Library Checkout, April 2021

Over the past month, my library reading has included a few more novels from the Women’s Prize longlist and several memoirs, a few of them reflecting on the events of 2020. I also picked out a stack of picture books, most of them cat-themed, while looking for reservations (I’ve been back to volunteering at the library twice weekly).

I give links to reviews of books I haven’t already featured, as well as ratings for most reads and skims. I would be delighted to have other bloggers join in with 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 (the last Monday of each month), or tag me on Twitter and/or Instagram: @bookishbeck / #TheLibraryCheckout & #LoveYourLibraries.



  • Luster by Raven Leilani – review coming up tomorrow
  • No One Is Talking About This by Patricia Lockwood – review coming up tomorrow
  • Birdsong in a Time of Silence by Steven Lovatt
  • Consent by Annabel Lyon – review coming up tomorrow
  • Skylarks with Rosie: A Somerset Spring by Stephen Moss
  • How We Met: A Memoir of Love and Other by Huma Qureshi
  • UnPresidented: Politics, Pandemics and the Race that Trumped All Others by Jon Sopel
  • Asylum Road by Olivia Sudjic
  • When God Was a Rabbit by Sarah Winman

 Also these children’s picture books, which don’t count towards my year totals.

    • Alfie in the Garden by Debi Gliori
    • The Poesy Ring by Bob Graham
    • The Mice in the Churchyard by Kes Gray
    • Captain Cat by Inga Moore
    • Pussy Cat, Pussy Cat, Where Have You Been? I’ve Been to Washington and Guess What I’ve Seen by Russell Punter
    • Fred by Posy Simmonds


  • The Natural Health Service: What the Great Outdoors Can Do for Your Mind by Isabel Hardman
  • The Librarian by Allie Morgan



  • You Exist Too Much by Zaina Arafat
  • Ten Days by Austin Duffy
  • Featherhood: On Birds and Fathers by Charlie Gilmour
  • The Last Migration by Charlotte McConaghy
  • Becoming a Man: Half a Life Story by Paul Monette
  • The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne by Brian Moore
  • Hot Stew by Fiona Mozley
  • You’re Not Listening: What You’re Missing and Why It Matters by Kate Murphy
  • Open Water by Caleb Azumah Nelson
  • Woods etc. by Alice Oswald



  • After: A Doctor Explores What Near-Death Experiences Reveal about Life and Beyond by Bruce Greyson
  • The Ministry of Bodies: Life and Death in a Modern Hospital by Seamus O’Mahony


  • Under the Blue by Oana Aristide
  • The Address Book: What Street Addresses Reveal about Identity, Race, Wealth and Power by Deirdre Mask
  • The Pleasure Steamers by Andrew Motion
  • How to Be Sad: Everything I’ve Learned about Getting Happier, by Being Sad, Better by Helen Russell



  • Who Is Maud Dixon? by Alexandra Andrews
  • Failures of State: The Inside Story of Britain’s Battle with Coronavirus by Jonathan Calvert and George Arbuthnott
  • Life Support: Diary of an ICU Doctor on the Frontline of the COVID Crisis by Jim Down
  • The Absolute Book by Elizabeth Knox
  • His Only Wife by Peace Adzo Medie
  • Life Sentences by Billy O’Callaghan
  • Many Different Kinds of Love: A Story of Life, Death and the NHS by Michael Rosen


  • Civilisations by Laurent Binet
  • This Happy by Niamh Campbell
  • Small Pleasures by Clare Chambers
  • Heavy Light: A Journey through Madness, Mania and Healing by Horatio Clare
  • The Madness of Grief: A Memoir of Love and Loss by Reverend Richard Coles
  • Darwin’s Dragons by Lindsay Galvin
  • Lakewood by Megan Giddings
  • The Rome Plague Diaries: Lockdown Life in the Eternal City by Matthew Kneale
  • Nothing but Blue Sky by Kathleen MacMahon
  • Circus of Wonders by Elizabeth Macneal
  • Acts of Desperation by Megan Nolan
  • Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters
  • My Phantoms by Gwendoline Riley
  • I Belong Here: A Journey along the Backbone of Britain by Anita Sethi
  • Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead
  • When We Went Wild by Isabella Tree and Allira Tee



  • Escape Routes by Naomi Ishiguro – I read and enjoyed a few stories, but didn’t feel the need to read any more (especially some very long or fantasy-looking ones).
  • The Art of Falling by Danielle McLaughlin



  • A Tall History of Sugar by Curdella Forbes – Seemed like it might be tiresome (too involved, too much backstory, etc.).
  • Double Blind by Edward St. Aubyn – Ponderous writing in the first few pages, and too many middling or negative reviews from friends on Goodreads.


What appeals from my stacks?

24 responses

  1. Too exhausted after reading this list to comment!


    1. You could just skim and look at the photos 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Echoing Margaret’s comment… I’ll wait to see what you think of the Shipstead.


    1. I also had an e-galley, but a 600-page book is way too long to attempt to read digitally!


  3. So many books! I’m currently reading just one of them – Circus of Wonders by Elizabeth Macneal. The rest I don’t know. I’ve also written a post on my current library loans today – and next month I’ll link up with you Library Checkout post – I haven’t seen one before today.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wonderful, I’m so glad you found this post and will join in! Feel free to adapt the format and categories to suit you. I post on the last Monday of each month.

      It’s so nice to have libraries back open for browsing, isn’t it? I’m looking forward to Macneal’s new one: I thought The Doll Factory was terrific.


  4. I did not get on with Hot Stew so I’ll be interested to hear what you think of it. Unfortunate that N. Ishiguro’s short stories weren’t a hit either!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m enjoying Hot Stew well enough, though I’m puzzled that it feels most like state-of-the-nation novels by men from ~10 years ago, e.g. A Week in December by Sebastian Faulks and Capital by John Lanchester. It’s not living up to my high expectations formed after reading Elmet.

      The Ishiguro has a trio of long linked fantasy stories that I skipped, so it might be more to your taste than mine.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I found the morality and characterisation of Hot Stew to be very black and white. (It’s been compared to Dickens, and I hate Dickens, so that might be it!) It is a little reminiscent of A Week In December but I enjoyed reading that a lot more.


  5. We’ll agree to disagree on the Winman – I read it many years ago and loved it (because it made me laugh and cry, as my favourite books always do).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I loved her more recent book, Tin Man, but I think her debut tried to do too much and there were a lot of threads not followed through plus quirkiness for the sake of it (one of my pet peeves). The other members of my book club generally enjoyed it, though.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Look forward to your review of the Lockwood – I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m rounding up those three Women’s Prize longlistees tomorrow and making some predictions for the shortlist 🙂 I think it helped that I’d read Lockwood’s memoir and was accustomed to her sense of humour.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I did not finish Luster – I just couldn’t believe in the main character. She was so self-destructive and then when the wife offered the place to live in their house I was like, “Nope! I’m out!” LOL.

    I also have Who Is Maud Dixon waiting to be checked out. I know almost nothing about it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, that was my main problem with Luster — I just could not believe in that turn of events (or in her being attracted to this man at all). I did really admire the writing, though.

      I think Who Is Maud Dixon? is meant to be a Patricia Highsmith-style thriller. That’s why I’m reading it, anyway! I’m going to do a bit of a Highsmith binge as it’s her centenary this year.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. buriedinprint

        KK, well, the two of you have really got me curious about this one now!

        Liked by 1 person

  8. I was disappointed in When God was a Rabbit for all the reasons you mention and also because A Year of Marvellous Ways is a perennial favourite. I keep almost getting round to Tin Man and I’m keen to read Still Life which has just come out I think. I’ll be interested in your responses to the Helen Russell and Richard Cole books. Both are in my sights.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’d been unsure about A Year of Marvellous Ways, but perhaps I should give it a look. I think Still Life is out in June and I would certainly read that one.


    2. I’m not sure that Marvellous Ways would be your type of book. It resonates with me for very specific reasons. Still Life sounds a different book entirely from her earlier works.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Good to know. You must enjoy her Cornwall settings, anyway. Still Life draws me for the art theme and Italian location. Also an intriguing reference to ‘the ghost of E.M. Forster’.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. I’ll be interested in your thoughts on Open Water, and the How to be Sad one which I think Paul C has just reviewed. Lovely library loot!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was thinking I would just skim the Russell, but seeing that Paul rated it so highly makes me want to read the whole thing. It looks denser (in terms of number of pages, type size and references/notes) than I might have expected.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. buriedinprint | Reply

    Normally there is so much overlap between our lists/queues/stacks that I couldn’t even begin to imagine pointing out all the connections, but not so much this time (I could count if I wasn’t so behind on reading your posts already LOL). Maybe there are more different dates between spring/fall with new books in Europe/NAmerica than I tend to think about. I’m looking forward to A Tall History of Sugar…hopefully I’m drawn in to the aspects that put you off! And I thought I was on hold for that Clare Chambers but, nope, another Clare. My duedates had gotten absolutely insane the past three weeks or so, but I’m finally catching up again and no longer have to worry about how many holds are arriving or how many new things cannot be renewed. Phew. (Not complaining…very lucky to have this “problem”!)


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