Category Archives: Library Checkout

Library Checkout, September 2020

On the 21st my library reopened to the public for limited browsing and computer use, so I no longer have blissfully solitary volunteering sessions and I have to wear a mask while I’m shelving. It’s only for a few hours a week, though, so it’s no great hardship – and it’s good that other people are getting to share the library love again.

This month my reading has focused on short stories and Women’s Prize winners, but I also picked up other recent releases, plus children’s books about cats and appealing memoirs.

I would be delighted to have other bloggers – and not just book bloggers, either – join in 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 (which runs on the last Monday of every month), or tag me on Twitter and/or Instagram (@bookishbeck / #TheLibraryCheckout).

READ

SKIMMED

  • A Spell of Winter by Helen Dunmore
  • Dear NHS: 100 Stories to Say Thank You, edited by Adam Kay
  • Norwegian Wood by Lars Mytting

CURRENTLY READING

  • Owls Do Cry by Janet Frame
  • Sisters by Daisy Johnson
  • Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive by Stephanie Land
  • Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid
  • First Time Ever: A Memoir by Peggy Seeger
  • How to Be Both by Ali Smith

CURRENTLY SKIMMING

  • 33 Meditations on Death: Notes from the Wrong End of Medicine by David Jarrett

CHECKED OUT, TO BE READ

  • Dependency by Tove Ditlevsen
  • What Have I Done? An Honest Memoir about Surviving Postnatal Mental Illness by Laura Dockrill
  • House of Glass: The Story and Secrets of a Twentieth-Century Jewish Family by Hadley Freeman
  • The Glorious Heresies by Lisa McInerney
  • Adults by Emma Jane Unsworth

ON HOLD, TO BE PICKED UP

  • English Pastoral: An Inheritance by James Rebanks

IN THE RESERVATION QUEUE

  • Piranesi by Susanna Clarke
  • Just Like You by Nick Hornby
  • Tilly and the Map of Stories (Pages & Co. #3) by Anna James
  • Vesper Flights: New and Selected Essays by Helen Macdonald
  • The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel
  • Mantel Pieces: Royal Bodies and Other Writing from the London Review of Books by Hilary Mantel
  • Dear Reader: The Comfort and Joy of Books by Cathy Rentzenbrink
  • Jack by Marilynne Robinson
  • Real Life by Brandon Taylor
  • Love and Other Thought Experiments by Sophie Ward
  • The Courage to Care: A Call for Compassion by Christie Watson
  • The Wild Silence by Raynor Winn

RETURNED UNFINISHED

  • Persuasion by Jane Austen – This was for book club, but I completely failed to engage. I’m going to watch the 1995 film instead (and maybe skip the Zoom discussion this month).
  • Golden Boy by Abigail Tarttelin – I was interested to compare this to Middlesex as it’s about an intersex teen named Max who has been raised as a boy. But I only made it 18 pages: Max’s voice is done well; his mum’s and little brother’s, not so much. Plus there was a pretty brutal scene that put me off reading further.

RETURNED UNREAD

  • The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Daré – Requested after me. I’ll get it out another time.
  • The Hungover Games by Sophie Heawood – I expected an addiction memoir, but this seems to be a breezy tell-all by a minor celebrity journalist I’d never heard of.
  • The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer – I’ll save this novel about six friends who meet at summer camp for next summer.

What appeals from my stacks?

Library Checkout, August 2020 & #WITMonth 2020, Part II

I’ve been volunteering at my local library twice a week since the start of the month, shelving and picking books off the shelves to fulfill reservations. Every time I’m there I spot more titles to add to my online wish list. It’s been a convenient excuse to return and pick up books, including book group sets. I was first in the queue for some brand-new releases this month.

Have you been able to borrow more books lately? 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 (which runs on the last Monday of every month), or tag me on Twitter and/or Instagram (@bookishbeck / #TheLibraryCheckout).

 

READ

  • Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams
  • Addition by Toni Jordan [book club choice]
  • Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 by Cho Nam-Joo (reviewed below)

SKIMMED

  • Dark, Salt, Clear: Life in a Cornish Fishing Town by Lamorna Ash
  • The Butterfly Isles: A Summer in Search of Our Emperors and Admirals by Patrick Barkham
  • Water Ways: A Thousand Miles along Britain’s Canals by Jasper Winn

CURRENTLY READING

  • Close to Where the Heart Gives Out: A Year in the Life of an Orkney Doctor by Malcolm Alexander
  • A Traveller at the Gates of Wisdom by John Boyne
  • Exciting Times by Naoise Dolan
  • Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive by Stephanie Land

CURRENTLY SKIMMING

  • Can You Hear Me? A Paramedic’s Encounters with Life and Death by Jake Jones
  • Dear NHS: 100 Stories to Say Thank You, edited by Adam Kay

 

CHECKED OUT, TO BE READ

  • The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Daré
  • What Have I Done? An Honest Memoir about Surviving Postnatal Mental Illness by Laura Dockrill
  • How to Be Both by Ali Smith
  • Adults by Emma Jane Unsworth
  • The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer

 

ON HOLD, TO BE PICKED UP

  • Dependency by Tove Ditlevsen

IN THE RESERVATION QUEUE

  • Persuasion by Jane Austen
  • Piranesi by Susanna Clarke
  • The Hungover Games by Sophie Heawood
  • Just Like You by Nick Hornby
  • 33 Meditations on Death: Notes from the Wrong End of Medicine by David Jarrett
  • Sisters by Daisy Johnson
  • Vesper Flights: New and Selected Essays by Helen Macdonald
  • English Pastoral: An Inheritance by James Rebanks
  • Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid
  • Dear Reader: The Comfort and Joy of Books by Cathy Rentzenbrink
  • Jack by Marilynne Robinson
  • Love and Other Thought Experiments by Sophie Ward
  • The Courage to Care: A Call for Compassion by Christie Watson
  • The Wild Silence by Raynor Winn

 

RETURNED UNFINISHED

  • Apeirogon by Colum McCann – I only made it through the first 150 pages. A work that could have been very powerful if condensed instead sprawls into repetition and pretension. I still expect it to make the Booker shortlist, but not to win. I’ll add further thoughts closer to the time.
  • That Reminds Me by Derek Owusu – I was expecting a memoir in verse about life in foster care; this is autofiction in dull fragments. I read the first 23 pages out of 113, waiting for it to get better.

 

RETURNED UNREAD

  • Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston – I needed to make room for some new books on my account, so will request this at another time.
  • Utopia Avenue by David Mitchell – I realized the subject matter didn’t draw me enough to read 500+ pages. So I passed it to my husband, a big Mitchell fan, and he read it happily, but mentioned that he didn’t find it compelling until about 2/3 through and he thought the combination of real-life and made-up figures (including from Mitchell’s previous oeuvre) was a bit silly.
  • 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami – Again, I needed to make space on my card and was, unsurprisingly, daunted by the length of this 1,000+-page omnibus paperback. When I do try the novel, I’ll borrow it in its three separate volumes!

 

What appeals from my stacks?

 


My second choice for Women in Translation Month (after The Bitch by Pilar Quintana) was:

 

Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 by Cho Nam-Joo (2016)

[Translated from the Korean by Jamie Chang]

The title character is a sort of South Korean Everywoman whose experiences reveal the ways in which women’s lives are still constrained by that country’s patriarchal structures and traditions. She and her fellow female students and colleagues are subject to myriad microaggressions, from being served cafeteria lunches after the boys to being excluded from leadership of university clubs to having no recourse when security guards set up cameras in the female toilets at work. Jiyoung is wary of marriage and motherhood, afraid of derailing her budding marketing career, and despite her determination to do things differently she is disappointed at how much she has to give up when she has her daughter. “Her career potential and areas of interest were being limited just because she had a baby.”

The prose is flat, with statistics about women’s lives in Korea unnaturally inserted in the text. Late on we discover there’s a particular reason for the clinically detached writing, but it’s not enough to fully compensate for a dull style. I also found the translation shaky in places, e.g. “She cautiously mentioned shop sales … to the mother who’d dropped by at home to make dinner” and “Jiyoung made it home safely on her boyfriend’s back, but their relationship didn’t.” I most liked Jiyoung’s entrepreneurial mother, who occasionally shows her feisty spirit: “The porridge shop was my idea, and I bought the apartment. And the children raised themselves. Yes, you’ve made it, but you didn’t do it all by yourself,” she says to her husband. “Run wild!” she exhorts Jiyoung, but the system makes that vanishingly difficult.

Library Checkout: July 2020

New books, at long last!! Earlier this month my public library system started an order and collection service. I have already gone to pick up two batches of reservations.

I also signed up to be a library volunteer starting in the first week of August – two hours on a Tuesday morning and two hours on a Thursday afternoon. To start with, I will mostly be helping with shelving and picking the reserved books off the shelves. It will be fun to be a part of this service, and once the library fully reopens perhaps I’ll have a little more customer interaction, too.

Have you been able to borrow more books lately, perhaps via a curbside pickup scheme? 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 (which runs on the last Monday of every month), or tag me on Twitter/Instagram (@bookishbeck, #TheLibraryCheckout).

 

READ

 

SKIMMED

  • Death Is but a Dream: Finding Hope and Meaning at Life’s End by Dr. Christopher Kerr with Carine Mardorossian

CURRENTLY READING

  • The Butterfly Isles: A Summer in Search of Our Emperors and Admirals by Patrick Barkham
  • Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams
  • Addition by Toni Jordan

 

CURRENTLY SKIMMING

  • Dark, Salt, Clear: Life in a Cornish Fishing Town by Lamorna Ash

 

CHECKED OUT, TO BE READ

  • The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Daré
  • What Have I Done?: An Honest Memoir about Surviving Postnatal Mental Illness by Laura Dockrill
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
  • 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami
  • Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 by Cho Nam-Joo
  • How to Be Both by Ali Smith
  • Adults by Emma Jane Unsworth

ON HOLD, TO BE PICKED UP

  • Close to Where the Heart Gives Out: A Year in the Life of an Orkney Doctor by Malcolm Alexander

 

IN THE RESERVATION QUEUE

  • Disobedience by Naomi Alderman
  • A Traveller at the Gates of Wisdom by John Boyne
  • Dependency by Tove Ditlevsen
  • 33 Meditations on Death: Notes from the Wrong End of Medicine by David Jarrett
  • Can You Hear Me? A Paramedic’s Encounters with Life and Death by Jake Jones
  • Dear NHS: 100 Stories to Say Thank You, edited by Adam Kay
  • Exchange by Paul Magrs
  • Utopia Avenue by David Mitchell
  • The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley
  • Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid
  • Sadler’s Birthday by Rose Tremain
  • Water Ways: A Thousand Miles along Britain’s Canals by Jasper Winn
  • The Wild Silence by Raynor Winn
  • The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer

 

RETURNED UNFINISHED

  • A Summer of Drowning by John Burnside – The prologue didn’t draw me in.
  • The Motion of the Body through Space by Lionel Shriver – Kooky names, overwriting, obvious setup, racial stereotypes.
  • Summer before the Dark: Stefan Zweig and Joseph Roth, Ostend 1936 by Volker Weidermann – Too niche a subject.

 

What appeals from my stacks?

Library Checkout: June 2020

It looks like my public library system may still be partially closed into July, although there are rumors of an order and collection service starting soon. I’ve signed up to be a library volunteer, so hopefully I can be a part of it.

Will I be able to stock up again next month? I do hope so, as I have a list of 14 books that I plan to borrow and another 21 that I plan to reserve just as soon as the building and catalogue are up and running again. Stay tuned to find out…

Are you out of library books, or have you been able to borrow more lately, perhaps via curbside pickup? 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 (which runs on the last Monday of every month), and/or tag me on Twitter (@bookishbeck / #TheLibraryCheckout).

 

READ

  • The Trick Is to Keep Breathing by Janice Galloway (a buddy read with Buried in Print)

 

CURRENTLY READING

  • Reading with Patrick: A teacher, a student and the life-changing power of books by Michelle Kuo
  • Meet the Austins by Madeleine L’Engle [set aside temporarily]
  • Property by Valerie Martin

 

CURRENTLY SKIMMING

  • My Own Country by Abraham Verghese

 

CHECKED OUT, TO BE READ

  • The Song of the Lark by Willa Cather
  • Owls Do Cry by Janet Frame
  • When I Lived in Modern Times by Linda Grant
  • Becoming a Man by Paul Monette
  • Woman on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy
  • Golden Boy by Abigail Tarttelin

 

ON HOLD, TO BE PICKED UP

  • The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Daré

 

IN THE RESERVATION QUEUE

  • Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams
  • Can You Hear Me? A Paramedic’s Encounters with Life and Death by Jake Jones
  • The Accidental Countryside by Stephen Moss
  • Redhead by the Side of the Road by Anne Tyler

 

TO RETURN UNFINISHED

  • The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel

 

TO RETURN UNREAD

  • What Are We Doing Here?: Essays by Marilynne Robinson
  • Feel Free: Essays by Zadie Smith

 

What appeals from my stacks?

Library Checkout and Other Late May Happenings

The libraries I use have extended their closure until at least the end of July, and my stockpile is dwindling. Will I have cleared the decks before we get too far into the summer? Stay tuned to find out…

Meanwhile, we took advantage of the fine weather by having a jaunt to the Sandleford Warren site where Watership Down opens. This circular countryside walk of nearly 8 miles, via Greenham Common and back, took me further from home yesterday than I’ve been in about 10 weeks. We didn’t see any rabbits, but we did see this gorgeous hare.

My husband keeps baking – what a shame! We were meant to be spending a few days in France with my mother last week, so we had some Breton treats anyway (savory crêpes and Far Breton, a custard and prune tart), and yesterday while I was napping he for no reason produced a blackberry frangipane tart.

The Hay Festival went digital this year, so I’ve been able to ‘attend’ for the first time ever. On Friday I had my first of three events: Steve Silberman interviewing Dara McAnulty about his Diary of a Young Naturalist, which I’ll be reviewing for Shiny New Books. He’s autistic, and an inspiring 16-year-old Greta Thunberg type. Next week I’ll see John Troyer on Thursday and Roman Krznaric on Saturday. All the talks are FREE, so see if anything catches your eye on the schedule link above.

In general, I’ve been spoiled with live events recently. Each week we watch the Bookshop Band’s Friday night lockdown concert on Facebook (there have actually been seven now); they’ve played a lot of old favorites as well as newer material that hasn’t been recorded or that I’ve never heard before. We’ve also been to a few live gigs from Edgelarks and Megson – helpfully, these three folk acts are all couples, so they can still perform together.

Today we’ll be watching the second installment of the Folk on Foot Front Room Festival (also through Facebook). We had a great time watching most of the first one on Easter Monday, and an encore has quickly been arranged. Last month’s show was a real who’s-who of British folk music. There are a few more acts we’re keen to see today. Again, it’s free, though they welcome donations to be split among the artists and charity. It runs 2‒10 p.m. (BST) today, which is 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. if you’re on the east coast of North America, so you have time to join in if you are stuck at home for the holiday.

 

Back to the library books…

What have you been reading from your local libraries? Feel free to use the image above and leave a link to your blog in the comments if you’ve taken part, and/or tag me on Twitter (@bookishbeck / #TheLibraryCheckout).

 

READ

  • Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler
  • Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich
  • Oleander, Jacaranda by Penelope Lively
  • Bodies in Motion and at Rest by Thomas Lynch
  • Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels

SKIMMED

  • Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl

CURRENTLY READING

  • Reading with Patrick: A teacher, a student and the life-changing power of books by Michelle Kuo [set aside temporarily]
  • Meet the Austins by Madeleine L’Engle [set aside temporarily]
  • Property by Valerie Martin

CURRENTLY SKIMMING

  • My Own Country by Abraham Verghese

CHECKED OUT, TO BE READ

  • The Song of the Lark by Willa Cather
  • Owls Do Cry by Janet Frame
  • The Trick Is to Keep Breathing by Janice Galloway
  • When I Lived in Modern Times by Linda Grant
  • Becoming a Man by Paul Monette
  • Woman on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy
  • Golden Boy by Abigail Tarttelin

ON HOLD, TO BE PICKED UP

  • The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Daré

IN THE RESERVATION QUEUE

  • Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams
  • Can You Hear Me? A Paramedic’s Encounters with Life and Death by Jake Jones
  • The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo
  • Guest House for Young Widows: Among the Women of ISIS by Azadeh Moaveni
  • The Accidental Countryside by Stephen Moss
  • Redhead by the Side of the Road by Anne Tyler

 

Have you run out of library books yet?

How have you been passing these May days?

Library Checkout: April 2020

No new library books coming in this month, of course: my public library system is closed until at least the end of May, and the university campus is currently off-limits as well. But I had a stockpile that was more than large enough to see me through this month and next.

What have you been reading from your local libraries? Feel free to use the image above and leave a link to your blog in the comments if you’ve taken part, and/or tag me on Twitter (@bookishbeck / #TheLibraryCheckout). As usual, I give ratings where applicable, plus links to reviews of books I haven’t already featured.

 

READ

CURRENTLY READING

  • Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler
  • Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich
  • Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl
  • Reading with Patrick: A teacher, a student and the life-changing power of books by Michelle Kuo
  • Meet the Austins by Madeleine L’Engle
  • Oleander, Jacaranda by Penelope Lively
  • Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels
  • My Own Country by Abraham Verghese

CURRENTLY SKIMMING

  • The Changing Mind: A Neuroscientist’s Guide to Aging Well by Daniel Levitin
  • The Mirror & the Light by Hilary Mantel
  • What Are We Doing Here?: Essays by Marilynne Robinson
  • Neurotribes: The Legacy of Autism and How to Think Smarter about People Who Think Differently by Steve Silberman
  • Feel Free: Essays by Zadie Smith

CHECKED OUT, TO BE READ

  • The Song of the Lark by Willa Cather
  • Owls Do Cry by Janet Frame
  • The Trick Is to Keep Breathing by Janice Galloway
  • When I Lived in Modern Times by Linda Grant
  • Property by Valerie Martin
  • Becoming a Man by Paul Monette
  • Woman on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy
  • Golden Boy by Abigail Tarttelin

ON HOLD, TO BE PICKED UP

  • The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Daré

IN THE RESERVATION QUEUE

  • A Thousand Moons by Sebastian Barry
  • Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams
  • Can You Hear Me? A Paramedic’s Encounters with Life and Death by Jake Jones
  • The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo
  • Guest House for Young Widows: Among the Women of ISIS by Azadeh Moaveni
  • The Accidental Countryside by Stephen Moss
  • Redhead by the Side of the Road by Anne Tyler

RETURNED UNFINISHED

  • The Cruellest Month by Louise Penny — I’d long been interested in trying a Chief Inspector Gamache mystery. When I saw this on the new books shelf, I figured it would be perfect for April reading. I read the first 35 pages. I liked the preparations for an Easter egg hunt and a séance well enough. I had no trouble figuring out who the characters were, and the writing was undistinguished (lots of missing commas and a few dangling modifiers) but perfectly readable. But by the time there was a moider (page 34), I’d had enough. No way did my interest extend to reading another 420 pages.

What appeals from my stacks?

Library Checkout: March 2020

(Unusually, here is a second post in one day from me. Library Checkout runs on the last Monday of every month; exceptions are rare!)

The only stockpiling I’ve been doing this month is of books. My public library system finally announced its full closure on the 21st, to last through at least the end of May, so I have no real excuse not to get through most of what I’ve borrowed.

I’ve been working my way through a selection of new releases (notably, skimming Hilary Mantel’s trilogy-ending doorstopper – it’s exquisitely written, of course, but far too long and detailed), plus a few backlist books that coincide with my interests in bibliotherapy, health and life writing. Some very short books – a graphic novel, a poetry collection, and a few essay- or novella-length works – make the “Read” list look longer than it really is.

Once again, I had a lot of DNFs this month because I’d placed holds on buzzy books but found that within a few pages, or after the first chapter, the voice or style didn’t click with me. This is no problem, though; I’ll just think of it as my way of sampling new releases while supporting the library service.

What have you been reading from your local libraries? Feel free to use the image above and leave a link to your blog in the comments if you’ve taken part, and/or tag me on Twitter (@bookishbeck / #TheLibraryCheckout). As usual, I give ratings where applicable, plus links to reviews of books I haven’t already featured.

 

READ

SKIMMED

CURRENTLY READING

  • Youth by Tove Ditlevsen
  • Reading with Patrick: A teacher, a student and the life-changing power of books by Michelle Kuo
  • Meet the Austins by Madeleine L’Engle
  • Other People’s Countries by Patrick McGuinness
  • Nemesis by Philip Roth
  • Pine by Francine Toon

CURRENTLY SKIMMING

  • The Changing Mind: A Neuroscientist’s Guide to Aging Well by Daniel Levitin
  • The Mirror & the Light by Hilary Mantel
  • What Are We Doing Here?: Essays by Marilynne Robinson
  • Neurotribes: The Legacy of Autism and How to Think Smarter about People Who Think Differently by Steve Silberman
  • Feel Free: Essays by Zadie Smith

CHECKED OUT, TO BE READ

  • Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels
  • The Cruellest Month by Louise Penny
  • Golden Boy by Abigail Tarttelin
  • Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson

PLUS an exciting new batch of university library books

  • The Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler
  • The Song of the Lark by Willa Cather
  • Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich
  • Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl
  • When I Lived in Modern Times by Linda Grant
  • Property by Valerie Martin

ON HOLD, TO BE PICKED UP

  • The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Daré

IN THE RESERVATION QUEUE

  • A Thousand Moons by Sebastian Barry
  • Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams
  • Can You Hear Me? A Paramedic’s Encounters with Life and Death by Jake Jones
  • The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo
  • Guest House for Young Widows: Among the Women of ISIS by Azadeh Moaveni
  • The Accidental Countryside by Stephen Moss
  • Redhead by the Side of the Road by Anne Tyler

RETURNED UNFINISHED

  • The Warlow Experiment by Alix Nathan – The premise was awfully tempting, but even in just the first 20 pages I found the writing ponderous and repetitive.
  • Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid – I’m not hip enough for this one. Zadie Smith on turbo charge.

RETURNED UNREAD

  • Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line by Deepa Anappara – The voice didn’t grab me.
  • The Night Brother by Rosie Garland – The story didn’t lure me in.
  • The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes – The historical setting didn’t convince me.
  • My Wild, Sleepless Nights: A Mother’s Story by Clover Stroud – I DNFed Stroud’s last book, too; I should have known better that I don’t get on with her style.
  • Our Fathers by Rebecca Wait – This was requested after me, so I didn’t get a chance to try it.

What appeals from my stacks?

Library Checkout: February 2020

The public and university library systems I use came to my aid and supplied lots of books for Paul Auster Reading Week and my Valentine’s-themed reading project. I’m now reading a mixture of brand-new releases and backlist novels and memoirs that caught my eye for one reason or another. I’m eagerly awaiting some high-profile fiction that’s still on order – new work from Sebastian Barry, Hilary Mantel and Maggie O’Farrell! Still a fair few DNFs this month, but never mind.

What have you been reading from your local libraries? Library Checkout runs on the last Monday of every month. Feel free to use this image and leave a link to your blog in the comments if you’ve taken part. As usual, I give links to reviews of books I haven’t already featured. I had a couple of very high ratings this month!

 

READ

  • War Bears by Margaret Atwood
  • The New York Trilogy by Paul Auster
  • Oracle Night by Paul Auster
  • Winter Journal by Paul Auster
  • Shotgun Lovesongs by Nickolas Butler
  • Mr Loverman by Bernardine Evaristo
  • Bizarre Romance by Audrey Niffenegger
  • Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish: Advice for the Rest of Your Life — Classic Graduation Speeches

SKIMMED

  • Report from the Interior by Paul Auster
  • Motherwell: A Girlhood by Deborah Orr

CURRENTLY READING

  • Dear Life: A Doctor’s Story of Love and Loss by Rachel Clarke
  • Childhood by Tove Ditlevsen
  • This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel
  • Miss Austen by Gill Hornby
  • Reading with Patrick: A teacher, a student and the life-changing power of books by Michelle Kuo
  • Meet the Austins by Madeleine L’Engle
  • The Golden Age by Joan London
  • The End of the Ocean by Maja Lunde
  • Other People’s Countries by Patrick McGuinness

CURRENTLY SKIMMING

  • Literary Values by John Burroughs
  • Staying Alive in Toxic Times: A Seasonal Guide to Lifelong Health by Dr Jenny Goodman
  • Neurotribes: The Legacy of Autism and How to Think Smarter about People Who Think Differently by Steve Silberman

CHECKED OUT, TO BE READ

  • Whatever Happened to Margo? by Margaret Durrell
  • The Night Brother by Rosie Garland
  • Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels
  • The Warlow Experiment by Alix Nathan
  • Before Everything by Victoria Redel
  • Conrad & Eleanor by Jane Rogers
  • Nemesis by Philip Roth
  • Oligarchy by Scarlett Thomas
  • Our Fathers by Rebecca Wait

IN THE RESERVATION QUEUE

  • A Thousand Moons by Sebastian Barry
  • The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Daré
  • Actress by Anne Enright
  • The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel
  • The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes
  • Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell
  • Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid
  • What Are We Doing Here?: Essays by Marilynne Robinson
  • Portable Paradise by Roger Robinson [poetry]
  • Why You Should Read Children’s Books, Even Though You Are So Old and Wise by Katherine Rundell
  • My Wild, Sleepless Nights: A Mother’s Story by Clover Stroud
  • Pine by Francine Toon

ON HOLD, TO BE PICKED UP

  • This Is Pleasure by Mary Gaitskill
  • A Short History of Medicine by Steve Parker
  • Feel Free: Essays by Zadie Smith

RETURNED UNFINISHED

  • Running the Rift by Naomi Benaron – I read 25 pages and didn’t feel drawn in to the characters’ story. (It could also be that I’m too familiar with Rwandan history from reading We Wish to Inform You that Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families by Philip Gourevitch.)
  • When All Is Said by Anne Griffin – I read 60 pages and found it wordy and sentimental.
  • Jazz by Toni Morrison – I dragged my way through nearly 100 pages. In 1920s Harlem, Joe and Violet Trace’s marriage falls apart when he takes up with Dorcas Manfred, who’s just 18. We know pretty much from the first page that Joe ends up shooting Dorcas dead, and that at the girl’s funeral Violet takes her haircutting scissors to her rival’s face. After that it’s just a matter of why. There are some wonderful descriptions of the cityscape, but I wearied of the endless layering of flashbacks.
  • Run by Ann Patchett – I read the first 80 pages. There are a lot of interesting elements here: Catholicism, interracial adoption, grief, politics and fish. But they don’t feel like they fit together in the same book. The circumstances of the accident that sparks the main action feel very contrived. I was also annoyed at the constant use of “fishes” as a plural.

RETURNED UNREAD

  • Love Is Blind by William Boyd – Requested after me; lost interest.
  • You Are Now Entering the Human Heart by Janet Frame [short stories] – Couldn’t get into any of the stories.
  • Speak No Evil by Uzodinma Iweala – Lost interest.

 

What appeals from my stacks?

Library Checkout: January 2020

December into January has been a big library reading month for me. I made it through most of the Costa Awards poetry shortlist plus two from the fiction shortlists and enjoyed some YA and middle-grade fiction (not my usual reading comfort zone) and graphic novels. As we head into February, I’m reading lots of ‘Love’-themed titles for a Valentine’s Day post, and starting the reading for some other projects: Bellwether Prize winners, past Wellcome Book Prize long- and shortlistees, and Annabel’s Paul Auster reading week.

You’ll notice that I also had a lot of unfinished library books this month. Some I’d read 20‒30 pages of; others I dropped after just a few pages (or barely made it past the first page). I need to get better at doing this few-page sampling before I even borrow a book so I don’t bother hauling things I’m not going to read to and fro. Often, though, I show up to the library on a Friday afternoon with a long list of books to borrow and just 10 minutes to get to my bookshop volunteering, so I grab and go without opening them up. Next month I’ll try to do better.

As usual, I give links to reviews of books I haven’t already featured. I had three very high ratings this month!

What have you been reading from your local libraries? Library Checkout runs on the last Monday of every month. Feel free to use this image and leave a link to your blog in the comments if you’ve taken part.

 

READ

SKIMMED

  • The Body Lies by Jo Baker
  • The Making of Poetry: Coleridge, the Wordsworths and Their Year of Marvels by Adam Nicolson
  • Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men by Caroline Criado Perez
  • The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper by Hallie Rubenhold

 

CURRENTLY READING

  • Winter Journal by Paul Auster
  • Running the Rift by Naomi Benaron
  • Literary Values by John Burroughs
  • Shotgun Lovesongs by Nickolas Butler
  • Mr Loverman by Bernardine Evaristo
  • When All Is Said by Anne Griffin
  • Meet the Austins by Madeleine L’Engle
  • Jazz by Toni Morrison
  • Bizarre Romance by Audrey Niffenegger

 

CHECKED OUT, TO BE READ

  • The rest of The New York Trilogy by Paul Auster
  • Love Is Blind by William Boyd
  • Whatever Happened to Margo? by Margaret Durrell
  • The Night Brother by Rosie Garland
  • Speak No Evil by Uzodinma Iweala
  • The Golden Age by Joan London
  • The End of the Ocean by Maja Lunde
  • Run by Ann Patchett

IN THE RESERVATION QUEUE

  • Disobedience by Naomi Alderman
  • Dear Life: A Doctor’s Story of Love and Loss by Rachel Clarke
  • Childhood by Tove Ditlevsen
  • This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel
  • Miss Austen by Gill Hornby
  • The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes
  • The Warlow Experiment by Alix Nathan
  • Motherwell: A Girlhood by Deborah Orr
  • A Short History of Medicine by Steve Parker
  • Nemesis by Philip Roth
  • Oligarchy by Scarlett Thomas
  • Pine by Francine Toon

 

RETURNED UNFINISHED

  • Surge by Jay Bernard [poetry] – I read the first 20 pages. Protest poems in various voices. I enjoyed one in pidgin – reminiscent of Kei Miller.
  • Short Short Stories by Dave Eggers – I read 22 out of 55 pages. These flash fiction stories appeared in the Guardian in 2004. Of the first 10 stories, a few were amusing (a man’s current earworm spells the demise of his relationship; guessing how water feels to fish; a flight attendant has fun with his routines) but the rest were slight or gratuitously sexual, and the style is repetitive throughout.
  • Under the Camelthorn Tree: Raising a Family among Lions by Kate Nicholls
  • The Botanist’s Daughter by Kayte Nunn
  • Shadowplay by Joseph O’Connor
  • The Ice by Laline Paull
  • Bad Mothers, Brilliant Lovers by Wendy Perriam
  • The Paper Lovers by Gerard Woodward
  • My dear, I wanted to tell you by Louisa Young

 

RETURNED UNREAD

  • Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah – Not a fan of the prose style.
  • Consolations by David Whyte – Not what I thought it would be.

 

Anything that appeals in my stacks?

Library Checkout: December 2019

One final chance to get through the rest of the 2019 releases I was most interested in reading. At the last minute, a bunch of my reservations on Costa Awards shortlisted books (one from the Novel category, one from the First Novel category, one from the Biography category, and the entire poetry shortlist) arrived. I’m pushing myself to get through at least the poetry.

I give links to reviews of any books I haven’t already featured, as well as ratings. What have you been reading from your local libraries? Use this image and leave a link to your blog in the comments if you’ve taken part.

READ

SKIMMED

  • Five Ingredient Vegan: 100 Simple, Fast, Modern Recipes by Katy Beskow – I made the banana pecan bars, above, for a quick snack.
  • Afloat: A Memoir by Danie Couchman
  • The School of Life: An Emotional Education by Alain de Botton
  • Happy Ever After: Escaping the Myth of the Perfect Life by Paul Dolan
  • Diary of a Lone Twin by David Loftus
  • The Making of Poetry: Coleridge, the Wordsworths and Their Year of Marvels by Adam Nicolson
  • The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper by Hallie Rubenhold
  • The Christmas Chronicles by Nigel Slater

CURRENTLY READING

  • The Body Lies by Jo Baker
  • Surge by Jay Bernard [poetry]
  • Flèche by Mary Jean Chan [poetry]
  • The Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins
  • Reckless Paper Birds by John McCullough [poetry]
  • Under the Camelthorn Tree: Raising a Family among Lions by Kate Nicholls
  • Mr Dickens and His Carol by Samantha Silva
  • A Good Enough Mother by Bev Thomas

CURRENTLY SKIMMING

  • Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men by Caroline Criado Perez

CHECKED OUT, TO BE READ

  • The Botanist’s Daughter by Kayte Nunn
  • Frost by Holly Webb
  • Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon [for February book club]

PLUS an exciting new batch of university library books! (I keep hoping no one notices the odd selection of books my husband borrows in addition to his standard bird biology stuff…)

  • The New York Trilogy by Paul Auster
  • Literary Values by John Burroughs
  • Short Short Stories by Dave Eggers
  • You Are Now Entering the Human Heart: Stories by Janet Frame
  • The Trick Is to Keep Breathing by Janice Galloway
  • Oleander, Jacaranda: A Childhood Perceived by Penelope Lively
  • Jazz by Toni Morrison
  • Woman on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy
  • My Own Country: A Doctor’s Story by Abraham Verghese

ON HOLD, TO BE PICKED UP

  • Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah
  • Confession with Blue Horses by Sophie Hardach
  • The Ice by Laline Paull

IN THE RESERVATION QUEUE

  • The Handmaid’s Tale [graphic novel] by Margaret Atwood; illustrated by Renée Nault
  • Whatever Happened to Margo? by Margaret Durrell
  • This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel
  • The Night Brother by Rosie Garland
  • When All Is Said by Anne Griffin
  • Speak No Evil by Uzodinma Iweala
  • The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy
  • The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes
  • The Imitation Game: Alan Turing Decoded by Jim Ottaviani [graphic novel]
  • Feel Free: Essays by Zadie Smith
  • Blood Orange by Harriet Tyce

RETURNED UNFINISHED

RETURNED UNREAD

  • Ducks, Newburyport, Lucy Ellmann – 1000+ pages. It just wasn’t going to happen. Not even a skim.
  • Early Riser by Jasper Fforde – The blurb appealed to me, but I quickly remembered that I don’t actually like Fforde’s writing (I read The Eyre Affair many a year ago).

What appeals from my stacks?