Winding Up the Week #155

An end of week recap

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.


* 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.

The latest episode of the Vintage Books Podcast features an extract from US Vice President Kamala Harris’s memoir, The Truths We Hold. Drawing from her own life experiences, Harris discusses the question, ‘What have I learned?’ >> What have I learned? Kamala Harris >>


* Lit Crit Blogflash * 

I am going to share with you two 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:

Advent by Jane Fraser: Loyalty Versus Desire – Janet Fraser’s debut novel, Advent, which is set in rural Wales in 1904, “gives us an engrossing, intimate portrait of a woman who is torn between two contrasting ways of life,” says Karen from BookerTalk. She is “a fascinating character” who rejects “the unwritten but long held views among the Gower communities about the place of women.” In short, she finds this new title from Honno “cleverly blends the personal and the public”.

The Push by Ashley Audrain (2021) – A “suspenseful psychological thriller” about family and motherhood, which “isn’t always easy to read”, is the way Caroline at Beauty is a Sleeping Cat describes Audrain’s “chilling” new novel. It is, however, an “immensely readable” and thought-provoking “page turner”. 

* 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: In search of a pioneering Australian children’s writer – Jane Sullivan on Searching for Charlotte, in which novelists Kate Forsyth and Belinda Murrell investigate their antecedent who was also Australia’s first children’s author. 

BBC Culture: The rise of apocalyptic novels – “In our times of uncertainty, the latest fiction about climate disaster is unsettling – but also strangely comforting. Hephzibah Anderson speaks to the authors.” 

Guernica: In the Land of Fiction and Fake News – “A lie is a fiction made up to take away someone else’s power”, writes Elizabeth Mitchell. 

JSTOR Daily: Why Are So Many Romances Set in the Regency Period? – “The British Regency era lasted less than a decade,” says Jess Romeo, “but it spawned a staggering number of unlikely fictional marriages.” 

Full Stop: Marginalized Work, Innovative Critique – This Roundtable Discussion “brought together several editors and reviewers […] to discuss innovative dynamics in contemporary criticism.” 

The British Museum: How to write cuneiform – “Learn how to write cuneiform – the oldest form of writing in the world – with curator Irving Finkel, using just a lolly stick and a piece of clay to master the ancient script!” 

Literary Hub: Why Should We Read Unfinished Novels? – “Matthew Redmond on fragments of Edgar Allan Poe, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, and more”. 

Bklyner: The Brooklyn Book Bodega Looks to Fill the Borough with “100 Book Homes” – The Brooklyn Book Bodega collects and distributes thousands of free books to children and families across the borough. 

The Paris Review: Insane Places – Elisa Gabbert on Leonora Carrington’s The Hearing Trumpet

McSweeney’s: Short Conversations with Poets: Tracy K. Smith – The American poet and educator discusses translating Yi Lei. 

CrimeReads: All Epistolary Novels Are Mysteries – “What’s more suspenseful than waiting on a letter from someone with a story to tell?” asks Amy Stewart. 

The.Ink: Love the world anyway – Anand Giridharadas talks to Hannah Arendt’s new biographer about “propaganda, evil, forgiveness, hope, and loving the world enough to believe that it can change”. 

Bookforum: I Confess – An excerpt from An I-Novel by Minae Mizumura, “Japan’s first bilingual, semiautobiographical novel”. Online Dante exhibition released by the Uffizi – “The Uffizi Galleries in Florence have launched a new online exhibition to commemorate the 700th anniversary of the death of Dante Alighieri. It will showcase dozens of illustrations created in the sixteenth century to showcase The Divine Comedy.” 

BBC Gloucestershire: Virginia Woolf: Book of literary confessions sells for £21k – “A book in which novelist Virginia Woolf shares her thoughts on the best and worst writers in the literary world has sold for £21,000 at auction.” 

Book Riot: What is a Radical Bookstore? – Emily Stochl asks the question, “what defines a radical bookstore?” 

The Guardian: Amanda Gorman books top bestselling lists after soul-stirring inaugural poem – “Two upcoming books on Amazon’s bestseller list within hours after the resounding delivery of her poem at the swearing-in”. 

Aeon: The wisdom of surrender – “Samuel Beckett turned an obscure 17th-century Christian heresy into an artistic vision and an unusual personal philosophy”. 

Words Without Borders: Publishers Need More Black Translator Friends – “Institutional transformation often begins at the grassroots, argues translator and editor Aaron Robertson as he considers a roadmap for bringing Black writers and translators into an industry in which they are statistically underrepresented.” 

Hazlitt: ‘We Act Consciously on the Page and in Life’: An Interview with Matthew Salesses – “The author of Craft in the Real World speaks to Zan Romanoff about “revision, breaking habits, and fixing the writing workshop.” 

Independent: Why do many feminist influencer books look so similar? – “After the row between Chidera Eggerue and Florence Given simmered over last month, Rebecca Wray looks at the debate over selling women’s empowerment books to the general audience”. 

Time: ‘My Wine Bills Have Gone Down.’ How Joan Didion Is Weathering the Pandemic – “Joan Didion suffers no fools. And nor should she have to”, says Lucy Feldman. 

Insauga: New comic book store opens in Square One – Conspiracy Comics has opened in Toronto. 

The Conversation: Poirot at 100: the refugee detective who stole Britain’s heart – Christopher Pittard argues that “Christie used her Belgian sleuth to unpick ideas of England and Englishness.” 

Electric Literature: Offbeat European Children’s Books For Adults – “Olga Grushin, author of The Charmed Wife, recommends children’s stories that aren’t just for kids”. 

Al-Fanar Media: Palestinian Diaspora Literature Resurges from Obscurity – Amr EL-Tohamy delights in reporting that literature of the Palestinian diaspora is “flourishing again after a long hiatus”. 

BBC Bristol: Author Terry Pratchett’s ‘inspiring’ house for sale – “An ‘inspiring’ house previously owned by fantasy writer Sir Terry Pratchett has been put on the market.” 

Entertainment Weekly: Netflix teams with historian Ibram X. Kendi to adapt his acclaimed anti-racism books – “Netflix is stepping up the development of new anti-racism projects”, says Tyler Aquilina.

The Oregonian: Ursula K. Le Guin to be featured on 2021 postage stamp – Hillary Borrud reports that the “influential writer and longtime Portland resident Ursula K. Le Guin will be honored this year with her image and a scene from one of her novels on a stamp.” 

Los Angeles Times: Hundreds in publishing sign letter objecting to book deals for the Trump administration – Dorany Pineda reports that “more than 250 authors, editors, agents, professors and others in the American literary community” have signed an open letter “opposing any publisher that signs book deals with President Donald Trump or members of his administration.” 

Sisters in Crime: Pride Award for Emerging LGBTQIA+ Crime Writers – The SinC board has announced the Pride Award, “an annual grant of $2,000 for an emerging writer in the LGBTQIA+ community.” 

Read it Forward: How to Decide What to Read Next – “How to Decide author Annie Duke helps you cull your intimidatingly large TBR pile and pick your next book—easily.” 



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.

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21 replies

  1. Thank you so much for mentioning my review. I hope you’ll like it should you decide to read it.
    I’ll definitely have a look at How to decide what to read next.

  2. How I love these wrap-ups for yours. Inevitably, there are always at least a few links that I haven’t seen. That Terry Pratchett house is a delight – an unaffordable delight, but oh… one can but dream…

  3. Great stuff Paula – thank you!

  4. Joan Didion sounds a lot like my mother did right before she died at the age of 85. She had no filters left, no tolerance for BS.

  5. Thanks, Paula, as a huge fan of Sir Terry Pratchett, I enjoyed the peek into his former home. Whilst on that page, I clicked on ‘Features, Weather, 43 of the best photos of Bristol in the snow’ and loved it. So far removed from my shorts t-shirt air-con environment 🙂

  6. That’s a wonderful list of offbeat children’s books! I love Astrid Lindgren’s less well known children’s books – there is so much beyond Pippi Longstocking, and Tove Jansson is another Scandinavian genius. Love Eva Ibbotson, Rumer Gotten, and E. Nesbit too. Plus I have seldom run across anyone else who has heard of King Matt the First! I’ll have to check out some of the others.

  7. Good evening. Have you read anything by Ray Bradbury? I hadn’t in decades. But I just began From The Dust Returned, a novel that took about 50 years to come together.

  8. You’re so kind to mention my thoughts on Advent – very much appreciated.

    I had a look at that instruction article on cuneiform. Hm somehow I don’t think I have the ability to learn 600 characters.

  9. Dear Paula,
    thanks for sharing your Infos. We think one of the highlights is the Dante-exhibition and we find Samuel Becketts idea interesting in the way of unusual.
    All the best.
    Stay healthy and happy
    The Fab Four of Cley
    🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

  10. I’m so excited about the Ursula K. Le Guin postage stamp! I’ll have to order some from the States and make a mailable bookmark out of them for one of my books of hers. 🙂 Also, I love that Nesbit cover. And I am keen to read the McSweeney’s piece on Tracy K. Smith (what’s with the cool authors who have K’s as their middle initials?). But what i really really NEED to know? Is what book that dog is reading.

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