Library Checkout: January 2017

I’ve been doing pretty well with my goal of reading mostly books that I own, but have also managed to squeeze in a handful from public and university libraries. Next month may well be full of library reads, though – I went a little wild with the free reservations! I’ve added in ratings and links to any reviews for books I haven’t already featured on the blog in some way.



  • Rainy Brain, Sunny Brain: The New Science of Optimism and Pessimism by Elaine Fox
  • Fresh India: 130 Quick, Easy and Delicious Vegetarian Recipes for Every Day by Meera Sodha


  • From Me to You: Love Poems by U.A. Fanthorpe and R.V. Bailey
  • Family Life by Akhil Sharma
  • The January Man: A Year of Walking Britain by Christopher Somerville



  • Pondlife: A Swimmer’s Journal by Al Alvarez
  • Short and Sweet: 101 Very Short Poems, edited by Simon Armitage
  • The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books by John Carey
  • The Tell-Tale Heart by Jill Dawson
  • Nonsense by Christopher Reid [poetry]


  • Go Lean Vegan: The Revolutionary 30-Day Diet Plan to Lose Weight and Feel Great by Christine Bailey
  • Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller
  • Quick and Easy Thai Recipes by Jean-Pierre Gabriel
  • The Owl at the Window: A Memoir of Loss and Hope by Carl Gorham
  • A Smell of Burning: The Story of Epilepsy by Colin Grant
  • Bad Dreams and Other Stories by Tessa Hadley
  • The Good People by Hannah Kent
  • Where Poppies Blow: The British Soldier, Nature, the Great War by John Lewis-Stempel
  • The No Spend Year: How I Spent Less and Lived More by Michelle McGagh
  • Reading Allowed: True Stories and Curious Incidents from a Provincial Library by Chris Paling
  • A Beginner’s Guide to Losing Your Mind: Survival Techniques for Staying Sane by Emily Reynolds
  • The Best of Adam Sharp by Graeme Simsion


  • Talk to the Tail: Adventures in Cat Ownership and Beyond by Tom Cox: A glance at the table of contents revealed that most of the essays were not about cats. Rip-off!
  • Sunshine by Melissa Lee-Houghton: This was also on the Costa Poetry Award shortlist, so I picked it up from a display at the same time I got the Oswald and Riley. I flicked through and it didn’t seem like it would be for me.
  • Woods etc by Alice Oswald: I tried this just before Falling Awake (see above) and didn’t make it past the first few pages.

Have you been taking advantage of your local libraries? What appeals from my lists?

12 responses

  1. Always taking advantage of the library’s offerings. Even though I am also trying to make space and time for my own books. This month there were an exceptional number of borrowed items, perhaps because some of my reading goals required it (for instance choosing to read Louise Erdrich’s books this year but no longer owning very many of them). But also I just stumbled into some appealing items as well. Oops. (Not quite sorry.)

    As for what appeals on your list, I like the idea of the Indian cookbook you skimmed (I borrowed one recently as well – Vegan Richa’s Indian Kitchen), Quartet in Autumn is one of my fave Barbara Pym’s, I’ve been meaning to read Tessa Hadley’s short fiction (found her novels intriguing) and I can relate to returning some poetry collections which just don’t connect (but, fortunately, others do).

    Enjoy your February borrowing!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. There were so many good-looking recipes in the Indian cookbook that it would have been impossible for us to copy out the ones we wanted. We’ll just have to get hold of the book sometime!

    I’ve previously enjoyed Hadley’s novels (Clever Girl, The Past) more than her short stories (Married Love), but I’m willing to try again.

    Louise Erdrich is someone I’ve never read. Perhaps I should try her this year. What’s a good one to start with?


    1. I’m trying to borrow at least one cookbook each borrowing period (3 weeks) to keep some fresh recipes/inspiration in the kitchen during these cold months, when local produce is pretty much potatoes and squash and other roots from storage. The Indian recipes are especially appealing for generating some extra heat just now.

      The Erdrich which won my heart was Last Miracle of Little No Horse, and I think it’s fairly reliably well-received by readers (won some critical acclaim too, IIRC), so it’s probably a fine place to start (it was my first, as well). But it is, ironically, another way of telling the story of a character who first appears in Tracks, which was written many years prior (and the character had a different name – shall say no more to avoid spoilers). I wholly enjoyed LMaLNH without knowing/understanding the links between her works, and I think many others have too, but I’ve started with Tracks this time, because I wanted to meet the characters when they were younger and then follow them along as they age(d). I’ve heard wonderful things about The Round House and her latest as well….

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I have a hold on a Thai cookbook for much the same reason 🙂


  3. I love the use you make of your library! I’m about to take some hardbacks up to mine to donate to it, if I can work out their opening hours now (I have a neighbour who works there but I wouldn’t do that to her …). What a swiz the Tom Cox book is: grr!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve never donated to the library, only to charity shops. I suppose different library systems will have different policies about accepting donations.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, Birmingham Libraries have put out a call for good condition, relatively recent hardbacks and my local library is taking in donations. Everything else goes on BookCrossing shelves; I don’t tend to donate books to charity shops as the books are often discarded (but I buy from them a lot, of course).


    2. How does BookCrossing work? I only usually donate good-quality books (including proof copies) to charity shops. But yes, I volunteered in a branch of Oxfam Books a decade ago and it was distressing how many bags’ worth of books went off for recycling.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I replied to this but included the URL for bookcrossing com so assume it went into your spam folder!


    3. Oh, ok, that must be it. Very lazy of me to expect you to explain Book Crossing when I can just research it for myself 😉


    4. P.S. We don’t currently have a working printer, so I wouldn’t be able to print labels. Do you think I could still do it?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, you can just write the url and the BCID and a message inside the front cover!

        Liked by 1 person

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