Library Checkout: March 2020

(Unusually, here is a second post in one day from me. Library Checkout runs on the last Monday of every month; exceptions are rare!)

The only stockpiling I’ve been doing this month is of books. My public library system finally announced its full closure on the 21st, to last through at least the end of May, so I have no real excuse not to get through most of what I’ve borrowed.

I’ve been working my way through a selection of new releases (notably, skimming Hilary Mantel’s trilogy-ending doorstopper – it’s exquisitely written, of course, but far too long and detailed), plus a few backlist books that coincide with my interests in bibliotherapy, health and life writing. Some very short books – a graphic novel, a poetry collection, and a few essay- or novella-length works – make the “Read” list look longer than it really is.

Once again, I had a lot of DNFs this month because I’d placed holds on buzzy books but found that within a few pages, or after the first chapter, the voice or style didn’t click with me. This is no problem, though; I’ll just think of it as my way of sampling new releases while supporting the library service.

What have you been reading from your local libraries? Feel free to use the image above and leave a link to your blog in the comments if you’ve taken part, and/or tag me on Twitter (@bookishbeck / #TheLibraryCheckout). As usual, I give ratings where applicable, plus links to reviews of books I haven’t already featured.





  • Youth by Tove Ditlevsen
  • Reading with Patrick: A teacher, a student and the life-changing power of books by Michelle Kuo
  • Meet the Austins by Madeleine L’Engle
  • Other People’s Countries by Patrick McGuinness
  • Nemesis by Philip Roth
  • Pine by Francine Toon


  • The Changing Mind: A Neuroscientist’s Guide to Aging Well by Daniel Levitin
  • The Mirror & the Light by Hilary Mantel
  • What Are We Doing Here?: Essays by Marilynne Robinson
  • Neurotribes: The Legacy of Autism and How to Think Smarter about People Who Think Differently by Steve Silberman
  • Feel Free: Essays by Zadie Smith


  • Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels
  • The Cruellest Month by Louise Penny
  • Golden Boy by Abigail Tarttelin
  • Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson

PLUS an exciting new batch of university library books

  • The Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler
  • The Song of the Lark by Willa Cather
  • Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich
  • Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl
  • When I Lived in Modern Times by Linda Grant
  • Property by Valerie Martin


  • The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Daré


  • A Thousand Moons by Sebastian Barry
  • Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams
  • Can You Hear Me? A Paramedic’s Encounters with Life and Death by Jake Jones
  • The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo
  • Guest House for Young Widows: Among the Women of ISIS by Azadeh Moaveni
  • The Accidental Countryside by Stephen Moss
  • Redhead by the Side of the Road by Anne Tyler


  • The Warlow Experiment by Alix Nathan – The premise was awfully tempting, but even in just the first 20 pages I found the writing ponderous and repetitive.
  • Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid – I’m not hip enough for this one. Zadie Smith on turbo charge.


  • Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line by Deepa Anappara – The voice didn’t grab me.
  • The Night Brother by Rosie Garland – The story didn’t lure me in.
  • The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes – The historical setting didn’t convince me.
  • My Wild, Sleepless Nights: A Mother’s Story by Clover Stroud – I DNFed Stroud’s last book, too; I should have known better that I don’t get on with her style.
  • Our Fathers by Rebecca Wait – This was requested after me, so I didn’t get a chance to try it.

What appeals from my stacks?


10 responses

  1. James Ashley Shea | Reply

    I love books and I am a compulsive reader. I spend hours every day reading online and in my two Kindles and in real books. Besides shopping for groceries, doing chores, and going to restaurants, reading and sleeping is all I ever do. I don’t watch TV or read newspapers.
    I must tell you that I was tired before reading half of your latest post. Too much of a good thing is too much!

    For God’s sake, take a break. I know we are all supposed to stay home, but go somewhere and do something.


    1. It sounds like our lives are quite similar! I work from home as a freelance proofreader and book reviewer, so my work involves reading. And then, of course, reading and blogging are together my primary hobby. We don’t have a TV or get a newspaper, and I avoid longform articles on the Internet, only keeping up with social media. What I am missing most while we are on lockdown in the UK is my volunteering and socializing. We are allowed to go out for exercise once per day (walking, running or cycling), but otherwise we are stuck inside. So my usual compulsive reading has indeed gone into turbo mode.

      A few reminders for you: 1) you chose to follow this blog, 2) you have a choice each time of whether or not to read a post, and 3) you don’t know me from Adam, so I would appreciate the same basic respect and politeness you would offer to any stranger you meet. Everyone’s life is different and it’s not fair to cast judgment from the outside.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Our library system closed without warning so I wasn’t able to get there to stock up. So all I have left to read is Actress by Anne Enright. I’m not even sure whether I can get to that before the libraries are open because I’m reading the Hilary Mantel. Beautifully written but its too heavy to hold for very long so my pace is glacial

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was half-expecting my library to close for about a week but thought I would have one final Saturday to do a further stock-up. Never mind; I have plenty to keep me busy! My pace with the Mantel was glacial as well — I could only concentrate for 10 pages or so, thus my tendency to skim it. I’ve stalled at page 200 but will attempt to pick it back up soon. I recommend resting it on a sofa arm 🙂


      1. I’ve stalled at page 150. 10 pages is about my level per session too

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Good to know I’m not alone with that pace.


  3. What a great list of books. I have Red at the Bone on my TBR list and Such a Fun Age currently checked out. I really liked Queenie. Happy reading!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve been trying to get through some of the Women’s Prize longlist, but now I’ll probably just have to wait and focus on the shortlist once that comes out later this month.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. You weren’t hip enough for Such a Fun Age? I am the most tragically unhip person I know and I got a lot of out of it. Maybe I’m hipper than I thought I was! A good variety of books there as always, and I love seeing what you’re reading and skimming!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. All the slang and so on … it felt more like a television script to me.

      Liked by 1 person

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