* Lie Back and Listen *

adorable blur cat close up

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

The Women’s Prize for Fiction invites you to plug into its podcast this weekend. You can listen to two new episodes of #ReadingWomen featuring “Jordan Stephens, actor and one half of  hip hop duo Rizzle Kicks, comedian Jessica Forteskew and actor and artist Jessie Cave talking about three past Women’s Prize winning books on the theme of Nationhood.” Included are “some seriously cosy book club feels and […] a brand new reading list” providing “much-needed literary joy”. >> Listen to the Women’s Prize Podcast this weekend >>


* Seagull Books Fortnight * 

SEAGULL BOOKS FORTNIGHTLizzy Siddall of Lizzy’s Literary Life is going to “spend the first fortnight of June reading and reviewing” titles she has downloaded from Seagull Books as part of their PDF download offer, Apart, but not alone, in which they are making 28 books free to download during lockdown. Lizzy describes this lovely gesture as “nothing short of extraordinary” and has planned the event as a way of saying “thank you”. She invites you to join her in supporting “one of the most generous publishers in the business.” Please head over to Announcing Seagull Books Fortnight #seagullbooksfortnight for further details. 

* 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:

MERMAID ATLASThe Mermaid Atlas: Merfolk of the World – Anna Claybourne’s forthcoming book about merfolk, which is illustrated by Miren Asiain Lora, is a “treasure for any mythology lover”, says The Opinionated Reader, Amalia Gavea.

The Mystery of Henri Pick by David Foenkinos (transl. Sam Taylor): Tailor made – Susan Osborne of A life in books found the “narrative bowls along” in this comic mystery from Pushkin Press. In addition, it is “playful” in style and “pleasingly anchored in bookishness”.

Novella a Day in May #4Madame B is currently tackling her mammoth (but hugely enjoyable) annual reading challenge, Novella a Day in May, in which she reads and critiques a different novella every day of the month. She “immensely” enjoyed Not to Disturb by Muriel Spark, especially the author’s “creepy, unsettling tales” and “dark humour”. Head over to Madame Bibi Lophile Recommends to discover why she found this book difficult to review. 

* Irresistible Items *

brown bread on white ceramic plate

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:


READER COME HOMEClaremont Review of Books: Our Bookless Future“It won’t be long before all living memory of a time before the personal computer is gone.” Mark Bauerlein discusses Reader, Come Home by Maryanne Wolf.

The Guardian: Edna O’Brien: ‘Reading Charles Darwin dislodged my religious education’ – “The Irish novelist on reading prayer books as a child, her admiration for Silent Spring author Rachel Carson and how Chekhov ‘saved her sanity’”.

Culture Trip: Destination Reads: The Best Books Set in North American Cities – “With much of the world in lockdown, there’s nothing better than getting lost in a good book. Explore North America’s major cities in the second chapter of [Grace Beard’s] destination reads.” 

Vintage: Jung Chang: My Chinese family at the time of coronavirus – The author Jung Chang writes a moving essay about her Chinese family at the time of coronavirus, touching on the challenges and sadness of being separated from her family during the Covid-19 lockdown, including her 89-year-old mother.

Electric Literature: Miss Reading in Public? Bring the Sounds of the Library to Your Home – “The New York Public Library has compiled an album of noises we miss—including the sound of the library itself”.

Booksellers: Guide to Social Distancing on Re-opening For Bookshops – “The Booksellers Association has published guidelines for social distancing and more in the UK.” 

The New York Times: A Novel From North Korea Offers Glimpses of the Everyday – E. Tammy Kim finds “North Korea has novelists and literary critics, fiction prizes and best sellers.”

The Irish Times: Margaret Atwood’s Isolation Diary: How to foil squirrels and sew face masks – “The Handmaid’s Tail author shares some practical advice from locked-down Canada”.

Inside Hook: Louis Auchincloss Wrote the Great Overlooked Yuppie Novel of the 1980sDiary of a Yuppie should sit between Bonfire of the Vanities and American Psycho on your bookshelf”, says Charles Mcfarlane.

The Detroit News: Octavia Butler’s prescient sci-fi resonates years after her death – Hillel Italie on the lasting importance of Octavia Butler.

Time Out: Abu Dhabi’s first Kinokuniya bookstore has now opened – Japanese chain, Kinokuniya, has opened a new store in Abu Dhabi.

BARNBookForum: Naked Brunch –  Albert Mobilio finds “animal-rights activists stage a chicken-farm heist in Deb Olin Unferth’s new novel”.

The Indian Express: Roger Robinson wins Ondaatje Prize for A Portable Paradise – “Robonson’s book was competing with Elif Shafak’s 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World, Robert Macfarlane’s Underland: A Deep Time Journey, Tishani Doshi’s Small Days and Nights, Jumoke Verissimo’s A Small Silence and Jay Bernard’s Surge.

Jezebel: The Haunting of Shirley Jackson – “Both the terror and tragedy of a Shirley Jackson story stem from the prospect of belonging nowhere”, says Emily Alford. 

Reuters: Hong Kong bookseller jailed in China releases smuggled-out poems – A Swedish publisher has distributed poems written by a Hong Kong bookseller and smuggled out of the Chinese prison where he is serving a 10-year sentence.

BBC News: Coronavirus: Andy Serkis reads entire Hobbit live online for charity – Andy Serkis is reading The Hobbit in its entirety in order to raise money for charity.

The Hudson Review: The Shakespeareans – “No literary club has ever equaled the one founded in London in 1764 by Samuel Johnson, Sir Joshua Reynolds, Edmund Burke, Oliver Goldsmith, and a handful of others”, says Brooke Allen. 

The New Yorker: Lessons on Being a Critic, from the Classic Children’s Book “Anatole” – “A fellow-critic’s query about early aesthetic awakenings sent me back to a favorite story, about a mouse who finds redemption reviewing cheese”, writes Richard Brody.

Refinery29: 6 Great New Books To Read This May – Leah Carroll recommends books coming out this month.

The Sydney Morning Herald: What’s on the shelf? Our home libraries are having a moment in the spotlight – “In this strange new world of ubiquitous video calls while many of us work from home, our bookshelves are enjoying a rare moment in the spotlight.”

JSTOR Daily: How Reading Got Farm Women Through the Depression – Livia Gershon introduces us to the farm women who survived the Depression by reading. 

TLS: A cure for Tsundoku? – Alexander Wooley ON “why people are turning to classic literature in a time of instability”.

OUR RICHESNPR: Love Of Literature — And Algeria — Illuminates ‘Our Riches’ – Kaouther Adimi’s novel tells the real-life story of Edmond Charlot, the Algerian bookseller and publisher who witnessed his country’s independence struggle — and famously discovered Albert Camus.

The Paris Review: The Origins of Scandinavian Noir – When Per Wahlöö and Maj Sjöwall set out to write the Martin Beck mysteries, nothing of the kind had ever appeared in Scandinavian literature, finds Wendy Lesser. 

Penguin: How to create the perfect background bookshelf – We are introduced to “the world’s most sought-after book curator”, who shares advice on how to make the most of our bookshelves.

Current Affairs: The Politics and “Pretentiousness” of Reading James Joyce – “Is this modernist tome full of fart jokes and dense allusions worth all the irritating discourse around it? Brianna Rennix says yes.”

Tor: An Insider’s Guide to Slavic-Inspired Fantasy – “New variations on Slavic themes provide us with a unique opportunity to see how the rest of the world reflects upon us and our centuries of folklore and literary traditions”, writes Teo Bileta.

World Economic Forum: Travel the world from your kitchen: 6 cookbooks to read in quarantine – With the world in lockdown, Kaya Bulbul “recipe books have become a means of escape.” 

Brittle Paper: Spice Up Your Reading with These 16 Short Story Collections by African Authors from Indie Presses – “Sixteen notable recently-published short story collections that were published by sixteen different independent presses”.

The Conversation: How I wrote and published a book about the economics of coronavirus in a month – “The feedback from regular readers was better than the feedback from professional economists”, reveals Joshua Gans.

CrimeReads: A Police Officer’s Guide to Common, Avoidable Errors in Crime Fiction – “Don’t reach for the safety, authors. That’s a revolver in your hand.”

Hyperallergic: Questioning the Very Form of the Book – “Madeline Gins uses the form to dislodge our notion of individual subjectivity, the narrator commonly known as I.”

PLAY AS LAYSBook Marks: Five Novels Born from the Mother-Child Bond – Kate Milliken, the author of Kept Animals, shares five books in her life with Jane Ciabattari.

The Cut: Now Is the Perfect Time to Memorize a Poem – “It’s a good exercise, in the midst of chaos, to give yourself over to a sound and a rhythm that is not your own”, says Matthew Schneier.

Book Riot: A Pod of Books About Whales – Alice Nuttall shares some of her favourite books about whales. 

GoFundMe: The Peoples Co-op Bookstore: 75 for 75! – Canada’s oldest indie, the People’s Co-op Bookstore in Vancouver, is hoping to raise $75,000 on GoFundMe to stay open. 

BBC News: Coronavirus: JK Rowling donates £1m to two charities – “JK Rowling, the creator of the Harry Potter adventures, is donating £1m to charities supporting vulnerable people during the lockdown.”

Forbes: In A Lonely Lockdown, With Books Slow To Come, Fanfiction Booms – Fanfiction is apparently booming in quarantine, finds Deniz Çam.

BookPage: 9 publishing trends we’re loving right now– Some of 2020’s biggest literary trends according to the BookPage editors.

Mel: The Sad Smugness of the Bookshelf Troll – “With home libraries on prominent display, some see a chance to spark outrage”.

BuzzFeed: 32 Short Story Collections That Will Cure Even The Worst Reading Slump – Short story collections to cure your reading slump.

Laughing Squid: The New York Public Library Challenges People to Recreate the Covers of Their Favorite Books at Home – “While closed to visitors, The New York Public Library has challenged people to recreate the cover art from their favorite books with whatever they have at home”, says Lori Dorn. 

World Literature Today: Social Distancing on the Moors – “Walking his dogs through the Zennor moors, a writer in Cornwall contemplates the area’s literary history and discovers the ever-growing distance between the new reality brought by the pandemic and his family’s plans for a two-year stay on the Avenue Katherine Mansfield.” 



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

Tags: , , , , , , ,

21 replies

  1. Thanks for the link, Paula. A nice little comfort read for our socially distanced times.

  2. I’m glad people are reading Octavia Butler. I’m still very disappointed that I didn’t get to give my paper on climate change warnings in the Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents at a conference in March. Especially since I’d just seen what turned out to be the last public performance of the opera at UCLA on March 7.

  3. Lovely! I shall try to join in with the Seagul event – such a good idea and what a lovely publisher. And yes – isn’t it great that Backlisted is back!

  4. Another worldwide whirlwind tour! I particularly enjoyed the crime fiction no no’s and the article about short story collections. Enough to keep me going there. Thanks, Paula.

  5. A lovely set of links as ever – thank you for the effort you put into doing this!

  6. So many lovely links to explore! Thank you for the mention Paula, much appreciated 🙂

  7. Great list, Paula, thank you. I especially enjoyed the Cornish piece! 😉

    • I thought of you when I found that link, Sandra. 😊

    • Ooh, I was going to mention, my partner ordered 10 Cornish pasties from a company called Proper Cornish in Bodmin. They’re absolutely enormous and she’s raving about them – apparently the pastry and filling are delicious. I’m veggie, so I may try something from their vegan range when she reorders. We like using small, family-run companies, especially during the current crisis. Do you know them? Apparently they’ve been in business for 30 years. 😋

      • That’s a new compamny to me so thank you! B loves pasties and we tend to buy them locally made in Looe but we visit Bodmin regularly (or we did!) as it’s our nearest place for a large supermarket. So I’ll look out for these when we’re free again!

  8. Wendy Lesser’s essay is such a great read. And I love following Margaret Atwood’s pandemic activities. A book of smuggled poems sounds like a situation that would make for a great novel (if only those situations were entirely fictional)! And the more I hear from Edna O’Brien, the more I admire and want to read more of her. Thanks for another great collection of links!

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: