An end of week recap
We now know Wales will go into full lockdown for at least three weeks from this evening, so I have absolutely no excuse for neglecting Book Jotter in the New Year.
I was able to pay a visit to my mum earlier in the week – during which we exchanged gifts (more lovely books coming my way, methinks) and enjoyed a jolly good chinwag. Over the holidays, D and I will spend a few quiet days in our lodge with the dogs, an abundance of books on the bedside table, a plethora of podcasts on the planner and a fridge full of food. We may even indulge in a sneaky snifter or two.
In this, our 150th and final wind up before Christmas, I will take the opportunity to wish all my followers and fellow bloggers a peaceful, pleasurable and, above all else, Covid-free festive period.
Cheers! Or as we say in Wales, Iechyd da!
* The Brian Moore at 100 Read-along *
In conjunction with the “official Brian Moore at 100 team and the brilliant author Jan Carson”, Cathy Brown of 746 Books will “celebrate the work of one of Northern Ireland’s finest writers, Brian Moore, in his centenary year.” Best known for his 1955 fictional work, The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne – one of his few books still in print – he emigrated to Canada in 1948, which is where he wrote his first novel. Cathy will read one book a month through 2021 and will discuss each one in a post published in the last week of every month. In addition, she aims to read and review “Patricia Craig’s wonderful biography of Brian Moore”, explore “his work writing for cinema,” watch “film adaptations of his books” and welcome “some special guests to the blog”. She hopes others will read along with her and has provided a complete reading schedule for those who wish to participate. To check out all the details, please head over to Announcing the Brian Moore at 100 Read-along for 2021!
* Lit Crit Blogflash *
I am 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 is difficult to limit the list to only these few – all of them published over the last week or two:
Book review – Paul Magrs – “Christmassy Tales” #magrsathon – Liz Dexter at Adventures in reading, running and working from home “couldn’t resist” buying and immediately “dipping into” Magrs’ “excellent” selection of festive tales – the final title in her year-long Magrsathon challenge. She declares it a “super collection” and fully intends to “dig [it] out for Christmases in the future”.
The perfect literary gifts for book lovers this Christmas – “In the run up to Christmas [Professor Wu’s Rulebook] has scoured the inter-webs for some of the neatest literary gift ideas for the book lover(s) in your life.” Head over to Nothing in the Rulebook for “some crackin’ ideas”.
Review ‘Troubled Blood’ By Robert Galbraith – Troubled Blood, the latest Cormoran Strike mystery from J.K. Rowling’s nom de plume is “British to the core,” says Gretchen Bernet-Ward from Thoughts Become Words. She very much enjoyed the dialogue and compares the experience of reading this book to “sitting next to [the protagonists] as they conduct café interviews in venues like Fortnum & Mason and Hampton Court Palace.” She suggests you “set aside a solid chunk of reading time” over Christmas for this “lengthy” and “multi-layered” tale “based on old school detective work and hours of hard slog.”
The Top 50 From The Best Books of 2020 List of Lists – Kate W from booksaremyfavouriteandbest returns with her annual “Commonly-Agreed-by-the-People-Who-Publish-Best-of-2020-Book-Lists-Before-December-31 top 50 books.” This is her “community service to book-bloggers”, comprising books that appeared most frequently on the 52 lists [she] included in her post, Best Books of 2020 – A List of Lists” – and very much appreciated it is too. Thank you, Kate.
* 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 Paris Review: Our Contributors’ Favorite Books of 2020 – TPR’s contributors, “read as widely and wildly as they write.” Here, they share the books that “moved them most in this strange year.”
BBC News: How fact met fiction in Le Carré’s secret world – Gordon Corera finds the novelist’s career was shaped by his experience of espionage – and influenced the work of spies.
Boston Review: Can We Deduce Our Way to Salvation? – “A new book suggests that modern readers can still follow the path of reason that Spinoza traced to true well-being, but they might not want to”, writes Carlos Fraenkel.
Al-Fanar Media: Recommended Reading, 2020: Books From and About the Arab World – A sampling of works published and translated in the past year illustrating the diversity of scholarly and literary writing by Arab authors.
The Critic: What makes a Penguin Classic? – “Alexander Larman talks to the Creative Editor of Penguin Classics, Henry Eliot about what makes a ‘modern classic’”.
Literary Hub: Interpreter of Maladies: On Virginia Woolf’s Writings About Illness and Disability – “Gabrielle Bellot explores the complexity of detailing sickness in the age of Covid”.
The Guardian: Simone de Beauvoir’s ‘remarkable’ letters to Violette Leduc sold at auction – “Sotheby’s, which sold the 297 letters, says they reveal ‘a complex and ambiguous relationship where unrequited passion and mistrust mingle’.”
Nature: The pandemic bookshelf grows – “Outbreaks have long wrought fear, lies, intolerance, inequality and ruin — will we ever learn?” asks Tilli Tansey.
Time: The 21 Most Anticipated Books of 2021 – “Reasons to be excited about 2021 abound, and among them is a literary landscape packed with promise.”
The Walrus: The Writers Leading the Nonfiction Revolution – “A new wave of experimental writing sees racialized authors forging their own literary tradition”, says Myra Bloom.
ABC Australia: The best books of 2020 for your summer reading list – Was there a time in recent years when we needed books more? Of the many titles read by ABC book experts over the last twelve months, “these are the ones that have lasted the distance; made indelible impressions; surprised and delighted.”
AP: Publishing saw upheaval in 2020, but ‘books are resilient’ – “Book publishing in 2020 was a story of how much an industry can change and how much it can, or wants to, remain the same’, says Hillel Italie.
The American Scholar: Dusting Off a Classic – “Who was Kressmann Taylor, author of a forgotten story of a friendship destroyed by the advent of the Nazis?” asks Erika Dreifus in her thoughtful piece on Address Unknown.
Independent: ‘What a vision of paradise!’: How I came to understand modern poetry – “When asked to moderate in-depth conversations with leading poets in front of an audience, Ron Charles realised he knew nothing about contemporary poetry. But soon he would realise the joy of letting the words flow over him”.
The Week: Maaza Mengiste recommends 6 books by writers from her native Ethiopia – The Ethiopian American writer, Maaza Mengiste, shares her favourite books by authors from her native country.
Verily: The Joy of Reliving My Childhood Bookshelf – Kathryn Elliott on the “lessons learned within dog-eared pages”.
Craft: Interview: Joy Castro – Author of the forthcoming novel Flight Risk speaks to Jacqueline Doyle about the writing process, her compelling memoir and becoming a guest judge for the 2020 Craft Creative Nonfiction Award.
The Frontier Post: British author Johny Pitts wins Leipzig Book Award – The Leipzig Book Award for European Understanding, one of the most important awards in Germany, honours Pitts’ Afropean: Notes from Black Europe.
Prospect Magazine: Why I chose to study classics – “The death of classics has been predicted for centuries”, says Charlotte Higgins, “but the field is constantly reshaped, opened out, and rethought”.
The National: Become a Wikipedia editor and help to promote Arabic literature to the world – “A new initiative launched by the Emirates Literature Foundation in partnership with Google aims to increase the visibility of Arab authors”.
World Literature Today: Transcending Borders: A Graphic Translation Conversation with Andrea Rosenberg – Brenna O’Hara “engaged in a Q&A with translator Andrea Rosenberg, who offers insight into the art of translating in the ever-expanding graphic literature genre and shares her thoughts on the great potential the graphic medium has to offer the literary world.”
49th Shelf: 2020 Fiction: Books of the Year – The 49thShelf staff with a selection of Canadian titles that “rose to the occasion of this most peculiar moment and helped [readers] escape for a while and to see the world a little more clearly at once.”
Frieze: Diane di Prima’s Guidebook to Revolution – “The prolific Beat poet, who died aged 86 on 25 October, left behind a powerful and ever-urgent call to action in her Revolutionary Letters”, writes Iris Cushing.
The Irish Times: Edna O’Brien at 90: ‘To read her is to know love; of words, of literature and of life itself’ – “Anne Enright, Richard Ford, Eimear McBride, Colm Tóibín, Éilís Ní Dhuibhne and more pay tribute to one of Ireland’s greatest and most influential authors”.
Yale Climate Connections: Water scarcity and the climate crisis in ‘Stillicide’ – “An interview with Cynan Jones about his latest novel.”
WIRED: The 8 Best Books About Artificial Intelligence to Read Now – “Algorithms have crept into our feeds, streets, and workplaces. Here’s what WIRED staff are reading to understand what that means for the future.”
The Bookseller: Book subscription service booming, reports Blackwell’s – “Blackwell’s has reported an upswing in the popularity of its bespoke Book Subscription service, ahead of Christmas.”
Los Angeles Review of Books: Camp Russia: On Zakhar Prilepin’s “The Monastery” – Sarah Gear interrogates the politics of Russian nationalist author Zakhar Prilepin and his newly translated novel, The Monastery.
Publishing Perspectives: In Jamaica, Rebel Women Lit Launches the Caribbean Readers’ Awards – “Book club and literary community Rebel Women Lit aims to ‘showcase the amazing range’ of Caribbean literature with the newly launched Caribbean Readers’ Awards”, finds Hannah Johnson.
Vulture: The Best Way to Read John le Carré’s George Smiley Books –“If I wanted to undertake the worthwhile project of reading le Carré’s Smiley novels for the first time, this is the order I’d recommend”, says Max Read.
Fine Books & Collections: A Winter Bookshelf: 8 New Books about Books – Rebecca Rego Barry with “a brief list of new or forthcoming books” that should “appeal to bibliophiles.”
BOMB: Freedom and Redemption: Nina Renata Aron Interviewed by Rebecca Schuh – Good Morning, Destroyer of Men’s Souls is a “memoir about breaking up with an idea of love.”
Aeon: History from below – “What shaped the thought of E P Thompson, the great historian of ordinary working people and champion of their significance?”
Financial Post: Locked-down shops trying to get online orders out the door squeezed by delivery crunch – Some Canadian booksellers are resorting to “delivering packages themselves to get to customers in time for Christmas”.
Lapham’s Quarterly: Degeneration Nation – Adam Morris on “how a Gilded Age best seller shaped American race discourse.”
The Guardian: Tome raiders: solving the great book heist – “When £2.5m of rare books were stolen in an audacious heist at Feltham in 2017, police wondered, what’s the story?”
Literary Hub: Notable Literary Deaths in 2020 – “An incomplete list of the writers, editors, and great literary minds we lost this year”.
Gothamist: This 1950s NYC Zine Covered The Black Community In Brooklyn That Establishment Media Ignored – “Tick was a short-lived zine published by African-Americans in Brooklyn looking to tell and share their stories which were not being covered in other publications.”
Publishers Weekly: Italians Read More During the Pandemic – Ed Nawotka reveals the results of a new survey conducted by the Italian Publishers Association (AIE) and the Center for Books and Reading, which shows that Italians have been reading more during the pandemic.
Melville House: Melville House 2020 Staff Picks – Before signing off for Christmas, the Melville House team recommend books “they’d recommend to readers that we published in 2020”.
The Polish Book Institute: Anna Zaranko receives the Found in Translation Award – interview and laudation – “The Polish Book Institute, the Polish Cultural Institute in London, and the Polish Cultural Institute in New York awarded the 2020 Found in Translation Award to Anna Zaranko for her translation of The Memoir of an Anti-hero by Kornel Filipowicz.”
Scroll.in: Jayant Meghani (1938-2020): Remembering the meticulous bookseller of Bhavnagar – “How a Gujarati bookstore in Bhavnagar achieved cult status thanks to its founder, who died on December 4, at the age of 82.”
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 is an excellent description on Urban Dictionary.
Categories: Winding Up the Week