Tag Archives: volunteering

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, 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?

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?

Two New Bookish Volunteering Ventures

Working from home, I don’t get out or see other people nearly often enough, so any time I think of a way that I can get more human interaction while contributing to a worthy cause – like spreading the love of reading – it’s worth seizing.

I don’t know what it’s like where you live, but here in our town there are tons of empty storefronts on the main street and in the mall, which makes everything feel half-derelict. The Global Educational Trust was donated a shop space in my local mall and set up a free bookshop that has since been taken over by Fair Close Centre, a non-residential center where the elderly can socialize and take advantage of hot meals and other services. The shop creates awareness of Fair Close and what it has to offer, and also promotes reading and lifelong learning.

I volunteered late last year when it was first being set up, and for the past few weeks I’ve been putting in two hours every Friday afternoon. Did I mention it’s full of free books!? This is kind of a problem for someone who already has a house full of books plus boxes of them in storage back in America. (But not really a problem.) The first time I was there I scored eight books; on four subsequent visits I’ve both donated and acquired books, sometimes in unhelpful ratios. Seven given versus two taken: excellent! Two donated and nine acquired: not so good. Six out; three in: A-OK. This past Friday I broke even with four of each.

We’re making do with insufficient shelving, whatever we’ve been able to scrounge from going-out-of-business shops, etc., so the categories are not very precise yet. Most of my work so far has been rearranging the central area for fiction (someone thought it was a good idea to have the alphabetical sequence going across the four bays of shelves, rather than from top to bottom in one case and then on to the next one to the right, as is the custom in any library or bookstore!) and pulling out all the nonfiction that snuck in. You often see this in charity shops: people who don’t know much about books end up shelving memoirs, travel books and history in with the fiction. In this photo you can see evidence of my tidying in fiction, A–F.

 

The other project I’ve been working on lately, though it’s still very much in the planning stages, is a theological lending library at my church. This was prompted by me looking through our shelves of religion books and deciding that there were upwards of 20 books that we would likely never read again/ever but that others might find edifying. In the end I pulled out 36 books to donate, ranging in outlook from C.S. Lewis to Rob Bell. I’m also aware that my mother-in-law, who’s retiring from ministry this year, will likely shed many theology books when they downsize to leave the rectory, and there are various retired clergy members in our church who might have books to pass on. So I had a meeting with our vicar last week to talk through some ideas about where we might house a library and how the system might work.

For now we plan to trial a pop-up library in the cloisters in mid-July, advertised via the notice sheet in early June. In the weeks leading up to it, we’ll accept book donations to a box at the back of the church (and reserve the right to jettison books that seem dated or unhelpful!). The lending will be on an honesty system, with people writing their name and the book title(s) in a ledger. We’ll suggest that books borrowed at the pop-up in mid-July could be returned in early September, though keeping them out longer wouldn’t be a problem. Nor, for that matter, would it be a problem if some books never make it back to the shelves – we’d like to hope they’ll be helpful to people.

The only other equipment to get hold of now is a set of bookplates with the church logo. As to how to classify the books, I may well model our system on this one. I know I’ll have fun cataloguing the books and affixing spine labels and bookplates. It’ll be like my library assistant days all over again – except just the fun working-with-books bit and not the babysitting-students bit.

 

Are you involved in any volunteer projects?