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.



  • 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


  • 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


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


  • 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


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


  • 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


  • The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Daré


  • 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?

15 responses

  1. I’ll be interested in reading your opinion of Leonard and Hungry Paul when you finish it. I was alone in my book group in loathing it. It scored very highly among my fellow readers

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m four chapters in and enjoying it well enough so far. Usually the kind of hype it got would be enough to put me right off a book, but I decided to give it a go anyway.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I hope you enjoy the Gunaratne. That book has stayed with me totally since I read it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m very late to the party, but better late than never. I’ll try to start it early in January.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. You didn’t rate the Beavers book – is it not worth reading then? Also I have received The Sealwoman’s Gift for Christmas, so I’ll be interested in hearing what you think of that one when you’ve acquired and read it.


    1. I found the writing poor, and hardly learned anything from it. (Our friends live not far from the Devon reintroduction site, so that was why I was interested.) I’ve written a short response since I scheduled this post. I’ll add a link to it above.

      The Sealwoman’s Gift was a DNF for me in 2018, but I’m trying again after reading The Mercies, which is fairly similar.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I never thought the Masefield would have been long enough to have had an abridged version; I’ve never read it, but it’s been on my TBR for awhile now. Monogamy is one I’m really interested in, since reading the Richard Russo review in the NYT (I think we chatted about that review in email at some point), but it doesn’t seem to fit with my current reading very well. Or, maybe I should toss it in, to change the balance. Hrumph. Anyway, my list of borrowed items is half as long as it was at the end of November, so I am headed in the right direction, and I dropped off a few more returns this morning, into the chute. Now I should probably shut the lid and go and read, right? You too! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think the Masefield volume contains multiple stories, with the central one abridged. Odd!

      Monogamy reminded me a lot of Carol Shields at points, as well as Elizabeth Strout, so I feel like it would be right up your alley.

      I have a giant stack of books to return, but I’m only sending C out on his bike to stick in the slot the ones due today and on the 31st and with reserves on them. At that point I’ll only have a few still out, a rare situation for me!


  5. I found the Guy Gunaratne a bit frustrating, as he’s clearly a very talented writer but I felt like he was trying a bit too hard. We must be due something new from him soon, which might be better. I hope you like The Sealwoman’s Gift more second time round – it’s not as good as The Ninth Child but I still got a lot out of it.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Since March our local library has only been at most open one day a week for collecting books ordered online. Since I have had a veritable mountain of unread books on my shelves (replenished by occasional visits to the local bookshop and charity shops when they’ve opened) I’ve not been persuaded to investigate despite being on the committee of the Friends of the Library. I think it’s because I like to browse real bookshelves more than an online catalogue.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I see what you mean. I discover lots of books I didn’t know I wanted to read while I’m shelving! But I also have an alert set for new 2020 and 2021 titles so that I can reserve the ones they have on order. So I do a bit of both. We’re lucky that the libraries here have been open for a few months of visits since the first lockdown, as well as a few months of order and collect only.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I remember enjoying Beautiful Ruins, and am looking forward to getting my hands on Walters’ latest.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve not tried Walters before. It will probably be a while before I can get back to the library, so my reservation is likely to expire, but I can get it out another time.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Jess Walter is one of my favorite authors – hope you get to read him eventually. I’ve got his new one (The Cold Millions) at home but haven’t read it yet. I adored Beautiful Ruins.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Laura T. is a big fan as well. I’ll try to be sure to get to him early in 2021.

      Liked by 1 person

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