Winding Up the Week #353

An end of week recap

When you are in the middle of a story it isn’t a story at all, but only a confusion; a dark roaring, a blindness, a wreckage of shattered glass and splintered wood; like a house in a whirlwind, or else a boat crushed by the icebergs or swept over the rapids, and all aboard powerless to stop it. It’s only afterwards that it becomes anything like a story at all. When you are telling it, to yourself or to someone else.”
 Margaret Atwood (born 18th November 1939)

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.

* Bubbling Cauldrons! Witch Week ‘24 Looms *

Chris Lovegrove and Lizzie Ross – hosts of Witch Week – have let the black cat out of the bag. The 2024 event is going to be all about Joan Aiken, the British writer widely adored for her supernatural fiction and children’s alternative history novels. “Next year will be the centenary of her birth,” says Chris. Therefore, “with the kind approval of Joan’s daughter Lizza Aiken,” they intend to focus on “as many aspects of her fantasy works as [they] can fit in for this special occasion.” Please keep the November pages of your 2024 diaries clear – it’s closer than you think!

* Irresistible Items *

Umpteen fascinating articles appeared on my bookdar last week. I generally make a point of tweeting/x-ing (soon, perhaps tooting or bsky-ing) a few favourite finds (or adding them to my Facebook group page), but in case you missed anything, there follows a selection of interesting snippets:


Time: The 100 Must-Read Books of 2023 – Lucy Feldman and Annabel Gutterman with an impressive list of assorted “fiction, nonfiction, and poetry that entertained and enlightened us” this year.

The Guardian: AS Byatt: a life defined by literature – “The Booker prizewinning novelist, who has died aged 87, was intelligent, curious – and warmly supportive of younger writers,” recalls Lisa Allardice. 

The Northern Scot: Writer Margaret Atwood to receive honorary degree from St Andrews – Celebrated Canadian author, Margaret Atwood, is set to receive an honorary doctorate of letters from the University of St Andrews on 29th November for her remarkable contributions to literature. 

Premium Times: African literature in the digital age, By Toyin Falola – “Since the advent of the digital age, the creative process has witnessed a reinvention, and African authors have not been left out,” writes Toyin Falola as an introduction to a panel discussion in collaboration with the Pan-African Writers’ Association.

The New York Times: Overlooked No More: Ángela Ruiz Robles, Inventor of an Early E-Reader – “Long before Kindles and iPads became popular, Ruiz Robles, a [Spanish] teacher, created her Mechanical Encyclopedia to help lighten her students’ textbook load,” finds Cindy Shmerler.

The Standard: Historian wins £50,000 Wolfson History Prize for book about resistance movements fighting the Nazis – “Halik Kochanski, who has taught at King’s College and University College London, wins prestigious prize for her work Resistance.”

Guernica: Voices on Palestine – A free downloadable collection of all the pieces Guernica has published about Palestine since 2010.

Vanity Fair: Jerzy Kosinski’s Fall From Grace: Investigating a Literary Smear Campaign – “Celebrated everywhere from Elaine’s to the Oscars, the Polish-born anti-Communist was the toast of Manhattan’s elite—until a swirl of questions about whether he wrote his own books sank his reputation. Three decades after Kosinski’s untimely death, an editor who worked with him reveals the complicated truth,” reports Wayne Lawson.

Guardian Australia: Question 7 by Richard Flanagan review – this deeply moving book is his finest workQuestion 7, says Tara June Winch, blends “memoir and history and auto-fiction…” It is, she declares, a “brilliantly unique book [which is, in fact, a] treatise on the immeasurability of life.”

Jewish Currents: Hélène Cixous – “The feminist theorist’s expansive oeuvre turns exclusion into a site of possibility.”

CrimeReads: 10 New Books Coming Out This Week – “New offerings from the world of crime, mystery, and thrillers.”

Esquire: What’s the Future of Books? – “Amid historic disruption in the publishing industry, big questions are—rightfully—being asked. Here, experts weigh in on how books (and the ways we discover them) are going to change,” says Kate Dwyer. Sarah Bernstein wins 2023 Scotiabank Giller Prize of $100,000 – Sarah Bernstein has been named the winner of the 2023 Scotiabank Giller Prize for her novel Study for Obedience published by Knopf Canada.

Los Angeles Times: In ‘The Future,’ as in the present, it’s billionaires vs. cult leaders vs. influencers – Naomi Alderman’s new dystopia, The Future, finds a new way into the genre she mastered in The Power: a battle royal of preppers, tech billionaires and cults.

AP: Translations of Vietnamese fiction and Egyptian poetry honored by translators association – “English-language editions of a Vietnamese novel set everywhere from Saigon to Paris and of the latest publication of poetry by Egypt’s Iman Mersal are this year’s winners of National Translation Awards.”

Air Mail: Pauline Boty, Lost and Found – “A long-overlooked member of the British Pop-art movement, and one of its few women, gets her due in a new biography,” Pauline Boty: British Pop Art’s Sole Sister by Marc Kristal.

3 Quarks Daily: Calling Things ‘Problematic’ Is Intellectually And Morally Lazy – Thomas Wells finds the term “problematic” is now routinely used when ideas are dismissed by the mass media and in academic publications.

Vintage: Vintage Fiction Recommendations for Every Reader – “From stories that will transport you out of this world, to ones that will take you back in time, and the page-turners in between—here are 20 of [Vintage’s] best fiction recommendations for the holiday gifting season.”

The Hindu: Bahrisons, Delhi’s iconic book store in Khan Market is 70 and going strong – “Bahrisons, the iconic book store in Khan Market, goes beyond its traditional role of selling books and remains a favourite hangout for seven decades,” says Soma Basu.

The Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction: John Vaillant’s Fire Weather: A True Story from a Hotter World wins The Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction 2023 – Described as a “meticulously researched, thrillingly told book” about the devastating wildfires that struck the Canadian city of Fort McMurray in 2016, John Vaillant’s Fire Weather has been named winner of the Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction 2023.

The Millions: Imprisoned for His Writing, Ahmed Naji Found Freedom in Literature – In his new memoir Rotten Evidence, Egyptian journalist and literary novelist, Ahmed Naji, writes of his ten-month stint in Cairo’s Tora Prison for “violating public decency”. Mona Kareem talks with him about his life and work.

ArtReview: Writing Practice: On Literature – “‘Literature’ sounds reactionary, but might that change if it can take some cues from the dynamics of art shows?” asks Adam Thirlwell.

Publishers Weekly: 2023 JASNA Conference: Jane Austen Society Courts Young Readers – Numerous speakers discussed approaches to making Austen relevant and relatable for younger generations when a large gathering of scholars and Janeites met in Denver earlier this month for the Jane Austen Society of North America’s annual get-together.

Emergence Magazine: When You Could Hear the Trees – “Welcoming a newborn son into a troubled and uncertain world, [Northern Irish nature writer,] Kerri ní Dochartaigh feels her way through an emerging realization of her mammalhood that brings her closer to the living world.”

JSTOR Daily: Burmese Women Novelists Speak Out – H.M.A. Leow finds the “novels of Ma Ma Lay and Wendy Law-Yone challenge the limits placed on the voices of Burmese women in the twentieth century.”

Gothamist: The most popular books New Yorkers are reading now, according to 9 indie booksellers – In New York City, reading lists are as diverse as the city itself. Precious Fondren reveals which books New Yorkers are currently buying.

BBC Scotland: Fake Robert Burns manuscripts make millions – “Fake Robert Burns manuscripts, created in Edinburgh 140 years ago, are still being traded to make millions of pounds, experts have said.”

The Conversation: Spoilers can’t ruin true enjoyment of your favourite book series, TV show or sports team – here’s why – According to Tom Grimwood, a series of psychological experiments found that knowing the end of a story did not diminish readers’ enjoyment.

The New York Review: Prelude to Empire – Aminatta Forna finds “Abdulrazak Gurnah’s novels, whether set in German East Africa or the United Kingdom, never cease to demonstrate how the minutiae of people’s lives have been affected by European colonialism.”

The Korea Times: Korean literary gems continue to make waves as translations spark global acclaim – “From a novel depicting Jeju Island’s 1948 massacres to a gripping horror thriller webtoon, a string of translated Korean literary works continued to garner global recognition this year,” says Park Han-sol. All the New Fantasy Books Arriving in November! – Here you can “keep track of all the new SFF releases” being published this month.

LARB: Unpacking Women’s Language: On Jenni Nuttall’s “Mother Tongue” – Katherine Turk reviews Jenni Nuttall’s Mother Tongue: The Surprising History of Women’s Words, which, she says, “makes the case that ‘women’s words’ —in their specificity, their peculiarity, and their ambiguity—reveal new dimensions of long-ago eras and shed useful light on our own time.”

Africanews: Henri Lopes, Congolese writer and politician, dies in France – “Considered one of the talented writers who made Congo ‘the Latin Quarter of Central Africa’,” the former Congolese Prime Minister Henri Lopes has died at the age of 86.

Arts Hub: Book review: I Don’t, Clementine Ford – The Australian feminist writer, Clementine Ford, “shows us how life could be for women if they weren’t shackled to marriage.” Magic realism: The legend of German alchemist Johann Bottger in 19th-century Bengali literature – “An excerpt from Trailokyanath Mukhopadhyay: Tales of Early Magic Realism in Bengali, translated by Sucheta Dasgupta.”

Commonweal: George Scialabba’s Prejudice for Progress – In this piece on the American book critic George Scialabba, Sam Adler-Bell asks: “Can modernity be defended?”

Boston: Why We Need Public Libraries Now More than Ever – “Who needs libraries, anyway? Turns out, we all do,” says Tom McGrath.

The Bookseller: All-American line-up revealed for this year’s Diagram Prize – “The 2023 Diagram Prize for the Oddest Book Title of the Year shortlist sees publishers from the USA claim all six spots,” reveals Horace Bent.

Slate: Horsefeatherses – “Scrabble’s new tournament word list adds words that lexicographers say aren’t actually words at all,” says Stefan Fatsis on the latest Scrabble controversy.

Literary Hub: My Feral Shelf: On Building a Personal Library of Bad Behavior – “Jennifer Lucy Allan on mischief, bad habits, and lust for life (in books).”



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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15 replies

  1. Regardless of what the psychologists say, I HATE spoilers!

  2. I don’t hate spoilers, but I’ve always been a re-reader.
    I enjoyed several of these articles, but none more than the one about new fantasy titles, which sent me down a rabbit hole that ended up with some articles by Jo Walton describing books I haven’t yet read.

    • That’s quite true, Jeanne. It simply isn’t possible to spoil an old favourite by divulging too much. 😊

      I’m so glad you liked the links. Hope you enjoy those newly discovered books.

      • Thanks for the link to the ‘Problematic’ article, Paula:

        “Its great popularity derives from making intellectual life easier for everyone by reducing the need to think very hard, or perhaps do a bit of reading, before having an opinion. And these days we are all supposed to have opinions about everything.”

  3. Thanks Paula – off to check these out. And hurrah for Atwood’s degree!

  4. I spy several rabbit holes 😂 Interesting about spoilers. I don’t like them when reading for the first time and yet we can enjoy books (or films) over and over knowing how ‘it all turned out in the end’ Interesting to see that 1984 is currently so popular in NY. Applause for Dr Atwood! Maya Angelou received an honorary degree too and used the title (in fact, when we went to see her at a reading we were told in advance to be sure we addressed her as ‘Dr Angelou’). I wonder if MA will insist on her DPhil title. Probably not. Maya Angelou was great though. Can’t believe we saw her in such a small venue as an offspin from Hay – some years ago.

  5. So thrilled to see Aiken as next year’s Witch Week choice–now to look for books to read 🙂 Great collection of links as always Paula–I was scared to click on the top 100books for fear of adding too many to the pile, but I found some already waiting 🙂 The Bengali magical realism tales sound fascinating, and some of the other links made me realise I haven’t yet read anything from Burma, Vietnam of Egypt! Lots of love to the meows and bows including wind up kitty 🙂

    • I know what you mean, Mallika – we live in such a big book world, it’s almost impossible to read something from everywhere. Not that it stops us trying, eh? 😅

      The furry family send you lots of licks and nuzzles! 😺🐕

  6. A wonderful range this week – as per usual – with plenty to grab the attention, thanks. And thanks too for drawing attention to our theme for 2024’s Witch Week – plenty of warning to dig out those forgotten novels to read or reread!

  7. Loved the JASNA article on teaching Austen to young people. The kids came up with some great projects.

    And I love the Diagram prize though it’s a while since I’ve seen mention of it. “Dry humping” Haha.

    I don’t HATE HATS spoilers – after all I love rereading – but I like to avoid them on a first read if I can. That said, when I started blogging it was because I wanted to document my response to my reading and but my response to my reading involves thinking about the ending. However, in blogging you can’t do that … it suddenly clicked that litblogging wasn’t a holistic response but a review, and they are different beasts. A bit of a shame but I pivoted as they say!

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