An end of week recap
“We are not the same persons this year as last; nor are those we love. It is a happy chance if we, changing, continue to love a changed person.”
– W. Somerset Maugham
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.
Celebrate a week of love with classic romantic stories from Wilde to Woof in this series of BBC Sounds podcasts. Episodes include ‘Eleonora by Edgar Allan Poe’, ‘About Love by Anton Chekov’ and ‘The Kiss by Kate Chopin’. >> Classic Stories: Stories for Valentine’s Day >>
* Lit Crit Blogflash *
I am 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 is difficult to limit the list to only these few – all of them published over the last week or two:
Russia, In the Words of Its Neighbors – Rennie Sweeney from What’s Nonfiction? found Erika Fatland’s “travel narrative”, The Border: A Journey Around Russia, an “engrossing and enriching” record of her “ambitious nine-month journey along the world’s longest border”. It is a “detailed history of the shaping elements of each region”, which is filled with “many anecdotes” – indeed, it has “a lot to say about an often-ignored region”.
Book Review: Space Hopper by Helen Fisher – Fisher’s newly published novel is “unlike any other” Rachel of Book Bound has read in a long time. It is a “heart-warming” story that explores “the importance of memory” and is “wrapped in authenticity and love.” If “you are a child of the 70s,” it “will indulge and raise your sense of nostalgia”.
Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times – Katherine May’s “beautiful, moving memoir […] explores the significance of winter in novels and fairy tales”, says Amalia Gavea, The Opinionated Reader. She praises the “writing, the beauty, the images, the smells and sounds” contained in this book, and finds herself living “every page”.
* 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:
Vintage: What to read after watching It’s A Sin – “In his brilliant new series, Russell T Davies brings the real lives behind London’s AIDS crisis to the small screen.” Alim Kheraj suggests “some novels to consider” when you’ve “finished watching.”
The Guardian: National Library of Wales to receive £2.25m rescue package after protests – “Welsh government had said it could not extend funding but following pressure from campaigners has announced sum ‘to safeguard jobs and deliver strategic priorities’”, says Alison Flood.
Brain Pickings: Mass, Energy, and How Literature Transforms the Dead Weight of Being: Jeanette Winterson on Why We Read – Jeanette Winterson is “one of the finest writers and thinkers of our time, a maker of axes and lifelines welded and woven of word”, writes Maria Popova.
Shondaland: The 5 Best Books for February – Katie Tamola with “author debuts, resonant short stories, and, of course, scorching romance.”
Los Angeles Review of Books: The Beijing Heidegger Reading Group – Coby Goldberg was pleasantly surprised to find many Chinese intellectuals today have an interest in Heidegger.
Literary Hub: Megafires and Mass Extinction: Searching for Hope at the End of the Natural World – “Robbie Arnott on how the Australian megafires crept into his novel about a mythical heron.”
Chicago Tribune: Op-ed: Why bricks-and-mortar independent bookstores matter – “The twin pillars of independent bookstores are browsing and community”, says Adam Stern.
Prospect: Writing isolation—why Elizabeth Barrett Browning is the poet for our time – “The Victorian poet was a literary star in her own day but has fallen out of fashion”, finds Alice Wright.
The Drift: The Original Karen – Carey Baraka on “nostalgia and Nairobi’s Out of Africa Industry”.
The Sydney Morning Herald: Does Australia need a poet laureate? The answer is in – Lots of other countries have a national poet, so why shouldn’t Australia?
CBC: For Valentine’s Day, six writers on love, sex, passion and desire — in life and literature – “In honour of Valentine’s Day, Writers & Company presents a special program from the archives”.
Publishers Weekly: Vital Signs: Environment & Climate Change Books 2021 – Zoë Ettinger highlights books that examine the effects of climate change and offer ideas for how to heal the planet.
Literary Hub: The Greatest Literary Alliance of All Time – You, the Author, and the Character – “Lisa Zeidner asks us to think deeply about point of view in fiction”.
Smithsonian Magazine: The Powerful, Complicated Legacy of Betty Friedan’s ‘The Feminine Mystique’ – “The acclaimed reformer stoked the white, middle-class feminist movement and brought critical understanding to a ‘problem that had no name’”.
The Atlantic: My Urge to Fail and Fail Again – “This is why I must write”, says David Duchovny, “to make these searching guesses and to justify all the time my parents put into seeding my brain with the ideas that were meaningful to them.”
The Paris Review: What Our Contributors Are Reading and Watching This Winter – Contributors from the Winter issue of The Paris Review share their favourite recent finds.
Ploughshares: The Creation, Innovation, and Evolution of Early Anti-Racism Writing – “Black writers have for centuries used literary conventions as a means to craft their arguments towards their own liberation, making anti-racism writing as old as America itself”, writes Sarah McEachern.
The New York Times: James Gunn, Prizewinning Science Fiction Author, Dies at 97 – “In short stories like ‘The Immortals’ and novels like The Listeners, Mr. Gunn helped prepare readers for the future.”
The Straits Times: New Chinese-language bookstore Zall to open in Orchard Road – “Amid the flurry of pandemic-driven retail closures, a new bookstore is braving the waters” in Singapore, reports Olivia Ho.
Aeon: Pause. Reflect. Think – “Susan Stebbing’s little Pelican book on philosophy had a big aim: giving everybody tools to think clearly for themselves”.
Evening Standard: #WomanInHistory: The new campaign by Kate Mosse putting women back in the history books – “Author Kate Mosse, who has long been an advocate of women’s voices, is now back with a new global campaign.”
Book Marks: The Birds and the Bees: A Translation Bestiary – “Heather Cleary’s love letter to her favorite literary animals.”
History Extra: 22 of the best historical fiction novels to help you escape to the past – A “round-up of the best historical fiction novels – from royal intrigues and grand adventures, to ghost stories, social commentaries and alternate histories”.
The New York Times: Darwin’s Dim View of the Second Sex – The father of evolutionary theory held women to be intellectually inferior to men, with one notable exception. Michael Sims explains.
NBC News: Polish court orders historians to apologize over Holocaust book – “The World Jewish Congress said in a statement it was ‘dismayed’ by the ruling.”
[D]Luxe Midlands: Poetic Procrastination – Belvoir Castle’s Poet in Residence, Tim Grayson, “offers an enjoyable escape from our everyday” in his new collection, Grayson.
Penguin: ‘Swiping the page’: the online dating profiles of book characters – “This Valentine’s Day, take a glimpse into a world where literary characters from Ready Player One, Pride and Prejudice, Moby-Dick and more are ‘on the apps’.”
Columbia Journalism Review: Hiding in plain sight – Michael Waters on the “early-twentieth-century beginnings of queer media”.
Zora: The Power of Listening to Nikki Giovanni’s ‘Cotton Candy on a Rainy Day’ – “Hearing her words, and her voice, makes the resonance that much deeper and the storytelling that much richer”, says Christina M. Tapper.
Boundless: Bedside reading, from deathly dull to deeply fascinating – Mathew Clayton rummages through a “pile of books with a heap of stories behind them, from obsessions with the 18th century to memories of shinnying up lampposts.”
Guernica: Like Hell – “Relating their experiences of postpartum psychosis, two writers tap into broader truths about parenting and fear.” DJ Cashmere on Catherine Cho’s Inferno: A Memoir of Motherhood and Madness and Laura Dockrill’s What Have I Done?
Faber: Books That Explore Sexuality and LGBTQI+ Identities – This month marks LGBT+ History Month and to celebrate Faber has compiled a reading list of books that explore sexuality and gender identities.
Kyodo News: Nobel laureate Oe’s manuscripts deposited at University of Tokyo – “Dozens of documents, including over 10,000 pages of mostly handwritten manuscripts, by Japanese writer and winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature Kenzaburo Oe have been deposited at the University of Tokyo Faculty of Letters”.
The Seattle Times: Seattle’s newest bookstore, Oh Hello Again, has a novel system: categorizing books by emotions – “A minute or two of looking around reveals that all the books in Oh Hello Again are categorized emotionally.”
Mental Floss: A Collection of First Edition James Bond Novels by Ian Fleming Could Fetch More Than $600,000 – Jake Rossen reports on first editions of Ian Fleming’s original James Bond novels, which are currently up for sale.
Chalkbeat National: We need books that center Black joy – Sonja Cherry-Paul explains why it is so “important that Black children feel seen, valued, and loved in their reading lives”.
Brevity: Let’s Face It: In Search of the Alluring Author Photo – Lisa Kusel “might not have arrestingly photogenic features,” but she knows “how to tell a good story.”
Book Riot: An Introduction to Wuxia Novels – According to Vernieda Vergara, “the wuxia genre tells stories about martial artists and their adventures in an alternate ancient China.”
The Calvert Journal: The name’s Ford, Alan Ford: how an Italian comic book spy became a Yugoslav hero – “Produced in Italy, the Alan Ford comic book series was published in France, Denmark, and Brazil, but only became a runaway success in the former Yugoslavia. What was the secret behind its dedicated cult following?” asks Jonathan Bousfield.
Bomb: Honoring the Body: R.O. Kwon and Garth Greenwell Interviewed by Greg Mania – Kink, a newly published anthology of literary short fiction, challenged Greg Mania to “look beyond” his “self-imposed threshold of intimacy and welcome the curiosity”.
The Hollywood Reporter: Paramount Fights to Remake ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ – “The studio files its first substantive arguments in a rights battle with a Truman Capote heir intent on selling TV rights.”
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