Library Checkout: October 2016

I continue to power through public library books at the same time as I keep acquiring books – including the ones below that I bought with birthday money from my sister: two novels I’ve been keen to read, a book of poetry, and two bibliomemoirs (one of them a signed copy but still stupidly cheap!).


I also have this gorgeous trio of blue-hued books to be reviewing for The Bookbag.


I’ve given ratings for all the books I finished, and added links to reviews for those I managed to write about.



  • Keeping an Eye Open: Essays on Art by Julian Barnes
  • Open City by Teju Cole


Many familiar titles still hanging around from last month, plus a few new ones…

  • A Chinese street food cookbook to browse for ideas
  • Hag-Seed: The Tempest Retold by Margaret Atwood
  • The Course of Love by Alain de Botton
  • Mend the Living by Maylis de Kerangal
  • The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge
  • Man Walks into a Room by Nicole Krauss
  • Thirteen Ways of Looking by Colum McCann
  • The Tobacconist by Robert Seethaler
  • The Painted Bridge by Wendy Wallace



  • Poetry Notebook, 2006–2014 by Clive James
  • Dear Mr. M by Herman Koch
  • Squirrel Pie by Elisabeth Luard
  • Cure: A Journey into the Science of Mind over Body by Jo Marchant
  • Autumn by Ali Smith
  • The Pursuit of Happiness: Why Are We Driving Ourselves Crazy and How Can We Stop? by Ruth Whippman


  • Two for Joy by Dannie Abse – I read about a third of these poems; not a single one stuck out for me.
  • The Most Perfect Thing: Inside (and Outside) a Bird’s Egg by Tim Birkhead – requested; I’ll have to get it back out another time.
  • Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine – Skimmed. Kudos to Rankine for revealing overt/casual racism in America – Lord knows we still need it in the public eye. (Ditto to Paul Beatty’s The Sellout winning the Booker Prize.) But is this poetry? Not even a quarter of the book is composed of what I would call poems, even prose poems. It’s more like a book of essays, which I wasn’t in the mood for. Best lines: “because white men can’t / police their imagination / black men are dying.”
  • The House at the Edge of the World by Julia Rochester – also requested.

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

6 responses

  1. The Pursuit of Happiness: Why Are We Driving Ourselves Crazy and How Can We Stop? – I might have to get this one for my husband. And possibly other members of his family. 🙂
    For myself, I’d like Ruined By Reading (although I hope that I’m not).


    1. I’ll probably just skim Pursuit of Happiness. I’ve looked at a bunch of books on the topic (e.g. Gretchen Rubin’s) and it will be interesting to see what her take is.

      I think I’ll make Ruined by Reading my next book-themed bedside book after I finish The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap. (Bonus: it’s only 119 pages!)

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I met Dannie Abse once. I gave him my poems to read. OH THE SHAME.


    1. Ha ha! That reminds me of the time as an adolescent when I showed my photographs to a Washington Post photojournalist at the end of an event. He was very gentle, and kind to take any time for me at all, but I cringe just to think of it nowadays.

      Is there an Abse collection you’d recommend?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Aie! I think if you don’t like Abse in one collection, you won’t like him at all, it’s just a personal preference and style thing. I like very few poets, unfortunately: always makes me feel a bit guilty!


    2. Fair enough! It’s hard for me to say why I like or don’t like particular poets or styles.


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