Library Checkout: January 2018

Here’s what’s changed since last month:



  • The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne
  • Ali: A Life by Jonathan Eig

Two absolutely knock-out doorstoppers!


  • Herzog by Saul Bellow
  • This Cold Heaven: Seven Seasons in Greenland by Gretel Ehrlich
  • Family Matters by Rohinton Mistry
  • On Balance by Sinéad Morrissey [poetry – shortlisted for Costa Prize]
  • The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks
  • Spirals in Time: The Secret Life and Curious Afterlife of Seashells by Helen Scales

Then you’ll recognize a lot of the same titles hanging over from last month. The lack of a firm due date for the university library books (they can be renewed pretty much indefinitely) makes me put them off in favor of other, seemingly more timely, reads.



Public library:

  • Harmless like You by Rowan Hisayo Buchanan
  • Inside the Wave by Helen Dunmore [poetry – winner of Costa Prize]
  • Useful Verses by Richard Osmond [poetry – shortlisted for Costa Prize]

University library:

  • The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon
  • The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz
  • To the Is-land: An Autobiography by Janet Frame
  • Vita Nova by Louise Glück [poetry]
  • On the Road by Jack Kerouac
  • The Cabaret of Plants: Botany and the Imagination by Richard Mabey
  • There Is an Anger that Moves by Kei Miller [poetry]
  • And When Did You Last See Your Father? by Blake Morrison
  • The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell
  • The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  • The Magnificent Spinster by May Sarton


  • Ghosts of Christmas Past, a story collection edited by Tim Martin – The only one I read was Neil Gaiman’s dark 100-word tale, “Nicholas Was.” When it came down to it, I realized I wasn’t actually that interested in holiday ghost stories.
  • The High Places by Fiona McFarlane – Once again I borrow a short story collection with the best of intentions but return it unread. Sigh!
  • NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity by Steve Silberman – Alas, this was requested back from the uni library by another user. I’ll have to get it out again another time.
  • Bellwether by Connie Willis – My husband read it and enjoyed it well enough, but from his description it sounds silly to me. I’ll try to find another of her books to be the right follow-up to last year’s read of To Say Nothing of the Dog.

What have you been reading from your local libraries? Does anything appeal from my stacks?

21 responses

  1. I’ll be interested to see how you get on with Harmless Like You, particularly with the cat…

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Appealing: And When Did You Last Hear from Your Father? Because we find ourselves in the same sad situation, and I have actually asked that very question.

    Sent from my iPhone



    1. Yes, I thought of that too. I don’t know exactly what the book is about, but it is a highly regarded memoir.


  3. I love Oliver Sachs’ writing so much. If you enjoy ‘The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat’, I’d definitely recommend ‘Musicophilia’, which is just wonderful.


    1. I was surprised at how dry his style is; I think I was expecting more conversational prose. But the stories are certainly interesting, so I’d be up for trying another of his books.


  4. I want to read The Heart’s Invisible Furies after giving a copy to my brother for Christmas.


    1. It’s brilliant! It was my novel of 2017.


      1. I think it’ll be my next read, good excuse so I can discuss it with him and I’ve noted a few people suggest it was their favourite read, can’t wait!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I think I already mentioned that I, too, had snapped up a renewable-copy of the Junot Diaz novel and even though I’ve been trying to read my borrowings in a single loan period (for a change) that one has lingered because some of the others couldn’t be renewed, so I’m planning to start reading it next weekend. (That’s a safe distance away to make reading plans, isn’t it?! :P) Those Janet Frame books are interesting reading; I read the trio in short order, though, because they were a little more difficult than I expected. Have you seen, or are you planning to watch, the film as well? It was a Jane Campion, wasn’t it? It’s available through one of library’s video streaming services and I’ve been toying with the idea, but wondered if maybe I should reread first…


    1. I had no idea there was a film of Janet Frame’s book!! If I enjoy the book, I may well seek out the movie somehow.


  6. The Silberman is good but quite a concentrated read. Unfortunately, I read it on Kindle, or I’d have sent you my copy!


    1. It strikes me as one to read slowly, and in a print edition, I think. I expect it to be fascinating.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. An indefinite renewal is so dangerous! 🙂 At least if you return things unread, you’re still supporting your libraries!


    1. I’m glad you think so 🙂 I do intend to read all of the books I borrow…but it sometimes doesn’t work out that way.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Nice! Currently I am reading Rescue by Nicolas sparks. I would be really interested in reading your reviews about autobiography of Janet Frame and when did you last hear from your father.


    1. I should try to actually read them in February!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Annabel (gaskella) | Reply

    Now the Boyne is out in pbk, I couldn’t resist – but need to make time to actually read it! I hope you enjoy Spirals in Time – I loved its mixture of science, ecology and culture – I want to read her first book on Seahorses too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve been enjoying Spirals in Time, though I’m currently a bit bogged down in the nautilus chapter. I’ve found some elements more interesting than others, but as you say, a great blend of science and history, and sea life is just so delightfully strange!


  10. I think I would like Spirals in Time, but I also think it would be better if I owned it so that I don’t have to worry about due dates. I’ll be watching for your verdict on that one!


    1. I think you’d like it too. But I have definitely been moving through it slowly. Within each chapter there are subheadings, and usually I don’t even read a chapter, just a smaller section, in a sitting. Some topics have been more interesting than others.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I really want to read The Heart’s Invisible Furies! Spirals in Time sounds interesting too.

    Liked by 1 person

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