An end of week recap
“…anyone who’s worth anything reads just what he likes, as the mood takes him, and with extravagant enthusiasm.”
Virginia Woolf, Jacob’s Room (1922)
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.
* Announcing the Wales Book of the Year Short List 2020 *
The shortlist for the Wales Book of the Year 2020 awards for both English and Welsh-language books has been announced. >> WALES BOOK OF THE YEAR 2020: Shortlist Announced >>
* 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:
Girl, Woman, Other – Bernardine Evaristo – Jo at bookskeptic.com found this 2020 British Book Awards: Best Fiction Book of the Year winning novel, which “gives us glimpses of the lives of eleven black women and one non-binary person”, both “smart” and “entertaining”. She was left wanting to “meet the people Evaristo describes.”
What Did Jane Austen Look Like? Over at The Book Place, Fatma’s contribution to Jane Austen July is a post examining the physical appearance of the English novelist. By scrutinizing portraits “drawn by her sister and lifelong companion Cassandra” along with “contested” and “prettified” likenesses, we learn that “what we take for granted about her appearance from several versions of her portraits” is “likely not what she actually looked like.”
We’re Going To Need More Wine Audiobook Review – Gabrielle Union’s collection of thought-provoking essays, We’re Going To Need More Wine, is “one of the most interesting and relatable memoirs” Toni of The Bookish Hangover has ever read. It felt “genuine” and left her in a “buoyant mood”.
* 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 Sydney Morning Herald: Whale-centric book a marvellous work of haunted wonder – Felicity Plunkett is impressed by a “lyrical examination of whales and their relationship with man.”
The Public Domain Review: Sicko Doctors Suffering and Sadism in 19th-Century America – “American fiction of the 19th century often featured a ghoulish figure, the cruel doctor, whose unfeeling fascination with bodily suffering readers found both unnerving and entirely plausible. Looking at novels by Louisa May Alcott, James Fenimore Cooper, and Herman Melville, Chelsea Davis dissects this curious character.”
Scroll.in: Why sadness and reading Sylvia Plath go hand in hand for some millennials – “Does it have something to do with the process of growing out of teenage girlhood and into respectable adulthood?” asks Yamini Krishnan.
Public Books: Can A Novel Be Silent? – Sam Carter searches for “a moment without sound” in two books from Latin America.
BBC Culture: The challenging books we need right now – “Cameron Laux picks out books that can help us focus our attention – and glimpse the sublime – including a quarantine reading list from Zadie Smith.”
DW: Harper Lee’s ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ still resonates 60 years on – “Harper Lee’s landmark novel is revered for embracing civil rights and racial justice in the US. But six decades later, has the Black Lives Matter movement made Mockingbird more relevant, or exposed its own racism?”
Quill & Quire: Lexicon Books changes ownership; rebrands to Block Shop Books – Sue Carter reports on the reopening of the newly renamed Block Shop Books (previously known as Lexicon Books) in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.
Five Books: The best books on Japan – Chigusa Yamaura “selects five books that throw light on a fascinating country and culture.”
The University of North Carolina:The Gift Of Wonder: Rare Book Collection Coming To Carolina – Rare book collector, Florence Fearrington, has donated nearly 4,000 books worth $6.2 million to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill University Libraries.
MSPCA Angell: MSPCA Summer Read-a-thon: Read Books and Help Animals! – Join the MSPCA Summer Read-a-thon and “raise pledges for every book you read to help pets”.
Book Riot: How to Write a Professional Book Review – Arvyn Cerézo offers a few basic pointers on writing book reviews.
Literary Hub: Eight Books You Should Read in July – “Recommended reading from Lit Hub staff and contributors”.
The Guardian: Final Terry Pratchett stories to be published in September – “Many stories in The Time-travelling Caveman – written by Pratchett when he was a journalist in the 60s and 70s – have never been published in a book.”
BBC News: JK Rowling joins 150 public figures warning over free speech – “Some 150 writers, academics and activists – including authors JK Rowling, Salman Rushdie and Margaret Atwood – have signed an open letter denouncing the ‘restriction of debate’.”
Luxury Travel Advisor: Visiting Europe’s Great Libraries – Rick Steves supplies “a weekly dose of travel dreaming” to help readers through the pandemic.
ABC News: Miles Franklin Literary Award 2020 shortlist reading guide – “Stories of trauma — personal, communal and national — dominate the Miles Franklin Award, Australia’s most prestigious literary prize, in its 63rd year”, writes Kate Evans.
TLS: Romance versus realism: The origins of the novel – “How, when and why did novels start?” Min Wild investigates.
Get Literary: The 7 Stages of Emotion when Giving Away Books – “If you find your bookshelves to be a bit overcrowded, allow [Sabrina Sánchez] to prepare you for the road ahead.”
IMLS: Research Shows Virus Undetectable on Five Highly Circulated Library Materials After Three Days – Scientists have found that the virus SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19, is not detectable on five common library materials after three days.
Atlas Obscura: How Students Built a 16th-Century Engineer’s Book-Reading Machine – “The bookwheel helps readers browse eight texts at once. The only problem? It weighs 600 pounds”, finds Claire Voon.
LARB: World Without End – Can fiction “give us a sense of the whole world in concrete terms while also trying to express life’s essential singularity and amorphousness?” asks Anjum Hasan.
The Atlantic: Ottessa Moshfegh’s Riveting Meta-Mysteries – “In her third novel, the writer again explores women’s quests for control over their own stories”, finds Stephanie Hayes.
Book Riot: Reading Pathways: Patricia Highsmith – “In her lifetime, Highsmith wrote 22 novels and several short story collections.” Elisabeth Cook explains where best to begin.
Dublin Review of Books: The Unknown Eileen – “Had Eileen O’Shaughnessy not taken up with George Orwell, she might have found success, if not fame, in her own right, possibly as an academic or a child psychologist. Her loss was to be his gain, something neither he nor most of his biographers have properly taken on board”, says Martin Tyrrell.
Publishers Lunch: People, Etc.: Nan Talese to Retire – “Nan A. Talese, president, publisher & editorial director of her own imprint at Doubleday, announced she will retire at the end of the year after six decades in publishing”, finds Erin Somers.
SLF: The sun, the sea, my bookseller – “The French Bookshop Union is launching a major communication campaign, initiated by Antoine Gallimard in conjunction with Vincent Montagne, President of the SNE, to encourage readers to visit independent bookstores.”
Penguin: Will we ever be ready for the Covid-19 novel? – “Once the dust has settled from the most devastating pandemic in a century, what will we want to read about it?” Alice Vincent believes “history may have some answers.”
The Guardian: Top 10 books about tumultuous times – “From paranoid Roman emperors to Winston Churchill’s war cabinet, here are some outstanding history books and novels exploring era-defining decisions made under pressure” from Matthew Kneale.
Locus: 2020 Locus Awards Winners – “The Locus Science Fiction Foundation has announced the winners in each category of the 2020 Locus Awards.”
The Bookseller: Kate Clanchy and Colson Whitehead win Orwell Prizes – “Kate Clanchy and Colson Whitehead have won this year’s £3,000 Orwell Prizes for Political Writing and Political Fiction”, says Ruth Comerford.
Time: Here Are the 12 New Books You Should Read in July – “What does change really look like?” asks Annabel Gutterman. “It’s a question at the center of many of this month’s best new books.”
Haida Gwaii Observer: Iconic Haida Gwaii species to be included in literary field guide for ‘Cascadia’ – “Experts, artists working on literary field guide with ‘kinship clusters’ for Pacific Northwest.”
Gizmodo: There Are So Many New Sci-Fi and Fantasy Books Coming Out in July – Cheryl Eddy with a “bountiful feast” of sci-fi, fantasy and horror titles coming out this month.
BookNet Canada: Weathering the COVID-19 storm: The Bookshelf – An Ontario bookstore has learned how to adapt during the pandemic.
CNN: Hong Kong schools told to remove books that violate new law as police powers extended – “Schools in Hong Kong have been told that they must remove books and teaching materials that could violate the sweeping national security law that was imposed by Beijing last week,” says Helen Regan.
Publishers Weekly: Pullman to Publish New Story Set in World of His Dark Materials – In time for the 25th anniversary of his beloved fantasy series-starter The Golden Compass, British author Philip Pullman will publish a new standalone short story featuring Lyra Belacqua and her daemon Pan”, reveals Emma Kantor.
The Irish Times: Golden decade: How Irish writing roared in the 1920s – “Joyce, Yeats, Shaw once dominated the world literary stage. What will the 2020s bring?” asks Joe Cleary.
Fine Books & Collections: Australian Rare Booksellers Unite to Publish First Joint Catalogue – “For the first time in its 43-year history, the Australian and New Zealand Association of Antiquarian Booksellers (ANZAAB) have united to publish a joint catalogue containing nearly $1,000,000 of rare books, manuscripts and artworks for sale.”
BBC News: Coronavirus: How libraries provided a lifeline in lockdown – “When libraries went into lockdown, the buildings and books were off-limits but their kindness, connection and sense of community continued. BBC News went to Ipswich Library to hear how people have been finding solace in more than just the pages of a favourite book.”
School Library Journal: Weeding Out Racism’s Invisible Roots: Rethinking Children’s Classics | Opinion – Padma Venkatraman shares her thoughts on racism in classics.
BuzzFeed: This Artist Condenses Classic Books Into Very Funny Comic Strips – “In Long Story Short, author and illustrator Lisa Brown condenses classic (or, at least, popular) books into bite-size comics”, says Arianna Rebolini.
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