An end of week recap
“It’s difficult in times like these: ideals, dreams and cherished hopes rise within us, only to be crushed by grim reality. It’s a wonder I haven’t abandoned all my ideals, they seem so absurd and impractical. Yet I cling to them because I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart.”
Anne Frank (1929-1945)
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.
PAUSE FOR A POD >>
* 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.
A 58-minute podcast produced by BBC Sounds and first broadcast on 23rd March features Shahidha Bari in conversation with Deborah Levy and Laurence Scott on the subject of the English novelist EM Forster. It is part of the outstanding Arts & Ideas series, which regularly brings together artists, writers and thinkers to discuss “the ideas shaping our lives and links between past and present and new academic research” – previous episodes have covered topics ranging from Shakespeare’s bookshelf and Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring to the future of theatres and WWII radio propaganda. This programme includes analysis of all Forster’s best known works plus his essay, Aspects of the Novel. >> What’s so great about EM Forster >>
* Summer in Other Languages *
As part of her “personal language learning goals”, Lory from The Emerald City (along with Emma at Words and Peace) is set to challenge herself to read only in French throughout the month of July. She hopes others may wish to join her in tackling works in languages other than their own, and after finishing, “reflect on the experience” in a post. She says, it would “be wonderful to hear from a variety of perspectives, and to celebrate many linguistic streams” within the book blogging community. If this challenge appeals to you, please head over to A spontaneous challenge: Summer in Other Languages for further details.
* Spanish Literature Month 2020 *
Stu from Winstonsdad’s Blog and Richard at Caravana de Recuerdos are once again hosting Spanish Lit Month, a reading jolly which focuses on “Spain and the Spanish speaking world”. The two suggested titles this year are: Three Trapped Tigers by Guillermo Cabrera Infante and Recounting: Antagony, Book I by Luis Goytisolo. You can find further information about the event at Spanish Lit Month 2020 July/August.
* Lit Crit Blogflash *
I’m going to share with you four 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:
‘This story is a talisman’ [book review] – In her review of Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line, Deepa Anappara’s debut mystery novel set in the slums of India, Eleanor Updegraff of The Monthly Booking describes the story as “dazzling”, “moving” and “fiction at its best”.
Common People: An Anthology of Working Class Writers – Over at What I Think About When I Think About Reading Jan Hicks has chosen a collection of essays, poems and pieces of personal memoir as one of her 20 Books of Summer. She found the anthology contained “myriad voices of working class writers”, who lifted their experiences “above the dominant words of affluence and privilege.”
Libreria Bookshop – Megan from Behind Her Books “went on a bookshop pilgrimage to London last year”. She visited Libreria Bookshop in the east of the city, which had “a warm, golden glow” inviting her to “take a further look”. Upon entering, she was delighted to find herself “enveloped in [a] soft ambience of yellow shelves, clever lighting and a seemingly infinite amount of books”. She intends to return in the future.
Book Review: Writers and Lovers by Lily King – “This is a beautifully written novel”, says Elizabeth Humphreys at Leaping Life. She particularly “enjoyed all the bookish references” and found it a story to “savour and linger over”.
* 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:
Literary Hub: When Scientific Data Shapes Climate Literature – Heather Houser explores what happens when the “art of science seeps into plot, structure and style”.
Gothamist: Bookstore Owners Struggle With Surge In Anti-Racist Book Sales – “Kalima DeSuze, the owner of Cafe con Libros feminist bookstore in Brooklyn, has seen book sales skyrocket in the last two weeks as mostly white customers rush to order literature on dismantling racism.”
BBC Culture: The best short stories for every taste and mood – “The perfect lockdown reading choices for whatever your state of mind. Cath Pound picks bite-size tales to reassure, comfort, or unsettle.”
Al-Jazeera: Adel Kamel: Egyptian classic rediscovered in English – “The 1941 Malim the Great translated into English in April reignites the renowned writer’s work for a new generation”, finds Marcia Lynx Qualey.
Read it Forward: Why We’re Obsessed With the Smell of Books – “Can’t get enough of that book smell? Here’s why.”
Time: The Risky Journey That Saved One of China’s Greatest Literary Treasures – The author Janie Chang recounts a journey that took place during the Second Sino-Japanese War to safeguard the Siku Quanshu, one of China’s greatest literary treasures.
Lonely Planet: How I ended up sleeping in the world’s most famous bookstore – Edwina Hart recalls her stay at Paris’s Shakespeare & Co.
The Washington Post: By day, I’ve been trying to cull my book collection. But at night, eBay beckons. – Will critic Michael Dirda ever attain the well-organized library of his dreams?
KUOW: ‘Cheering yes!’ This Seattle poet believes this time may be different – “In the late 1960s, poet Colleen McElroy taught speech and hearing sciences at Western Washington University”, finds Marcie Sillman.
Them: Now List 2020: Authors Danez Smith, Ocean Vuong, and Emerson Whitney Are Ready for Rebellion – Brontez Purnell with the Now List literature honorees who are “translating everyday life into the prose and poetry of revolution.”
The New York Review of Books: Hervé Guibert: Living Without a Vaccine – Hervé Guibert’s To the Friend Who Did Not Save My Life, set during the height of the AIDS epidemic, is a story of a young man confronting the ominous spectre of this terrifying disease in his life.
CrimeReads: How the Flavia Dd Luce Series Investigates the Traditional English Village Murder Mystery – Olivia Rutigliano on “death, preservation, genius, detectives, villages, and seventeenth-century graveyard poems”.
Harper’s Bazaar: Why we need to engage with Black literature beyond racial politics – “It’s time to delve into the full spectrum of Black experience”, says Frankie Reddin.
Words Without Borders: 8 Queer Books in Translation to Read This Pride Month – Eight indie presses spotlight queer books in translation from all over the world.
Broadsheet: Melbourne’s Best Independent Bookstores – “There’s a labyrinthine CBD institution that’s been around since the early ’60s, a handsome art bookstore that looks more like a design boutique, and nearly 30-year-old queer bookshop that’s become a community hub”, says Will Cox. He encourages you to “trawl [their] shelves for new releases, classics and more obscure titles.”
The New Arab: Reclaiming Rumi: How Islam was erased from the Persian poet’s work – “Rumi is usually referred to as a ‘mystic’ or ‘spiritual’ but rarely Muslim”, says Sahar Esfandiari.
American Libraries: Do Online Storytimes Violate Copyright? – Lawyer-librarian Tomas A. Lipinski fields legal questions.
National Geographic: What’s the secret behind Dublin’s storytelling magic? – “As Ireland’s capital re-opens this week, the city pays tribute to its literary heroes.”
The Guardian: ‘Change is not happening fast enough’: UK publishers promise to tackle inequality – “Responding to the newly formed Black Writers’ Guild, all five of the biggest publishers say they will make more room for black authors and staff”, finds Alison Flood.
Vogue: “I Believed I Would Never Catch Up”: Bestselling Author Tayari Jones Reveals The Strange Magic Behind Her Literary Stardom – “The literary world is no stranger to fairy tales, but Tayari Jones’s journey from the sidelines to bestselling author beloved of Oprah and Obama is one for the books”, writes Olivia Marks.
Smithsonian: The National Library of Israel Will Digitize 2,500 Rare Islamic Manuscripts – Theresa Machemer finds the “National Library of Israel is set to make more than 2,500 rare manuscripts from its Islam and Middle East Collection freely available online.”
Book Marks: Emily Temple on Geek Love, The Secret History, and Hating On the Road– Eleven rapid-fire book recommendations from the author of The Lightness.
The Moscow Times: Russian Cultural Luminaries Read Joyce’s ‘Ulysses’ in Marathon Broadcast – On 16th June, one of Ireland’s most famous literary pieces” was “broadcast across the world in a whopping 30-hour marathon.
NPR: A Long Summer Ahead: What Writers Are Reading As The Pandemic Goes On – Justine Kenin and Mallory Yu have been asking a range of writers what they are reading during the pandemic.
Scroll.in: Why fan fiction about Charles Dickens’ life is just as much a part of his literary legacy – “It began with a fictional visual re-imagination of the writer’s funeral.”
Catapult: What Does It Mean to Write Asian American Literature? – Matthew Salesses writes: “In my family, race itself did not exist. If I wanted to be real, I could not experience what was not real.”
The Strategist: A Greenwich Village Bookshop Pivots to Phone Recommendations – Matthew Sedacca explains how the Manhattan bookstore Three Lives & Company is surviving the pandemic.
Standpoint.: The healing power of birdsong – “The ornithologist W.H. Hudson sought wilderness in the city. It is as if he was writing for us today”, says Jason Wilson.
Music by Clio: Andy Cohen Is Narrating Summer Stories From Literary Authors for Stella Artois – David Gianatasio takes a look at the new Stella Artois audio series, ‘ Daydreaming in the Life Artois’, narrated by Bravo talk-show host and reality-TV producer Andy Cohen.
Sunday Times ZA: Exclusive Books is celebrating South African writers and their books in their own words – “Homebru is one of Exclusive Books’ biggest promotional campaigns for the year and this year highlights how the book seller stands behind SA authors.”
Los Angeles Review of Books: Time Machine – Aleida Rodríguez examines time travel in literature.
Words Without Borders: The City and the Writer: In Paris with Marilyn Hacker – Nathalie Handal speaks to the American poet, translator and critic Marilyn Hacker about Paris.
Brain Pickings: Grammy Award-Winning Jazz Vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant Reads Audre Lorde’s Poignant Poem “The Bees” – Maria Popover on a “fierce anthem for the alternative to destruction.”
TLS: Listening for the echo – Elizabeth Lowry rereads A Passage to India.
The Irish Times: ‘Small presses are the coral reefs of publishing, attracting the most colourful fish’ – “Kevin Duffy of Bluemoose Books argues that independent publishers are vital but at risk”.
BBC News: Irish author Christine Dwyer Hickey wins Walter Scott historical fiction prize – “Irish author Christine Dwyer Hickey has won the £25,000 Walter Scott Prize for historical fiction.”
Tablet: Drugs, Sex, and Rock ’n’ Roll – David Mikics finds new biographical works “show how Philip Roth’s and Robert Stone’s hedonism fuelled their art-making”.
CBC: 16 Canadian books to read for Pride Month – “June is Pride Month. Check out these 16 books by LGBTQ Canadian creators.”
The New York Times: As London Bookstores Reopen, Eager Readers Return – “Charming neighborhood shops and slick chain outlets welcomed back customers, who snatched up titles as eclectic as the city itself”, says Alex Marshall.
KQED: The Book Club Expanding the Latinx Literary Canon — One Conversation at a Time – Marisol Medina-Cadena on the poet and activist Yosimar Reyes and a thriving Latinx book club in San Jose.
Tor.com: Books Within Reach: Building an SFF Bookshelf For My Child – K.A. Doore wonders which books should “shape her [daughter’s] early reading habits?”
Forbes: 50 Books For 50 States: A Literary Road Trip Across The USA – “From cities to jungles, [Katherine Parker-Magyar writes] about culture, travel and adventure.”
News.com: X-rated book ‘Penguins’ by Nick Thornton mistaken for children’s story – “It might have had an innocent-looking penguin graphic on the front cover. But it was far from innocent, this mother soon discovered.”
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