Library Checkout, February 2021

I felt a strange compulsion to clear the decks, so I ended up returning a lot of my backlist library loans unread and will get them out another time (or not). I haven’t even listed them below, though you can see a few in the first photo. For now I’m focusing on the brand new releases. Highlights: most the Costa Award poetry shortlist (I would have chosen a different winner from the judges!) and the memoir by the new U.S. Vice President. 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 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.





  • The Air Year by Caroline Bird (poetry)
  • A Lie Someone Told You about Yourself by Peter Ho Davies
  • The Living Sea of Waking Dreams by Richard Flanagan
  • The Prophets by Robert Jones, Jr.
  • City of Departures by Helen Tookey (poetry)


  • Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed by Lori Gottlieb
  • A Promised Land by Barack Obama
  • Square Haunting: Five Women, Freedom and London between the Wars by Francesca Wade


  • Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America and Its Lessons for Today by Eddie S. Glaude, Jr.
  • Seed to Dust: A Gardener’s Story by Marc Hamer
  • Death in Her Hands by Ottessa Moshfegh
  • You’re Not Listening: What You’re Missing and Why It Matters by Kate Murphy


  • The Push by Ashley Audrain
  • All the Young Men by Ruth Coker Burks
  • Escape Routes by Naomi Ishiguro
  • A Net for Small Fishes by Lucy Jago
  • The Lost Spells by Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris
  • A Burning by Megha Majumdar
  • A Crooked Tree by Una Mannion
  • My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell



  • Can Bears Ski? by Raymond Antrobus
  • Espedair Street by Iain Banks
  • Ten Days by Austin Duffy
  • The Natural Health Service: What the Great Outdoors Can Do for Your Mind by Isabel Hardman
  • The Last Migration by Charlotte McConaghy
  • The Art of Falling by Danielle McLaughlin
  • The Librarian by Allie Morgan
  • Liquid Gold: Bees and the Pursuit of Midlife Honey by Roger Morgan-Grenville
  • Hot Stew by Fiona Mozley
  • 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
  • The Mermaid of Black Conch by Monique Roffey
  • How to Be Sad: Everything I’ve Learned about Getting Happier, by Being Sad, Better by Helen Russell
  • UnPresidented: Politics, Pandemics and the Race that Trumped All Others by Jon Sopel
  • Light Perpetual by Francis Spufford
  • Asylum Road by Olivia Sudjic
  • Hurdy Gurdy by Christopher Wilson




What appeals from my stacks?

17 responses

  1. From your reservation queue, I just finished reading Light Perpetual this morning, and it is amazingly good and moving. Extraordinary writing about ordinary lives.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I saw Spufford speak about and read from it at the Church Times Festival of Faith and Literature on Saturday morning (virtual, of course). He read the finale and it was very moving indeed. I’m first in the queue, so hopefully it will arrive soon.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Snap! I have the Flanagan borrowed and have just returned the Moshfegh 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Cool! I’m really enjoying the Flanagan. He’s one of those authors who never writes the same book twice.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. P.S. The ratings are all over the place for the Moshfegh. Looks like you were right in the middle? I’m seeing lots of people compare it to Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead, which I liked well enough but don’t need to read a second time in a different form.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I haven’t read Plough. The Moshfegh was clever but I did tire of the one voice.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. PS you’ll know pretty quickly if you want to keep reading.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I’ve read two of her novels and did really enjoy My Year of Rest and Relaxation. I’ll give it a go and see how I get on.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. From your reservation queue, I’ve read The Art of Falling by Danielle McLaughlin which I enjoyed very much, although I still preferred her short stories.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The art theme drew me to this one.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve got Square Haunting but I don’t think I can fit it into my upcoming schedule quite yet, as I just made a slightly scary list of everything I want to read in March!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’ve had enough of biog. material on V. Woolf for a while, but I’m skimming the rest. I hadn’t known anything about H.D., and was unfamiliar enough with Dorothy Sayers that the chapter on her really surprised me.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Interested to see what you make of The Prophets. I haven’t read it yet, but intrigued.

    I am reading Begin Again by Eddie Glaude right now. It’s so good. Makes me want to read all the Baldwin works I haven’t yet read.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s kind of like a cross between Beloved and Homegoing. Maybe a little overhyped and overwritten for me, but definitely a solid slavery novel that offers something different.

      I didn’t really know anything about Begin Again when I requested it, just that Baldwin was in the subtitle! I’ll look forward to starting it next month.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I read Charlotte McConaghy’s The Last Migration over the winter break and I found it quite interesting; it read more quickly than I’d expected (lots of section breaks). And I’ve got a copy of A Burning that just arrived for pickup (probably next weekend). You know I want to read The Prophets and I also have some of Ben Okri’s short stories on my list for this year (but in a vague way, not for sure).

    Not putting a deliberate backlist-focus on my reading for 2021 has made it harder for me to manage library holds; I can plan with a mix of new and backlist but the new ones just appear suddenly after weeks of showing as “on order” and one week there were eleven. Of course, that’s a delightful “problem” to have, especially during a pandemic, so I am not complaining, but I must adjust my lists so that I’m not hoarding the good stuff! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The Last Migration/Migrations seems like a huge word-of-mouth hit; I felt like I had hardly heard about it, and then suddenly I saw that loads of Goodreads friends had read it and rated it 5 stars, calling it one of their favourites of 2020. She has a new one coming out this year, too, about the reintroduction of wolves (though I’ve uncharitably wondered if it’s necessary when we already have Sarah Hall’s The Wolf Border).

      I have nine new releases to pick up on Monday, most of them with holds after me. It seems unlikely that I’ll get to all of them within the month of March given my review commitments and the other thematic challenges that I want to do, and all the books I currently have on the go. We shall see!

      Liked by 1 person

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