Category Archives: Library Checkout

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?

Library Checkout: November 2019

I’ve been desperately trying to get through the final handful of 2019 releases on my docket, whether they’re review copies or available from the library. So I recently made a last-minute flurry of requests on the 2019 titles I still intend to read, and will do my darndest to get through them all – though I’m definitely being brutal at this point and DNFing anything that doesn’t grab me within the first chapter.

I give links to reviews of any books I haven’t already featured, as well as ratings for all. What have you been reading from your local libraries? Library Checkout runs on the last Monday of every month. I don’t have an official link-up system, but feel free to use this image in your post and to leave a link to your blog in the comments if you’ve taken part.

 

READ

  • Starve Acre by Andrew Michael Hurley
  • The Dig by Cynan Jones
  • Mudlarking: Lost and Found on the River Thames by Lara Maiklem
  • “Birthday Girl” by Haruki Murakami
  • A Half Baked Idea: How Grief, Love and Cake Took Me from the Courtroom to Le Cordon Bleu by Olivia Potts
  • Chances Are by Richard Russo
  • The Poetry Pharmacy Returns: More Prescriptions for Courage, Healing and Hope by William Sieghart
  • Baker Cat by Posy Simmonds
  • Rain Falling by the River: New and Selected Poems of the Spirit, Christopher Southgate [from my church’s theological library]

SKIMMED

  • Critical: Science and Stories from the Brink of Human Life by Dr Matt Morgan

CURRENTLY READING

  • Ring the Hill by Tom Cox
  • The Glass Woman by Caroline Lea
  • The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern
  • The Heavens by Sandra Newman
  • My Name Is Why: A Memoir by Lemn Sissay

CURRENTLY SKIMMING

  • 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

CHECKED OUT, TO BE READ

  • The Snow Goose by Paul Gallico

ON HOLD, TO BE PICKED UP

  • Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellmann (I only plan to skim it!)

IN THE RESERVATION QUEUE

  • The Body Lies by Jo Baker
  • Five Ingredient Vegan: 100 Simple, Fast, Modern Recipes by Katy Beskow
  • The Easternmost House: A Year of Life on the Edge of England by Juliet Blaxland
  • Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men by Caroline Criado Perez
  • Early Riser by Jasper Fforde
  • Under the Camelthorn Tree: Raising a Family among Lions by Kate Nicholls
  • The Botanist’s Daughter by Kayte Nunn
  • The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper by Hallie Rubenhold
  • Mr Dickens and his Carol by Samantha Silva
  • The Christmas Chronicles by Nigel Slater
  • Feel Free: Essays by Zadie Smith

RETURNED UNFINISHED

  • Live a Little by Howard Jacobson – It’s been a while since I tried a Jacobson novel; the idea of a comic romance between 90-somethings appealed to me. The first chapter, about Beryl and her morbid cross-stitch sayings, was entertaining enough, but the second chapter quickly lost me.
  • After the End by Clare Mackintosh – I thought this might be a bit like a Jodi Picoult book: a gripping, heartwarming issues book with a medical theme. That might indeed be the case, but the first 10 pages were awfully dull.
  • Grand Union: Stories by Zadie Smith – I read the first and last (title) stories, and started on the second. Two out of three were so bad that if they didn’t have the famous name attached I’m not sure they could have gotten published. In “The Dialectic” Smith attempts to cross Elena Ferrante with Jonathan Safran Foer for a thin tale of a mother and daughter arguing about the treatment of animals on a beach. Main problem: no one speaks like the daughter speaks here, no matter her age or upbringing (“I dislike this place”). The title story, about mothers and daughters in a diverse area of London, is fine, but nothing special. And then the first five pages of “Sentimental Education” were sexually explicit just for the sake of it and too reminiscent of On Beauty. I skimmed through the rest to see if any other story jumped out at me, but decided to move on to something else instead.

RETURNED UNREAD

  • Nightingales in November: A Year in the Lives of Twelve British Birds by Mike Dilger – The writing is very dry: a set of list-like, month-by-month observations.

Does anything appeal from my stacks?

Library Checkout: October 2019

The R.I.P. challenge plus a bunch of in-demand reservations coming in for me at around the same time meant that I had a lot to read from the library this month. I give links to reviews of any books I haven’t already featured, as well as ratings for all.

What have you been reading from your local libraries? Library Checkout runs on the last Monday of every month. I don’t have an official link-up system, but feel free to use this image in your post and to leave a link to your blog in the comments if you’ve taken part.

READ

SKIMMED

  • The Prison Doctor: My time inside Britain’s most notorious jails by Dr Amanda Brown with Ruth Kelly
  • Life Lessons from a Brain Surgeon: The New Science and Stories of the Brain by Rahul Jandial

CURRENTLY READING

  • A Half Baked Idea: How Grief, Love and Cake Took Me from the Courtroom to Le Cordon Bleu by Olivia Potts
  • Chances Are by Richard Russo
  • The Poetry Pharmacy Returns: More Prescriptions for Courage, Healing and Hope by William Sieghart

CHECKED OUT, TO BE READ

  • Nightingales in November: A Year in the Lives of Twelve British Birds by Mike Dilger
  • Owls Do Cry by Janet Frame [university library]
  • Mudlarking: Lost and Found on the River Thames by Lara Maiklem
  • Critical: Science and Stories from the Brink of Human Life by Dr Matt Morgan
  • Grand Union: Stories by Zadie Smith

IN THE RESERVATION QUEUE

  • Five Ingredient Vegan: 100 Simple, Fast, Modern Recipes by Katy Beskow
  • The Easternmost House: A Year of Life on the Edge of England by Juliet Blaxland
  • Ring the Hill by Tom Cox
  • Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men by Caroline Criado Perez
  • The School of Life: An Emotional Education by Alain de Botton
  • Starve Acre by Andrew Michael Hurley
  • My Name Is Why: A Memoir by Lemn Sissay
  • Feel Free: Essays by Zadie Smith
  • The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout

RETURNED UNFINISHED

  • The Hoarder by Jess Kidd
  • The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell
  • On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong – I read the first chapter (11 pages), which, had it been a short story, would have been a 5-star stand-alone. But I felt that this was a novel that would be characterized more for its beautiful language and observations than for its plot, and as such the reading experience might be akin to eating a three-course meal made up entirely of toffee – just too much. I’d be happy to stand corrected and try this again another time, though.

Does anything appeal from my stacks?