Library Checkout: September 2016

I’ve been powering through the public library books, even as I keep amassing owned books – including from local charity shops and the bargain shelves at Poundland and Waterstones.

I’ve given ratings for all the books I finished, and added links to Goodreads reviews for those I managed to write about. A few of these books were truly remarkable, so I’ll probably pull them out to highlight in a future post.

The stack I currently have on loan, plus the ones on reserve, should easily see me through the autumn and into winter! (* = poetry books)



  • Ozone Journal by Peter Balakian*
  • Open City by Teju Cole
  • The Course of Love by Alain de Botton
  • Mend the Living by Maylis de Kerangal
  • The Library of Unrequited Love by Sophie Divry
  • Let Me Tell You about a Man I Knew by Susan Fletcher
  • The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge
  • Man Walks into a Room by Nicole Krauss
  • The House at the Edge of the World by Julia Rochester



  • Keeping an Eye Open: Essays on Art by Julian Barnes
  • The Most Perfect Thing: Inside (and Outside) a Bird’s Egg by Tim Birkhead
  • Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew’d by Alan Bradley
  • Thirteen Ways of Looking by Colum McCann
  • Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien
  • The Painted Bridge by Wendy Wallace


  • The Crime Writer by Jill Dawson
  • The Man Who Wouldn’t Get Up and Other Stories by David Lodge
  • Nutshell by Ian McEwan
  • The Many by Wyl Menmuir
  • Fingers in the Sparkle Jar by Chris Packham
  • The Tobacconist by Robert Seethaler
  • Autumn by Ali Smith


  • Aftermath: On Marriage and Separation by Rachel Cusk [I sampled the first few pages and found it flat and affectless; perhaps I’ll try her fiction instead.]
  • Kid Gloves: A Voyage round My Father by Adam Mars-Jones [I decided an interest in the subject matter couldn’t overcome my frustration with the author’s style.]

(Thanks, as always, go to Shannon of River City Reading for the great blog idea and template!)

16 responses

  1. Hope you enjoy Madeline Thien as much as I did. I see some reviewers thought it convoluted but I thought it was completely absorbing from start to finish.

    PS – does Waterstones have a bargain shelf in all stores. i don’t recall ever seeing anything other than than 3 for 2 offers


    1. The two Waterstones branches I regularly use have a clearance trolley — often you have to look quite hard to find it. However, The Invention of Nature was on a display with a big red sticker for £3. It was with some books that were clearly damaged, though the only thing wrong with it is that the price stickers have pulled away some of the colour on the black matte cover.

      I’m about 20 pages into the Thien and enjoying it so far. I’m impressed by the inclusion of Chinese characters and musical bars! I think it may take me quite a while to read, though.


  2. Ha, I’m stalking my library website to be the very first one to get Do Not Say We Have Nothing. The Invention of Nature is pretty great. If you want to read some fiction about Humboldt, I can recommend Measuring the World.


    1. Hi TJ, I feel like I ‘know’ you from Naomi’s blog 🙂 I loved Measuring the World! Humboldt also plays a minor role in the recent novel Resolution by A.N. Wilson. I was delighted to find the Wulf biography going cheap. It recently won another major prize, and I know will be well worth reading. I do find that biographies take a lot of concentration, though, so I’ll have to find the right time to embark on it.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Sarah's Book Shelves | Reply

    Is that the same Jonathan Tropper of This is Where I Leave You?! I loved that book and have always been meaning to read more Tropper.


    1. Hi Sarah! Yep, the same one. I liked This Is Where I Leave You (though not as much as the movie) and One Last Thing before I Go. I’ve heard that his novels are all kind of the same, but I figure as long as I leave plenty of time in between them that’s not really a problem 🙂


  4. There are so many books in your post, I feel overwhelmed! I’ll be interested to hear what you think of the Nicole Krauss. I loved History of Love, but heard mixed things about Great House. I haven’t heard anything about this one.
    And, obviously, keen to hear about Do Not Say We Have Nothing.


    1. Great House was definitely nowhere near as good as The History of Love. I don’t know anything about this first novel of hers, but I hope for a pleasant surprise!

      I imagine you’ll be reading the Thien soon for the shortlist shadow panel?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Soon, yes! It’s actually the only one I don’t have yet. But it’s coming!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I didn’t see any links. 2 books with 5 stars, 1 with 4 1/2! I can’t wait to see why you rated them so highly.

    Sent from my iPhone



    1. They’re in light blue so not particularly noticeable. If you hover over any of the titles it should allow you to click.


  6. In awe as ever of the sheer quantity you read – especially as I’ve read none of them.


  7. I’ve never seen that cover of Infinite Home before, but I love it! (and I loved that book!) So glad to see you read Maus – such a great one.


    1. I was unsure about Infinite Home but then saw your 5 stars on Goodreads plus another friend’s and thought I’d chance it for £1 🙂


  8. Mend the Living (here it’s called The Heart) was just phenomenal. And The Lie Tree is on my shelf, along with so many others . . .

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I remember you reviewed the de Kerangal. I’ll look back at your review once I’ve read it.


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