Library Checkout: January 2019

As soon as I was back from the States on the 1st, I set about refilling my library stack and my reservation queue. I’ve been reading a bunch of poetry and skimming a lot of nature and social science books, with plenty of fiction, self-help and medical material on the way.


  • Get Well Soon: Adventures in Alternative Healthcare by Nick Duerden 
  • The Way Past Winter by Kiran Millwood Hargrave 
  • A Honeybee Heart Has Five Openings by Helen Jukes 
  • Us by Zaffar Kunial [poetry] 
  • Soho by Richard Scott [poetry] 
  • Don’t Call Us Dead by Danez Smith [poetry] 


  • Rewild Yourself: 23 Spellbinding Ways To Make Nature More Visible by Simon Barnes 
  • Making Winter: A Creative Guide for Surviving the Winter Months by Emma Mitchell 
  • The Brief Life of Flowers by Fiona Stafford 
  • Under the Knife: A History of Surgery in 28 Remarkable Operations by Arnold van de Laar 


  • The Nature of Winter by Jim Crumley
  • The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
  • Take Courage: Anne Brontë and the Art of Life by Samantha Ellis
  • Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression – and the Unexpected Solutions, Johann Hari
  • The Four Tendencies: The Indispensable Personality Profiles that Reveal how to Make Your Life Better (And Other People’s Lives Better, Too) by Gretchen Rubin


  • Orchid Summer: In Search of the Wildest Flowers of the British Isles by John Dunn
  • East of Eden by John Steinbeck
  • The Way of the Hare by Marianne Taylor
  • The Mary Westmacott Collection, Vol. 1 [the alias of Agatha Christie – I only plan to read the third book in the volume, Absent in the Spring]


  • Daphne by Will Boast
  • The Binding by Bridget Collins


  • Hired: Six Months Undercover in Low-wage Britain by James Bloodworth
  • Selected Poems by Edmund Blunden
  • The Golden Tresses of the Dead by Alan Bradley
  • The Happy Brain: The Science of Where Happiness Comes From, and Why by Dean Burnett
  • Louis & Louise by Julie Cohen
  • Boy Erased: A Memoir of Identity, Faith, and Family by Garrard Conley
  • Also Human: The Inner Lives of Doctors by Caroline Elton
  • Dream Sequence by Adam Foulds
  • Milkshakes and Morphine: A Memoir of Love and Loss by Genevieve Fox
  • How to Break Up with Your Phone: The 30-Day Plan to Take Back Your Life by Catherine Price
  • The Secret Barrister: Stories of the Law and How It’s Broken
  • Growing Pains: Making Sense of Childhood: A Psychiatrist’s Story by Dr. Mike Shooter
  • The Face Pressed against a Window: A Memoir by Tim Waterstone


  • The Sealwoman’s Gift by Sally Magnusson – I read the first 85 pages in December and found I couldn’t get back into it after a number of weeks away.


  • Assurances by J.O. Morgan [poetry] – I opened to the first page and instantly thought, “Nope.” Poetry is so subjective that it’s hard to pinpoint what put me off, but the fragmentary phrasing felt simultaneously repetitive and overwritten, and I don’t think I’d realized this is basically one long war poem. I didn’t make it past page 1 and returned it to the library on my next trip. Of course I then felt sheepish when I saw it won the Costa Prize for Poetry …
  • From a Low and Quiet Sea by Donal Ryan – I’ve lost interest for the time being.

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

I don’t have an official link-up system, so please just pop a link to your blog in the comments if you’ve taken part in Library Checkout this month. (Feel free to use the image in your post.)

27 responses

  1. I’m always impressed by your library list! I hope your interest in the Ryan will be rekindled some time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m sure I’ll get around to it eventually. I just have to follow the reading mood where it takes me 🙂

      P.S. Are you aware of the Waterstones founder’s memoir?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I am, and I’m sure I’ll read it at some stage. I only hope it’s better than his fiction!


    2. Oh, okay, I had no idea he’d tried his hand at fiction! I’m waiting for my library’s copy of the memoir, currently on order, so in a future month I’ll report back on whether it was any good.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ll look forward to that and I’d give the fiction a wide berth if I were you!


  2. I’d love to read The Binding – it’s such a beautiful hardback, as well. The libraries aren’t great here, so I might have to treat myself with my Christmas book vouchers.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I need to pick up The Binding this week and then be quick about reading it — there’s a queue of about 8 people waiting after me! You’re right, it looks like a gorgeous book. I’ll feel privileged to be the first one to read the library hardback 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The Binding sounds wonderful. I’ll also have to use book vouchers. I’m curious to know: do the Library staff cheer or flinch when they see you approaching ? You really are an Olympic status Reader! And I like the fact that you cheerfully admit to skimming, abandoning, or not finishing books. I think an awful lot of readers/book bloggers don’t admit how often they skim, skip or dump books, but pretend they’ve read the whole darn thing!


    1. Reservations are now self-service and most borrowing is done on machines, so I barely have any interaction with staff members — only if I’m having trouble finding something, or want to request an item from the store room. All they’ll know of me is the “Fos” slips in my reserved books!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Here in Cape Town we are still dealing with counter staff and sometimes even wielding pen and paper to fill out a booking request form!.


    2. Automation may be efficient, but is generally used as an excuse to lay off staff 😦

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Baaah!!! Imagine a Simon Cowell type buzzer blaringh out here. thumbs down.


  4. I have The Binding on Kindle but have abandoned it. The concept was lovely, but it just did not grip me in the execution, felt like it was deliberately hiding things and making it very confusing at the start. Would love to hear your thoughts though, when you read it!


    1. I’ll give it 20 pages or so and see how I get on. That’s the great thing about library books — no regrets about wasting money on a book you don’t like, and you’re supporting a threatened public service at the same time 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. The Binding’s definitely worthwhile. So, in an extremely different way, is The Secret Barrister – so good!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks for sharing your list. I’d be interested in hearing what you think of The Four Tendencies. I’m not usually a self help book reader, but I didn’t mind The Happiness Project.


    1. I loved The Happiness Project. The Four Tendencies has some interesting information but is not in itself a scintillating read. Thus I’m just skimming it for tips.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Good to know when prioritizing reads!


  7. Some of your reservation queue titles appeal to me especially Also Human: The Inner Lives of Doctors by Caroline Elton. Having spent a lot of time in the last two years in encounters with various medical practitioners I’be become very curious about them as people….

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Thanks so much for this link up! I always love seeing your list and am amazed by how much you use your library!

    Here’s my link:

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for taking part 🙂


  9. If I was going to join in with Library Checkout, now would be a good time – I have the longest holds list I’ve had in a while (15 items, I think). Which is a bit scary, since I have less reading time than I normally do these days. And I’ve looked over the list several times in the hope of cancelling something, but I want to read them all!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Please do join in sometime 🙂 I hope your holds will space themselves out nicely so you can read most or all of them.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Thank you Rebecca for your inspiration! I have just done my first ever January Library Book Haul! I hope to stick to it!


    1. Thanks for taking part! Feel free to leave a link to your blog.


  11. Rubin strikes me as skimmable but not so much Eco. That’s a book I’ve considered reading, but never considered seriously enough to gather up a copy. I’d like to read the Samantha Ellis book: I liked Heroine. You?


    1. The choice was to DNF the Eco after nearly 100 pages, or skim the rest of it. So I did the latter, but didn’t really get much out of it.

      I very much enjoyed Ellis’s How to Be a Heroine. I’m not fresh enough to the Brontes to have gleaned much from her biography of Anne, though.


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