Library Checkout: July 2020

New books, at long last!! Earlier this month my public library system started an order and collection service. I have already gone to pick up two batches of reservations.

I also signed up to be a library volunteer starting in the first week of August – two hours on a Tuesday morning and two hours on a Thursday afternoon. To start with, I will mostly be helping with shelving and picking the reserved books off the shelves. It will be fun to be a part of this service, and once the library fully reopens perhaps I’ll have a little more customer interaction, too.

Have you been able to borrow more books lately, perhaps via a curbside pickup scheme? Feel free to use the image above and leave a link to your blog in the comments if you’ve taken part in Library Checkout (which runs on the last Monday of every month), or tag me on Twitter/Instagram (@bookishbeck, #TheLibraryCheckout).





  • Death Is but a Dream: Finding Hope and Meaning at Life’s End by Dr. Christopher Kerr with Carine Mardorossian


  • The Butterfly Isles: A Summer in Search of Our Emperors and Admirals by Patrick Barkham
  • Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams
  • Addition by Toni Jordan



  • Dark, Salt, Clear: Life in a Cornish Fishing Town by Lamorna Ash



  • The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Daré
  • What Have I Done?: An Honest Memoir about Surviving Postnatal Mental Illness by Laura Dockrill
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
  • 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami
  • Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 by Cho Nam-Joo
  • How to Be Both by Ali Smith
  • Adults by Emma Jane Unsworth


  • Close to Where the Heart Gives Out: A Year in the Life of an Orkney Doctor by Malcolm Alexander



  • Disobedience by Naomi Alderman
  • A Traveller at the Gates of Wisdom by John Boyne
  • Dependency by Tove Ditlevsen
  • 33 Meditations on Death: Notes from the Wrong End of Medicine by David Jarrett
  • Can You Hear Me? A Paramedic’s Encounters with Life and Death by Jake Jones
  • Dear NHS: 100 Stories to Say Thank You, edited by Adam Kay
  • Exchange by Paul Magrs
  • Utopia Avenue by David Mitchell
  • The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley
  • Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid
  • Sadler’s Birthday by Rose Tremain
  • Water Ways: A Thousand Miles along Britain’s Canals by Jasper Winn
  • The Wild Silence by Raynor Winn
  • The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer



  • A Summer of Drowning by John Burnside – The prologue didn’t draw me in.
  • The Motion of the Body through Space by Lionel Shriver – Kooky names, overwriting, obvious setup, racial stereotypes.
  • Summer before the Dark: Stefan Zweig and Joseph Roth, Ostend 1936 by Volker Weidermann – Too niche a subject.


What appeals from my stacks?

30 responses

  1. Great news about signing up as a volunteer – I’ve been a volunteer Librarian for some years now and love it. Our library is 100% volunteer run so I deal with every aspect!
    Interested to know why you skimmed the Lamorna Ash book – not for you? She writes really well.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Penny – we can’t keep meeting like this! Apart from being a volunteer now. like you, I was a library assistant on leaving school. And I remember how jealously the senior staff guarded their professional title of Librarian, having graduated from Library School. You wouldn’t half have got your knuckled rapped!


    2. Mostly a matter of time — I wanted to read it before the Wainwright shortlist announcement, and it’s requested after me at the library, so I’ve skimmed it in 50-page chunks but would have liked to give it more attention. I do like the writing, though I think some of the history is superfluous / only interesting to locals. I may revisit it another time.

      I was a library assistant for 6 years before going freelance, so this feels like coming full circle in a way 🙂


  2. I’m sure you had a lovely reunion! I loved both Adults and Disobedience.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I laughed to see that the former has been retitled “Grown Ups” for the U.S. market. Subtly different; I don’t see why Adults wouldn’t have worked equally well over there.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Quite a few of these appeal actually: I’ll be interested in hearing how you like Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 , which I found a readable but discomfiting read.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve earmarked that one for August (#WITmonth).

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I am green with envy. Although our library is open, you can’t request anything other than books from a specific genre. So, if I ask for crime novels the library will put me up a box of six that they have chosen regardless of the fact that I will probably have read them all. Requesting specific books isn’t possible.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, that’s a shame. That’s one service my library is offering; they call it “Order and Collect,” where you state a genre preference and can give some notes, but then they will pick five books at random for you to pick up. I think it’s meant to be a replacement for random browsing, which is how some people select their books. But for those like you and me who know exactly what they want to read, regular reservations are still available.


  5. Wow, all the books!! Yay Queenie and The Girl with the Louding Voice. I’ve read Addition but I can’t remember why I didn’t much like it … ah, OK, I wrote quite a long review for me then in 2008 and noted that I found it harrowing! I’ve gone to look at your review of Redhead too as you seemed to give low stars and that’s scaring me for the end of my Year of Tyler next year!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Addition is a definite rom-com. Everyone in my book club said they wanted a light read this month, so that’s why we picked it. I’m just over halfway through and worried that Jordan is going to end up saying that all of Grace’s mental health issues stem from one minor incident of childhood trauma, or that all she needed was true love to overcome her problems. Some will probably read it just as light entertainment, but knowing my group I won’t be the only one to find the treatment of mental health problematic.

      Tyler is always pleasant and readable, and this is a really short one, but I do rate it lowest of the 11 of her novels I’ve read, for seeming inconsequential and rehashing familiar themes and situations (I know a degree of that can be fun and satisfying, as in Murdoch’s novels, but you do want a book to add SOMEthing new). What’s your planned Tyler schedule next year? I’ll join in at least with the ones I own and haven’t read.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes I just didn’t feel it was light at all, and found it a traumatic read!

        I need to work out a schedule, there are 23 novels so I think I’ll make it just two per month and write a list out on a page. One for the last month then a round-up post. I’m really looking forward to it although I haven’t adored everything she’s written in the last ten or so. Would be lovely having you join in!

        Liked by 1 person

    2. I see what you mean: being trapped in Grace’s head with all the counting can be tough, and then there’s the graphic sex scenes that come almost out of nowhere.

      I was thinking only 22; I’ve missed one somewhere! So, I haven’t quite read half yet. I’m most interested in catching up on the 70s-90s “classics”. I’ve read everything since 2012 and not been that impressed, though Vinegar Girl was good fun.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The Wikipedia page says 22 at the top then if you count the list (ironically given our discussion of Addition), there are 23. Those early classics are wonderful but I know I’ve only read some of even those once. I also have an odd collection of novels I’ve found second-hand and Quality Paperbacks Direct large-format ones so have that to talk about, too!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Hooray! Glad to hear you have library access again. I’ll be interested in your thoughts on Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 which I’ve heard mixed things about, and I hope you like The Watchmaker of Filigree Street! Best of luck for the second go at Such A Fun Age 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think I may enjoy it more in company with Americanah and Queenie, both of which I’m reading now. (I’m 6th in the queue, though, so it may be a while before I can read it!)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ooh, I think it would actually be really interesting read in conversation with both of those two books – it makes me wonder what Ifemelu would think of Queenie and Emira! It would also open up questions about young black womanhood in Britain, the US and Nigeria.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Americanah is amazing, so wise and relevant. I’m impressed with how much Adichie covers and how up-to-the-minute the themes seem even 7 years later.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. There’s a reason it was one of my top ten books of the decade!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’m shamefully late in getting to Adichie — I’d read We Should All Be Feminists, but had hoarded up her 5 other books, all of which I got for free at various points, and not read any until now.


  7. I’d love to have the time to be a library volunteer. I was a Saturday assistant through the sixth form all those years ago, I was in my element then, and doubtless would be now. My library is now open again, but I’ve not been yet. I have a small pile which have another fortnight on their extended loan period, so I’ll probably wait until nearer then to go for the first time. Impressed that your reservations are bagged up for you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That was from the first time I went, when I collected four bags’ worth: 3 for me, 1 containing our book club set for the month. It wasn’t hugely practical as those paper bags aren’t strong enough for as many hardbacks as I had. (I double-bagged them all in a backpack or bag for life anyway, but some wouldn’t have come prepared.) The second time I went, my reservations were just on a hold shelf with elastic bands around them.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Kim Jiyoung is interesting. Will look forward to hearing what you think!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s nice and short, anyway 😉 A few friends have liked it.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. My local library has just announced click and collect (browsing only online). I’ve got a book reserved and shall collect it asap. Great to have it back, albeit a limited service

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Excellent! I’m off to pick up another book tomorrow.


  10. Our holds pick-up service is packed in bags too. On my second, the woman behind the counter said “I hope you brought a car.”

    Am I the only one who thinks it’s funny that you skimmed a book with the subtitle “Finding Hope and Meaning at Life’s End”?

    What inspired the 1Q84 hold? I remember that you quite enjoyed one of his (was it Wind-up Bird?) but haven’t you been struggling with longer reads lately? I listened to that one on audiobook, twice actually, but because the narration suited me at the time…I don’t think I’d’ve reread it in book form.


    1. Death Is but a Dream is about end-of-life visions (more vivid than dreams, and subtly different from hallucinations). Despite the co-writer, it wasn’t sufficiently well written to grab my attention, and I’m pretty tired of books of anonymized medical case studies unless they are really exceptional.

      1Q84 is the one I’ve had most consistently recommended as a follow-up to Wind-Up Bird and Kafka. If I do read it soon, I’m going to take it one volume at a time and count them each as separate books! Since I requested it I acquired a couple of short ones of his from the free library, though, and I have to say their length appeals more.


  11. Thank goodness for these library schemes! I’ll be interested to hear what you think of Their Eyes Were Watching God. I haven’t read that since my African American Autobiography class in grad school–due for a re-read, I think.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve not read any Hurston — an oversight, methinks!

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: