Tag: Library Checkout

Library Checkout: February 2019

A somewhat lighter month, but with lots of skimming of books on topics that interest me: happiness, nature, mental health and self-help. The set of books that I’m currently reading is absolutely fantastic. (As usual, I’ve added in star ratings and links to Goodreads reviews where I haven’t already featured the books on the blog in some way.)

 

LIBRARY BOOKS READ

SKIMMED

  • The Happy Brain: The Science of Where Happiness Comes From, and Why by Dean Burnett
  • The Nature of Winter by Jim Crumley
  • The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
  • Take Courage: Anne Brontë and the Art of Life by Samantha Ellis
  • Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression – and the Unexpected Solutions, Johann Hari
  • The Four Tendencies: The Indispensable Personality Profiles that Reveal how to Make Your Life Better (And Other People’s Lives Better, Too) by Gretchen Rubin

CURRENTLY READING

  • Boy Erased: A Memoir of Identity, Faith, and Family by Garrard Conley
  • Faces in the Water by Janet Frame
  • East of Eden by John Steinbeck
  • Absent in the Spring by “Mary Westmacott” (aka Agatha Christie)

CURRENTLY SKIMMING

  • To Obama: With love, joy, hate and despair by Jeanne Marie Laskas

CHECKED OUT, TO BE READ

  • Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by T.S. Eliot [poetry]
  • Injury Time by Clive James [poetry]
  • Taking the Arrow out of the Heart by Alice Walker [poetry]
  • Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

Along with the rest of a new batch of university library books:

  • An Angel at My Table by Janet Frame
  • A Pocket Mirror by Janet Frame
  • Becoming a Man by Paul Monette

IN THE RESERVATION QUEUE

  • Seven Signs of Life: Stories from an Intensive Care Doctor by Aoife Abbey
  • Hired: Six Months Undercover in Low-wage Britain by James Bloodworth
  • 21st-Century Yokel by Tom Cox
  • Everybody Died, So I Got a Dog by Emily Dean
  • Murmur by Will Eaves
  • Also Human: The Inner Lives of Doctors by Caroline Elton
  • Dream Sequence by Adam Foulds
  • Outsiders: Five Women Writers Who Changed the World by Lyndall Gordon
  • The Recovering: Intoxication and Its Aftermath by Leslie Jamison
  • Lost and Found: Memory, Identity, and Who We Become when We’re No Longer Ourselves by Jules Montague
  • Lanny by Max Porter
  • The World I Fell Out Of by Melanie Reid
  • The Secret Barrister: Stories of the Law and How It’s Broken
  • Feel Free: Essays by Zadie Smith
  • The Face Pressed against a Window: A Memoir by Tim Waterstone

RETURNED UNFINISHED

  • Louis & Louise by Julie Cohen – The prose is fine – easy to read, but nothing special. Though Cohen says she was inspired by Alderman’s The Power and Woolf’s Orlando, I don’t have faith that significant points will be made about gender identity.
  • The Binding by Bridget Collins – I didn’t even make it through the first chapter. I was getting Diane Setterfield-lite vibes, but couldn’t imagine reading 400 pages of this.
  • Orchid Summer: In Search of the Wildest Flowers of the British Isles by John Dunn –The writing is great; no question about that. But the book is so dense: so many words on a page, in such small type. Unless you’re a botany nut, I wouldn’t recommend it.
  • Milkshakes and Morphine: A Memoir of Love and Loss by Genevieve Fox – Fox has some amusing turns of phrase when talking about her throat cancer and treatment, but this is way too long at over 370 pages of small print.

RETURNED UNREAD

  • Daphne by Will Boast – I liked the voice in the first couple of pages and will definitely get this back out at another time.
  • The Way of the Hare by Marianne Taylor – This felt more detailed and technical than I was looking for in a species overview.

What have you been reading from your local libraries? Does anything appeal from my stacks?

I don’t have an official link-up system, so please just pop a link to your blog in the comments if you’ve taken part in Library Checkout this month. (Feel free to use the image in your post.)

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Library Checkout: January 2019

As soon as I was back from the States on the 1st, I set about refilling my library stack and my reservation queue. I’ve been reading a bunch of poetry and skimming a lot of nature and social science books, with plenty of fiction, self-help and medical material on the way.

LIBRARY BOOKS READ

  • Get Well Soon: Adventures in Alternative Healthcare by Nick Duerden 
  • The Way Past Winter by Kiran Millwood Hargrave 
  • A Honeybee Heart Has Five Openings by Helen Jukes 
  • Us by Zaffar Kunial [poetry] 
  • Soho by Richard Scott [poetry] 
  • Don’t Call Us Dead by Danez Smith [poetry] 

SKIMMED

  • Rewild Yourself: 23 Spellbinding Ways To Make Nature More Visible by Simon Barnes 
  • Making Winter: A Creative Guide for Surviving the Winter Months by Emma Mitchell 
  • The Brief Life of Flowers by Fiona Stafford 
  • Under the Knife: A History of Surgery in 28 Remarkable Operations by Arnold van de Laar 

CURRENTLY SKIMMING

  • The Nature of Winter by Jim Crumley
  • The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
  • Take Courage: Anne Brontë and the Art of Life by Samantha Ellis
  • Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression – and the Unexpected Solutions, Johann Hari
  • The Four Tendencies: The Indispensable Personality Profiles that Reveal how to Make Your Life Better (And Other People’s Lives Better, Too) by Gretchen Rubin

CHECKED OUT, TO BE READ

  • Orchid Summer: In Search of the Wildest Flowers of the British Isles by John Dunn
  • East of Eden by John Steinbeck
  • The Way of the Hare by Marianne Taylor
  • The Mary Westmacott Collection, Vol. 1 [the alias of Agatha Christie – I only plan to read the third book in the volume, Absent in the Spring]

ON HOLD, TO BE CHECKED OUT

  • Daphne by Will Boast
  • The Binding by Bridget Collins

IN THE RESERVATION QUEUE

  • Hired: Six Months Undercover in Low-wage Britain by James Bloodworth
  • Selected Poems by Edmund Blunden
  • The Golden Tresses of the Dead by Alan Bradley
  • The Happy Brain: The Science of Where Happiness Comes From, and Why by Dean Burnett
  • Louis & Louise by Julie Cohen
  • Boy Erased: A Memoir of Identity, Faith, and Family by Garrard Conley
  • Also Human: The Inner Lives of Doctors by Caroline Elton
  • Dream Sequence by Adam Foulds
  • Milkshakes and Morphine: A Memoir of Love and Loss by Genevieve Fox
  • How to Break Up with Your Phone: The 30-Day Plan to Take Back Your Life by Catherine Price
  • The Secret Barrister: Stories of the Law and How It’s Broken
  • Growing Pains: Making Sense of Childhood: A Psychiatrist’s Story by Dr. Mike Shooter
  • The Face Pressed against a Window: A Memoir by Tim Waterstone

RETURNED UNFINISHED

  • The Sealwoman’s Gift by Sally Magnusson – I read the first 85 pages in December and found I couldn’t get back into it after a number of weeks away.

RETURNED UNREAD

  • Assurances by J.O. Morgan [poetry] – I opened to the first page and instantly thought, “Nope.” Poetry is so subjective that it’s hard to pinpoint what put me off, but the fragmentary phrasing felt simultaneously repetitive and overwritten, and I don’t think I’d realized this is basically one long war poem. I didn’t make it past page 1 and returned it to the library on my next trip. Of course I then felt sheepish when I saw it won the Costa Prize for Poetry …
  • From a Low and Quiet Sea by Donal Ryan – I’ve lost interest for the time being.


What have you been reading from your local libraries? Does anything appeal from my stacks?

I don’t have an official link-up system, so please just pop a link to your blog in the comments if you’ve taken part in Library Checkout this month. (Feel free to use the image in your post.)

Library Checkout: December 2018

A lighter month since I was trying to finish up review books I got from the publisher and get all my end-of-year posts together. My local library closed for refurbishment for the entire length of my Christmas trip to America – how convenient! – so my loans from earlier in the month aren’t due until the first week of January. When I say “currently” below it’s sort of a fib; I’ve set all these books aside temporarily and will get back into them once I’m back in the UK. (As usual, I’ve added in star ratings and links to Goodreads reviews where I haven’t already featured the books on the blog in some way.)

 

LIBRARY BOOKS READ

SKIMMED

  • Dare to Lead: Brave Work, Tough Conversations, Whole Hearts by Brené Brown 
  • In Miniature: How Small Things Illuminate the World by Simon Garfield 
  • The Angry Chef: Bad Science and the Truth about Healthy Eating by Anthony Warner 

CURRENTLY READING

  • A Honeybee Heart Has Five Openings by Helen Jukes
  • Us by Zaffar Kunial [poetry]
  • The Sealwoman’s Gift by Sally Magnusson

CURRENTLY SKIMMING

  • Rewild Yourself: 23 Spellbinding Ways To Make Nature More Visible by Simon Barnes
  • Under the Knife: A History of Surgery in 28 Remarkable Operations by Arnold van de Laar

CHECKED OUT, TO BE READ

  • Orchid Summer: In Search of the Wildest Flowers of the British Isles by John Dunn
  • The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
  • The Way Past Winter by Kiran Millwood Hargrave
  • Mason & Dixon by Thomas Pynchon
  • From a Low and Quiet Sea by Donal Ryan
  • Soho by Richard Scott [poetry]
  • Don’t Call Us Dead: Poems by Danez Smith
  • The Mary Westmacott Collection, Vol. 1 [the alias of Agatha Christie – I only plan to read the third book in the volume, Absent in the Spring]

TO SKIM ONLY

  • The Brief Life of Flowers by Fiona Stafford

IN THE RESERVATION QUEUE

  • Selected Poems by Edmund Blunden
  • Daphne by Will Boast
  • Louis & Louise by Julie Cohen
  • The Binding by Bridget Collins
  • Boy Erased: A Memoir of Identity, Faith, and Family by Garrard Conley
  • The Nature of Winter by Jim Crumley
  • Get Well Soon: Adventures in Alternative Healthcare by Nick Duerden
  • Dream Sequence by Adam Foulds
  • Milkshakes and Morphine: A Memoir of Love and Loss by Genevieve Fox
  • Making Winter: A Creative Guide for Surviving the Winter Months by Emma Mitchell
  • Assurances by J.O. Morgan [poetry]
  • The Four Tendencies: The Indispensable Personality Profiles that Reveal how to Make Your Life Better (And Other People’s Lives Better, Too) by Gretchen Rubin
  • The Way of the Hare by Marianne Taylor

RETURNED UNFINISHED


What have you been reading from your local libraries? Does anything appeal from my stacks?

I don’t have an official link-up system, so please just pop a link to your blog in the comments if you’ve taken part in Library Checkout this month. (Feel free to use the image in your post.)

Library Checkout: September 2018

I figured out how to set up an alert for 2018 and 2019 releases in my library system’s catalogue so that I get e-mail digests listing all the new books on order. This means I can instantly place holds on loads of buzzy new books. I started with a bunch of the Booker longlistees, even the ones I wasn’t entirely sure about. The only downside is that all the brand-new books tend to start arriving at once. Gah! To make things more manageable for myself, I went ahead and canceled the holds on most of the books that didn’t advance to the Booker shortlist.

(As usual, I’ve added in star ratings and links to Goodreads reviews where I haven’t already featured the books on the blog in some way.)

LIBRARY BOOKS READ

SKIMMED ONLY

CURRENTLY READING

  • The Seabird’s Cry: The Lives and Loves of Puffins, Gannets and Other Ocean Voyagers by Adam Nicolson
  • Rosie: Scenes from a Vanished Life by Rose Tremain

CURRENTLY READING-ish (set aside temporarily)

  • The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

CHECKED OUT, TO BE READ

  • All Among the Barley by Melissa Harrison
  • The Gracekeepers by Kirsty Logan [I’ve already read this one, some years ago, but it’s my book club’s October selection, so I will at least look back over it before the meeting.]
  • Now We Shall Be Entirely Free by Andrew Miller
  • Wilding by Isabella Tree

IN THE RESERVATION QUEUE

  • The Bus on Thursday by Shirley Barrett
  • Boy Erased: A Memoir of Identity, Faith, and Family by Garrard Conley
  • French Exit by Patrick deWitt
  • Washington Black by Esi Edugyan
  • Sabrina by Nick Drnaso [graphic novel]
  • Swan Song by Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott
  • Tilly and the Bookwanderers (Pages & Co., #1) by Anna James
  • Everything Under by Daisy Johnson
  • A Man in Love: My Struggle, Volume 2 by Karl Ove Knausgaard
  • The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner
  • Johannesburg by Fiona Melrose
  • The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris
  • Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss
  • Killing Commendatore by Haruki Murakami
  • The Overstory by Richard Powers

RETURNED UNREAD

  • Happiness by Aminatta Forna – I loved the premise of this one (it was on my most anticipated list) but didn’t enjoy the style of the first 10 or 15 pages.
  • The Sealwoman’s Gift by Sally Magnusson – It’s requested after me and I know I just don’t have time for it, especially if I want to prioritize the Booker-shortlisted books as they arrive.


What have you been reading from your local libraries? Does anything appeal from my stacks?

 

I don’t have an official link-up system, so please just post a link to your blog in the comments if you’ve taken part in Library Checkout this month. (Feel free to use the image at the top.)

Library Checkout: August 2018

After I got back from America the library pile started out tiny and gradually grew bigger as I added on more reservations for books I’d forgotten about or saw were on order.

LIBRARY BOOKS READ

  • To the Is-Land: An Autobiography by Janet Frame 
  • Less by Andrew Sean Greer 
  • The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell 

SKIMMED ONLY

CURRENTLY READING

  • Madame Zero by Sarah Hall
  • Taking Mesopotamia by Jenny Lewis [poetry]
  • The Seabird’s Cry: The Lives and Loves of Puffins, Gannets and Other Ocean Voyagers by Adam Nicolson
  • You Left Too Early: A True Story of Love and Alcohol by Louisa Young

CURRENTLY READING-ish (set aside temporarily)

  • The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

CHECKED OUT, TO BE READ

  • Happiness by Aminatta Forna
  • The Western Wind by Samantha Harvey
  • The Patrick Melrose novels by Edward St. Aubyn [I plan to read only the second volume, Bad News]
  • First, We Make the Beast Beautiful: A New Story about Anxiety by Sarah Wilson


These university library books have been hanging around for a loooooooooooong time, and most likely will continue to do so for months to come:

  • The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon
  • The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz
  • On the Road by Jack Kerouac
  • The Cabaret of Plants: Botany and the Imagination by Richard Mabey
  • The Magnificent Spinster by May Sarton

IN THE RESERVATION QUEUE

  • A Ladder to the Sky by John Boyne
  • French Exit by Patrick deWitt
  • All Among the Barley by Melissa Harrison
  • Pages & Co by Anna James
  • The Sealwoman’s Gift by Sally Magnusson
  • Now We Shall Be Entirely Free by Andrew Miller
  • Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss
  • Rosie: Scenes from a Vanished Life by Rose Tremain

RETURNED UNFINISHED

RETURNED UNREAD

  • The Stopping Places: A Journey through Gypsy Britain by Damian Le Bas – I lost interest and the first few pages didn’t grab me.

What have you been reading from your local libraries? Does anything appeal from my stacks?

 

(If youre participating in Library Checkout this month, use the link below to add your post via Inlinkz.)

https://www.inlinkz.com/cs.php?id=795144

Third Blog Anniversary

Hard to believe, but I’ve only been blogging for three years as of today. It feels like something I’ve been doing forever, but at the same time I still consider myself a newbie. This is my 382nd post, so I’ve been keeping up an average of 2.5 posts a week.

By Joey Gannon from Pittsburgh, PA (Candles) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons.
In general, if I think back to this time last year, I’ve been comparing/pressuring myself less – though I still push myself, e.g. to finish a few books on a topic by a certain date – and enjoying it more. I’ve had success in working towards certain goals like participating in shadow panels (for the Wellcome Book Prize and the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award) and blog tours (I’ve done 11 so far and have another seven coming up by July).

I’ve particularly enjoyed doing author Q&As and highlighting seasonal reads, novellas, books about cats, and physical book traits. I especially like writing up bookshop visits and other literary travels, and discussing literary prizes. My supply of graphic novels seems to have dried up; for new releases I focus on literary fiction, historical fiction and memoirs.

Straightforward book reviews have always been less popular than book lists and other more tangentially book-related posts. Library Checkout posts are consistently well-liked, as were the “Books in Brief” sets of five mini-reviews I used to do. As I’ve noted before, my posts on abandoned books are always perversely popular.

Some of my favorite posts from the past year were on World Kidney Day, Mother–Daughter Author Pairs, and Book Hoarding, and my review in verse of Jonathan Eig’s Ali: A Life.

The numbers of likes seem to be less than informative as they simply reflect a growing number of followers – many of my recent posts have averaged 20–25 likes – so I prefer to look at comments, as it means people are truly reading and engaging. In terms of numbers of comments, my top posts of all time appeared in the last year and were:

Thanks to everyone who has supported me this past year, and/or all three years, by visiting the site, commenting, re-tweeting, and so on. You’re the best!