An end of week recap
“We cast a shadow on something wherever we stand, and it is no good moving from place to place to save things; because the shadow always follows. Choose a place where you won’t do harm – yes, choose a place where you won’t do very much harm, and stand in it for all you are worth, facing the sunshine.”
– E.M. Forster (A Room With A View)
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.
* Freshly Stacked Shelves *
As promised, I have updated the Wales Readathon Library, aka The Complete Dewithoner’s Reading List, with the titles you discussed during Dewithon 21 – our yearly celebration of Welsh writers and their works for the pleasure and enlightenment of the international book-blogging and wider literature loving community. Should you wish to purchase any of these books, I have provided links whenever possible – though, sadly, some are no longer in print and, therefore, not readily available. Please do let me know if you spot any glaring omissions. >> WALES READATHON LIBRARY: On Our Shelves >>
* 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:
Margaret Hickey, Rural dreams (#BookReview) – Rural Dreams, a “collection of short stories from small independent publisher MidnightSun” is, says Sue T from Whispering Gums, “a love letter to rural Australia”. With the odd exception, she “greatly enjoyed” these tales, which “stand-alone” but are “subtly linked”. Indeed, she declares the book a “truly engaging read.”
Fictional Bookshops I Want To Visit – As bookshops reopen across Wales, Cardiff-dweller, Megan of Behind Her Books imagines “the fictional bookshops [she would] love to visit.” From Notting Hill’s The Travel Book Co. to the “higgledy-piggledy” Flourish And Blotts from Harry Potter, she shares her favourite fictional bookstores and the title she would most like to purchase from each outlet.
Lady Joker, Volume 1 by Kaoru Takamura – Meredith Smith of Dolce Bellezza finds “this complex and intricately detailed novel” – the English-language debut of multi award-winning Japanese writer Kaoru Takamura – a “sublimely detailed epic of crime and decline”. Inspired by a true, unsolved kidnapping case, Lady Joker, Volume One pushes “beyond the stigmas surrounding genre and [shatters] the Japanese literary glass ceiling.”
* 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: Take your pick: our reviewers’ guide to eight new books – With shorter days and cooler weather, it’s a great time for Australians to get stuck into some new books. If you’re not sure what to read next, Kerryn Goldsworthy and Steven Carroll offer their takes on eight titles, both fiction and non-fiction.
Literary Hub: On the Literature of Rewilding… and the Need to Rewild Literature – “Phoebe Hamilton-Jones finds non-human perspectives in Max Porter, Sarah Hall, Daisy Johnson, and more”.
Guernica: Cat Dreams – “Doris Lessing’s unsentimental book On Cats provides strange comfort during a pandemic”, writes Lily Houston Smith.
Humanities: Why Maya Angelou Partnered with Hallmark – “For one thing, she liked a challenge”, says Ayesha K. Hardison.
The Critic: Don’t judge a bookshop by its cover – Jonathan Donne is of the opinion that independent bookstores “are often no more ethical than the big chains”.
BBC Somerset: Clevedon bookshop owner to publish dyslexic-friendly books – A book shop owner plans to publish a series of dyslexic-friendly books for adults.
The Calvert Journal: The cult novel that defined Georgian independence 30 years ago – “As Georgia celebrates 30 years since its break from the USSR on 9 April 1991,” Matt Janney looks back at Otar Chiladze’s Avelum, a “novel that tried to make sense of both the Soviet past, and the first years of independence.”
FSG Work in Progress: 25 Years of Poetry Month – “A conversation with Jonathan Galassi”.
Ploughshares: The Subversive Gyneceum of Hotel du Lac – Elizabeth Eshelman argues in her critical essay that all the attention given to Anita Brookner’s unmarried heroines obscures what’s truly subversive in her 1984 Booker Prize-winning novel.
Yale Climate Connections: 12 books on repairing our relationship with our only planet – “With the approach of the annual Earth Day activities, [Michael Svoboda offers twelve] ‘big picture’ books on biodiversity, oceans, food, and waste.”
Words Without Borders: On the Edge: Writing from Iceland – This month the writers selected by WWB introduce us to fiction and poetry from Iceland – “a nation on the precipice of devastating and irreversible natural loss.”
Full Stop: Maria Kuznetsova – Megan Cummins talks on Zoom to Maria Kuznetsova about “writing history that’s not historical fiction, babies as anti-romcom” and her “standout second book,” Something Unbelievable.
Yahoo! News: Top French publishing house asks would-be authors to stop sending manuscripts – “Stop sending us your manuscripts! That’s the message that French publishing house Gallimard sent out to would-be authors in April, after receiving a deluge of submissions.”
Bright Wall/Dark Room: An Artist’s Apology – Zoe Kurland finds Nicholas Ray’s adaption of Dorothy B. Hughes’s In a Lonely Place isn’t a whodunnit or a murder mystery. Rather, it is the tale of a man who refuses to apologize for his bad behaviour and the city that bends over backwards to excuse him.
Metropolis: ‘May Morning Flowers’ and ‘A Crooked Posture’ – Eric Margolis introduces two of Kanoko Okamoto’s never-before translated works.
TheJournal.ie: ‘It reinforced my sense of belonging’: One Dublin One Book author Rónán Hession on his life in reading – Author Rónán Hession’s debut novel Leonard and Hungry Paul is this year’s One Dublin One Book selection – here, he writes about the joy reading has brought to his life.
The Nation: How ‘Things’ In Fiction Shape the Way We Read – Sarah Wasserman’s recent book, The Death of Things: Ephemera and the American Novel, “looks at how the objects we take for granted in stories can reveal even deeper meaning.”
Shondaland: Morgan Jerkins Is Finally Finding Her ‘Moment of Sweetness’ – “The best-selling author talks to Scott Neumyer about “her debut novel, Caul Baby, and why she loves writing fiction.”
Harvard Magazine: Finding Voices – Spencer Lee Lenfield on Marilyn Booth, translator of Arabic literature for Anglophone readers.
Tehran Times: Paulo Coelho praises Iranian village for naming alleys after masterpieces of world literature – The Brazillian writer Paulo Coelho, “who is immensely popular among Persian readers, has praised an Iranian village for naming its alleys after the masterpieces of world literature.”
Penguin: Why can’t we stop sharing our reading lists online? – “The trend for keeping records of what we’ve read – and posting about them on social media – is huge”, says Amelia Tait. “But what compels us to keep book lists in the first place? Is it simply showing off, or does it tell us something deeper about who we are?”
Verily: Bookmarked: Spring Reads and Drinks to Match – Monica Burke greets “the season of new life” with “five books and five drinks that capture the fresh feeling that accompanies the arrival of spring.”
Brain Pickings: Growing Through Grief: Derek Jarman on Gardening as Creative Redemption, Consecration of Time, and Training Ground for Presence – If “modern gardening has a patron saint, it must be the English artist, filmmaker, and LGBT rights activist Derek Jarman”, writes Maria Popova.
Calgary Herald: University of Calgary students raise alarm over proposed bookstore sale – “The University of Calgary is considering selling its on-campus bookstore to an American company as it searches for ways to cut expenses”.
The Hedgehog Review: Reading Wealth of Nations and Meeting Adam Smith – Richard Hughes Gibson on with on Adam Smith’s An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations.
TIME: What to Know About Children’s Author Roald Dahl’s Controversial Legacy – Concerns about anti-Semitism, racism and misogyny have raised questions about the widely loved author.
CrimeReads: Why Librarians Are Natural Born Detectives – “Whether you’re looking for information about an uncle’s will or a homemade poison, the reference desk is the place to go.”
European Literature Network: #RivetingReviews: Rosie Goldsmith reviews AN INVENTORY OF LOSSES by Judith Schalansky – “One of the greatest achievements for any writer is to create their own world”, writes Rosie Goldsmith in her review of the International Booker longlisted An Inventory of Losses.
Faber: #ChooseBookshops – Celebrating Our Favourite UK Bookshops – “As bookshops reopen across the UK, Faber staff and authors join the campaign to #choosebookshops by sharing the shop they’re most looking forward to returning to this spring.”
Atlas Obscura: How Soviet Children’s Books Became Collectors’ Items in India – “Thanks to nostalgia, the literary legacy of the USSR has a long afterlife”, writes Divya Sreedharan.
Prospect: What a free-thinking medieval Muslim can teach us about animal welfare – “Exactly 1,000 years after the appearance of al-Maʿarri’s The Epistle of the Horse and the Mule, Kevin Blankinship discovers “the work of the vegan poet still resonates”.
Boing Boing: Why it’s harder for neurodivergent people to break into publishing – Thom Dunn is a “neurodivergent person” and “full-time writer.” He describes difficulties he has experienced throughout his career and what it takes for him to build trust with an editor.
Hazlitt: ‘The Work That Hadn’t Been Done Was Bringing These Men to Life on the Page’: An Interview with Elon Green – “The author of Last Call on writing difficult-to-read books, true crime, and finding queer community in ’90s piano bars.”
The Public Domain Review: “Fevers of Curiosity” Charles Baudelaire and the Convalescent Flâneur – In recognition of 200th anniversary of Charles Baudelaire’s birth, Matthew Beaumont follows the French poet through 19th-century Paris, discovering “a parallel archetype — the convalescent hero of modernity — who emerges from the sickbed into city streets with a feverish curiosity.”
Fine Books & Collections: Edward Carey’s Novels Embrace Art and Found Objects – “There really was never any doubt that Edward Carey, author of the new novel The Swallowed Man, was bound to become an illustrator.”
The First News: Award-winning Quay brothers create Norwid film to promote poet’s work to foreign audiences – Blanka Konopka reports: “World-renowned animators Stephen and Timothy Quay have produced a short film about one of Poland’s most characteristic Polish poets, Cyprian Kamil Norwid, to open up his life and work to foreign audiences.”
Literary Hub: What Would You Do If The Internet Went Away? – “Chris Colin asks poets and writers to contemplate a simpler existence”.
CBC: Soaring sales at Vancouver’s independent bookstores is one of the pandemic’s good-news stories – “Books offer refuge after hours in front of screens, one owner says”.
Russia Beyond: 5 books Dostoevsky considered masterpieces – “Dostoevsky had his own literary preferences as a writer”, says Valeria Paikova. She takes a brief look at which books he valued and why.
JSTOR Daily: Libraries and Pandemics: Past and Present – “The 1918 influenza pandemic had a profound impact on how librarians do their work, transforming libraries into centers of community care.”
Japan Forward: Could Buying a Book Help Save Your Favorite Tokyo Restaurant? – “‘This is a way for the community to stay inspired and have a way to support restaurants that they love,’ says editor Sherry Zheng.”
Virago: Marilynne Robinson, a Reader’s Guide. – Admirers of Marilynne Robinson may like to take a look at Virago’s Reader’s Guide to Gilead, which includes a set of reading group questions.
Town & Country: The Duchess of Cornwall Launches Season Two of Her Instagram Book Club – Victoria Murphy reveals that “the latest collection of Camilla’s reading recommendations includes a hit fantasy novel and a harrowing imagined depiction of the life of a woman abducted and married into terrorist organisation Boko Haram.”
Entertainment Weekly: George R.R. Martin just offered a cryptic update on The Winds of Winter… or did he? – “The Game of Thrones creator doesn’t mention the upcoming book in his latest update to readers, but maybe we can read between the lines”, suggests Christian Holub.
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
Thanks Paula! I don’t know about fictional bookshops – I’d be happy enough to visit a real one…
Oh, me too! 🧐
That Wales Readathon Library is becoming a rich resource! I love the variety of books that people have discovered and shared
Thank you, Karen. I hope it will prove useful to future Dewithoners! 😊
I particularly enjoyed the article about how libraries shifted to meet the needs of the public during the 1918 flu epidemic. I know some of the 100 library branches in the city began operating as food banks in the first lockdown (March 2020) and I believe some of them are still in that mode. That kind of pitching in amazes me: it’s so heartening.
Libraries are important to communities in so many ways. My local branch may be small but went out of its way to help patrons and others during lockdown. 😀
Fictional bookshops I want to visit…love it!!!
I would particularly like to rummage around the bookshop on Diagon Alley! 😀
I love books and movies that feature book stores; it would be hard to choose!
That article from the Critic is damning of indie bookshops in its headlines, but it’s all about the distributors – very irritating.
It certainly is, Annabel!
I thought I’d try subscribing to the critic, but gave up after my initial trial issues. Too male, too right of centre, too irritating (apart from John Self’s book reviews).
So many tempting links! I’m especially drawn to the Jarman now Spring is here and we can enjoy the warmer weather again.
Madame B. How lovely to see you! 😀
It is one of the few books by Jarman I haven’t read – nor have I ever visited his famous garden – but I loved many of his films.
I love the Lily Houston Smith article on why Doris Lessing’s On Cats is good to read right now. I haven’t read that Doris Lessing, so I ordered a copy!
DL was quite famously an ailurophile. She wrote more than one cat book, plus lots of essays etc. on the subject over her long life. I believe On Cats is an omnibus edition of three books. 🐈
Another great list of tempting things to read Paula, including the Penguin one on our drive to keep booklists (which I think is about more than showing off since many of us started keeping lists and diaries long before social media and the internet) and the one about librarians being born detectives. Both are right up my alley. Plus others are of interest too.
And, thanks for choosing my Margaret Hickey post! What a thrill. And I love that you chose the cover to illustrate that section of your post, because I think it’s a gorgeous and evocative cover. The land can look like patchwork, lives are like patchwork. For me, the cover suggests patchwork without actually being so.
Thank YOU, Sue. It is a pleasure as always to highlight your posts. I was completely drawn to the cover of Rural Dreams.
I’m so glad. I nearly mentioned the cover in my review.
I often wonder what I’d do if the internet went away. Part of me wishes it would while the other part is terrified at the thought. I know there must be some kind of happy in between… Sometimes I think I’ve found it but other times I feel like I definitely have not.
This comment kind of makes me sound like I’m two people in one! Lol
I know exactly what you mean, Naomi. I’ve sat on the fence in such matters for so long, the neighbours must think me a garden feature!
I do love that E.M. Forster quote! Thoroughly enjoyed the articles on librarian as detectives and imagining bookshops. Though it’s wonderful to have access to bookstores, I really can’t wait until I can wander around libraries again. Thanks Paula, for the great links.
Thank you so much, Julé, for your kind comments. 😊