Library Checkout: February 2020

The public and university library systems I use came to my aid and supplied lots of books for Paul Auster Reading Week and my Valentine’s-themed reading project. I’m now reading a mixture of brand-new releases and backlist novels and memoirs that caught my eye for one reason or another. I’m eagerly awaiting some high-profile fiction that’s still on order – new work from Sebastian Barry, Hilary Mantel and Maggie O’Farrell! Still a fair few DNFs this month, but never mind.

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



  • War Bears by Margaret Atwood
  • The New York Trilogy by Paul Auster
  • Oracle Night by Paul Auster
  • Winter Journal by Paul Auster
  • Shotgun Lovesongs by Nickolas Butler
  • Mr Loverman by Bernardine Evaristo
  • Bizarre Romance by Audrey Niffenegger
  • Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish: Advice for the Rest of Your Life — Classic Graduation Speeches


  • Report from the Interior by Paul Auster
  • Motherwell: A Girlhood by Deborah Orr


  • 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
  • Reading with Patrick: A teacher, a student and the life-changing power of books by Michelle Kuo
  • Meet the Austins by Madeleine L’Engle
  • The Golden Age by Joan London
  • The End of the Ocean by Maja Lunde
  • Other People’s Countries by Patrick McGuinness


  • Literary Values by John Burroughs
  • Staying Alive in Toxic Times: A Seasonal Guide to Lifelong Health by Dr Jenny Goodman
  • Neurotribes: The Legacy of Autism and How to Think Smarter about People Who Think Differently by Steve Silberman


  • Whatever Happened to Margo? by Margaret Durrell
  • The Night Brother by Rosie Garland
  • Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels
  • The Warlow Experiment by Alix Nathan
  • Before Everything by Victoria Redel
  • Conrad & Eleanor by Jane Rogers
  • Nemesis by Philip Roth
  • Oligarchy by Scarlett Thomas
  • Our Fathers by Rebecca Wait


  • A Thousand Moons by Sebastian Barry
  • The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Daré
  • Actress by Anne Enright
  • The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel
  • The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes
  • Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell
  • Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid
  • What Are We Doing Here?: Essays by Marilynne Robinson
  • Portable Paradise by Roger Robinson [poetry]
  • Why You Should Read Children’s Books, Even Though You Are So Old and Wise by Katherine Rundell
  • My Wild, Sleepless Nights: A Mother’s Story by Clover Stroud
  • Pine by Francine Toon


  • This Is Pleasure by Mary Gaitskill
  • A Short History of Medicine by Steve Parker
  • Feel Free: Essays by Zadie Smith


  • Running the Rift by Naomi Benaron – I read 25 pages and didn’t feel drawn in to the characters’ story. (It could also be that I’m too familiar with Rwandan history from reading We Wish to Inform You that Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families by Philip Gourevitch.)
  • When All Is Said by Anne Griffin – I read 60 pages and found it wordy and sentimental.
  • Jazz by Toni Morrison – I dragged my way through nearly 100 pages. In 1920s Harlem, Joe and Violet Trace’s marriage falls apart when he takes up with Dorcas Manfred, who’s just 18. We know pretty much from the first page that Joe ends up shooting Dorcas dead, and that at the girl’s funeral Violet takes her haircutting scissors to her rival’s face. After that it’s just a matter of why. There are some wonderful descriptions of the cityscape, but I wearied of the endless layering of flashbacks.
  • Run by Ann Patchett – I read the first 80 pages. There are a lot of interesting elements here: Catholicism, interracial adoption, grief, politics and fish. But they don’t feel like they fit together in the same book. The circumstances of the accident that sparks the main action feel very contrived. I was also annoyed at the constant use of “fishes” as a plural.


  • Love Is Blind by William Boyd – Requested after me; lost interest.
  • You Are Now Entering the Human Heart by Janet Frame [short stories] – Couldn’t get into any of the stories.
  • Speak No Evil by Uzodinma Iweala – Lost interest.


What appeals from my stacks?

14 responses

  1. As wide ranging as ever! I loved Before Anything.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m pretty sure it was only on my radar because of you 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I hope you love it as much as I did.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Well, I’ll be interested in your take on Such a Fun Age and The Girl with the Louding Voice!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Really looking forward to them! I’m wary of child narrators (Louding Voice), but if done well they can be charming.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Looking forward to your thoughts on Dear Life! I’m interested to see how it will compare to With the End In Mind. I’ve just finished Fugitive Pieces and thought it was truly awful.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m 2/3 through Dear Life and it is wonderful, maybe even 5*. It’s a cut above so many medical memoirs I’ve read (or skimmed/DNFed) recently. Obviously the theme is similar to the Mannix, but I think it’s minus the tone and specific niggles that held you back from enjoying that one.

      You and Eleanor really have it in for Fugitive Pieces! I’ll give it a quick look and see if I can be bothered to read the whole thing. I like the idea of being a completist with the Women’s Prize winners, but maybe I’ll give myself permission to skip some of the ones that make my heart sink just thinking about them.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Brilliant! I’m so looking forward to it. I really liked lots of the ideas in the Mannix so I’m very keen on a different take.

        After my poor start with Fugitive Pieces I’m wondering if I should read the rest of the Women’s Prize winners, but I guess in my case I have so few left that I’ll press on. FP is eminently skimmable if you want to give it a go!


    2. Yes, you’re so close you might as well keep going with your challenge. The thought of reading the Eimear McBride makes me shudder…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ah, I liked that one a lot, I found I got used to the style quite quickly – much easier than Milkman. I wonder if it would work better as an audiobook? I don’t know if you ever listen to books on tape.


    3. I don’t ever listen to audiobooks; I can’t think where they’d fit into my schedule. Perhaps I’ll try the first however-many pages of the McBride (I’ve only ever looked at the first page) and see how I go. The university library has a copy.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, I have the same problem. I only suggested it because I remembered Girl reading like prose-poetry.


  4. I’m collecting Mr. Loverman from the library today!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Such a Fun Age is on my hold list as well – I’ve heard good things!

    Liked by 1 person

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