Winding Up the Week #311

An end of week recap

Joy and sorrow in this world pass into each other, mingling their forms and their murmurs in the twilight of life as mysterious as an overshadowed ocean, while the dazzling brightness of supreme hopes lies far off, fascinating and still, on the distant edge of the horizon.”
 Joseph Conrad (born 3rd December 1857)

This is a 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.


If you are planning a reading event, challenge, competition or anything else likely to be of interest to the book blogging community, please let me know. I will happily share your news here with the fabulous array of bibliowonks who read this weekly wind up.

* Middlemarching into 2023 *

Nick Senger of One Catholic Life will return in the New Year with his latest annual reading challenge. He has announced that 2023 will be devoted to reading “six major works by George Eliot” – a leading writer of the Victorian era – commencing 1st January with Adam Bede (1859). By 31st December, he fully intends to have completed “almost every major work” published during her lifetime, wrapping up the event with Daniel Deronda (1876). To find out how to read these classic works of fiction with Deacon Nick, please head over to Announcing the 2023 George Eliot Chapter-a-Day Read-Along, where you can post comments, acquaint yourself with the guidelines and download the official reading schedule.

* To Read or Not to Read in November *

Bronwyn of This Reading Life urges you to “pop over” to Stories & Shout Outs #55 “to have your say” regarding a preferred time of year for AusReading Month. As we all know, November is chockfull of challenges, which has prompted Brona to have a rethink about its customary date. She would appreciate you expressing a preference about the ideal time of year to run this much-enjoyed Australian reading event. “May, June, August, October or stick with November?” she asks. Which would you favour? Please leave your comments at the end of her post and help celebrate AusReading Month’s tenth anniversary in ‘23.

* Lit Crit Blogflash *

I am going to share with you one 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 pick only this one – which was published over the last week or so:

Fizz and Filth – Kate Atkinson and Babylon London 1926 – “The decadence is matched only by the depravity” of Kate Atkinson’s “fizzing and fragile cast of characters” in Shrines of Gaiety, a “picaresque romp through the underbelly of the world of the Bright Young Things of London in the 1920s,” writes Josie Holford, the erudite and always engaging blog mistress at Rattlebag and Rhubarb. She describes the author’s latest historical novel (set in and around “Nellie Coker’s Soho nightspots”) as “a plate-spinning plot of twists and turns,” in which “improbable coincidences, alliances, and betrayals” abound. Not only does Atkinson’s story bring alive the “golden age of parties, champagne, freedom, fast cars, fancy dress, bobbed hair, and ballgowns” following the dark days of the First World War, but, says Josie, it is also a thoroughly “good read.”

* Irresistible Items *

Umpteen fascinating articles appeared on my bookdar last week. I generally make a point of tweeting (soon, perhaps, Mastodonning) my favourite finds (or adding them to my Facebook group page), but in case you missed anything, here are a selection of interesting snippets:


Faber: Reading List: Indie Bookshop Recommendations – “If you need a recommendation, there’s no one better to ask than a bookseller.” Faber asked some of its favourite independent booksellers for their reading recommendations in the run-up to Christmas.

Vulture: The Spectacular Life of Octavia E. Butler – “The story of the girl who grew up in Pasadena, took the bus, loved her mom and grandmother, and wrote herself into the world.”

BBC News: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: Author warns about ‘epidemic of self-censorship’ – “Author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has said she worries society is suffering from an ‘epidemic of self-censorship’.”

Sydney Review of Books: Murnane’s Signposts – Joseph Steinberg chats to Merve Emre about the Australian writer Gerald Murnane’s fiction, “as part of [a] public series hosted by the Australian National University’s new Centre for Australian Literary Cultures.”  

The New Criterion: A library by the book – James Panero shares his thoughts on “the politicization of the American library.”

Psyche: The long poem is just right for our confounding, fractured age – “If reading a sonnet is hard work,” says Tess Somervell, “why put yourself to the trouble of reading an epic?”

The Atlantic: Seven Books That Will Make You Smarter – “These titles do more than answer questions: They explain how the world moves and what moves it,” says Hamilton Cain. 

The Guardian: Cop15 essential reading: six books that explain the biodiversity crisis – “Ahead of December’s conference [Guardian] writers select titles that explain the issues at stake, from animal extinction to marine degradation and loss of habitat.”

The Irish Times: How to create a book nook – your own cosy corner to read and escape – “The good news is you do not need a lot of money or space, just a little bit of thought and imagination,” says Caroline Madden.

Literary Hub: Margaret Atwood has been banned from Russia. – Jessie Gaynor reports: “In response to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s new and ongoing sanctions against Russia, the Russian Foreign Ministry has released a list of 100 Canadians citizens who are no longer allowed entry into Russia, including… Margaret Atwood.”

PEN Transmissions: Ghana and the Literary Industry – “Elizabeth Johnson on the literary scene in Ghana, who’s building it, and the value of publishing on the continent.”

Atlas Obscura: How ‘The Secret History’ Conjures Haunting New England Winters – “For me as a singer-songwriter, there’s just something alluring about that frigid, seasonal darkness,” says Maisie Peters.

Dublin Review of Books: A Surrealist’s Journey – Eoin O’Brien reviews Watching, “the updated and consolidated version of Desmond Morris’s acclaimed autobiography that was first published in 2006.”

The Hindu: poet-painter Sukrita’s new collection Vanishing Words marries the eye of a poet with the reason of a philosopher – “Noted poet-painter Sukrita discusses her new collection, Vanishing Words, and why she believes that poetry is relevant to the world.”

Vintage: Haruki Murakami: How I write my novels – “In this chapter, titled ‘Making Time Your Ally: On Writing a Novel’, from the renowned Japanese author’s new book Novelist as a Vocation, he explains the important stages of his writing process.”

Los Angeles Times: A decade after her death, this bawdy Latina lesbian rebel poet is overdue for recognition – Christopher Soto introduces readers to the life and work of tatiana de la tierra, a “fierce, bawdy, politically outspoken” Colombian poet.

The Globe and Mail: The little bookstores that could: Why independent shops are showing resilience among the behemoths – At a time when so many of our needs are met online, independent bookstores offer face-to-face interaction. Something, it would seem, people are craving, despite the ease of online shopping.

Brittle Paper: 100 Notable African Books of 2022Brittle Paper debuts its 100 Notable African Books of the Year list.

Antigone: The Classic Classic? Antigone Hits 250Antigone, the forum for Greek Literature, Latin Literature and the Classical Tradition in the 21st century celebrates a 250th article milestone by asking some of its “friendly readers and writers” to share their favourite Greek or Latin text.

Texas Observer: Texas Bookstores Are Writing Their Own Stories – “Indie bookshops across the state are embracing change, to thrive and stay alive. But a lot depends on the upcoming holiday season.”

Lapham’s Quarterly: A Jorge Luis Borges Reading List – Madeline Grimm with “recommendations from a life of lectures and essays.”

The Wall Street Journal: ‘Young Bloomsbury’ Review: A Bohemia of Their Own – “Woolf, Forster, Keynes and their circle were followed by another wave of rebellious English artists and writers,” says Donna Rifkind in her review of Nino Strachey’s Young Bloomsbury.

Nepali Times: A novelist talks to his translator – “Chuden Kabimbo talks to Ajit Baral who translated Song of the Soil, which has been shortlisted for the JCB Award.”

Arts Hub: 10 underrated books in 2022 – “A selection of Australian books published in 2022 that deserve a chance when you browse in your favourite bookstore for presents.”

The Guardian: What does this year’s double Booker win mean for south Asian literature? – “With Sri Lanka’s Shehan Karunatilaka and India’s Geetanjali Shree taking home two of publishing’s biggest prizes, what next for one of the world’s most overlooked literary regions?” wonders Sana Goyal.

Publishers Weekly: Astra House Shuts Its Literary Magazine – Jim Milliot reveals the sad news that Astra Publishing House is shuttering its literary magazine, Astra, with plans to cease all operations by year’s end.

Book Marks: December’s Best Sci-Fi and Fantasy Books – “Head into the holidays with translations, prequels and debuts from Bora Chung, Mercedes Lackey and more.

Self: I Highly Recommend Romance Novels If You’re Really Going Through It Right Now – Jennifer Chen found romantic novels “saved” her when “self-help couldn’t.”



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

Tags: , , , , , ,

14 replies

  1. Gosh. Well, Thank-you for highlighting my post and for your kind words. Golly.

  2. The quotes from the Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie interview are spot on in terms of what literature should be and what it’s in danger of rapidly turning into – bland inoffensive writing that doesn’t challenge or demand engagement.

    That, and Margaret Atwood being a persona non grata in Russia because of a regime being both petty-minded and over-sensitive to justifiable criticism, is symptomatic of worrying directions in which self-expression seems to be becoming corralled towards.

    Another beautifully curated collection of pieces, Paula, thanks!

    • Couldn’t agree more. The situation is becoming quite ridiculous – I wish authors would simply write and be damned (to misquote Arthur Wellesley)!

      Nothing surprises me over Russia at the moment, though I suspect Margaret Atwood will wear that particular banished badge with pride.

      Thank you so much for your kind remarks and your continued support, Chris. 😊

  3. Always such an incredible list. I love that you do this.

  4. Thanks Paula – Young Bloomsbury sounds good!

  5. Thank you Paula. Lovely to spend some time with indie book recommendations, looking at pretty book books, and read about indie bookshops.

  6. Your links are always a joyful trip of discovery for me, Paula. I had just put Kate Atkinson’s Shrines of Gaiety on my list so I tried hard not to read the review 🙂 Arts Hub re Hovering by Rhett Davis goes on that list too. The Irish Times cosy book nook is enticing; and hooray Margaret Atwood!

  7. Ooh, I love the idea of a George Eliot read! However, once I’ve done my last Larry McMurtry (I couldn’t leave one out and read the other 12 I have!) I’m going to declare next year the year of getting my TBR down. I’m sure those 11 slots where I would have been doing a challenge book will make ALL the difference … Great collection as always!

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: