Library Checkout: April 2019

This was a huge library reading month for me! I finished off a lot of books that I’d started last month, several of which were requested after me, and picked up a novel from the Women’s Prize longlist plus a few that have attracted a lot of buzz. Looking ahead, I’ve placed holds on a bunch of recent nonfiction: nature, medicine, current events and essays. [I give links to reviews of any books that I haven’t already featured on the blog in some way, and ratings for all.]

What have you been reading from your local library? 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 this image in your post.




  • Hired: Six Months Undercover in Low-wage Britain by James Bloodworth
  • It’s All a Game: A Short History of Board Games by Tristan Donovan
  • The Village News: The Truth behind England’s Rural Idyll by Tom Fort
  • Outsiders: Five Women Writers Who Changed the World by Lyndall Gordon
  • The Recovering: Intoxication and Its Aftermath by Leslie Jamison
  • To Obama: With Love, Joy, Hate and Despair by Jeanne Marie Laskas
  • Amateur: A Reckoning with Gender, Identity and Masculinity by Thomas Page McBee [a look back through before finalizing our Wellcome Book Prize shadow panel vote]
  • Lost and Found: Memory, Identity, and Who We Become when We’re No Longer Ourselves by Jules Montague
  • Still Water: The Deep Life of the Pond by John Lewis-Stempel
  • The Uninhabitable Earth: A Story of the Future by David Wallace-Wells


  • Jesus’ Son by Denis Johnson
  • I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara
  • The Crossway by Guy Stagg


  • The Seasons, a Faber & Faber / BBC Radio 4 poetry anthology (the “Spring” section, naturally)


  • Stroke: A 5% Chance of Survival by Ricky Monahan Brown
  • Because: A Lyric Memoir by Joshua Mensch
  • The Lost Properties of Love: An Exhibition of Myself by Sophie Ratcliffe
  • First Time Ever by Peggy Seeger
  • The Butcher’s Hands [poetry] by Catherine Smith


  • Our Place: Can We Save Britain’s Wildlife before It Is Too Late? by Mark Cocker
  • How to Catch a Mole and Find Yourself in Nature by Marc Hamer
  • Under the Camelthorn Tree: Raising a Family among Lions by Kate Nicholls



  • How to Treat People: A Nurse’s Notes by Molly Case
  • Once More We Saw Stars by Jayson Greene
  • Lowborn: Growing Up, Getting Away and Returning to Britain’s Poorest Towns by Kerry Hudson
  • Horizon by Barry Lopez
  • The Doll Factory by Elizabeth Macneal
  • The Electricity of Every Living Thing: One Woman’s Walk with Asperger’s by Katherine May
  • Machines Like Me by Ian McEwan
  • The Wild Remedy: How Nature Mends Us: A Diary by Emma Mitchell
  • Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata
  • Feel Free: Essays by Zadie Smith
  • A Farmer’s Diary: A Year at High House Farm by Sally Urwin
  • Frankisstein: A Love Story by Jeanette Winterson



  • Seven Signs of Life: Stories from an Intensive Care Doctor by Aoife Abbey
  • Remembered by Yvonne Battle-Felton


  • The Pebbles on the Beach: A Spotter’s Guide by Clarence Ellis
  • Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli
  • Taking the Arrow out of the Heart by Alice Walker [poetry]
  • The Face Pressed against a Window: A Memoir by Tim Waterstone

(I lost interest in all of these.)


Does anything appeal from my stacks?

19 responses

  1. I’m keen to read I’ll be gone in the dark. Will be interested to hear how you get on with it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m nearly two-thirds of the way through it now. I don’t often read true crime but had heard good things about this one, and it’s indeed very well put together: gripping, forthright but not salacious in its details, and both personal and objective — it was a real obsession for her that became a big part of her life. (She died a couple of years before publication, so some of the chapters and sections are recreated from her notes and articles, which does create a tiny bit of repetition, but not too bad.)

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Oh excellent! I look forward to it.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Are you enjoying The Crossway? Keen to read that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Very much so. It reminds me of an update of Patrick Leigh Fermor’s A Time of Gifts and has been very readable so far. I’d been aware of it for a while, but once it made the Folio and Ondaatje Prize shortlists that clinched it for me that I needed to read it soon.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Bledwina Blighty Pudfish | Reply

    The geek in me adores your library checkout breakdown – such detail! I read I’ll Be Gone in the Dark last week and your comments above are spot on, it’s very well done and not tacky or sensationalist. It did creep me out though – not to be read late at night if you are of nervous disposition or on your own. I have read Convenience Store Woman, it’s sad and quirky, possibly over-hyped though which is a shame, as it is very good, a quiet gem. I would like to read the McEwan, am going to look up the other titles you have reserved as do not know most of them but know that you are always onto good stuff!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. True — I’ve mostly read I’ll Be Gone in the Dark in the daytime and around other people, which helps! I’m trying not to picture any of the murder scenes too clearly in my mind, but as you say, her use of detail is not sensationalist.


  4. Bledwina Blighty Pudfish | Reply

    Have just reserved Lowborn at my library – hurrah!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Even without the recent hubub Ian McKewan started online, looking down his nose at sci fi (which he’s been writing in recent years–so, huh?) I’d have no interest in his new one. I adored his early stuff. THE INNOCENT is probably my favorite historical novel, but he’d probably get mad at me for calling it historical–ha! I need to read JESUS’ SON–never have! I’ll be interested to see how it rates. Great haul, great post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve not read McEwan’s early stuff, so after this new one I’d like to go further into his back catalogue. This will be my 10th of his books.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Wow! Long about SOLAR, I just wasn’t feeling his stuff anymore. I’ll let you test the waters with his new one, first–ha!


    2. Nutshell was a recent standout for me.


  6. The only book from your whole post that I’ve read was The Garden of Eden by Hemingway. I read it ages ago because I read somewhere that Bono was reading it, LOL. (Big U2 fan.) I don’t remember liking it very much either.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What a fun reason to read a book! No one in my book club liked it, even the lady who had fond memories of it from her 20s and put it forward because she wanted to reread it. People were interested in reading different things by Hemingway, though — I recommended his Paris memoir, A Moveable Feast.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ooh, I did read Moveable Feast and loved it.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Janet Frame was recommended to my when I was looking for an author from New zealand/Australia

    Liked by 1 person

    1. She’s wonderful! I’m on my third and fourth books by her now (one memoir and one poetry collection). To the Is-land was particularly brilliant.


  8. buriedinprint | Reply

    Janet Frame is one I’d like to read through more systematically. I’ve read four, as well, I believe. The other day I was browsing in the reference library and admiring their first editions and was very tempted to request a few myself.
    Overall, I have been working hard to cycle through my hold lists, which means I’ve been borrowing more than ever from the library. But, fortunately, I’ve been reading more than ever too, so all is well. I’ve been trying to keep my loans under 20, and it’s been an endless parade of rushing to return the same number that I’ve got to pick up. Nice problem to have!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was so impressed with Faces in the Water. It’s been sitting by the computer to review for weeks but I feel inadequate to the task!

      I’ve suspended all my holds until we’re back from America in early June, and my 20 Books of Summer will exclusively involve reading from my shelves, so that should help me get through more of what I own.

      Liked by 1 person

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