Winding Up the Week #164

An end of week recap

Don’t worry we shall have wonderful dreams, and when we wake up it’ll be spring.”
Snufkin, Finn Family Moomintroll

WUTWXXA happy Easter to all those celebrating over the long weekend – whether you observe the Christian festival or merely find it the perfect time to gorge on chocolate eggs (possibly both).

I apologise for the paltry offerings in this week’s wind up. My excuse? The sun has been shining, our ‘stay at home’ restrictions have been eased, and we are now permitted to visit others in socially distanced, outdoor settings. Consequently, for the past few days I have been scurrying about the Welsh countryside catching up with friends and relations. Normal service will resume soon.

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.


* Wales Readathon Ends * 

WALES READATHONDewithon is over for another year. A massive thank you to all those who took part – I’ve been thrilled with all your terrific contributions. Over the next couple of days, I will, of course, update the Wales Readathon Library with all the latest discoveries.

My final offering of the event is another short post spotlighting various literary goings-on around Wales. I will no doubt revive Llyfrbabble in 2022 (or sooner if anything noteworthy should occur) as many followers seem to enjoy these newsy features. >> DEWITHON 21: Llyfrbabble (Bookbabble) Two >>

There is a dedicated page for all Dewithon-related posts. This is where we share your reviews, features, interviews etc. with the book blogging and wider bookish community. >> Wales Readathon 2021 >> 

Please make a note in your diaries that Dewithon 22 will take place from the 1st to 31st March 2022, though you can be sure I will remind you nearer the time.

* Reading MCMXXXVI * 

1936 CLUBWith the 1936 Club set to run from 12th to 18th April, co-hosts Karen Langley of Kaggsy’s Bookish Ramblings and Simon Thomas from Stuck in a Book are preparing to embark on another exhilarating reading journey. If you are new to this popular biannual event, Karen’s description of picking a year from which “everyone reads, enjoys, posts and shares wonderful books and discoveries” sums it up perfectly. However, Simon says, “you can start reading whenever you like” because he has already taken the liberty of devouring seven titles from his annos selectio. There is a vast array of literature from which to choose, ranging from Djuna Barnes’ Nightwood and Daphne du Maurier’s Jamaica Inn to William Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom! and Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan’s Quest – to name but a handful. If this sounds like your cuppa, please head over to Coming up this month – let’s explore 1936! for the lowdown.

* Irresistible Items *

APRIL 2021

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:


LOVE IN COLOURLiterary Hub: The Astrology Book Club: What to Read This Month, Based on Your Sign – Emily Temple with book recommendations based on your zodiac signs.

The New York Times: When Tragedy Strikes, What Does Criticism Have to Offer? – “It’s easier to find meaning in fiction than in the senseless mass killings of our reality,” says Maya Phillips, “which seem to render the critical perspective pointless, even silly, at times.”

The Guardian: Italians defend Dante from claims he was ‘light years’ behind Shakespeare – “Leaders rally in support of ‘father of Italian language’ after withering comments in German newspaper”.

The Age: As we stockpile wealth, toilet paper, novelist gives voice to a ‘hoarder’ – Emily Maguire follows up her Miles Franklin-shortlisted An Isolated Incident with a novel about the poorly understood behaviour of hoarding.

Narratively: The Royal Spy Who Became the Feminist Answer to Shakespeare – “Aphra Behn was the first English woman in history to work as a professional writer”, says Julia Métraux. “The only thing more colorful than her boundary-pushing stories was her own secretive life.”

Global Times: China Bookstore Conference launched in Beijing with focus on ‘innovative reading service’ in post-pandemic era – “A conference focusing on the development of China’s “offline” bookstores in 2021 was held in Beijing”.

The Paris Review: Walking Liberia with Graham Greene – Greene’s account of travelling through the interior of Liberia makes only passing mention of his cousin Barbara, who wrote her own book about the trip, Too Late to Turn Back.

BBC News: John le Carré: Spy novelist ‘died an Irishman’ – “He served as a British diplomat and an MI5 secret agent, but espionage writer John le Carré died an Irishman, his youngest son has said.”

JSTOR Daily: Are We Getting Shakespeare’s Rhythms All Wrong? – “Trippingly on the tongue? Yeah, right”, says an incredulous Livia Gershon.

Guernica: Hot for Epistolary Poetry – “The editors of We Want It All: An Anthology of Radical Trans Poetics on imagination, abundance, and what keep them up at night”.

The Point: No Good Has Come – Elisa Gonzalez scrutinizes “Marilynne Robinson’s testimony for the white church”.

The Baffler: Outside the Text – In the opinion of Andrew Marzoni, “Jacques Derrida resists easy canonization in a new hagiography for the Left”.

DARK SALT CLEARThe Guardian: This month’s best paperbacks – “April is a bumper month for new books. Here are some of the best, including Hilary Mantel’s final Cromwell novel, last year’s Booker winner, a look at sex robots and more”.

CBC: Margaret Atwood’s late partner loved birds. In the pandemic, she sees how they help people feel less alone – The new edition of The Bedside Book of Birds, by Atwood’s late partner Graeme Gibson, has been published.

Daily Beast: The Next Time You Admire a Picasso, Thank a Lesbian – Arvind Dilawar finds that Diana Souhami’s new book, No Modernism Without Lesbians, “spotlights the women who ensured history would remember artists like Picasso, Joyce, and Eliot.”

The New Criterion: On “getting” poetry – Adam Kirsch on “deriving pleasure from poetry.”

Nautilus: I Have Come to Bury Ayn Rand – David Sloan Wilson, a “prominent evolutionary biologist” and son of novelist Sloan Wilson, “slays the beast of Individualism”.

Lapham’s Quarterly: Prometheus’ Toolbox – Adrienne Mayor probes “human life as technology from Greek mythology to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.”

The Chronicle of Higher Education: The Apocalyptic New Campus Novel – Charlie Tyson finds that in The Life of the Mind, “Christine Smallwood’s story of scholarly precarity, what the academy wastes above all is human potential.”

The Creative Independent: On why honesty is more important than success – “Poet Sally Wen Mao discusses the notion of finding buoyancy in her work, the creative liberation of travel, and why she prefers to never write about love.”

The New Yorker: Bringing Keats Back to Life – “To celebrate the two-hundredth anniversary of the poet’s death, a foundation created a C.G.I. rendering that looked and spoke like he did.”

Science News: How using sheepskin for legal papers may have prevented fraud – Anushree Dave discovers “processing out the fat created a writing surface easily marred by scratched-out words”.

The New York Times: Would the Pandemic Stop Paul Theroux From Traveling? – “No. Of course not”, says Gal Beckerman.

The Royal Gazette: Hamilton retailers hit by quiet, as people hunker down during virus surge – Jessie Moniz Hardy finds a recent spike in Covid-19 cases has meant fewer customers have been purchasing from the Bermuda Book Store.



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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25 replies

  1. Not paltry at all – thank you Paul, and also for sharing the 1936 Club – it should be great fun, and so many books to choose from!!!

  2. The Emily Maguire novel about hoarding sounds interesting. It’s not available in the US yet, though.

  3. Enjoy your little bit of freedom and re-connection with family and friends! I hope you have some lovely spring weather to glory in also.

    • Thank you, Julé. I spent a lovely few hours with my mum last week, having not seen her since early December. She struggles to walk these days so I took her to Llandudno’s West Shore and wheeled her along the seafront in her chair. It was such a lovely day and everybody was smiling and saying ‘good morning’ to each other. Mum had great fun taking pictures of dogs romping on the beach, then we bought a bag of chips and mushy peas and sat in the sunshine making complete pigs of ourselves. A perfect day! 😃

      • It must such a relief to be able to finally spend time with your mum, especially when it turns out to be a really wonderful day.

      • I think at times like these you realise just how important the small things are in life. I really enjoy going on holiday and trips to the theatre etc. but you can’t beat a lovely sunny day out in the company of those you love most. 😎

  4. The New Yorker: Bringing Keats Back to Life is fascinating stuff!

  5. Loads to enjoy there, and I’ll see you in 1936, I didn’t buy a book specially or anything, oh no, not really …

  6. So glad to hear that you’ve been out and about, Paula 🤗 I couldn’t resist The Astrology Book Club and yes, the book for my sign sounds right up my street! Dark, Salt, Clear has been on my radar for ever it seems. I must get to it now!

    • Thank you, Sandra. It was so good to see my mum. I hope all is well with you and your loved ones. Have you been able to escape the confines of your home during the lovely weather? 🌞

      Dark, Salt, Clear is on my bookdar, too. What is your astrological sign, Sandra? I’m a Leo, so apparently I should read Peaces by Helen Oyeyemi. Actually, it does look rather good. Hmm, I wonder if I can squash it on to my TBR list? 🤔

      • Mine is Libra!

        Unfortunately things are not so good with my parents. It’s been a very long road this year and I fear we are approaching the end of it 😞 All being well, I shall see them both next week 😊

      • I’m so sorry to hear that, Sandra. I really hope you get to see your parents next week. Sending lots of virtual hugs and positive thoughts in your direction. 🤗

  7. Honesty is definitely better — in the sense of being more worthy an attribute — than success, but sadly too many, from politicians to mischief makers and onwards, have convinced half the world otherwise. Still, I glad some easing of lockdown has allowed you to visit friends — that’s definitely a plus!

    • I’ve never known a time like the present. Politicians appear to spout lies at every opportunity and it doesn’t seem to matter if they are caught out, they merely carry on as if nothing has happened – seemingly without qualm or even mild shame. 😠

      I hope you’ve been able to see friends and family during the warm weather, Chris. How is Emily? Is she feeling any better. 🤗

      • I hope there comes a time when we can say regarding certain politicians that the day of reckoning is at hand, in terms of elections and, especially, in a court of law.

        Thank you, Emily’s a lot better — it’s been eleven weeks since the op and she managed a five mile walk up by Usk and back by the Mon and Brec canal. And the day before we went for a walk with daughter and granddaughter in Penallta Park near Caerphilly, up to the pit pony earthwork sculpture, so it’s been great (if a little, um, fresher today). And I hope too you’re enjoying the last of the Easter weekend!

      • That’s great news, Chris. Five miles is excellent after all that Emily has been through. Massive hugs! 🤗

  8. So good to hear things are moving a little bit and easing up for you. Another bumper crop of links, no matter how apologetic you are about it!

  9. So you’ve had some wonderful weather as well. We had summer like temps here in California and today it’s sunny but cooler. With this pandemic I try to get outside for a walk every day and it’s made a world of difference to my mood. I have to really stay on myself to stick to my reading schedule or there would be no reviews to post!

  10. Margaret Atwood’s partner, Graeme Gibson, actually has two bedside books but perhaps only the Birds have been published again: The Bedside Book of Birds AND The Bedside Book of Beasts. They are both gorgeous and inspiring (and I’m sure you’ll want copies, given your love of book covers with birds and beasts on them. LOL)

    And, wow, you’re out of lockdown? I must have my news all muddled; I’d thought that caseloads were worsening over there again. Although, in these parts, rising caseloads have coincided with reopening more than once. *sigh* Politics when economics ranks higher than people’s lives. In any case, I hope you and yours are keeping well and staying safe, regardless of political decisions.

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