Library Checkout, August 2021

I’ve read a little of everything this month, including a Booker Prize nominee and one from the Wainwright Prize longlist. A few reads were good enough to make it onto my growing “Best of 2021” list. (Full reviews of the Green and Thirkell coming soon.) In September one of my usual foci is short story collections, so I plan to get through the Butler and Byatt next month. Cathy and I have also been plotting about Novellas in November, so I’ve checked out a number of short works in advance.

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



  • Autumn Story by Jill Barklem (a children’s book – these don’t count towards my year total)
  • Second Place by Rachel Cusk
  • What White People Can Do Next: From Allyship to Coalition by Emma Dabiri
  • Silent Earth: Averting the Insect Apocalypse by Dave Goulson (for Shelf Awareness review)
  • The Anthropocene Reviewed: Essays on a human-centered planet by John Green
  • 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
  • Heartstoppers, Volume 3 by Alice Oseman
  • Heartstoppers, Volume 4 by Alice Oseman
  • Earthed: A Memoir by Rebecca Schiller
  • Forecast: A Diary of the Lost Seasons by Joe Shute
  • August Folly by Angela Thirkell
  • The Lost Soul by Olga Tokarczuk (a mostly wordless graphic novel, so I didn’t count it towards my year total)
  • Ice Rivers by Jemma Wadham


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



  • Medusa’s Ankles: Selected Stories by A.S. Byatt
  • Fathoms: The World in the Whale by Rebecca Giggs
  • Anarchipelago by Jay Griffiths
  • Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay
  • Everyone Is Still Alive by Cathy Rentzenbrink
  • Cut Out by Michèle Roberts
  • Lena Finkle’s Magic Barrel by Anya Ulinich
  • The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer



  • The Easternmost Sky: Adapting to Change in the 21st Century by Juliet Blaxland
  • Gardening for Bumblebees: A Practical Guide to Creating a Paradise for Pollinators by Dave Goulson
  • An Eye on the Hebrides: An Illustrated Journey by Mairi Hedderwick
  • September 11: A Testimony (Reuters)
  • Fall and Rise: The Story of 9/11 by Mitchell Zuckoff


  • Winter Story by Jill Barklem
  • The Tragic Death of Eleanor Marx by Tara Bergin
  • Bloodchild and Other Stories by Octavia E. Butler
  • Barn Owl by Jim Crumley
  • Kingfisher by Jim Crumley
  • Otter by Jim Crumley
  • Darwin’s Dragons by Lindsay Galvin
  • The Cure for Good Intentions: A Doctor’s Story by Sophie Harrison
  • Victory: Two Novellas by James Lasdun
  • Jilted City by Patrick McGuinness
  • His Only Wife by Peace Adzo Medie
  • Conundrum by Jan Morris [to reread]
  • The State of the Prisons by Sinéad Morrissey
  • The Sea Is Not Made of Water: Life between the Tides by Adam Nicolson
  • Fox and I: An Uncommon Friendship by Catherine Raven
  • Before Everything by Victoria Redel
  • Yearbook by Seth Rogen
  • A Shadow Above: The Fall and Rise of the Raven by Joe Shute
  • The Performance by Claire Thomas
  • A Walk from the Wild Edge by Jake Tyler
  • Elizabeth and Her German Garden by Elizabeth von Arnim
  • A World on the Wing: The Global Odyssey of Migratory Birds by Scott Weidensaul



  • Notes from a Summer Cottage: The Intimate Life of the Outside World by Nina Burton
  • Keep the Aspidistra Flying by George Orwell


  • The Echo Chamber by John Boyne
  • Four Thousand Weeks: Time and How to Use It by Oliver Burkeman
  • Spike: The Virus vs. the People – The Inside Story by Jeremy Farrar
  • Mrs March by Virginia Feito
  • Matrix by Lauren Groff
  • Standard Deviation by Katherine Heiny
  • The Paper Palace by Miranda Cowley Heller
  • The Book Smugglers (Pages & Co., #4) by Anna James
  • The Morning Star by Karl Ove Knausgaard
  • The Premonition: A Pandemic Story by Michael Lewis
  • Listen: How to Find the Words for Tender Conversations by Kathryn Mannix
  • I Give It to You by Valerie Martin
  • Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason
  • Something out of Place: Women & Disgust by Eimear McBride
  • Mayflies by Andrew O’Hagan
  • Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney
  • Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead
  • Sheets by Brenna Thummler
  • The Disaster Tourist by Ko-Eun Yun



  • August by Callan Wink – The first few pages were about a farm boy working out how to kill all the cats. No thanks.



  • Who Is Maud Dixon? by Alexandra Andrews – Luckily, I remembered that Laila said it was awful!
  • The Summer before the Dark by Doris Lessing – I should have learned from Memoirs of a Survivor that I don’t get on with her vague dystopian stuff.


What appeals from my stacks?

15 responses

  1. Well, in your TBR queue, I can recommend The Sea Is Not Made of Water, which I’m currently reading: some of the sciencey bits are quite hard going for me – though worth it: and A Shadow Above – very enjoyable. I agree that the Sethi is only worth skimming – disappointing and repetitive, I thought. And because I don’t do half stars, I only gave the Cusk three. I’d like to put most of your TBRs on my list too. But … get real, Margaret.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I found Nicolson’s seabirds book quite hard going, so I imagine I will do a fair bit of skimming in this one.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh, I romped through his book on seabirds, but yes, this is harder.


  2. Phew! Hope you enjoy the Redel and the Thomas, two favourites of mine. Several of those in your reservation queue, too. I’ll be interested to see what you make of the Shipstead if you get to it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This will be my second try with the Shipstead — I have to find the right moment!


  3. I am planning to read Picnic at Hanging Rock this month so I’d be keen to hear what you think.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m really enjoying it so far. It has a classic suspense aura, like Patricia Highsmith or Shirley Jackson.


  4. I keep meaning to read more Elizabeth Van Arnim – I really enjoyed The Enchanted April.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think I assumed Elizabeth and Her German Garden was a memoir, and translated from the German, whereas it’s actually a (lightly fictionalized) novella that first came out in English! Nonetheless, I will probably read it in November and count it towards the novellas and German Lit challenges that month.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Ha – I’m like that with Lessing, but I also don’t like her African stuff, so that just leaves me with the other third of her work!

    Did I see what you thought of the Dabiri in the end, I can’t remember now?

    And thank you for the hat-tip about Adam Nicolson’s book – I’ve just bought it from Hive in hardback! (I got disenchanted with because their systems when you cancel something and get a refund AND their way of storing book tokens are both arcane and weird and opaque).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, that’s too bad. I loved The Grass Is Singing!

      You commented, so I think so:

      I’ve only ordered from Bookshop once or twice, I think, and never from Hive.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ah yes, my memory’s going, obviously! I used to order a lot from Hive and switched to Bookshop as they gave more to the bookshops, but have now become a little disenchanted with them.


  6. Sheesh, that August book is definitely NOT the book for me just now. But I do appreciate that dealing with such themes can encourage readers to reflect on things from different perspectives.

    Am curious what you’re making of the Michele Roberts. It’s been ages since I’ve read her but I once counted her as a favourite (not saying that I still wouldn’t, but it’s been so long that I feel a little strange saying so).

    My library loans are out of control. Hm, I guess that’s always true. More than usual then.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m really enjoying Cut Out. It’s my first from Roberts, though I own a couple of her older novels. This reminds me of A.S. Byatt’s work with the focus on colour and other sensual details of scenes.


  7. […] I was reading through Bookish Beck’s recent posts and realised she runs a monthly meme called Library Checkout, posting on the last Monday of the month, so I delayed this post to fit in. I have twin bad habits […]


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