Library Checkout: January 2020

December into January has been a big library reading month for me. I made it through most of the Costa Awards poetry shortlist plus two from the fiction shortlists and enjoyed some YA and middle-grade fiction (not my usual reading comfort zone) and graphic novels. As we head into February, I’m reading lots of ‘Love’-themed titles for a Valentine’s Day post, and starting the reading for some other projects: Bellwether Prize winners, past Wellcome Book Prize long- and shortlistees, and Annabel’s Paul Auster reading week.

You’ll notice that I also had a lot of unfinished library books this month. Some I’d read 20‒30 pages of; others I dropped after just a few pages (or barely made it past the first page). I need to get better at doing this few-page sampling before I even borrow a book so I don’t bother hauling things I’m not going to read to and fro. Often, though, I show up to the library on a Friday afternoon with a long list of books to borrow and just 10 minutes to get to my bookshop volunteering, so I grab and go without opening them up. Next month I’ll try to do better.

As usual, I give links to reviews of books I haven’t already featured. I had three very high ratings this month!

What have you been reading from your local libraries? Library Checkout runs on the last Monday of every month. Feel free to use this image and leave a link to your blog in the comments if you’ve taken part.

 

READ

SKIMMED

  • The Body Lies by Jo Baker
  • The Making of Poetry: Coleridge, the Wordsworths and Their Year of Marvels by Adam Nicolson
  • Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men by Caroline Criado Perez
  • The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper by Hallie Rubenhold

 

CURRENTLY READING

  • Winter Journal by Paul Auster
  • Running the Rift by Naomi Benaron
  • Literary Values by John Burroughs
  • Shotgun Lovesongs by Nickolas Butler
  • Mr Loverman by Bernardine Evaristo
  • When All Is Said by Anne Griffin
  • Meet the Austins by Madeleine L’Engle
  • Jazz by Toni Morrison
  • Bizarre Romance by Audrey Niffenegger

 

CHECKED OUT, TO BE READ

  • The rest of The New York Trilogy by Paul Auster
  • Love Is Blind by William Boyd
  • Whatever Happened to Margo? by Margaret Durrell
  • The Night Brother by Rosie Garland
  • Speak No Evil by Uzodinma Iweala
  • The Golden Age by Joan London
  • The End of the Ocean by Maja Lunde
  • Run by Ann Patchett

IN THE RESERVATION QUEUE

  • Disobedience by Naomi Alderman
  • Dear Life: A Doctor’s Story of Love and Loss by Rachel Clarke
  • Childhood by Tove Ditlevsen
  • This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel
  • Miss Austen by Gill Hornby
  • The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes
  • The Warlow Experiment by Alix Nathan
  • Motherwell: A Girlhood by Deborah Orr
  • A Short History of Medicine by Steve Parker
  • Nemesis by Philip Roth
  • Oligarchy by Scarlett Thomas
  • Pine by Francine Toon

 

RETURNED UNFINISHED

  • Surge by Jay Bernard [poetry] – I read the first 20 pages. Protest poems in various voices. I enjoyed one in pidgin – reminiscent of Kei Miller.
  • Short Short Stories by Dave Eggers – I read 22 out of 55 pages. These flash fiction stories appeared in the Guardian in 2004. Of the first 10 stories, a few were amusing (a man’s current earworm spells the demise of his relationship; guessing how water feels to fish; a flight attendant has fun with his routines) but the rest were slight or gratuitously sexual, and the style is repetitive throughout.
  • Under the Camelthorn Tree: Raising a Family among Lions by Kate Nicholls
  • The Botanist’s Daughter by Kayte Nunn
  • Shadowplay by Joseph O’Connor
  • The Ice by Laline Paull
  • Bad Mothers, Brilliant Lovers by Wendy Perriam
  • The Paper Lovers by Gerard Woodward
  • My dear, I wanted to tell you by Louisa Young

 

RETURNED UNREAD

  • Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah – Not a fan of the prose style.
  • Consolations by David Whyte – Not what I thought it would be.

 

Anything that appeals in my stacks?

37 responses

  1. Do you ever sleep, Rebecca?! I hope you enjoy The Warlow Experiment as much as I did.

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    1. Oh yes, lots! Most days I’m so depressed at the dark mornings that I go back to bed for a couple of hours after my husband leaves for work. Not even the prospect of using that time for extra reading can keep me from burrowing back into bed.

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      1. I hate them, too, although I always begin to feel better once we’ve passed the shortest day.

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  2. No! Keep borrowing large numbers of books, even if you don’t get to read/finish them. Borrower numbers are the tools librarians need to fight the good fight to keep libraries open and stocks replenished. These days I make a point of … if in doubt, borrow.

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    1. I will certainly keep borrowing up to my limit, but I’d rather use that 15 (plus the occasional few spaces sneaked on my husband’s library card) for books I will actually get through.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Fifteen? OK. You;re doing your bit.

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    2. And it would be more if they allowed me more than 15 at a time 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This is a serious library list. I recently returned a lot of books I had on hold because I was feeling overwhelmed and obligated to read them when they came in. Would that I had more time to read, but I have to be realistic.

    You returned Shadowplay? I loved that one – it even inspired me to read Dracula! Did you have a hard time getting into it?

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    1. I made it about 10 pages into Shadowplay and didn’t warm to the voice at all. It’s always hard to explain why a certain author’s style doesn’t work for you, but I think it’s helpful to discover that early on rather than plowing through lots of pages but eventually giving up. I read Dracula on my MA course and loved it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hm – well, I would encourage you to try a bit further, hesitantly because I know different readers have different tastes and I would never push anybody to read something they didn’t like. But it was one of my favorite books of the year and I think there is a chance you might change your mind. As with Dracula it is written in different voices and it takes some time to put all the pieces together. Just a thought!

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    2. Maybe someday 🙂 I have a mystical belief that if I’m meant to read a book it will come back into my life in some way.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I find that to be the case as well. 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m also very keen to read Pine and Dear Life.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I didn’t get on with Clarke’s previous book, but I hope for better things with this one. Eric’s recent review made me keen to pick up Pine.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ah, I really liked Your Life in My Hands – I think it’s the best junior doctor memoir I’ve tried.

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  5. Ooh, what didn’t you like about the Wendy Perriam, because I can send you more if you’d like (I’ve not read that one, mind). You’ve inspired me to consider pulling Mr Loverman off my TBR for reading in Feb – my friend Larua has just read it and enjoyed it and I’m keen to get to it. Will be interesting to compare notes.

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    1. I tried the first few pages of the first story, and then the openings of lots of the other stories, and not a single one drew me in. So I guess I prefer her longform work, though I’ve still just read the one of her books that you sent me, The Stillness The Dancing.

      I’m enjoying Mr Loverman very much. Some alternating chapters are in the hybrid-poetry style of Girl, Woman, Other, and the protagonist has an enjoyable voice.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I really want to read Fleche – I’ve been reading a lot more poetry this last few months and it is one that is high on my list.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s a stunner, Cathy. It completely deserved its Costa Award.

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  7. Looking forward to Motherwell – heard a quote from it on Radio 4 this morning. The Career’s Officer was impressed with Orr’s exam results, telling her – “you could do anything. Nursing OR teaching.”!!
    And yes, as a volunteer Librarian working in a small community library I would second that you keep taking loads of books out. Unfortunately stats are important.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Don’t worry, I’m pretty much always at my limit of 15 loans and 15 reservations! (Plus I sneak out books on my husband’s card from the public library, and he gets me books from his uni library.)

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  8. I’ll be interested to see what you think of Run by Patchett–her most “Catholic” and least successful book, imo.

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    1. It’ll be my 5th Patchett novel. I suspect I actually prefer her nonfiction to her fiction, but I’m still trying to get to all the backlist.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve been meaning to get to her THIS IS THE STORY OF A HAPPY MARRIAGE!

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    2. That’s a great one. I also love Truth and Beauty.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks for the suggestion!

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  9. I’m interested to hear what you think about Morrison’s Jazz. It’s one I have yet to try and would like to eventually.

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    1. There are just a few of her novels I haven’t read, so I thought I might as well try to finish off the rest from the library.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. This is a project of mine as well; I only have the final trilogy left and I have a feeling that I could “save” them forever, and I should just read them and then look forward to more rereading. Jazz,

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    2. Hmm, there are more than I thought: I have 4 more after Jazz. I might skip God Help the Child, though.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I loved Mr Loverman – hope you will too. I’ll be interested to see what you think of Oligarchy when it comes in – I’ve just read it. Hope the Auster goes well too of course.

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    1. I’m loving Winter Journal, and the first volume of the New York Trilogy was intriguing. I’ll start the second one soon.

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  11. I’ll be curious how far you get with Love is Blind. I found it very dull and it didn’t wow most of the book club members either.

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    1. Funny you should say that … I read the first few pages and put it aside for lack of interest, and now it’s requested back at the library, so I won’t have time to try again. Never say never, but I’ll look at others from his backlist first.

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      1. Yes his early work is definitely superior – Brazzaville Beach is a good one

        Liked by 1 person

  12. There are only a couple of overlaps in your stacks for me in terms of TBRs; I do have Naomi Bergeron’s novel on my list and have no real reason for not reading it, just that other books are more insistent in a given moment. My library usage is through the roof right now – which is ridiculous, given my new year’s plan to focus on my own shelves – largely related to various research projects and backlisted reading for reviews, but also because all the new projects seem so fascinating that I want to READ ALL THE THINGS and read them all at ONCE! Two authors in your stacks whose works I’ve meant to explore more concertedly are William Boyd and Joan London: have you read their stuff before?

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    1. The Benaron hasn’t grabbed me, but maybe I’ll try it another time. I picked it up because it won the Bellwether and I liked the idea of reading all the winners.

      I’ve only read Any Human Heart and Waiting for Sunrise by Boyd (the former is particularly wonderful); nothing yet by London.

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