Library Checkout, September 2020

On the 21st my library reopened to the public for limited browsing and computer use, so I no longer have blissfully solitary volunteering sessions and I have to wear a mask while I’m shelving. It’s only for a few hours a week, though, so it’s no great hardship – and it’s good that other people are getting to share the library love again.

This month my reading has focused on short stories and Women’s Prize winners, but I also picked up other recent releases, plus children’s books about cats and appealing memoirs.

I would be delighted to have other bloggers – and not just book bloggers, either – join in this meme. 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 and/or Instagram (@bookishbeck / #TheLibraryCheckout).



  • A Spell of Winter by Helen Dunmore
  • Dear NHS: 100 Stories to Say Thank You, edited by Adam Kay
  • Norwegian Wood by Lars Mytting


  • Owls Do Cry by Janet Frame
  • Sisters by Daisy Johnson
  • Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive by Stephanie Land
  • Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid
  • First Time Ever: A Memoir by Peggy Seeger
  • How to Be Both by Ali Smith


  • 33 Meditations on Death: Notes from the Wrong End of Medicine by David Jarrett


  • Dependency by Tove Ditlevsen
  • What Have I Done? An Honest Memoir about Surviving Postnatal Mental Illness by Laura Dockrill
  • House of Glass: The Story and Secrets of a Twentieth-Century Jewish Family by Hadley Freeman
  • The Glorious Heresies by Lisa McInerney
  • Adults by Emma Jane Unsworth


  • English Pastoral: An Inheritance by James Rebanks


  • Piranesi by Susanna Clarke
  • Just Like You by Nick Hornby
  • Tilly and the Map of Stories (Pages & Co. #3) by Anna James
  • Vesper Flights: New and Selected Essays by Helen Macdonald
  • The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel
  • Mantel Pieces: Royal Bodies and Other Writing from the London Review of Books by Hilary Mantel
  • Dear Reader: The Comfort and Joy of Books by Cathy Rentzenbrink
  • Jack by Marilynne Robinson
  • Real Life by Brandon Taylor
  • Love and Other Thought Experiments by Sophie Ward
  • The Courage to Care: A Call for Compassion by Christie Watson
  • The Wild Silence by Raynor Winn


  • Persuasion by Jane Austen – This was for book club, but I completely failed to engage. I’m going to watch the 1995 film instead (and maybe skip the Zoom discussion this month).
  • Golden Boy by Abigail Tarttelin – I was interested to compare this to Middlesex as it’s about an intersex teen named Max who has been raised as a boy. But I only made it 18 pages: Max’s voice is done well; his mum’s and little brother’s, not so much. Plus there was a pretty brutal scene that put me off reading further.


  • The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Daré – Requested after me. I’ll get it out another time.
  • The Hungover Games by Sophie Heawood – I expected an addiction memoir, but this seems to be a breezy tell-all by a minor celebrity journalist I’d never heard of.
  • The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer – I’ll save this novel about six friends who meet at summer camp for next summer.

What appeals from my stacks?

26 responses

  1. Looking forward to reading Exciting Times, House of Glass and Such a Fun Age after Jacqui Wine’s enthusiasm. Very much enjoyed Adults and Vesper Flights. Happy reading, Rebecca!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Exciting Times is the perfect follow-up to Conversations with Friends. I’m trying again with Such a Fun Age after a false start earlier in the year and it’s wonderfully addictive — I’m halfway through.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Good to hear you liked Exciting Times so much! Following on from our conversation about intersex novels, I’ve spotted there’s another one coming out – An Ordinary Wonder by Buki Papillon. I’m due to get a proof via Durham book festival.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I worried it would just be a Sally Rooney wannabe, but Dolan has a great voice of her own.

      Ooh, yes, I had that one on my TBR and had marked it as “medical,” but forgot the specifics. Sounds promising. I like books about twins as well, and have been impressed with Dialogue’s releases so far.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Was the John Boyne very bad? I really enjoyed The Glorious Heresies and I’m looking forward to Such A Fun Age

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Boyne had an interesting premise but the execution didn’t work at all for me. It was very repetitive and indulgent. I think he’s much better when he commits to one time period and setting.


      1. It doesn’t appeal to me so I don’t think I’ll read it, although I enjoyed Ladder to the Stars very much.


    2. I loved The Heart’s Invisible Furies and A Ladder to the Sky, but this felt completely different.


  4. The library I work at has reopened too … the hardest bit is quarantining the books – it used to be a bit of a perk of the job that if a book was highly recommended by a customer, we could take it straight out ourselves 🙂 x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The shelves behind the circulation desk have been requisitioned for the three-day quarantining, all labeled with the dates they can be put back on shelf. There are also bins for the ones with holds on.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That sounds so organised! We’re a tiny village community library … a little short on space – our quarantine bins are in the old boiler room :p)


    2. Newbury is the flagship branch in West Berkshire, so it’s a big library built 20 years ago, but storage is always an issue nonetheless! Even in the two months I’ve been volunteering, they’ve had to rearrange so many times.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Vesper Flights and Jack are on my can’t wait list!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Fine choices. I feel like I’ve been waiting for them for ages. All book orders have been massively delayed over here.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Looking forward to your verdict on Vesper Flights; ditto on Jack. Lucky you – our Libraries are not yet open; only or drop & collect, books to be ordered from catalogue on line. Still, that’s progress.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s all we had here for the 2.5 months starting in mid-July (though as of August I could cheat a little by accessing the open shelves while I was shelving). I wouldn’t be surprised if another lockdown forces the libraries to close again, but I hope in that case we could keep fulfilling reservations at least. It’s better than nothing!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. My book group will be reading Such a Fun Age so I bought myself a kindle copy. You only Skimmed A Spell of Winter? I absolutely loved it, a couple of years ago.


    1. The back cover blurb of the Dunmore gave away the central theme, which is one I avoid where possible. I gave it a quick look and enjoyed the atmospheric setting and language, but didn’t care to read it.


  8. Glad to see you’re enjoying Such a Fun Age now – hooray! I don’t think our local library is open yet and being in a massive hotspot at the moment I’m just going in the supermarket once a week. I do have plenty to keep me going, however!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I did get through more of my own books (and ordered more direct from bookshops and publishers) in the early months when the library wasn’t an option.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Phew, that Peggy Seeger book looks monstrous in the photo…but maybe it has lovely wide margins and a generously sized font. (Prob’ly not.) Whenever I see this post of yours, I dream, for a moment of participating, but it would take me soooo long to type up all my loans. My card is maxed out right now, only partly because the books sit in quarantine for eight days after they’ve been returned (which makes it look like everything’s been returned late even when it’s been returned on time) and partly because I keep requesting more holds as soon as I return some. As usual, there are lots that appeal to me in your stacks, but nothing else that I’m reading (other than the Dunmore and Grant, which you knew about). A recent loan that’s excited me is the new Allie Brosh graphic memoir: and it’s surprisingly thick too!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Seeger autobiography is about 450 pages and I’m a quarter of the way through. You might think it would be tedious, but she has a real knack for varying her sentence structure and throwing in knowing asides and folksy turns of phrase. Plus she had such an adventuresome early life: in the bit I just read, she drove 900 miles across the USA on a scooter with her banjo and guitar strapped on to take up a regular gig in Chicago!

      Once you’ve done one Library Checkout post, it’s so easy to copy the template and use it every time, and one month’s borrowed list will (mostly) turn into the next month’s read list, and so on. Or you could just log into your library account and copy the contents / take a screenshot plus a photo of your stack. But there’s no pressure to participate!


      1. That’s a good idea: I’ll experiment with some screen shots, but the format TPL uses is neither compact or pretty so it might not lend itself to that. Still, it’s a possibility that would save a lot of typing.

        It makes me wonder how long the early drafts were, how much was likely cut, just to get it to this more manageable length. I could see getting addicted to musicians’ memoirs…a lot of them seem to have led very, as you’ve said, adventuresome lives.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Funnily enough, she relied on a biography of herself for some of the dates and details! But she emphasizes that this is her take and her impressions, so anyone who wants just the facts should head to the biography instead.


  10. I just saw your Goodreads comment about Dear NHS. You confirmed what I suspected about this book – that it lacked substance. I know the idea was to raise funds but I think the NHS would be better served by a more considered book that comes out maybe next year. It would remind people that the NHS is there all the time, not just in times of Covid

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Even just a few more months of work on it could have made the essays more polished. But Kay definitely should have limited it to 50 rather than letting it sprawl to 109.


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