Winding Up the Week #330

An end of week recap

Any belief that puts itself beyond doubt nurtures its own collapse.”
 Stephen R. Donaldson (born 13th May 1947)

Thank you for your patience during my two-week WUTW hiatus. I had a wonderful holiday in Sorrento, the ‘town of lemons’ (hence today’s main picture).

During my stay, I explored the ancient city of Pompeii, trekked to the top of Mount Vesuvius (well, I walked the final short stretch after alighting from an air-conditioned coach), celebrated S.S.C. Napoli’s first Serie A title for 33 years with hordes of ecstatic residents (the entire area was festooned with blue and white bunting for the duration of my visit), ate far too much pasta, learned all there is to know about local poet Torquato Tasso, wound my way through the vertiginous villages of the Amalfi Coast, spent a delightful evening at Correale Museum of Terranova in the company of Three Tenors and imbibed a sip or two of Limoncello. Oddly enough, the rest of my trip is all rather hazy, much like the photographs I took on the final evening. Hic!

As ever, 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.

* The Purrrfect Read *

Ailurophiles of the book loving world, prepare for a pawsome event. From the 12th – 18th June, busy blogger and chief cataloguer of feline tails (oops, I mean ‘tales’), Mallika Ramachandran, is hosting Reading the Meow – a combined celebration of cats and books. “Everyone’s welcome to join in,” she says, you simply need to “read any book or books” featuring a cat and share your thoughts (or should that be kitiques?) on your blogs or Goodreads. Mallika intends to post “a dedicated page and starter post towards the start of the challenge.” If this sounds like your saucer of milk, please head over to Literary Potpourri and check out Announcing #ReadingtheMeow2023: A Week of Reading Books With Cats in them! for an unforgettable literary pusspourri.

* 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:


The Hudson Review: Poetry in a Time of Climate Change – Meg Schoerke reviews four new poetry collections. 

Literary Hub: The Rebel Vocabulary of Ágota Kristóf – “Helen Oyeyemi on Kristóf’s memoir The Illiterate.”

Vinduet: A Golden Age? – “Today, criticism is being practiced and received as an artform in its own right. What makes this possible and can it last?” wonders Ryan Ruby.

The New York Times Magazine: Annie Ernaux Has Broken Every Taboo of What Women Are Allowed to Write – “The novelist Rachel Cusk on what makes the Nobel laureate’s fiction so shocking.”

n+1: The New New Reading Environment After: Twitter – In the opinion of n+1’s editors, “all this adds up to the impression that impressions are hard to come by.”

The Oxonian Review: The Overflowing – An excerpt from Enrico Palandri’s Boccalone, a cult novel in Italy in the 1970s that was admired by Elsa Morante, Italo Calvino and Bernardo Bertolucci, but has never been published in English.

The Guardian: Fake books: the controversial interiors trend for literary pretenders – “Want to create the perfect Zoom background? Keen to appear well read when you actually spend your time scrolling TikTok on the toilet? There is now an answer …”

BBC News: Butterfly species named after Lord of the Rings villain Sauron – “Scientists have named a new group of butterflies after the villain Sauron from the Lord of the Rings novels.

The Millions: The Literary Lives of Mid-Century Nuns – Nick Ripatrazone thinks it’s about time we try to understand why the nuns of this era were drawn to writing and publishing poetry.

Arts Hub: Strengths and challenges for neurodivergent editors – “Dr Louise Merrington and Tanja Gardner shared insights in the recent IPEd panel, ‘Neurodivergence and editing: a view from the inside’.” ‘Chittacobra’ is a novel about desire and the complications of its pushes and pulls – “Originally written in Hindi and published in 1979, Mridula Garg has translated her [novel Chittacobra] for English readers.  

The New York Review: The Inventor of Magical Realism – “It remains a mystery why Miguel Ángel Asturias’s brilliant novel Mr. President remains less well known in the English-speaking world than the many novels it inspired,” writes Larry Rohter.

Public Books: Fool’s Gold – In what Catriona Menzies-Pike describes as “the blurb-saturated present,” authors may decry brief promotional snippets as corrupt and silly, but when they publish new books, they will still be conscripted to marketing duties.

Psyche: Reading books is not just a pleasure: it helps our minds to heal – “Through [his] own struggles and in teaching bibliotherapy to students, [Peter Leylandi knows] that books can help to heal minds and hearts.”

The Times of Israel: Protests are altering Israel’s trajectory, says Handmaid’s writer Margaret Atwood – “‘The king’ knows that ‘an awful lot of people think what he is doing is wrong’: At Jerusalem Writers Festival, Canadian author talks judicial reform, Handmaid’s Tale [and] Netanyahu.”

NLR Sidecar: Mannerisms – Lola Seaton looks at the work of the Irish essayist Brian Dillon.

NPR: Author Fatimah Asghar is the first winner of the Carol Shields Prize for Fiction – The winner of the first-ever Carol Shields Prize for Fiction is South Asian American author Fatimah Asghar for When We Were Sisters. 

Sortira Paris: Philippe Sollers: The Multi-Awarded Writer Has Died at 86 – Philippe Sollers, one of the most celebrated contemporary French writers and literary critics, died on 6th May.

ANI: Kashmir’s ‘Coded Poet’: 60-year-old Sufi creates unique language to preserve inspiring poetry – Zafira Jan, also known as the ‘Coded Poet of Kashmir’, has created her own language to preserve her work.

Slate: Shakespeare Was Shakespeare – It is long past time to retire the pernicious, anti-historical, dumb search for who ‘really’ wrote Shakespeare’s plays, argues Isaac Butler.

Vulture: Late Work – Kerry Howley on “how the poet Jorie Graham — living with cancer, reeling from her mother’s death — wrote the best book of her long career.”

The Public Domain Review: The Ether Dreams of Fin-de-Siècle Paris – “Mike Jay explores how [ether and chloroform] shaped the writings of Guy de Maupassant and Jean Lorrain — psychonauts who opened the door to an invisible dimension of mind and suffered Promethean consequences.”  

Financial Times: The Story of the Forest by Linda Grant — fate and fortune The Story of the Forest: “An epic family saga that spans the 20th century follows one woman’s transformative journey  from Latvia  to Liverpool.” 

Fast Company: This tablet turns images into tactile displays for people who are visually impaired – Dot Pad, says Andrea Paola Hernández, “is a winner in Fast Company’s 2023 World Changing Ideas Awards.”

Pan Macmillan Blog: ‘I wanted to write about Roman life from below’: James Hynes on his historical novel, Sparrow – “Through meticulous research and bold imagination, James Hynes has brought the dying embers of the Roman Empire, and the experiences of those enslaved by it, to vivid, brutal life [in his historical novel Sparrow]. Here he tells us how he did it.”

The Stopgap: What I Need From People When I Ask “Hey, Is This Funny?” – “Now that we’re partners, Jo [Livingstone] is starting to learn the rules of this kind of interaction (whereby I text them “do you think ___ is funny for the next post”), which will happen anywhere between two and five times a day for the rest of our lives,” writes Daniel Lavery.

South China Morning Post: ‘People who really love books will come’: poet opens bookstore in mountainous village in China to provide space for locals to read and children to study – “A bookstore in the middle of nowhere built in the shape of the number seven and containing 7,000 books has caught attention online in mainland China,” reports Alice Yan.

European Commission: Here are the winners of the 2023 European Union Prize for Literature – “The jury of the European Union Prize of Literature (EUPL) have announced the laureates of 2023 edition of the prize at the Leipzig Book Fair.”

TechCrunch: ‘Bigolas Dickolas’ is more powerful than the Pulitzer PrizeThis Is How You Lose the Time War – “a queer, dystopian time travel novella published in 2019” – has become an overnight sensation after an anime fan account implored its readers to purchase it immediately.

TNR: Medical Mysteries Are the New True Crime – Eleanor Cummins on why “memoirs of sickness and elusive diagnosis increasingly read like detective stories.”

Tablet: How Hannah Arendt’s Zionism Helped Create American Gay Identity – “The pioneering gay writer and editor Michael Denneny, who died on April 12, learned from his teacher Arendt that an individual can be free only as part of a free community,” finds Blake Smith.

The Critic: Playing it by the book – Daniel Johnson asks the question: “Are books as physical objects already obsolescent?”

Prospect: One catastrophe after another: our environmental history – “Peter Frankopan’s The Earth Transformed is an immense work of scholarship—though sometimes too immense to get your head around,” warns Nick Spencer.  

Guardian Australia: Gabrielle Carey, co-author of Puberty Blues, dies aged 64 – “The novel [Puberty Blues], written with Kathy Lette in the 1970s when both were teenagers, was a landmark in Australian fiction,” says Caitlin Cassidy.

Wales Arts Review: Charles: The King and Wales by Huw Thomas Review – “As the dust settles after the coronation of King Charles III, Emma Schofield takes a look at, Charles: The King and Wales, a new book by Huw Thomas which explores the relationship between the new monarch and Wales.

Granta: Jealous Laughter – Joanna Biggs, author of A Life of One’s Own, thinks bromances are passé – female friendships are now the in thing.

Publishing Perspectives: On the 90th Anniversary of Germany’s Book Burnings: ‘A Terrible Attack’ – “Laying out the Börsenverein’s complicity 90 years ago, publishers and booksellers commemorate the bonfires of ‘un-German’ books,” writes Porter Anderson.

Kirkus: Winner of the 2023 Dylan Thomas Prize Is Revealed – Nigerian writer Arinze Ifeakandu has been awarded one of the world’s largest literary prizes for young writers – the Swansea University Dylan Thomas Prize – for his debut short fiction collection, God’s Children Are Little Broken Things.

Today: How ‘LibraryTok’ is helping libraries write their next chapter – “LibraryTok is a booming, book-loving corner of the internet … completely free of fines,” reports Ryan Hudgins.

The Nation: Past and Present – Jillian Steinhauer looks at “how Maus changed the way we think about comics.”

The Verge: Spotify tries to win indie authors by cutting audiobook fees – “Spotify’s audiobook creation service, Findaway Voices, will cut fees for sales through its own platform.”

The Conversation: Shakespeare’s environmentalism: how his plays explore the same ecological issues we face today – “It would, of course, be an anachronism to dub Shakespeare an environmentalist. But he was acutely aware of what we would term the environmental issues of his era.”

The Ringer: Want to Know What TV Loses Without Writers? Just Look at 2007. – “One week into the WGA strike in Hollywood, former writers for ‘Friday Night Lights’ and ‘Gossip Girl’ recall the problems their shows ran into the last time there was a work stoppage.”

The Guardian: French minister’s steamy novel turns up heat on Macron – “Sex scene in Bruno Le Maire’s book provokes ridicule and anger among opposition politicians,” reveals Angelique Chrisafis.



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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29 replies

  1. Welcome back Paula, it sounds a wonderful trip! May I congratulate you on your excellent feline puns 😀

  2. Thanks so much for the mention, Paula and for making Reading the Meow sound so cattractive😺

    Your trip sounds wonderful, and somewhere Ie been wanting to explore especially after reading Robert Harris’ Pompeii!

    • It’s an absolute pleasure, Mallika. I’m looking forward to your event. Incidentally, there were some lovely rotund puss cats lolling about in Pompeii! 😸

      I loved Mary Beard’s fascinating historical book: Pompeii: The Life of a Roman Town. I must read Harris’s novel, it sounds so good.

  3. I crown you this week’s pun queen, Paula! Pleased to hear you enjoyed Sorrento.

  4. Daniel Johnson poses a seemingly controversial question only to reassure bookish readers that physical books will always be relevant. And yet his article makes me think (perhaps only because it’s another rainy day in Ohio) that many home libraries will be among the casualties of climate change. Our home library (my husband estimates our collection at about 10,000 titles) has already been at risk because of stormwater problems, and with the new scale of thunderstorms and tornadoes coming through, it won’t be the last time, even though we have new safeguards in place.

    • I feel for you, Jeanne. Way back in 1994, our home was flooded by a “once in a 1,000-year deluge”, which turned out to be the start of things to come. We lost pretty much everything of importance (in my case books) because it happened so quickly. I hope nothing like this ever happens to you (the loss of 10,000 titles would be heart-breaking) but sadly anything is possible these days. 🌦

  5. Wonderful collection of links – thank you Paula! And your trip sounds brilliant – so glad you had such a marvellous time! 😀

  6. I don’t know why my comment vanished into thin air (or moderation) l. Thanks so much for including Reading the Meow and making it sound so cattractive😺

    Your trip sounds lovely and something I’d love to do someday as well. Pompeii and vesuvius

  7. Like books themselves in one of the links you give, WUTW also helps to heal minds and hearts by showing us the vast spectrum of thinking about fiction, authors, issues, readers and so on. Thanks for them, and welcome back after what sounds a wonderful (and doubtless well-deserved) break..🙂 (By the way, the town of Limone by Lake Garda claims a special affinity with lemons, I think you can guess why!)

  8. Lovely to have you back Paula, it sounds as though you had a perfectly wonderful break! Ha, nice job with the meowvelous announcement of Mallika’s reading event.🐱

  9. Welcome back! I enjoyed your mini-travelogue and hope you feel refreshed. So many interesting things I have spotted here – not least all the literary news that I would otherwise have missed! Thank you.

  10. Oh, what a gorgeous Italian trip – I have to go back to Italy some time soon, it has been far too long! I really have to somehow fit in the meow reading event. Great list of resources as always, which should keep me (far too) busy this Sunday.

  11. So glad you had a lovely holiday. My enduring memory from Sorrento is how *everything* tasted of lemon – including the chocolate cake, bleh 😉

  12. Sadly, here in the USA, there are folks wanting to burn and ban books right now, today. I’m off to read the book burning article. Great collection of links as always.

  13. Glad to hear you had a lovely holiday. Some fascinating looking articles here, thanks for sharing.

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