Tag Archives: Library Checkout

Library Checkout, July 2021

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

As always, I give links to reviews of books not already featured, as well as ratings for reads and skims. I would be delighted to have other bloggers – not just book bloggers – join in with this meme. Feel free to use the image above and leave a link to your blog in the comments if you’ve taken part in Library Checkout (on the last Monday of each month), or tag me on Twitter and Instagram: @bookishbeck / #TheLibraryCheckout & #LoveYourLibraries.

 

READ

 

SKIMMED

  • Consumed: A Sister’s Story by Arifa Akbar

 

CURRENTLY READING

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

 

CURRENTLY SKIMMING

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

CHECKED OUT, TO BE READ

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

 

ON HOLD, TO BE PICKED UP

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

IN THE RESERVATION QUEUE

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

RETURNED UNFINISHED

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

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

 

RETURNED UNREAD

  • Misplaced Persons by Susan Beale
  • This Happy by Niamh Campbell
  • Heavy Light: A Journey through Madness, Mania and Healing by Horatio Clare
  • Lakewood by Megan Giddings
  • The Master Bedroom by Tessa Hadley
  • A More Perfect Union by Tammye Huf
  • Joe Biden: American Dreamer by Evan Osnos
  • The Dig by John Preston
  • Dreamland by Rosa Rankin-Gee

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

 

What appeals from my stacks?

Library Checkout, June 2021

I’m slowly getting back into the swing of things after my trip to the USA plus 10 days in quarantine. I sent my husband to pick up my latest pile of library reservations, and tomorrow I’ll get the chance to go in for one volunteering session before we’re off to Northumberland for 10 days (our major vacation of the year). It looks like Maggie Shipstead’s Great Circle, at over 600 pages, will form the bulk of my holiday reading.

I would be delighted to have other bloggers – not just book bloggers – join in with this meme. Feel free to use the image above and leave a link to your blog in the comments if you’ve taken part in Library Checkout (on the last Monday of each month), or tag me on Twitter and Instagram: @bookishbeck / #TheLibraryCheckout & #LoveYourLibraries.

 

READ

  • Under the Blue by Oana Aristide
  • Blue Dog by Louis de Bernières
  • Early Morning Riser by Katherine Heiny

SKIMMED

  • How to Be Sad: Everything I’ve Learned about Getting Happier, by Being Sad, Better by Helen Russell

CURRENTLY READING

  • Becoming a Man: Half a Life Story by Paul Monette [set aside temporarily]

CHECKED OUT, TO BE READ

  • This Happy by Niamh Campbell
  • Heavy Light: A Journey through Madness, Mania and Healing by Horatio Clare
  • Lakewood by Megan Giddings
  • The Master Bedroom by Tessa Hadley
  • A More Perfect Union by Tammye Huf
  • The Rome Plague Diaries: Lockdown Life in the Eternal City by Matthew Kneale
  • Elegy for a River: Whiskers, Claws and Conservation’s Last, Wild Hope by Tom Moorhouse
  • Joe Biden: American Dreamer by Evan Osnos
  • The Dig by John Preston
  • Dreamland by Rosa Rankin-Gee
  • Broke Vegan: Over 100 Plant-Based Recipes that Don’t Cost the Earth by Saskia Sidey [to skim only]

Plus a cheeky new selection from the university library – graphic novels, poetry, and a bit of fiction. No photo as of yet, but this is what my husband is bringing back for me later today.

  • The Tragic Death of Eleanor Marx by Tara Bergin
  • Bloodchild and Other Stories by Octavia E. Butler
  • James Miranda Barry by Patricia Duncker
  • The Kite Runner: Graphic Novel by Khaled Hosseini
  • The Summer before the Dark by Doris Lessing
  • Jilted City by Patrick McGuinness
  • The State of the Prisons by Sinéad Morrissey
  • Frankenstein: The Graphic Novel by Mary Shelley
  • Lena Finkle’s Magic Barrel by Anya Ulinich

 

ON HOLD, TO BE PICKED UP

  • Misplaced Persons by Susan Beale
  • Second Place by Rachel Cusk
  • The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris
  • The Premonition: A Pandemic Story by Michael Lewis [to skim only]
  • Nothing but Blue Sky by Kathleen MacMahon
  • Demystifying the Female Brain: A Neuroscientist Explores Health, Hormones and Happiness by Sarah McKay [to skim only]
  • Heartstoppers, Volume 1 by Alice Oseman
  • Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead
  • Ice Rivers by Jemma Wadham
  • Still Life by Sarah Winman

IN THE RESERVATION QUEUE

  • Consumed: A Sister’s Story by Arifa Akbar
  • Who Is Maud Dixon? by Alexandra Andrews
  • Medusa’s Ankles: Selected Stories by A.S. Byatt
  • Darwin’s Dragons by Lindsay Galvin
  • When the Stars Go Dark by Paula McLain
  • His Only Wife by Peace Adzo Medie
  • To the Island of Tides: A Journey to Lindisfarne by Alistair Moffat
  • The Sea Is Not Made of Water: Life between the Tides by Adam Nicolson
  • Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid
  • Everyone Is Still Alive by Cathy Rentzenbrink
  • My Phantoms by Gwendoline Riley
  • Earthed: A Memoir by Rebecca Schiller
  • I Belong Here: A Journey along the Backbone of Britain by Anita Sethi
  • Forecast: A Diary of the Lost Seasons by Joe Shute
  • Plague: A Very Short Introduction by Paul Slack
  • August Folly by Angela Thirkell
  • A Walk from the Wild Edge by Jake Tyler
  • August by Callan Wink
  • The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben

 

RETURNED UNFINISHED

  • Small Pleasures by Clare Chambers – The first few pages didn’t draw me in, and I’ve seen very polarized responses.
  • Circus of Wonders by Elizabeth Macneal – I read the first 40-some pages and skimmed up to p. 90. Victoriana by numbers. None of the characters leapt out at me. Such a disappointment after how much I loved The Doll Factory!

 

What appeals from my stacks?

Library Checkout, May 2021

Another big library reading month for me as I scrambled to get through the books that were reserved after me and then wrangle the remaining pile under some semblance of control before heading back to the USA for my mother’s wedding. I’ve also suspended any holds that look like they might arrive imminently – the first time I’ve taken advantage of this option. Once I’m back I’m sure I’ll quickly build up another goodly stack to last me through the summer.

I give links to reviews of books I haven’t already featured here, as well as ratings for most reads and skims. I would be delighted to have other bloggers – not just book bloggers – join in with this meme. Feel free to use the image above and leave a link to your blog in the comments if you’ve taken part in Library Checkout (on the last Monday of each month), or tag me on Twitter and Instagram: @bookishbeck / #TheLibraryCheckout & #LoveYourLibraries.

 

READ

SKIMMED

  • After: A Doctor Explores What Near-Death Experiences Reveal about Life and Beyond by Bruce Greyson
  • The Ministry of Bodies: Life and Death in a Modern Hospital by Seamus O’Mahony

CURRENTLY READING

  • Blue Dog by Louis de Bernières
  • Becoming a Man: Half a Life Story by Paul Monette [set aside temporarily]

CHECKED OUT, TO BE READ

  • Under the Blue by Oana Aristide
  • Summer Story and Autumn Story by Jill Barklem
  • This Happy by Niamh Campbell
  • The Pure Gold Baby by Margaret Drabble
  • Lakewood by Megan Giddings
  • The Master Bedroom by Tessa Hadley
  • A More Perfect Union by Tammye Huf
  • The Rome Plague Diaries: Lockdown Life in the Eternal City by Matthew Kneale
  • His Only Wife by Peace Adzo Medie
  • Dreamland by Rosa Rankin-Gee
  • How to Be Sad: Everything I’ve Learned about Getting Happier, by Being Sad, Better by Helen Russell
  • Earthed: A Memoir by Rebecca Schiller
  • The Color Purple by Alice Walker (to reread)

IN THE RESERVATION QUEUE

  • Who Is Maud Dixon? by Alexandra Andrews
  • Misplaced Persons by Susan Beale
  • Civilisations by Laurent Binet
  • Medusa’s Ankles: Selected Stories by A.S. Byatt
  • Small Pleasures by Clare Chambers
  • Heavy Light: A Journey through Madness, Mania and Healing by Horatio Clare
  • Second Place by Rachel Cusk
  • Darwin’s Dragons by Lindsay Galvin
  • Early Morning Riser by Katherine Heiny
  • The Premonition: A Pandemic Story by Michael Lewis
  • Nothing but Blue Sky by Kathleen MacMahon
  • Circus of Wonders by Elizabeth Macneal
  • Demystifying the Female Brain by Sarah McKay
  • When the Stars Go Dark by Paula McLain
  • Elegy for a River: Whiskers, Claws and Conservation’s Last, Wild Hope by Tom Moorhouse
  • Acts of Desperation by Megan Nolan
  • Heartstoppers, Volume 1 by Alice Oseman
  • Joe Biden: American Dreamer by Evan Osnos
  • The Dig by John Preston
  • My Phantoms by Gwendoline Riley
  • I Belong Here: A Journey along the Backbone of Britain by Anita Sethi
  • Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead
  • Broke Vegan: Over 100 Plant-Based Recipes that Don’t Cost the Earth by Saskia Sidey
  • Still Life by Sarah Winman
  • The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben

RETURNED UNFINISHED

  • You Exist Too Much by Zaina Arafat
  • The Last Migration by Charlotte McConaghy – I read the first 22 pages. The plot felt very similar to Ankomst and I didn’t get drawn in by the prose, but this has been a huge word-of-mouth hit among my Goodreads friends. I’ll try it again another time.
  • Hot Stew by Fiona Mozley

RETURNED UNREAD

  • Failures of State: The Inside Story of Britain’s Battle with Coronavirus by Jonathan Calvert and George Arbuthnott – I think I’m finally tiring of Covid stories.
  • Life Support: Diary of an ICU Doctor on the Frontline of the COVID Crisis by Jim Down – Ditto, though having now seen him at a Hay Festival event I might give this a try another time.
  • Life Sentences by Billy O’Callaghan – I can’t even remember how I heard about this or why I put a request on it!

What appeals from my stacks?

Library Checkout, April 2021

Over the past month, my library reading has included a few more novels from the Women’s Prize longlist and several memoirs, a few of them reflecting on the events of 2020. I also picked out a stack of picture books, most of them cat-themed, while looking for reservations (I’ve been back to volunteering at the library twice weekly).

I give links to reviews of books I haven’t already featured, as well as ratings for most reads and skims. I would be delighted to have other 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 (the last Monday of each month), or tag me on Twitter and/or Instagram: @bookishbeck / #TheLibraryCheckout & #LoveYourLibraries.

 

READ

  • Luster by Raven Leilani – review coming up tomorrow
  • No One Is Talking About This by Patricia Lockwood – review coming up tomorrow
  • Birdsong in a Time of Silence by Steven Lovatt
  • Consent by Annabel Lyon – review coming up tomorrow
  • Skylarks with Rosie: A Somerset Spring by Stephen Moss
  • How We Met: A Memoir of Love and Other by Huma Qureshi
  • UnPresidented: Politics, Pandemics and the Race that Trumped All Others by Jon Sopel
  • Asylum Road by Olivia Sudjic
  • When God Was a Rabbit by Sarah Winman

 Also these children’s picture books, which don’t count towards my year totals.

    • Alfie in the Garden by Debi Gliori
    • The Poesy Ring by Bob Graham
    • The Mice in the Churchyard by Kes Gray
    • Captain Cat by Inga Moore
    • Pussy Cat, Pussy Cat, Where Have You Been? I’ve Been to Washington and Guess What I’ve Seen by Russell Punter
    • Fred by Posy Simmonds

SKIMMED

  • The Natural Health Service: What the Great Outdoors Can Do for Your Mind by Isabel Hardman
  • The Librarian by Allie Morgan

 

CURRENTLY READING

  • You Exist Too Much by Zaina Arafat
  • Ten Days by Austin Duffy
  • Featherhood: On Birds and Fathers by Charlie Gilmour
  • The Last Migration by Charlotte McConaghy
  • Becoming a Man: Half a Life Story by Paul Monette
  • The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne by Brian Moore
  • Hot Stew by Fiona Mozley
  • You’re Not Listening: What You’re Missing and Why It Matters by Kate Murphy
  • Open Water by Caleb Azumah Nelson
  • Woods etc. by Alice Oswald

 

CURRENTLY SKIMMING

  • After: A Doctor Explores What Near-Death Experiences Reveal about Life and Beyond by Bruce Greyson
  • The Ministry of Bodies: Life and Death in a Modern Hospital by Seamus O’Mahony

CHECKED OUT, TO BE READ

  • Under the Blue by Oana Aristide
  • The Address Book: What Street Addresses Reveal about Identity, Race, Wealth and Power by Deirdre Mask
  • The Pleasure Steamers by Andrew Motion
  • How to Be Sad: Everything I’ve Learned about Getting Happier, by Being Sad, Better by Helen Russell

 

ON HOLD, TO BE PICKED UP

  • Who Is Maud Dixon? by Alexandra Andrews
  • Failures of State: The Inside Story of Britain’s Battle with Coronavirus by Jonathan Calvert and George Arbuthnott
  • Life Support: Diary of an ICU Doctor on the Frontline of the COVID Crisis by Jim Down
  • The Absolute Book by Elizabeth Knox
  • His Only Wife by Peace Adzo Medie
  • Life Sentences by Billy O’Callaghan
  • Many Different Kinds of Love: A Story of Life, Death and the NHS by Michael Rosen

IN THE RESERVATION QUEUE

  • Civilisations by Laurent Binet
  • This Happy by Niamh Campbell
  • Small Pleasures by Clare Chambers
  • Heavy Light: A Journey through Madness, Mania and Healing by Horatio Clare
  • The Madness of Grief: A Memoir of Love and Loss by Reverend Richard Coles
  • Darwin’s Dragons by Lindsay Galvin
  • Lakewood by Megan Giddings
  • The Rome Plague Diaries: Lockdown Life in the Eternal City by Matthew Kneale
  • Nothing but Blue Sky by Kathleen MacMahon
  • Circus of Wonders by Elizabeth Macneal
  • Acts of Desperation by Megan Nolan
  • Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters
  • My Phantoms by Gwendoline Riley
  • I Belong Here: A Journey along the Backbone of Britain by Anita Sethi
  • Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead
  • When We Went Wild by Isabella Tree and Allira Tee

 

RETURNED UNFINISHED

  • Escape Routes by Naomi Ishiguro – I read and enjoyed a few stories, but didn’t feel the need to read any more (especially some very long or fantasy-looking ones).
  • The Art of Falling by Danielle McLaughlin

 

RETURNED UNREAD

  • A Tall History of Sugar by Curdella Forbes – Seemed like it might be tiresome (too involved, too much backstory, etc.).
  • Double Blind by Edward St. Aubyn – Ponderous writing in the first few pages, and too many middling or negative reviews from friends on Goodreads.

 

What appeals from my stacks?

Library Checkout, March 2021

Loads of my reservations came in all at once this month, so I’ve had to put some effort into finishing the in-demand new releases so I can relinquish them to the next in line. I’m sorry/not sorry that a few much-hyped books ended up not being for me so that I could put them down and move on to other things (like requesting novels that made it onto the Women’s Prize longlist). On the other hand, some recent novels that I picked up more than lived up to my expectations, giving me the first few entries on my Best of 2021 list.

I resumed my regular volunteering hours at the library last week, and the building will reopen to the public on April 12th. It’s great to be back!

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/Instagram: @bookishbeck / #TheLibraryCheckout & #LoveYourLibraries.

 

READ

 

SKIMMED

  • All the Young Men: How One Woman Risked It All to Care for the Dying by Ruth Coker Burks
  • Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America and Its Urgent Lessons for Today by Eddie S. Glaude, Jr.
  • Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed by Lori Gottlieb
  • A Promised Land by Barack Obama
  • Light Perpetual by Francis Spufford
  • Square Haunting: Five Women, Freedom and London between the Wars by Francesca Wade

 

CURRENTLY READING

  • Parable of the Talents by Octavia E. Butler
  • Luster by Raven Leilani
  • The Art of Falling by Danielle McLaughlin
  • Becoming a Man: Half a Life Story by Paul Monette
  • You’re Not Listening: What You’re Missing and Why It Matters by Kate Murphy
  • How We Met: A Memoir of Love and Other by Huma Qureshi
  • UnPresidented: Politics, Pandemics and the Race that Trumped All Others by Jon Sopel
  • Asylum Road by Olivia Sudjic
  • When God Was a Rabbit by Sarah Winman

 

CURRENTLY SKIMMING

  • The Natural Health Service: What the Great Outdoors Can Do for Your Mind by Isabel Hardman
  • The Librarian by Allie Morgan

 

CHECKED OUT, TO BE READ

  • A Tall History of Sugar by Curdella Forbes
  • Featherhood: On Birds and Fathers by Charlie Gilmour
  • Deep Water by Patricia Highsmith
  • Escape Routes by Naomi Ishiguro
  • The Last Migration by Charlotte McConaghy
  • Open Water by Caleb Azumah Nelson

 

IN THE RESERVATION QUEUE

  • Who Is Maud Dixon? by Alexandra Andrews
  • Under the Blue by Oana Aristide
  • Espedair Street by Iain Banks
  • Small Pleasures by Clare Chambers
  • Heavy Light: A Journey through Madness, Mania and Healing by Horatio Clare
  • Ten Days by Austin Duffy
  • Lakewood by Megan Giddings
  • After: A Doctor Explores What Near-Death Experiences Reveal about Life and Beyond by Bruce Greyson
  • The Absolute Book by Elizabeth Knox
  • Birdsong in a Time of Silence by Steven Lovatt
  • Consent by Annabel Lyon
  • Nothing but Blue Sky by Kathleen MacMahon
  • His Only Wife by Peace Adzo Medie
  • Skylarks with Rosie: A Somerset Spring by Stephen Moss
  • Hot Stew by Fiona Mozley
  • Acts of Desperation by Megan Nolan
  • Life Sentences by Billy O’Callaghan
  • The Ministry of Bodies: Life and Death in a Modern Hospital by Seamus O’Mahony
  • Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters
  • Many Different Kinds of Love: A Story of Life, Death and the NHS by Michael Rosen
  • How to Be Sad: Everything I’ve Learned about Getting Happier, by Being Sad, Better by Helen Russell
  • I Belong Here: A Journey along the Backbone of Britain by Anita Sethi
  • Double Blind by Edward St. Aubyn

 

RETURNED UNFINISHED

  • A Burning by Megha Majumdar – I read the first 34 pages. Interesting enough story, but shaky writing. Incessant use of the present continuous tense was going to drive me mad.
  • A Crooked Tree by Una Mannion – The 1980s Philadelphia setting was promising; I read the first 28 pages and didn’t feel connected enough to any of the characters to keep going.

 

RETURNED UNREAD

  • A Net for Small Fishes by Lucy Jago – The font and large cast list put me off. Maybe another time.
  • How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House by Cherie Jones – Women’s Prize longlisted. I knew to expect bleakness, but the writing didn’t draw me in.
  • Death in Her Hands by Ottessa Moshfegh – Sounds too similar to Tokarczuk’s Drive Your Plow
  • Hurdy Gurdy by Christopher Wilson – I can’t remember now how I heard about this or why I thought it would be for me. Medieval settings are so not my thing!

 

What appeals from my stacks?

Library Checkout, February 2021

I felt a strange compulsion to clear the decks, so I ended up returning a lot of my backlist library loans unread and will get them out another time (or not). I haven’t even listed them below, though you can see a few in the first photo. For now I’m focusing on the brand new releases. Highlights: most the Costa Award poetry shortlist (I would have chosen a different winner from the judges!) and the memoir by the new U.S. Vice President. I’m grateful that, even though the building is closed to the public and volunteering has paused during lockdown, my library is still allowing people to collect their reservations.

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

 

READ

 

CURRENTLY READING

  • The Air Year by Caroline Bird (poetry)
  • A Lie Someone Told You about Yourself by Peter Ho Davies
  • The Living Sea of Waking Dreams by Richard Flanagan
  • The Prophets by Robert Jones, Jr.
  • City of Departures by Helen Tookey (poetry)

CURRENTLY SKIMMING

  • Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed by Lori Gottlieb
  • A Promised Land by Barack Obama
  • Square Haunting: Five Women, Freedom and London between the Wars by Francesca Wade

CHECKED OUT, TO BE READ

  • Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America and Its Lessons for Today by Eddie S. Glaude, Jr.
  • Seed to Dust: A Gardener’s Story by Marc Hamer
  • Death in Her Hands by Ottessa Moshfegh
  • You’re Not Listening: What You’re Missing and Why It Matters by Kate Murphy

ON HOLD, TO BE PICKED UP

  • The Push by Ashley Audrain
  • All the Young Men by Ruth Coker Burks
  • Escape Routes by Naomi Ishiguro
  • A Net for Small Fishes by Lucy Jago
  • The Lost Spells by Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris
  • A Burning by Megha Majumdar
  • A Crooked Tree by Una Mannion
  • My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell

 

IN THE RESERVATION QUEUE

  • Can Bears Ski? by Raymond Antrobus
  • Espedair Street by Iain Banks
  • Ten Days by Austin Duffy
  • The Natural Health Service: What the Great Outdoors Can Do for Your Mind by Isabel Hardman
  • The Last Migration by Charlotte McConaghy
  • The Art of Falling by Danielle McLaughlin
  • The Librarian by Allie Morgan
  • Liquid Gold: Bees and the Pursuit of Midlife Honey by Roger Morgan-Grenville
  • Hot Stew by Fiona Mozley
  • The Ministry of Bodies: Life and Death in a Modern Hospital by Seamus O’Mahony
  • How We Met: A Memoir of Love and Other by Huma Qureshi
  • The Mermaid of Black Conch by Monique Roffey
  • How to Be Sad: Everything I’ve Learned about Getting Happier, by Being Sad, Better by Helen Russell
  • UnPresidented: Politics, Pandemics and the Race that Trumped All Others by Jon Sopel
  • Light Perpetual by Francis Spufford
  • Asylum Road by Olivia Sudjic
  • Hurdy Gurdy by Christopher Wilson

 

RETURNED UNFINISHED

 

What appeals from my stacks?

Library Checkout, January 2021

I’m grateful that, even though the building is closed to the public and volunteering has paused during lockdown, my library is still allowing people to collect their reservations. I’ve got a ton of new books on request! Some are available for me to pick up on Wednesday. So, in the near future, I’m looking forward to reading the whole Costa Award poetry shortlist, and the memoir by the new U.S. Vice President.

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


READ

 SKIMMED

  • Things I Learned on the 6.28: A Commuter’s Guide to Reading by Stig Abell
  • Livewired: The Inside Story of the Ever-Changing Brain by David Eagleman
  • The Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman (for January book club)
  • Ex Libris by Michiko Kakutani
  • Hormonal: A Conversation about Women’s Bodies, Mental Health and Why We Need to Be Heard by Eleanor Morgan
  • The Invention of Surgery: A History of Modern Medicine: From the Renaissance to the Implant Revolution by David Schneider, MD

CURRENTLY READING

  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (rereading for book club)
  • The Dickens Boy by Thomas Keneally
  • Love After Love by Ingrid Persaud

CHECKED OUT, TO BE READ

  • Mama’s Boy: A Memoir by Dustin Lance Black
  • In the Woods by Tana French
  • Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed by Lori Gottlieb
  • In Our Mad and Furious City by Guy Gunaratne
  • How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy by Jenny Odell
  • Country Doctor: Hilarious True Stories from a Country Practice by Michael Sparrow
  • How Much of These Hills Is Gold by C. Pam Zhang

ON HOLD, TO BE PICKED UP

  • The Air Year by Caroline Bird (poetry)
  • The Historians by Eavan Boland (poetry)
  • Daddy by Emma Cline
  • The Truths We Hold: An American Journey by Kamala Harris
  • My Darling from the Lions by Rachel Long (poetry)
  • Citadel by Martha Sprackland (poetry)
  • The Mystery of Charles Dickens by A.N. Wilson

IN THE RESERVATION QUEUE

  • A Biography of Loneliness: The History of an Emotion by Fay Bound Alberti
  • Can Bears Ski? by Raymond Antrobus
  • All the Young Men by Ruth Coker Burks
  • A Lie Someone Told You about Yourself by Peter Ho Davies
  • The Living Sea of Waking Dreams by Richard Flanagan
  • Begin Again by Eddie S. Glaude, Jr.
  • A Net for Small Fishes by Lucy Jago
  • The Prophets by Robert Jones, Jr.
  • A Burning by Megha Majumdar
  • A Crooked Tree by Una Mannion
  • Liquid Gold: Bees and the Pursuit of Midlife Honey by Roger Morgan-Grenville
  • You’re Not Listening: What You’re Missing and Why It Matters by Kate Murphy
  • Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik
  • A Promised Land by Barack Obama
  • The Ministry of Bodies: Life and Death in a Modern Hospital by Seamus O’Mahony
  • How We Met: A Memoir of Love and Other by Huma Qureshi
  • My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell
  • UnPresidented: Politics, Pandemics and the Race that Trumped All Others by Jon Sopel
  • Light Perpetual by Francis Spufford
  • Asylum Road by Olivia Sudjic
  • Square Haunting: Five Women, Freedom and London between the Wars by Francesca Wade

RETURNED UNFINISHED

  • Village Christmas and Other Notes on the English Year by Laurie Lee – I looked at the few short Christmas pieces over the holidays, but didn’t realize that the rest of the book would be set in other seasons.

RETURNED UNREAD

  • The Cat and the City by Nick Bradley – Requested after me; I’ll get it out another time. There’s a section in manga style!
  • Big Girl, Small Town by Michelle Gallen – I knew from the first page that this wasn’t going to be a book for me. Did you love Milkman and The Glorious Heresies? If so, you’ll probably like this, too.

What appeals from my stacks?

Library Checkout, December 2020

I resumed my twice-weekly library volunteering on the 3rd but had to stop again after the 17th because West Berkshire moved into Tier 4, which means people should stay at home except for essential activities (work and schooling). Who knows when I’ll be able to go back!

I managed to squeeze in a good few 2020 releases before the end of the year. I’ve started amassing a pile of backlist reads, but I’m also placing requests on 2021 releases that the library has on order. The usual limit for reservations is 15, but by commandeering my husband’s unused library card I’ve effectively doubled my allowance. I don’t expect I’ll be able to pick up any more books until this new lockdown is over, though, so I can start off the year by focusing on a neglected pile of university library books and especially my own shelves – always a good thing.

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

I rate most books I read or skim, and include links to reviews not already featured on the blog.

READ

SKIMMED

  • Livewired: The Inside Story of the Ever-Changing Brain by David Eagleman
  • Christmas: A Biography by Judith Flanders
  • Growing Goats and Girls: Living the Good Life on a Cornish Farm by Rosanne Hodin
  • Village Christmas and Other Notes on the English Year by Laurie Lee
  • My Last Supper: One Meal, a Lifetime in the Making by Jay Rayner
  • The Invention of Surgery: A History of Modern Medicine: From the Renaissance to the Implant Revolution by David Schneider, MD

CURRENTLY READING

  • Leonard and Hungry Paul by Rónán Hession (a buddy read with Annabel)
  • The Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman (for January book club)
  • The Dickens Boy by Thomas Keneally

CURRENTLY SKIMMING

  • Hormonal: A Conversation about Women’s Bodies, Mental Health and Why We Need to Be Heard by Eleanor Morgan

CHECKED OUT, TO BE READ

  • Mama’s Boy: A Memoir by Dustin Lance Black
  • In Our Mad and Furious City by Guy Gunaratne
  • Country Doctor: Hilarious True Stories from a Country Practice by Michael Sparrow

ON HOLD, TO BE PICKED UP

  • The Idea of the Brain: A History by Matthew Cobb
  • Big Girl, Small Town by Michelle Gallen
  • Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter

IN THE RESERVATION QUEUE

  • Things I Learned on the 6.28: A Commuter’s Guide to Reading by Stig Abell
  • A Biography of Loneliness: The History of an Emotion by Fay Bound Alberti
  • Can Bears Ski? by Raymond Antrobus
  • The Cat and the City by Nick Bradley
  • All the Young Men by Ruth Coker Burks
  • Breathtaking: Life and Death in a Time of Contagion by Rachel Clarke
  • The Living Sea of Waking Dreams by Richard Flanagan
  • In the Woods by Tana French
  • Begin Again by Eddie S. Glaude, Jr.
  • Mrs Death Misses Death by Salena Godden
  • Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed by Lori Gottlieb
  • The Sealwoman’s Gift by Sally Magnusson
  • A Burning by Megha Majumdar
  • A Crooked Tree by Una Mannion
  • A Promised Land by Barack Obama
  • A Fire in My Head (poetry) by Ben Okri
  • Love After Love by Ingrid Persaud
  • How We Met: A Memoir of Love and Other Misadventures by Huma Qureshi
  • My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell
  • My US Election Diary by Jon Sopel
  • The Mystery of Charles Dickens by A.N. Wilson
  • How Much of These Hills Is Gold by C. Pam Zhang

RETURNED UNFINISHED

  • The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Daré

RETURNED UNREAD

  • Star Over Bethlehem and Other Stories by Agatha Christie
  • The Mistletoe Murder and Other Stories by P.D. James
  • Manchester Happened by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi
  • A Box of Delights by John Masefield
  • The Mistletoe Bride & Other Haunting Tales by Kate Mosse

(I lost interest in all of these. I don’t gravitate towards crime or short stories, so shouldn’t have been surprised that once I had them in front of me they didn’t appeal. Also, I didn’t realize the Masefield was abridged, and I prefer not to read altered editions.)

What appeals from my stacks?

A Look Back at 2020’s Reading Projects, Including Rereads

Major bookish initiatives:

  • Coordinated a Not the Wellcome Prize blog tour to celebrate 2019’s health-themed books – in case you missed it, the winner was Sinéad Gleeson for Constellations.
  • Co-hosted Novellas in November with Cathy (746 Books).
  • Hosted Library Checkout each month.

Reading challenges joined:

  • 12 blog tours
  • Six Degrees of Separation: I started participating in February and did nine posts this year
  • Paul Auster Reading Week
  • Reading Ireland month
  • Japanese Literature Challenge
  • 1920 Club
  • 20 Books of Summer
  • Women in Translation Month
  • Robertson Davies Weekend
  • Women’s Prize winners (#ReadingWomen)
  • 1956 Club
  • R.I.P.
  • Nonfiction November
  • Margaret Atwood Reading Month

This works out to one blog tour, one reading project, and one regular meme per month – manageable. I’ll probably cut back on blog tours next year, though; unless for a new release I’m really very excited about, they’re often not worth it.

Buddy reads:

  • Crossing to Safety with Laila (Big Reading Life)
  • 6 Carol Shields novels plus The Trick Is to Keep Breathing, Deerbrook, and How to Be Both with Marcie (Buried in Print)
  • A Visit from the Goon Squad and The Idea of Perfection with Laura T.
  • Mother’s Milk with Annabel
  • 666 Charing Cross Road with Liz

Self-set reading challenges:

  • Seasonal reading
  • Classic of the Month (14 in total; it’s only thanks to Novellas in November that I averaged more than one a month)
  • Doorstopper of the Month (just 3; I’d like to try to get closer to monthly in 2021)
  • Wainwright Prize longlist reading
  • Bellwether Prize winners (read 2, DNFed 1)
  • Short stories in September (8 collections)
  • Young Writer of the Year Award shortlist reading
  • Thematic roundups – I’m now calling these “Three on a Theme” and have done 2 so far
  • Journey through the Day with Books (3 new reviews this year):
    • Zennor in Darkness by Helen Dunmore
    • Rise and Shine by Anna Quindlen
    • [Up with the Larks by Tessa Hainsworth – DNF]
    • [Shine Shine Shine by Lydia Netzer – DNF]
    • Three-Martini Lunch by Suzanne Rindell – existing review
    • The Shadow of the Sun by Ryszard Kapuściński – read part of
    • Eventide by Kent Haruf
    • Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant by Anne Tyler – existing review
    • Talk before Sleep by Elizabeth Berg – existing review
    • When the Lights Go Out by Carys Bray
    • Journey by Moonlight by Antal Szerb
    • Voyage in the Dark by Jean Rhys
    • Late Nights on Air by Elizabeth Hay – existing review
    • Sleeping Arrangements by Laura Shaine Cunningham
    • The House of Sleep by Jonathan Coe
    • Bodies in Motion and at Rest by Thomas Lynch – read but not reviewed
    • Silence by Shūsaku Endō
    • Arctic Dreams by Barry Lopez – read part of
  • The Four in a Row Challenge – I failed miserably with this one. I started an M set but got bogged down in Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin (also a bibliotherapy self-prescription for Loneliness from The Novel Cure), which I had as a bedside book for much of the year, so only managed 1.5 out of 4; I also started an H quartet but set both Tinkers and Plainsong aside. Meanwhile, Debbie joined in and completed her own 4 in a Row. Well done! I like how simple this challenge is, so I’m going to use it next year as an excuse to read more from my shelves – but I’ll be more flexible and allow lots of substitutions in case I stall with one of the four books.

Rereading

At the end of 2019, I picked out a whole shelf’s worth of books I’d been meaning to reread. I kept adding options over the year, so although I managed a respectable 16 rereads in 2020, the shelf is still overflowing!

Many of my rereads have featured on the blog over the year, but here are two more I didn’t review at the time. Both were book club selections inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement. (We held a rally and silent protest in a park in the town centre in June.)

Dreams from My Father by Barack Obama: Remember when there was a U.S. president who thought deeply, searched his soul, and wrote eloquently? I first read this memoir in 2006, when Obama was an up-and-coming Democratic politician who’d given a rousing convention speech. I remembered no details, just the general sweep of Hawaii to Chicago to Kenya. On this reread I engaged most with the first third, in which he remembers a childhood in Hawaii and Indonesia, gives pen portraits of his white mother and absentee Kenyan father, and works out what it means to be black and Christian in America. By age 12, he’d stopped advertising his mother’s race, not wanting to ingratiate himself with white people. By contrast, “To be black was to be the beneficiary of a great inheritance, a special destiny, glorious burdens that only we were strong enough to bear.” The long middle section on community organizing in Chicago nearly did me in; I had to skim past it to get to his trip to Kenya to meet his paternal relatives – “Africa had become an idea more than an actual place, a new promised land”. then/ now

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot: This Wellcome Book Prize winner about the use of a poor African-American woman’s cells in medical research was one of the first books to turn me onto health-themed reads. I devoured it in a few days in 2010. Once again, I was impressed at the balance between popular science and social history. Skloot conveys the basics of cell biology in a way accessible to laypeople, and uses recreated scenes and dialogue very effectively. I had forgotten the sobering details of the Lacks family experience, including incest, abuse, and STDs. Henrietta had a rural Virginia upbringing and had a child by her first cousin at age 14. At 31 she would be dead of cervical cancer, but the tissue taken from her at Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins hospital became an immortal cell line. HeLa is still commonly used in medical experimentation. Consent was a major talking point at our book club Zoom meeting. Cells, once outside a body, cannot be owned, but it looks like exploitation that Henrietta’s descendants are so limited by their race and poverty. I had forgotten how Skloot’s relationship and travels with Henrietta’s unstable daughter, Deborah, takes over the book (as in the film). While I felt a little uncomfortable with how various family members are portrayed as unhinged, I still thought this was a great read. then / now


I had some surprising rereading DNFs. These were once favorites of mine, but for some reason I wasn’t able to recapture the magic: Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides, Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer, Gilead by Marilynne Robinson, and On Beauty by Zadie Smith. I attempted a second read of John Fowles’s postmodern Victorian pastiche, The French Lieutenant’s Woman, on a mini-break in Lyme Regis, happily reading the first third on location, but I couldn’t make myself finish once we were back home. And A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan was very disappointing a second time; it hasn’t aged well. Lastly, I’ve been stalled in Watership Down for a long time, but do intend to finish my reread.

In general, voice- and style-heavy fiction did not work so well for me on rereading. Autobiographical essays by Anne Lamott and Abigail Thomas worked best, but I also succeeded at rereading some straightforward novels and short stories. Next year, I’d like to aim for a similar number of rereads, with a mixture of memoirs and fiction, including at least one novel by David Lodge. I’d also be interested in rereading earlier books by Ned Beauman and Curtis Sittenfeld if I can find them cheap secondhand.

What reading projects did you participate in this year?

Done much rereading lately?

Library Checkout, November 2020

Although lockdown precluded me from doing my usual volunteering at the public library this month, it has remained open for collecting reservations, so I was able to pick up another small pile of 2020 titles last week. Meanwhile, I worked my way through a big pile of recent releases that were reserved after me, plus a few novellas. With any luck, I’ll be back to my biweekly volunteering sessions starting on the first Thursday in December. I’ve missed having a reason to leave the house, see people, and find more books at random.

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

I rate most books I read or skim, and include links to reviews not already featured on the blog.

READ

  • Surge by Jay Bernard
  • Your House Will Pay by Steph Cha
  • The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier
  • 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
  • Something Special by Iris Murdoch
  • Dear Reader: The Comfort and Joy of Books by Cathy Rentzenbrink
  • The Driver’s Seat by Muriel Spark
  • Real Life by Brandon Taylor
  • The Order of the Day, Éric Vuillard
  • Love and Other Thought Experiments by Sophie Ward
  • The Courage to Care: A Call for Compassion by Christie Watson

+ Children’s picture books (don’t worry, these don’t count towards my year’s reading list!)

  • Six Dinner Sid: A Highland Adventure by Inga Moore
  • Bad Cat! by Nicola O’Byrne
  • One Smart Fish by Christopher Wormell

SKIMMED

  • The Book of Gutsy Women by Chelsea Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton
  • Dependency by Tove Ditlevsen
  • What Have I Done? An Honest Memoir about Surviving Postnatal Mental Illness by Laura Dockrill
  • Untamed: Stop Pleasing, Start Living by Glennon Doyle
  • Mantel Pieces: Royal Bodies and Other Writing from the London Review of Books by Hilary Mantel
  • Duty of Care: One NHS Doctor’s Story of Courage and Compassion on the COVID-19 Frontline by Dr Dominic Pimenta

CURRENTLY READING

  • The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Daré
  • The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave
  • A Registry of My Passage upon the Earth by Daniel Mason
  • First Time Ever: A Memoir by Peggy Seeger

CURRENTLY SKIMMING

  • Kay’s Anatomy: A Complete (and Completely Disgusting) Guide to the Human Body by Adam Kay

CHECKED OUT, TO BE READ

  • The Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman (for January book club)
  • The Dickens Boy by Thomas Keneally
  • To Be a Man by Nicole Krauss
  • Growing Goats and Girls: Living the Good Life on a Cornish Farm by Rosanne Hodin

+ A small Christmas-themed stack I’ve set aside to peruse next month.

ON HOLD, TO BE PICKED UP

  • Mr Wilder & Me by Jonathan Coe
  • My Last Supper: One Meal, a Lifetime in the Making by Jay Rayner
  • The Invention of Surgery: A History of Modern Medicine: From the Renaissance to the Implant Revolution by David Schneider, MD

IN THE RESERVATION QUEUE

  • The Idea of the Brain: A History by Matthew Cobb
  • Here Is the Beehive by Sarah Crossan
  • Livewired: The Inside Story of the Ever-Changing Brain by David Eagleman
  • Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed by Lori Gottlieb
  • Bringing Back the Beaver: The Story of One Man’s Quest to Rewild Britain’s Waterways by Derek Gow
  • Leonard and Hungry Paul by Rónán Hession
  • Manchester Happened by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi
  • Monogamy by Sue Miller
  • Hormonal: A Conversation about Women’s Bodies, Mental Health and Why We Need to Be Heard by Eleanor Morgan
  • A Promised Land by Barack Obama
  • Love After Love by Ingrid Persaud
  • The Mystery of Charles Dickens by A.N. Wilson

RETURNED UNFINISHED

  • As You Were by Elaine Feeney – I read the first chapter. I think I’ve simply had too many quirky narrators and/or mental hospital stories recently.
  • House of Glass: The Story and Secrets of a Twentieth-Century Jewish Family by Hadley Freeman – I read to page 30 but, as with The Yellow House by Sarah Broom, I realized there is far more detail in this family memoir than I am able to absorb. And here, the writing is only average. It reminded me of Esther Safran Foer’s memoir.
  • Rootbound: Rewilding a Life by Alice Vincent – I didn’t enjoy the style of the first few pages, so didn’t want to commit to another 300+ about a twentysomething’s job, housing, and relationship woes.

RETURNED UNREAD

  • Travels in the Scriptorium by Paul Auster – I couldn’t fit this in for Novellas for November. Maybe another year.
  • Kill My Mother: A Graphic Novel by Jules Feiffer – I couldn’t stand the drawing style.
  • Jack by Marilynne Robinson – After a skim back through Gilead, I felt I knew enough about Jack and didn’t need yet another sequel.

What appeals from my stacks?