Library Checkout, November 2020

Although lockdown precluded me from doing my usual volunteering at the public library this month, it has remained open for collecting reservations, so I was able to pick up another small pile of 2020 titles last week. Meanwhile, I worked my way through a big pile of recent releases that were reserved after me, plus a few novellas. With any luck, I’ll be back to my biweekly volunteering sessions starting on the first Thursday in December. I’ve missed having a reason to leave the house, see people, and find more books at random.

I would be delighted to have other bloggers – and not just book bloggers – 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 (on the last Monday of every month), or tag me on Twitter and/or Instagram: @bookishbeck / #TheLibraryCheckout.

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


  • Surge by Jay Bernard
  • Your House Will Pay by Steph Cha
  • The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier
  • 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
  • Something Special by Iris Murdoch
  • Dear Reader: The Comfort and Joy of Books by Cathy Rentzenbrink
  • The Driver’s Seat by Muriel Spark
  • Real Life by Brandon Taylor
  • The Order of the Day, Éric Vuillard
  • Love and Other Thought Experiments by Sophie Ward
  • The Courage to Care: A Call for Compassion by Christie Watson

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

  • Six Dinner Sid: A Highland Adventure by Inga Moore
  • Bad Cat! by Nicola O’Byrne
  • One Smart Fish by Christopher Wormell


  • The Book of Gutsy Women by Chelsea Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton
  • Dependency by Tove Ditlevsen
  • What Have I Done? An Honest Memoir about Surviving Postnatal Mental Illness by Laura Dockrill
  • Untamed: Stop Pleasing, Start Living by Glennon Doyle
  • Mantel Pieces: Royal Bodies and Other Writing from the London Review of Books by Hilary Mantel
  • Duty of Care: One NHS Doctor’s Story of Courage and Compassion on the COVID-19 Frontline by Dr Dominic Pimenta


  • The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Daré
  • The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave
  • A Registry of My Passage upon the Earth by Daniel Mason
  • First Time Ever: A Memoir by Peggy Seeger


  • Kay’s Anatomy: A Complete (and Completely Disgusting) Guide to the Human Body by Adam Kay


  • The Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman (for January book club)
  • The Dickens Boy by Thomas Keneally
  • To Be a Man by Nicole Krauss
  • Growing Goats and Girls: Living the Good Life on a Cornish Farm by Rosanne Hodin

+ A small Christmas-themed stack I’ve set aside to peruse next month.


  • Mr Wilder & Me by Jonathan Coe
  • My Last Supper: One Meal, a Lifetime in the Making by Jay Rayner
  • The Invention of Surgery: A History of Modern Medicine: From the Renaissance to the Implant Revolution by David Schneider, MD


  • The Idea of the Brain: A History by Matthew Cobb
  • Here Is the Beehive by Sarah Crossan
  • Livewired: The Inside Story of the Ever-Changing Brain by David Eagleman
  • Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed by Lori Gottlieb
  • Bringing Back the Beaver: The Story of One Man’s Quest to Rewild Britain’s Waterways by Derek Gow
  • Leonard and Hungry Paul by Rónán Hession
  • Manchester Happened by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi
  • Monogamy by Sue Miller
  • Hormonal: A Conversation about Women’s Bodies, Mental Health and Why We Need to Be Heard by Eleanor Morgan
  • A Promised Land by Barack Obama
  • Love After Love by Ingrid Persaud
  • The Mystery of Charles Dickens by A.N. Wilson


  • As You Were by Elaine Feeney – I read the first chapter. I think I’ve simply had too many quirky narrators and/or mental hospital stories recently.
  • House of Glass: The Story and Secrets of a Twentieth-Century Jewish Family by Hadley Freeman – I read to page 30 but, as with The Yellow House by Sarah Broom, I realized there is far more detail in this family memoir than I am able to absorb. And here, the writing is only average. It reminded me of Esther Safran Foer’s memoir.
  • Rootbound: Rewilding a Life by Alice Vincent – I didn’t enjoy the style of the first few pages, so didn’t want to commit to another 300+ about a twentysomething’s job, housing, and relationship woes.


  • Travels in the Scriptorium by Paul Auster – I couldn’t fit this in for Novellas for November. Maybe another year.
  • Kill My Mother: A Graphic Novel by Jules Feiffer – I couldn’t stand the drawing style.
  • Jack by Marilynne Robinson – After a skim back through Gilead, I felt I knew enough about Jack and didn’t need yet another sequel.

What appeals from my stacks?

19 responses

  1. I hope you are enjoying The Girl with the Louding Voice, and I’ll be looking forward to hearing what you think of Maybe You Should Talk to Someone and Bringing Back the Beaver. Also I’m interested in Manchester Happened but I don’t love short stories, so that’s going to have to be very special – I’m sure I’ll find out whether it is! Happy reading!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I seem to recall the first story in Manchester Happened is set at Christmas, which is why I decided to get it out now. It may be a book where I just pick and choose a few stories.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Fingers crossed for Thursday for you. Mr Wilder seems to be going down a storm, and I hope you enjoy Monogamy when you get to it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Looking forward to both! I hope I can get through at least one of them before the end of the year.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Great to hear your thoughts on The Glass Hotel. It is pretty much impossible to pitch; I’ve tried to explain it to a few people and haven’t really got anywhere! It also reminded me of Egan, which is funny given that I’ve found most of Egan’s books a letdown but was really impressed by The Glass Hotel.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, we found that Goon Squad didn’t age well … I hope the same isn’t true of Mandel. I need to read the back catalogue for both authors.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve read Egan’s The Keep and Look at Me; enjoyed them at the time but can’t remember much now.


  4. I really liked Elaine Feeney’s As You Were but it did take a while to get going. I have a copy of The Glass Hotel which I really need to get to. Hearing only good things.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Glass Hotel could be my novel of the year; it’s a toss-up at the moment between that and The Bass Rock by Evie Wyld.

      I could see that the voice was done well in the Feeney, but it was too reminiscent of other books I’ve read this year. It might be one for me to try another time.


      1. Oh that’s good to know Rebecca – might read The Glass Hotel next!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Such awesome book lists … enjoy! I like the idea of a Skimming list too 🌟

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I do a lot of skimming for information alongside reading for pleasure. My impression is that most other readers don’t value deliberate skimming.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Your post made me realise there’s a name for what I do 🙂 I can sometimes dip in and out of books for a year or more before reading, especially non-fiction 🙂


  6. I bought a copy of A Promised Land because I knew it would take me a while to read it! 🙂 I haven’t started it yet but soon. I really loved Dreams From My Father.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I read both of his previous books back in c. 2006. We did Dreams from My Father in book club this past summer, and while there were parts I enjoyed rereading, mostly about his childhood, the middle section on community organizing in Chicago felt endless. So I’m surprised to hear that he revisits his earlier life in this new memoir. I might need to skim whole sections or just skip ahead to the 2008 campaign. Anyway, I’m #10 in the holds list, so it’ll be a while!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m reading Leonard and Hungry Paul right now and know I won’t be able to renew. Your comment about already knowing enough about Jack in Marilyn Robinson’s quartet makes me laugh. I’ve never met him, but I’m still curious. Did you ever review The Glass Hotel here, or only on GR? Are there certain books you prefer to have there rather than here? And I’ve had Scriptorium on my TBR for a long time, actually it’s been a suspended hold for that length of time (which is somehow even more serious, right? LOL).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Leonard and Hungry Paul has been a huge word-of-mouth success on Twitter, so much so that I’ve started to get annoyed every time I see it mentioned. But I figured I might as well see what all the fuss is. I won an e-copy when it was released in the USA, but would prefer to wait and read it in print.

      Ah yes, you said you never got through Home. But Gilead is a lovely read. Really, it’s all that’s necessary. I rarely feel like a sequel is worthwhile.

      I review virtually everything I read and skim on GR. Only a fraction makes it on here, so as not to overwhelm those who don’t read as much as we do!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. OIC, I was assuming you simply didn’t review everything, but I can see how you’re doing it now. Uh oh, hype will not do this book L&HP any favours I’m afraid. (I do like it, and have read a few sentences aloud to Mr. BIP.) For me, I think I’d want print for this one because of the pace of the story (slow). Robinson’s are companion novels, through, aren’t they? I’m surprised you don’t warm to that concept, not so far off linked stories really, just looooonger stories?


    2. L&HP has had sustained hype for a year or more. It has a lot to live up to! I’m expecting funny but twee and hoping the former outweighs the latter.

      Robinson revisits aspects or characters of the same world, but there’s plenty of Jack in Gilead; no need for more!

      Liked by 1 person

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