Library Checkout, May 2021

Another big library reading month for me as I scrambled to get through the books that were reserved after me and then wrangle the remaining pile under some semblance of control before heading back to the USA for my mother’s wedding. I’ve also suspended any holds that look like they might arrive imminently – the first time I’ve taken advantage of this option. Once I’m back I’m sure I’ll quickly build up another goodly stack to last me through the summer.

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




  • 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


  • Blue Dog by Louis de Bernières
  • Becoming a Man: Half a Life Story by Paul Monette [set aside temporarily]


  • Under the Blue by Oana Aristide
  • Summer Story and Autumn Story by Jill Barklem
  • This Happy by Niamh Campbell
  • The Pure Gold Baby by Margaret Drabble
  • Lakewood by Megan Giddings
  • The Master Bedroom by Tessa Hadley
  • A More Perfect Union by Tammye Huf
  • The Rome Plague Diaries: Lockdown Life in the Eternal City by Matthew Kneale
  • His Only Wife by Peace Adzo Medie
  • Dreamland by Rosa Rankin-Gee
  • How to Be Sad: Everything I’ve Learned about Getting Happier, by Being Sad, Better by Helen Russell
  • Earthed: A Memoir by Rebecca Schiller
  • The Color Purple by Alice Walker (to reread)


  • Who Is Maud Dixon? by Alexandra Andrews
  • Misplaced Persons by Susan Beale
  • Civilisations by Laurent Binet
  • Medusa’s Ankles: Selected Stories by A.S. Byatt
  • Small Pleasures by Clare Chambers
  • Heavy Light: A Journey through Madness, Mania and Healing by Horatio Clare
  • Second Place by Rachel Cusk
  • Darwin’s Dragons by Lindsay Galvin
  • Early Morning Riser by Katherine Heiny
  • The Premonition: A Pandemic Story by Michael Lewis
  • Nothing but Blue Sky by Kathleen MacMahon
  • Circus of Wonders by Elizabeth Macneal
  • Demystifying the Female Brain by Sarah McKay
  • When the Stars Go Dark by Paula McLain
  • Elegy for a River: Whiskers, Claws and Conservation’s Last, Wild Hope by Tom Moorhouse
  • Acts of Desperation by Megan Nolan
  • Heartstoppers, Volume 1 by Alice Oseman
  • Joe Biden: American Dreamer by Evan Osnos
  • The Dig by John Preston
  • My Phantoms by Gwendoline Riley
  • I Belong Here: A Journey along the Backbone of Britain by Anita Sethi
  • Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead
  • Broke Vegan: Over 100 Plant-Based Recipes that Don’t Cost the Earth by Saskia Sidey
  • Still Life by Sarah Winman
  • The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben


  • You Exist Too Much by Zaina Arafat
  • The Last Migration by Charlotte McConaghy – I read the first 22 pages. The plot felt very similar to Ankomst and I didn’t get drawn in by the prose, but this has been a huge word-of-mouth hit among my Goodreads friends. I’ll try it again another time.
  • Hot Stew by Fiona Mozley


  • Failures of State: The Inside Story of Britain’s Battle with Coronavirus by Jonathan Calvert and George Arbuthnott – I think I’m finally tiring of Covid stories.
  • Life Support: Diary of an ICU Doctor on the Frontline of the COVID Crisis by Jim Down – Ditto, though having now seen him at a Hay Festival event I might give this a try another time.
  • Life Sentences by Billy O’Callaghan – I can’t even remember how I heard about this or why I put a request on it!

What appeals from my stacks?

10 responses

  1. This’ll be interesting. I’ve just got Hot Stew out, and the Anita Sethi. You and I can agree wholeheartedly, or disagree wildly in our choices, which always intrigues me. How will this one go?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We tend to be more of one mind about the nature books, so I reckon the Sethi could be a hit. I’ll keep an eye out for what you think of Hot Stew.


  2. If and when I return to using the library (I’m very much a shelf browser and not inclined to wade through hundreds of titles online) I shall definitely use your meme, but at the moment that’s not an option. Soon, hopefully.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That would be great! It runs every month on the last Monday.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ll be keen to hear what you think of This Happy. I’ve been resisting it because there has been such a glut of books from ireland about young women and difficult relationships and I just didn’t know if I could face another.


    1. Good point, besides Sally Rooney’s stuff there was Tennis Lessons by Susannah Dickey and Exciting Times by Naoise Dolan. I enjoyed them all, but I can see how too much of that situation would get monotonous!


  4. Wow – only overlap here is I Belong Here. I think that’s a first to have only one! I enjoyed your review of Open Water – I wasn’t completely convinced either as thought it tried a bit hard, but the portrayal of Black masculinity was powerful and redeemed it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You would love Barber Shop Chronicles if you ever got a chance to see it. I agree Open Water was trying too hard, but I think Nelson has a promising career ahead of him.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. And no overlap for me at all…although a couple that I do want to read but the hold lists at the public were forbidding and I was easily distracted in other reading directions. A new borrowed memoir I’m reading ATM might interest you, Ayesha S. Chaudhry’s The Colour of God: direct and clear language, and the balance of intimacy/information works well for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the rec — I would love to read that one!

      Liked by 1 person

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