Library Checkout, July 2021

As seems to happen every few months, I felt the urge to cull my library stack and only keep out the books I’m actually excited about reading right now. So you’ll see that a lot of books got returned unread in July. I did manage to read a handful as well, though, with the list looking longer than it really is because of a lot of undemanding children’s and YA material. My summer crush is the super-cute Heartstoppers comics series.

As always, I give links to reviews of books not already featured, as well as ratings for 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.

 

READ

 

SKIMMED

  • Consumed: A Sister’s Story by Arifa Akbar

 

CURRENTLY READING

  • Second Place by Rachel Cusk
  • What White People Can Do Next: From Allyship to Coalition by Emma Dabiri
  • All Boys Aren’t Blue: A Memoir-Manifesto by George M. Johnson
  • The Rome Plague Diaries: Lockdown Life in the Eternal City by Matthew Kneale
  • Nothing but Blue Sky by Kathleen MacMahon
  • When the Stars Go Dark by Paula McLain
  • Lena Finkle’s Magic Barrel by Anya Ulinich
  • Ice Rivers by Jemma Wadham

 

CURRENTLY SKIMMING

  • I Belong Here: A Journey along the Backbone of Britain by Anita Sethi
  • Plague: A Very Short Introduction by Paul Slack

CHECKED OUT, TO BE READ

  • Autumn Story by Jill Barklem
  • The Tragic Death of Eleanor Marx by Tara Bergin
  • Bloodchild and Other Stories by Octavia E. Butler
  • The Song of the Lark by Willa Cather
  • The Beet Queen by Louise Erdrich
  • Gardening for Bumblebees: A Practical Guide to Creating a Paradise for Pollinators by Dave Goulson
  • The Summer before the Dark by Doris Lessing
  • Jilted City by Patrick McGuinness
  • The State of the Prisons by Sinéad Morrissey
  • Stiff by Mary Roach
  • August Folly by Angela Thirkell
  • August by Callan Wink

 

ON HOLD, TO BE PICKED UP

  • The Easternmost Sky: Adapting to Change in the 21st Century by Juliet Blaxland
  • The Sea Is Not Made of Water: Life between the Tides by Adam Nicolson
  • Heartstoppers, Volume 4 by Alice Oseman
  • Earthed: A Memoir by Rebecca Schiller
  • Forecast: A Diary of the Lost Seasons by Joe Shute
  • The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer

IN THE RESERVATION QUEUE

  • Who Is Maud Dixon? by Alexandra Andrews
  • The Echo Chamber by John Boyne
  • Medusa’s Ankles: Selected Stories by A.S. Byatt
  • Darwin’s Dragons by Lindsay Galvin
  • Fathoms: The World in the Whale by Rebecca Giggs
  • Silent Earth: Averting the Insect Apocalypse by Dave Goulson
  • The Anthropocene Reviewed by John Green
  • The Cure for Good Intentions: A Doctor’s Story by Sophie Harrison
  • An Eye on the Hebrides: An Illustrated Journey by Mairi Hedderwick
  • Standard Deviation by Katherine Heiny
  • The Paper Palace by Miranda Cowley Heller
  • The Premonition: A Pandemic Story by Michael Lewis
  • Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason
  • His Only Wife by Peace Adzo Medie
  • Heartstoppers, Volume 3 by Alice Oseman
  • Fox and I: An Uncommon Friendship by Catherine Raven
  • Before Everything by Victoria Redel
  • Everyone Is Still Alive by Cathy Rentzenbrink
  • Cut Out by Michèle Roberts
  • Sheets by Brenna Thummler
  • The Lost Soul by Olga Tokarczuk
  • A Walk from the Wild Edge by Jake Tyler
  • 12 Bytes: How We Got Here. Where We Might Go Next by Jeanette Winterson
  • The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben
  • The Disaster Tourist by Ko-Eun Yun

RETURNED UNFINISHED

  • Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid
  • My Phantoms by Gwendoline Riley
  • Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead
  • Still Life by Sarah Winman

None of these captivated me after 10–30 pages. I’ll try the Shipstead and Winman again another time.

 

RETURNED UNREAD

  • Misplaced Persons by Susan Beale
  • 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
  • Joe Biden: American Dreamer by Evan Osnos
  • The Dig by John Preston
  • Dreamland by Rosa Rankin-Gee

The last of these was requested after me; I (at least temporarily) lost interest in the rest.

 

What appeals from my stacks?

38 responses

  1. I’ve read several in your reservation queue including The Paper Palace and The Echo Chamber which are the kind of books you can sink into. Happy reading!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Really looking forward to those! If they arrive in time they’ll be perfect for late summer reading.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. There’s loads I’d read on there, a few I already own. Your library is really good at getting the latest books. I’ve not been to my local library since first lockdown, and my piles to read are so big, I don’t feel the need to go, other than to get some poetry perhaps.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You’re right, they do have a good selection. I tend to focus on the negative of how few of the new releases I’m most interested in they order. They are often reactive, ordering books only after they turn up on a prize list or similar. So by the time they do acquire a book I will generally have already read a finished copy for review or bought it. But it’s not a problem!

      Your shelves could keep you busy for years 😉 Mine, too, though most of what I own is older and I rely on the library plus review copies for access to new stuff.

      Like

  3. Crumbs. I’ve read zero from your list. But te Nicolson and Shute – among others -interest me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve read particularly high praise for the Nicolson.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. He’s not bad, is he?

        Liked by 1 person

  4. The problem is that during lockdown (well, not the first lockdown, but the ones that followed), only our Central Library stayed open for reserve and collect, so now I’ve developed a habit of going there to pick up things, but can now roam freely through its shelves and pick up so many more books. I am exposed to far more temptations, because my small local library does not do quite such a good job of ordering in new things.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The best kind of temptation! Are you in Wokingham borough? That’s where we were prior to here and I found their selection quite limited.

      Like

      1. No, Windsor and Maidenhead – the central library is quite good, but the one in my neighbourhood is tiny. Of course, they can bring in any of the books from the other locations, but I don’t get to be distracted by things on shelves…

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Browsing is always fun and turns up books you didn’t know you wanted to read!

        Like

  5. I’ll be interested in what you think of I Belong Here. And I’m going to be starting What White People Can Do Next tonight – thank goodness I added this and another really short allyship book to my 20 Books as quick reads!

    I put a book serendipity mention into today’s review, by the way, but I don’t think I linked to you (I’m doing stuff on my laptop while the Hedge Man is here …).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t think Sethi was well served by her editors. It feels like three books smooshed into one and there is too much generic info (the definitions, etc.). I don’t really rate the writing in general, which is why I’m just skimming it. It’s a shame, as there are important ideas and stories there.

      White People is indeed nice and short at 150 small-format pages. I added it into my 20 Books for much the same reason (and to compare to another book on race). My review should be up later this week.

      Like

      1. Yes, I think that’s the perfect way to put it. I struggled with how to write about it as so much in it was indeed so important.

        Like

  6. Ah, I liked Heatstroke a lot more than you did. I thought that it was unusually good on teenage girls, although I agree it was not as good as My Dark Vanessa.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It didn’t help that I’m reading another missing-15-year-old-mystery at the same time (Book Serendipity!) that I’m finding better written and more intense: When the Stars Go Dark by Paula McLain.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, I guess what interested me was less the missing girl plot, which I didn’t think was central to what Barker was trying to do, and more the relationship between Rachel and her daughter, and the hints at Rachel’s own lost potential.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I’ve read Bloodchild and it was really good. I’m interested in The Disaster Tourist and When the Stars Go Dark.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m excited for Bloodchild. I loved Butler’s Kindred and Parable of the Sower last year.

      I’m 1/3 through When the Stars Go Dark and really enjoying it. I don’t normally read crime at all, but because I’d liked McLain’s fiction before I thought I’d give it a try.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I loved When the Stars Go Dark. Has a really nice sense of place. Made richer by learning the author’s corresponding backstory in the foster system.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Absolutely! I loved how atmospheric it was and that there was a personal reason for her to engage with those issues. I rarely read crime, but thought this was fantastic. Thanks for stopping by.

        Like

  8. Bloodchild’s terrific and horrifying. I love Shaun Tan’s Cicada, it makes me cry every time. And oh noooooo I thought Great Circle was incredibly engrossing!! Just goes to show, though, reading is subjective!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There was sooooo much backstory in the early chapters. I preferred the contemporary voice and couldn’t get into the historical thread. But I will certainly give it another go.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Weren’t you super excited about the Shipstead, or am I misremembering?
    Is your queue longer than usual, or are the titles just longer?
    I’ve had the opposite problem, I seem to be unable to disengage from any of my current loans, they all seem simply fascinating, and I’m perpetually at my limit these days, struggling again to pick up the next lot. #lovelyproblemtohave

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was so excited for Great Circle! It’s on my Most Anticipated list for the year and everything. But the early chapters were really dense with backstory and, as almost always happens, I was attracted to the contemporary storyline much more than the historical one, which was getting most of the page time. But I’m back in the queue to try again, especially now that it’s on the Booker longlist.

      I’m enjoying everything I’m reading from the library, but apart from the ones that are requested after me and so have firm deadlines, I struggle to prioritize the loans because of my 20 Books of Summer and other self-set assignments. Like you say, these are minor problems all of our own making 🙂

      Like

      1. buriedinprint

        I thought so! I hope you find the right time to reconnect. The queue will likely be much longer now. What’s your favourite Shipstead? I should give her a try (am fairly sure I’d enjoy her, just haven’t). It’s interesting that you often find the historical accompaniment off-putting (I remember that came up with one of the Ali Smith novels that we read ‘together’ too). History used to be a passion of mine, to the point where I almost resist it now on its own, but when a trusted author takes me there, I’m probably just more naturally willing to fall in, borne of that older habit. Self-set assignments (Heheh)…yes, that’s the downfall for us obsessives.

        Like

      2. She only has two previous novels, of which I much preferred Seating Arrangements. A fun but substantial novel about a dysfunctional family and a wedding weekend.

        Like

  10. I didn’t make it on time—but I snuck in under the wire for the month! Thanks for hosting this one…I love it.

    https://fiftytwo.blog/2021/07/30/library-reads-july-2021/

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for taking part! I envy you the multiple library cards across different states. When I worked at a university library I took advantage of my access and had a few different London libraries that I used. I do miss that, but my TBR is so long as it is that maybe it’s best to be limited to one library system!

      I am really loving When the Stars Go Dark. What did you think?

      Like

      1. I didn’t love it. I’m not a huge fan of atmospheric mysteries, but so many people loved it that I thought I would give it a shot…but ultimately, not enough…well, anything for my taste. I did think that the second half was way better, so maybe just too slow of a start for me? I hope you love it, though.

        Like

      2. Ah, okay, whereas I basically never read mysteries but was drawn to this by my love of McLain’s other fiction, so I love the writing and I’m engrossed in the story, too.

        Like

  11. What a shame you had to return Dreamland. I do hate it when people reserve a book I’ve been holding hostage, intending to read it, ha ha. I’m particularly interested in reading reviews of Dreamland because it’s based in my hometown, Margate. Dreamland is the name of the local amusement park on the seafront, though I only went a couple of times myself. In spite of my happy childhood there, Margate seems to lend itself to gritty reality; Tracy Emin grew up there, too, and T.S. Eliot wrote part of The Wasteland sitting in a beach shelter gazing out across the bay. I also saw you had a novel by Sonia Overall on your pile of review books, another author living in the area. Unfortunately I found her book about the discovery of the Margate Shell Grotto rather disappointing: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/656129761

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I haven’t tried again to get Dreamland out. I can’t remember where I first heard about it, but I probably need to know more about it before deciding to invest the time: it’s very long for a debut.

      It was Heavy Time I read by Sonia Overall, a nonfiction travelogue (“psychogeography” — a new buzzword for me). I’ve reviewed it for the TLS.

      Like

      1. Ah, I can’t read the TLS. It’s behind a paywall, unfortunately, and I’m too mean to pay for a newspaper I wouldn’t buy myself. Given my antipathy to the shell grotto novel, I’m unlikely to read another one by her. As for Dreamland, I didn’t realise it was so long. I think I read a review in The Guardian, but there are some enthusiastic reviews on Goodreads. I might even go to the extreme lengths of buying it when we go to the UK next month (Covid restrictions permitting).

        Like

      2. This particular review hasn’t even been published yet 😉 But yes, non-subscribers can only read excerpts online. I only get a contributor copy when my review is in it. I’ve subscribed to things like the LRB and the Literary Review for a year or so before and found that I never actually read the magazines, so there was no point.

        Like

  12. Hi. What were your thoughts on Great Circle. I am listening to it via audio which is a different experience, but curious why it didn’t hit the right note for you right now? I am enjoying it but hoping it can sustain my attention.

    Like

    1. Tons of backstory is one of my pet peeves, so basically I was finding it slow and tedious for that first 100 pages. I’ve heard that it picks up from there, though, so I’m going to try again. I remember I preferred the contemporary voice to the historical strand.

      Like

    2. Ok, good to know. I like the modern storyline better too.

      Like

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