Library Checkout, January 2021

I’m grateful that, even though the building is closed to the public and volunteering has paused during lockdown, my library is still allowing people to collect their reservations. I’ve got a ton of new books on request! Some are available for me to pick up on Wednesday. So, in the near future, I’m looking forward to reading the whole Costa Award poetry shortlist, and the memoir by the new U.S. Vice President.

I would be delighted to have other bloggers – 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.


READ

 SKIMMED

  • Things I Learned on the 6.28: A Commuter’s Guide to Reading by Stig Abell
  • Livewired: The Inside Story of the Ever-Changing Brain by David Eagleman
  • The Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman (for January book club)
  • Ex Libris by Michiko Kakutani
  • Hormonal: A Conversation about Women’s Bodies, Mental Health and Why We Need to Be Heard by Eleanor Morgan
  • The Invention of Surgery: A History of Modern Medicine: From the Renaissance to the Implant Revolution by David Schneider, MD

CURRENTLY READING

  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (rereading for book club)
  • The Dickens Boy by Thomas Keneally
  • Love After Love by Ingrid Persaud

CHECKED OUT, TO BE READ

  • Mama’s Boy: A Memoir by Dustin Lance Black
  • In the Woods by Tana French
  • Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed by Lori Gottlieb
  • In Our Mad and Furious City by Guy Gunaratne
  • How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy by Jenny Odell
  • Country Doctor: Hilarious True Stories from a Country Practice by Michael Sparrow
  • How Much of These Hills Is Gold by C. Pam Zhang

ON HOLD, TO BE PICKED UP

  • The Air Year by Caroline Bird (poetry)
  • The Historians by Eavan Boland (poetry)
  • Daddy by Emma Cline
  • The Truths We Hold: An American Journey by Kamala Harris
  • My Darling from the Lions by Rachel Long (poetry)
  • Citadel by Martha Sprackland (poetry)
  • The Mystery of Charles Dickens by A.N. Wilson

IN THE RESERVATION QUEUE

  • A Biography of Loneliness: The History of an Emotion by Fay Bound Alberti
  • Can Bears Ski? by Raymond Antrobus
  • All the Young Men by Ruth Coker Burks
  • A Lie Someone Told You about Yourself by Peter Ho Davies
  • The Living Sea of Waking Dreams by Richard Flanagan
  • Begin Again by Eddie S. Glaude, Jr.
  • A Net for Small Fishes by Lucy Jago
  • The Prophets by Robert Jones, Jr.
  • A Burning by Megha Majumdar
  • A Crooked Tree by Una Mannion
  • Liquid Gold: Bees and the Pursuit of Midlife Honey by Roger Morgan-Grenville
  • You’re Not Listening: What You’re Missing and Why It Matters by Kate Murphy
  • Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik
  • A Promised Land by Barack Obama
  • The Ministry of Bodies: Life and Death in a Modern Hospital by Seamus O’Mahony
  • How We Met: A Memoir of Love and Other by Huma Qureshi
  • My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell
  • UnPresidented: Politics, Pandemics and the Race that Trumped All Others by Jon Sopel
  • Light Perpetual by Francis Spufford
  • Asylum Road by Olivia Sudjic
  • Square Haunting: Five Women, Freedom and London between the Wars by Francesca Wade

RETURNED UNFINISHED

  • Village Christmas and Other Notes on the English Year by Laurie Lee – I looked at the few short Christmas pieces over the holidays, but didn’t realize that the rest of the book would be set in other seasons.

RETURNED UNREAD

  • The Cat and the City by Nick Bradley – Requested after me; I’ll get it out another time. There’s a section in manga style!
  • Big Girl, Small Town by Michelle Gallen – I knew from the first page that this wasn’t going to be a book for me. Did you love Milkman and The Glorious Heresies? If so, you’ll probably like this, too.

What appeals from my stacks?

30 responses

  1. I placed a huge bunch of reservations last week and picked up 10 today – they’re all books by Australian women authors (I’m starting to form my opinion on what might make the Stella Prize longlist).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Awesome! I’m trying to read enough ARCs and new releases up through March that I can make some informed predictions for this year’s Women’s Prize longlist.

      Like

  2. Your review of L and HP was interesting – I thought my husband might fancy doing a readalong with me but he said it looked a bit twee. I am not keen on twee either (I have kept away from lots of the books of this sort of kind like Eleanor Oliphant) but might pick it up in the charity shops if I see it. If they ever reopen. Our library isn’t open at the moment although you can get ebooks and eaudio books and the local branch is running craft ideas and competitions on its social media.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was twee for my taste, so your husband might find the same. I avoid ‘up lit’ in general. I think you’ve read some, so you’re probably more tolerant of it.

      What a shame your full library service isn’t available. As a temporary replacement for charity shops, you might like to browse Awesomebooks.com — they rescue charity shop castoffs that would otherwise be pulped and sell them for usually £2-4 each. You don’t get a say in the condition, but all but one of the 25 or so books I’ve ordered from them so far have been in decent shape. Free shipping as well. A good alternative to Amazon marketplace!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m never sure what counts as up-lit, I haven’t read Eleanor O, Harold Fry or the 100 year old man, The Lido et al I’d count as sort of community lit but maybe they are. I think we will leave this one or just grab from a charity shop etc to see. Going to look at Awesome Books now – you might just get me into trouble with that rec!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Eleanor O was awful. I’ve read all of Rachel Joyce’s books even though she’s also on the twee end for me. I enjoyed The Hundred-Year-Old Man, but wouldn’t read the sequel. I read it before the hype set in, which probably helped.

        Like

  3. I like the premise of Light Perpetual. Very different from Golden Hill which I didn’t get on with at all. I was suprised at how much I enjoyed A Net for Small Fishes and was very impressed with Asylum Road. Good luck with that vast list!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I loved Golden Hill. Light Perpetual certainly sounds different, but I think I trust Spufford to handle it well.

      So long as the government doesn’t cancel all Order & Collect type services, and all my holds don’t arrive at once, I should be alright!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. As ever, I need a lie down in a darkened room after reading your lengthy list. I see you gave Hungry Paul three stars? Am I the only person who loathed it? I certainly was in our book group. The only one of your list I’m just about to start on is Love after Love, having just finished – and loved – the Dara MacAnulty.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was smack in the middle on L & HP: I found it mildly amusing, with some funny moments and touching relationships, but the writing was only average and certainly not worth all the hype.

      Love After Love is wonderful; such well-done voices. At halfway through the content has gotten darker than I expected, so it will be interesting to see where it goes.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The only person who’s told me what she thought said it was even better than Girl, Woman, Other. I’m starting it today, so I’ll see.

        Like

  5. I continue to be impressed by how good your local authority is at ordering new titles. I don’t have access to a library at the moment (except the university library) so sadly I haven’t been able to borrow anything. I’m reading an ARC of Light Perpetual at the moment and I hope you enjoy Spinning Silver!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Prize listing helps: they always order the complete Booker and Women’s Prize longlists, and all the Costa Award shortlists. Beyond that, I can be surprised by the range of new releases they order.

      I take it you mostly rely on NetGalley? I hardly use my Kindle these days since I’m not travelling anywhere, but it is good to have it as a backup if there’s something new I can’t get from the publisher or the library.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. When I lived in Cambridge and Oxford the library system also seemed to order prize shortlists, but that doesn’t seem to be automatic in Newcastle or the Tyneside local authorities. I imagine funding is an issue. Yes, Netgalley has really come through for me over the course of the pandemic!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I really enjoyed In The Woods by Tana French. One of my favourites of hers.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I DNFed The Wych Elm in 2019 but wanted to try her again, and this is the one everyone seems to recommend.

      Like

  7. I really wish I could support my local library more, but I have so many unread books on my shelves I know I wouldn’t get round to them for months. I bought a few titles from the bookshop before the latest lockdown but I haven’t even read all of them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have nearly 450 unread books on my shelves 😉 The library is mostly how I access recent books, as I don’t tend to buy brand-new. With the maximum number of renewals, I keep many books out for 15 weeks or more, and sometimes don’t read them even then. I don’t see it as a problem, as every borrow increases their statistics and reinforces to the council how valuable the service is.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. This is the first ever non-rave review I’ve seen for Leonard and Hungry Paul! Honestly that makes me more inclined to pick it up, the hype had been annoying me in a ‘what’s the catch?’ kind of way.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Probably a 2.5 if I’m being really honest, but I rounded up for it being post-Christmas lightweight entertainment. It all depends on how okay you are with “twee” stuff (a descriptor that of course is subjective in itself).

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Not a big twee fan generally but it really depends on my mood! (Plus I have a slightly higher tolerance for Irish twee.) Maybe I’ll save it for the holidays. The author is very nice to me on Twitter so that helps.

        Like

      2. True fact: I had to mute “Leonard and Hungry Paul” on Twitter, even after reading the book, because I was so sick of hearing about it! Might have to mute the poor author, too. Which is a shame as I’m sure he’s lovely 😉

        Like

  9. You’re very lucky having free reservations at your library. Oxfordshire libraries charge £1.15 per book to pay for transporting the books as they could come from any library in the county. It would add up if I were to reserve as many as you can!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve belonged to various library systems that have charged 50p or £1. My current library trialled a 50p reservation charge for one year (2017-18), during which I simply stopped reserving books, relying instead on what I could browse on the shelves, plus the new books display and bestsellers collection (two-week loan with no reservations or renewals). That was fine, too, though I do love being the first one to get my hands on new acquisitions.

      Like

  10. I’d like to know more about The Cat and the City. I will have to be patient!
    I’m curious why Ex Libris only got skimmed?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s essentially a book of book reviews, some of them reprinted from the NYT. What I found was that, if I’d read that particular book, I didn’t need to read a review; if I hadn’t read the book but wanted to, I feared spoilers; and if I hadn’t read the book and didn’t want to, I wasn’t interested. So there were a few pieces that I appreciated, e.g. one on the enduring appeal of The Great Gatsby, after rereading it for book club (my third time reading it), but not all that many caught my eye. In any case, it’s not a book for reading all the way through but one for having on the coffee table to read the occasional essay. It is gorgeously put together with illustrations, though, so could be a nice reference book to have around.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That makes sense!

        Like

  11. The library holds have mounted quickly here: it’s crazy. You’ve read the first of that Naomi Novik series? (Or maybe it’s officially a duology?) I’ve got Uprooted on my shelves but haven’t read it yet. Maybe I’ve mentioned this, but I’m a huge fan of her Temeraire series (light and fun, but not dumb). My copy of A Burning is due in shortly (maybe two weeks) whereas my request for The Prophets looks like it’s six months out (I’m tempted to steal from the grocery budget and buy! what do you think?).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Spinning Silver is on Laura T.’s recommendation. I’ve not tried Novik before but I’m theoretically interested. I returned the book unread for now to clear some space, but I’m up for trying her again.

      I’m picking up A Burning on 1 March and will try to read at least 1/3 of it by the following week to see whether it should be on my Women’s Prize wish list.

      The Prophets: I loved it initially but my interest started to wane a little partway through. I will definitely finish, but not in a hurry (no holds after me at the moment). He does a few interesting things with the slavery theme. One that’s clear from the blurb onwards is putting queer people back into history, because of course they were always there. Another is tracing the African customs that are still evident in the slaves’ practices, and in opposition to the Christianity foisted upon them by missionaries and colonizers. A third is spending time with the white masters and showing how ingrained their beliefs about inferiority/inhumanity are. There’s a good balance between male and female characters, too. So you would find it a rewarding addition to your project. I think it overwritten in places, so it’s not quite living up to the hype for me, but still very good.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hmmm, thank you. All of that is very helpful. It sounds like one I’ll really appreciate. Your idea of over-writing is often “just the thing” for my taste. 🙂 [And I’ll keep in mind that you’re interested in the Novik. Maybe it would make a good buddy read for some future project.]

        Liked by 1 person

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