Library Checkout, October 2020

ALL of my reservations seemed to come in at once this month, so I’ve been busy reading the recent releases that are requested after me. Soon I’ll amass a pile of short books to consider reading for Novellas in November. While searching through shelves and boxes of children’s picture books for reserved titles, I often come across ones I can’t resist, especially if they feature animals. I borrow a few most weeks and enjoy reading them back at home over a cup of tea.

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).

I rate most of the books I read or skim, and include links to reviews not already featured on the blog.



  • Sisters by Daisy Johnson
  • Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive by Stephanie Land
  • 666 Charing Cross Road by Paul Magrs
  • An Event in Autumn by Henning Mankell
  • The Pumpkin Eater by Penelope Mortimer
  • English Pastoral: An Inheritance by James Rebanks
  • Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid – Success on the second try!
  • How to Be Both by Ali Smith
  • Adults by Emma Jane Unsworth
  • Night by Elie Wiesel

+ Children’s picture books (don’t worry, these don’t count towards my year’s reading list!)

  • Pumpkin Soup by Helen Cooper
  • Moomin and the Golden Leaf by Richard Dungworth
  • Little Owl’s Orange Scarf by Tatyana Feeney
  • Christopher Pumpkin by Sue Hendra and Paul Linnet
  • The Steves by Morag Hood
  • Sloth Slept On by Frann Preston-Gannon
  • Think of an Eel by Karen Wallace



  • 33 Meditations on Death: Notes from the Wrong End of Medicine by David Jarrett
  • A Girl Is a Half-Formed Thing by Eimear McBride
  • The Glorious Heresies by Lisa McInerney
  • The Lonely Londoners by Sam Selvon
  • The Wild Silence by Raynor Winn


  • The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier (for book club)
  • Piranesi by Susanna Clarke
  • Just Like You by Nick Hornby
  • Vesper Flights: New and Selected Essays by Helen Macdonald
  • The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel
  • First Time Ever: A Memoir by Peggy Seeger
  • Real Life by Brandon Taylor
  • Love and Other Thought Experiments by Sophie Ward



  • The Book of Gutsy Women by Chelsea Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton
  • What Have I Done? An Honest Memoir about Surviving Postnatal Mental Illness by Laura Dockrill
  • Duty of Care by Dominic Pimenta


  • Dependency by Tove Ditlevsen
  • House of Glass: The Story and Secrets of a Twentieth-Century Jewish Family by Hadley Freeman
  • A Registry of My Passage upon the Earth by Daniel Mason
  • Something Special by Iris Murdoch
  • Rootbound: Rewilding a Life by Alice Vincent

+ A few more picture books

+ This exciting university library book haul!



  • As You Were by Elaine Feeney
  • Dear Reader: The Comfort and Joy of Books by Cathy Rentzenbrink
  • Jack by Marilynne Robinson
  • The Courage to Care: A Call for Compassion by Christie Watson

And from the university library, for Novellas in November:

  • Travels in the Scriptorium by Paul Auster
  • Kill My Mother: A Graphic Novel by Jules Feiffer
  • The Driver’s Seat by Muriel Spark



  • Mr Wilder & Me by Jonathan Coe
  • Here Is the Beehive by Sarah Crossan
  • The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Daré
  • Bringing Back the Beaver: The Story of One Man’s Quest to Rewild Britain’s Waterways by Derek Gow
  • Tilly and the Map of Stories (Pages & Co. #3) by Anna James
  • Kay’s Anatomy: A Complete (and Completely Disgusting) Guide to the Human Body by Adam Kay
  • The Dickens Boy by Thomas Keneally
  • To Be a Man by Nicole Krauss
  • Mantel Pieces: Royal Bodies and Other Writing from the London Review of Books by Hilary Mantel
  • Monogamy by Sue Miller
  • My Last Supper: One Meal, a Lifetime in the Making by Jay Rayner



  • Night-Gaunts and Other Tales of Suspense by Joyce Carol Oates – I read and reviewed the first story for R.I.P. but didn’t continue.
  • The Corset by Laura Purcell – My second DNF of a Purcell after last year and The Silent Companions. Her setups are appealing but she just doesn’t deliver the excitement. I made it to page 41. Really I should give up on her, but Bone China is still on my TBR…



  • The Magic Toyshop by Angela Carter – I decided it didn’t quite fit the bill for R.I.P. I will try it another time, though.


What appeals from my stacks?

37 responses

  1. I’ll be interested to hear what you think about Piranesi which I LOVED. I’ve waited a long time for a new book by Susanna Clarke and she didn’t disappoint. Very likely to be my Book of the Year!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m about 40 pages in and just starting to feel like I know what’s happening … we shall see!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. 40 pages …………wow, took me the whole book and I am still arguing with my husband about it ………….

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Well, just an inkling. I’m sure there are many surprises to come 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. The book from your list that I’m currently reading is The Lonely Londoners by Sam Selvon. I’m really loving this visit to Windrush London and thinks it deserves more than being skimmed. No criticism implied, as your prodigious input is beyond astonishing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So pleased you’re enjoying it. Lots of people spotted it in my 1956 Club post and were intrigued. It didn’t hold my attention past page 50 at the time, but may well be one to revisit one day.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’d quite forgotten you were the one to suggest reading it. I moved to London from Yorkshire in the mid 1950s, and this book speaks to me of that time, even though I was only 5. It was a BIG contrast, so that’s why I remember it so well.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Phew… Hope you’re enjoying Vesper Flights.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Very much so! No matter the topic, her writing is stunning.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m currently waiting for Vesper Flights from my library (restrictions in Melbourne lift significantly later this week so library use will possibly get back to normal).

    I noted you compared Adults to Queenie – I haven’t read Queenie but will check it out (I loved Adults).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wonderful that you’ll be able to use the library again.

      I’ve read a whole raft of books this year that I worried would feel too young for me (Such a Fun Age, Queenie, Adults, Exciting Times, Memorial). For the most part, I’ve been okay with them even though I don’t have that much to relate to.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Also – skimmed Glorious Heresies…?! How can I convince you to go back and give it your full attention? 🙂 It was my favourite book in 2017.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Not really a book for me, alas! I diligently borrowed it for my Women’s Prize reading project, but could tell it wasn’t going to work out after the first couple of chapters and just gave the rest a quick glance.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I agree about Glorious Heresies – worth another look. And did I spot Six Dinner Sid? Love that book!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I adored Six Dinner Sid (read last month) — this is a sequel, set in the Highlands.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Now you’ve made me want to seek it out! A couple of years ago they had a Cats in Literature exhibition at the British Library and of course they featured Six Dinner Sid and so many other favourites. Did you see it by any chance?

        Liked by 1 person

    2. No, I would have loved that!


    3. Thanks for the Six Dinner Sid mention. Looks lovely and have just ordered it for my baby grandson. I’m busy setting up his first little bookshelf!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Another fabulous, fabulous book which my boys adored is Hairy McLary from Donaldson’s Dairy, Penny. I still know it by heart. (And The Gruffalo, of course)

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I really enjoyed As You Were by Elaine Feeney – look forward to hearing what you think.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think it was Sinead Gleeson I first saw talking about it early this year. The themes looked right up my street.


      1. It’s very good – dark, funny and empathetic.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m intrigued that you liked Sisters so much when I’ve heard mixed things from other bloggers, and glad that Such A Fun Age worked for you on the second try!

    The Silent Companions had a lot of problems but I enjoyed it as a silly, spooky read. Completely agree that The Corset didn’t work. I also wish Purcell’s writing would live up to her ideas.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve loved both of Daisy Johnson’s novels; I think she’s so talented.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Monika @ Lovely Bookshelf | Reply

    What great stacks! I can’t wait to read Parable of the Talents, but I’m doing the Octavia Butler Slow Read on Insta/Twitter, so I’ll probably wait until it comes up on their schedule.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. She’s been getting so much well-deserved attention this year! I only ‘discovered’ her in January when I read Kindred, followed by Parable of the Sower in April-May. The one I have on the stack here is the sequel to that.


  10. Just finished listening to Macdonald’s VESPER FLIGHTS never having read much of her before. She narrates the audio book–lovely voice and a good mix of short and long, light and heavily-researched essays. Will have to check out her H IS FOR HAWK, which I skipped.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree it’s got a great balance of in-depth stuff and stolen moments. I saw her read from H Is for Hawk at a conference and was impressed. That was one of my top reads of 2014.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I came across a review of it on Heaven Ali’s blog a few years back and it sounded unmissable. It’s taken me until now to finally remember to get hold of it, though.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Yep, got it out from the library this week and it’s on the shelf waiting 🙂


  11. I didn’t get very far into A Girl Is a Half-Formed Thing. The voice didn’t gel with me at all.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I just couldn’t find a way in to the language.


  12. When I was working in a bookshop, I always found such joy in browsing the children’s section (also, it was always insanely messy, and everyone else hated tidying it)! I was just reading through that Carol Shields collection of articles earlier this week; I’d forgotten how good it is. That Piercy collection is one I have on my own shelves, too. I see you did eventually finish How To Be Both. I’m planning to write it up sometime in December; I can tell I enjoyed it more than you did in the end. Lots of your recent borrows and those in your queue are of interest, as usual. Oh, and I was listening to an old episode of A Good Read (one of the BBC podcasts that I enjoy) which included The Emperor’s Babe; I love Harriet Gilbert’s way of approaching that program and am content to listen and relisten in the evenings before falling asleep. (It was a 2012 segment, I believe.) Typically, I have too many loans just now, partly because I thought we were heading for another lockdown (and we might be, yet) and partly a matter of new books and research requests…lovely problem to have.


  13. […] I have it: Because Beck compared it to Adults by Emma Jane Unsworth, which I […]


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: