Library Checkout: April 2018

The last two months were bumper editions and saw me getting through loads of library books. That’s slowed down this month, replaced by books I own, review copies and advanced reads from NetGalley or Edelweiss. Boy, are the library books stacking up! My public library system’s website says you can have 15 books out at a time … but the self-service machines don’t cut you off until after you pass 30, at least not in my experience, so I currently have 32 books on loan. (No, I’m not particularly sorry about that. I’m keeping the library system in business, and the few remaining staff members in their jobs! And anyone who wants these books can simply put in a free reservation request, so I don’t feel that I’m hogging them.)

The “Checked Out” pile is so stupidly big that I’m just going to list and photograph new arrivals since last month. As usual, I’ve added in star ratings and any links to Goodreads reviews of books I haven’t already featured on the blog.



  • The Grave’s a Fine and Private Place by Alan Bradley 
  • The Church Mouse by Graham Oakley 
  • To Be a Machine: Adventures among Cyborgs, Utopians, Hackers, and the Futurists Solving the Modest Problem of Death by Mark O’Connell 
  • In the Days of Rain by Rebecca Stott 


  • The Wood: The Life and Times of Cockshutt Wood by John Lewis-Stempel 
  • The Vaccine Race by Meredith Wadman 


  • The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn
  • How to Develop Emotional Health by Oliver James
  • The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim
  • Night Sky with Exit Wounds [poetry] by Ocean Vuong
  • Island Home: A Landscape Memoir by Tim Winton

CURRENTLY READING-ish (set aside temporarily)

  • To the Is-Land: An Autobiography by Janet Frame
  • Tender by Belinda McKeon
  • Never Mind by Edward St. Aubyn


  • The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris
  • The Executor by Blake Morrison
  • The Seabird’s Cry: The Lives and Loves of Puffins, Gannets and Other Ocean Voyagers by Adam Nicolson
  • Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie
  • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
  • Tin Man by Sarah Winman


  • The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row by Anthony Ray Hinton with Lara Love Hardin
  • Eat Up! by Ruby Tandoh


  • The Trick to Time by Kit de Waal
  • The Unmapped Mind: A Memoir of Neurology, Incurable Disease and Learning How to Live by Christian Donlan
  • Happiness by Aminatta Forna
  • Other Minds: The Octopus and the Evolution of Intelligent Life by Peter Godfrey-Smith
  • Sight by Jessie Greengrass
  • When I Hit You by Meena Kandasamy
  • The White Book by Han Kang
  • The Sealwoman’s Gift by Sally Magnusson
  • Mrs. Moreau’s Warbler: How Birds Got Their Names by Stephen Moss
  • Brainstorm: Detective Stories from the World of Neurology by Suzanne O’Sullivan
  • The Still Point by Amy Sackville
  • See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt
  • Rosie: Scenes from a Vanished Life by Rose Tremain


  • The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar 
  • Leap In: A Woman, Some Waves, and the Will to Swim by Alexandra Heminsley 
  • Life in the Garden by Penelope Lively 

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

22 responses

  1. I need a lie down after reading this! I hope you continue with Tender. I loved it.


    1. I do plan to go back to it. I got about a third of the way in during our Wigtown trip.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I need a lie down too. I only have one book out of the library at the moment, Robert Hughes’ ‘Barcelona’. It’s densely packed with readable facts, and of course my interest is because of our daughter living there. It’s a shame we often need that sort of impetus to get behind such a long, though rewarding read. And you certainly don’t need anything else on your ‘TBR’ list.


    1. Aren’t you glad I didn’t list the whole Checked Out stack? 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Tender is so great. Also AAAHHH yay for Happiness, and The Sealwoman’s Gift. Eat Up is wonderful, and Night Sky with Exit Wounds was the best poetry collection I read last year. Did you not like The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock?!


    1. Your reviews are why The Sealwoman’s Gift and Eat Up were on my radar at all 🙂

      I liked it well enough, but about a quarter of the way through found myself skimming through page after page and gave up. I can’t fault the authentic setting and dialogue, but I never got drawn into the story or felt the collision of the two strands would be worthwhile. I might try it some other time.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, fair enough. I think it’s a book that does require time.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I very much like the look of ‘The Seabird’s Cry: The Lives and Loves of Puffins, Gannets and Other Ocean’ – I have a bit of a thing about puffins! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Me too!! They’ve been my favorite bird for ages. I’ve been lucky enough to see them in person several times in the British Isles. I love the cover of this book so much.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I went to the Scilly Isles last April – mainly to see the puffins. It was a bit too early to see them nesting but I spotted several on the sea when taking boat trips. I’m hoping to return a bit later next year and maybe see them emerging from their burrows (from a distance, of course)!

        Liked by 1 person

    2. We’ve not been to Scilly (though our friends highly recommend it), but we’ve seen puffins on Skomer, the Treshnish Isles, and off the coast of Yorkshire.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I haven’t been to any of the places you mention – yet! Skomer in particular has always appealed to me. I fell in love with the Scillies – can’t wait to return!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Did you end up writing a review for The Grave’s A Fine and Private Place? It was probably my favourite of the series (apart from Sweetness) and I’m interested to hear your thoughts!


    1. I’ll write a few lines for Goodreads, probably, but no more. It didn’t stand out for me. My favourites from the series are #6 and 8.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Tender was my favourite book of last year – I just loved it and would love to hear what you think.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Ah, you can let me know if The Seabird’s Cry is too bloody and upsetting for me, can’t you! Did you not like the Heminsley swimming book because of all the medical stuff or the swimming? it must have been the latter, surely – I’ve avoided it because of the medical stuff, even though I loved her book on running. I’d be interested to know what the Oliver James is like, too. I really liked the one book I’ve read by him “They F*** You Up”.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I didn’t know I should expect gore in a book about birds! I can’t promise I’ll get to it soon — my husband may read it first.

      I really liked Part 1 of Leap In, about learning to swim, undertaking the outdoor swimming challenges and undergoing IVF. But it seemed like her publishers said, “eh, that’s too short; add in some more stuff!” and Part 2 is just boring and irrelevant: the history of swimming, what gear you should buy, FAQs, etc. So I skipped Part 2 entirely, and I’m happy with that decision!

      The School of Life books are all fairly similar: very straightforward and methodical discussions of topics, and brief overall. I’m not very far into this one yet.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m not sure bloody was the right word but we caught a bit of the TV series and it was all about population declines and poor dead birds. And I adore A.N. so was sad to not watch it.


    2. Oh gosh, I had no idea there’d been a series. With no TV, I’m out of touch! I’ll have to see if I can watch it somehow after I’ve read the book.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Ooh, I want to read Eat Up by Tandoh! I really enjoyed her on GBBO and I follow her on Instagram. I’m interested in reading books about healing one’s relationship with food. I’ll be interested in reading your thoughts on it later. Great job supporting your local library!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t know all that much about her besides the few food columns I’ve seen in the Guardian. But Elle (above) highly recommends it.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. […] continued by Charleen of the blog It’s a Portable Magic. One other blogger, of whom I know, Rebecca Foster of the blog Bookish Book is still using it, but otherwise, I think the meme has died out, at least for now. Along with Rebecca, I’m […]


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