Library Checkout, June 2021

I’m slowly getting back into the swing of things after my trip to the USA plus 10 days in quarantine. I sent my husband to pick up my latest pile of library reservations, and tomorrow I’ll get the chance to go in for one volunteering session before we’re off to Northumberland for 10 days (our major vacation of the year). It looks like Maggie Shipstead’s Great Circle, at over 600 pages, will form the bulk of my holiday reading.

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.



  • Under the Blue by Oana Aristide
  • Blue Dog by Louis de Bernières
  • Early Morning Riser by Katherine Heiny


  • How to Be Sad: Everything I’ve Learned about Getting Happier, by Being Sad, Better by Helen Russell


  • Becoming a Man: Half a Life Story by Paul Monette [set aside temporarily]


  • This Happy by Niamh Campbell
  • Heavy Light: A Journey through Madness, Mania and Healing by Horatio Clare
  • 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
  • Elegy for a River: Whiskers, Claws and Conservation’s Last, Wild Hope by Tom Moorhouse
  • Joe Biden: American Dreamer by Evan Osnos
  • The Dig by John Preston
  • Dreamland by Rosa Rankin-Gee
  • Broke Vegan: Over 100 Plant-Based Recipes that Don’t Cost the Earth by Saskia Sidey [to skim only]

Plus a cheeky new selection from the university library – graphic novels, poetry, and a bit of fiction. No photo as of yet, but this is what my husband is bringing back for me later today.

  • The Tragic Death of Eleanor Marx by Tara Bergin
  • Bloodchild and Other Stories by Octavia E. Butler
  • James Miranda Barry by Patricia Duncker
  • The Kite Runner: Graphic Novel by Khaled Hosseini
  • The Summer before the Dark by Doris Lessing
  • Jilted City by Patrick McGuinness
  • The State of the Prisons by Sinéad Morrissey
  • Frankenstein: The Graphic Novel by Mary Shelley
  • Lena Finkle’s Magic Barrel by Anya Ulinich



  • Misplaced Persons by Susan Beale
  • Second Place by Rachel Cusk
  • The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris
  • The Premonition: A Pandemic Story by Michael Lewis [to skim only]
  • Nothing but Blue Sky by Kathleen MacMahon
  • Demystifying the Female Brain: A Neuroscientist Explores Health, Hormones and Happiness by Sarah McKay [to skim only]
  • Heartstoppers, Volume 1 by Alice Oseman
  • Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead
  • Ice Rivers by Jemma Wadham
  • Still Life by Sarah Winman


  • Consumed: A Sister’s Story by Arifa Akbar
  • Who Is Maud Dixon? by Alexandra Andrews
  • Medusa’s Ankles: Selected Stories by A.S. Byatt
  • Darwin’s Dragons by Lindsay Galvin
  • When the Stars Go Dark by Paula McLain
  • His Only Wife by Peace Adzo Medie
  • To the Island of Tides: A Journey to Lindisfarne by Alistair Moffat
  • The Sea Is Not Made of Water: Life between the Tides by Adam Nicolson
  • Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid
  • Everyone Is Still Alive by Cathy Rentzenbrink
  • My Phantoms by Gwendoline Riley
  • Earthed: A Memoir by Rebecca Schiller
  • I Belong Here: A Journey along the Backbone of Britain by Anita Sethi
  • Forecast: A Diary of the Lost Seasons by Joe Shute
  • Plague: A Very Short Introduction by Paul Slack
  • August Folly by Angela Thirkell
  • A Walk from the Wild Edge by Jake Tyler
  • August by Callan Wink
  • The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben



  • Small Pleasures by Clare Chambers – The first few pages didn’t draw me in, and I’ve seen very polarized responses.
  • Circus of Wonders by Elizabeth Macneal – I read the first 40-some pages and skimmed up to p. 90. Victoriana by numbers. None of the characters leapt out at me. Such a disappointment after how much I loved The Doll Factory!


What appeals from my stacks?

21 responses

  1. I’ve been dithering about taking The Doll Factory on holiday. You may have swayed me!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a great one, well worth reading. Where are you off to?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. In that case, I’ll pack it. We’ve booked a cottage in Sussex. Can’t wait!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Wonderful! I hope you have a lovely time.


  2. I loved the Matthew Kneale book – such an excellent writer.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m excited to read it. It’s ages since I’ve read something by him, and I think all the rest were fiction. I seem to be something of an aficionado of Covid chronicles…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. A couple of the graphic novels appeal, especially the adaptations; and I’m reading Octavia Butler’s Kindred in small chunks so am not considering another by her just yet. Hope you like Preston’s The Dig—though he takes a few factual liberties he captures the essential emotions surrounding what was a unique experience in the prelude to war (as did the Netflix film as well).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kindred is fantastic. That was my first one by Butler and I raced through it. Parable of the Sower was also very good — prescient from our time.


  4. Is the Sad book by Helen Russell the same writer who wrote A Year of Living Danishly?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes! She’s based in Denmark. I’ve thought about reading that one of hers with my book club as the library has a book group set. Her writing is informal and amusing.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I found her Living Danishly book fascinating. We don’t hear much about Denmark here in SA

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Argh – I saw Small Pleasures on the pile and was going to look forward to your review, then … returned already! Ha!

    I am reading I Belong Here next (starting this afternoon) so I’ll look forward to your thoughts, and on The Other Black Girl. Have a wonderful time up north!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The reviews on Small Pleasures have been too divisive for my liking. I may well try again sometime as I’m eager to read as many Women’s Prize nominees as possible, but I’ll give it a few years.

      I’ll likely take The Other Black Girl on holiday, too, as it’s sure to be requested after me. I was pleased to see I Belong Here longlisted for the Wainwright Prize — in fact, it’s one of only two from the nature writing list that I haven’t yet read, so it will help me nearly complete the set.

      Thanks! My first time visiting that part of the country, and there’s so much to do. We’ve already booked some boat trips and National Trust houses and English Heritage sites, and will pre-book some meals as well.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Is The Rome Plague Diaries a new book? I have a vague memory of having seen a review of it very recently in one of the few newspapers in the UK that still carries reviews (though only at weekends)


    1. Yes, it just came out in February. I’d not seen any reviews but I’ll look them out.


      1. It would either be The Sunday Times or the Telegraph (culture sections)

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I really fancy reading Heartstoppers! It looks so sweet.

    I browsed in a library for the first time since March 2020 a week or so ago. That’s how I picked up The Apparition Phase which I loved and wouldn’t have come across otherwise.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hooray for library browsing! That’s often how one finds the best surprises.

      I’m packing Heartstoppers for light reading in the car on the way up north. It’s not got many words on a page at all, so no doubt I’ll fly through it and be ready for the next volume when I get back.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. buriedinprint | Reply

    I’ve never read The Hidden Life of Trees either (an excerpt somewhere…maybe TNY?); it’s right up there with animal stories for me.

    Curious about the Rachel Cusk. Am I remembering correctly, that her last trilogy wasn’t really your cuppa?

    My library loans are still pretty bananas but I read a lotta lotta lotta stuff in June, so it’s not quite as grim (#niceproblemstohave) as it has been (having to wait for pickups until I’d cleared space on my card). Now I’m falling behind on all other evening activities instead (movies, TV, etc.) LOL

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I fancy a little binge of tree-themed books.

      I’ve struggled mightily with Cusk. It took me three tries (on three different books) to finally get through one of hers, Transit, which ultimately I did quite enjoy. I saw her speak about this new one at the online Hay Festival and the themes and inspiration attract me. We’ll see how it goes!


      1. buriedinprint

        I’ve really enjoyed her stuff (beyond the trilogy too) but have to be in a particular mood for it. A mood I wasn’t anticipating apparently, as I didn’t add my name to this queue, so I’ll look forward to hearing what you think meanwhile.

        Liked by 1 person

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