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.





  • 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



  • 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



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



  • 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



  • 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



  • 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.



  • 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?

19 responses

  1. I hope you’ll try A Net for Small Fishes again. Not a typical read for me but I loved it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I do have it on my Kindle from NetGalley, so maybe another time it will capture my attention.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Looking at your reservation queue, Small Pleasures is a great and wonderful surprise; Hot Stew is very different from Elmet (and I think less distinctive) but absolutely functions in a Dickensian tradition of London novels.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I knew not to expect another Elmet … but I hope I like Hot Stew as well!

      I’m looking forward to discovering the hidden gems from the Women’s Prize longlist. One-Armed Sister didn’t work out for me, but I have a few others on the way. Will you try to read many more of the nominees?


  3. The following 3 appeal: No One Is Talking About This by Patricia Lockwood
    The Lost Spells by Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris
    My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Are you back doing Library volunteering? Our Select and Collect system is working really well at my little Community Library. I was really disappointed in Escape Routes – sounded so good! Currently reading Two Way Mirror by Fiona Sampson. She’s an excellent biographer and I’m thoroughly enjoying it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I had my first session back on Thursday, as part of an ‘advanced guard’ of volunteers to get the shelving and requests under control before the building reopens properly on the 12th. At that point they might change my hours depending on what they need. We’ve been operating an Order & Collect service since June and people can pick up their reservations in the lobby.

      I’ve heard mixed things about N. Ishiguro’s work. If I don’t enjoy the first story or two, back to the library the book will go; no harm done!

      I have a review copy of the Sampson and have been slowly working my way through it. It makes me wish I know EBB’s work better.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Yay library!

    I’ll be interested to hear what you think about The Natural Health Service: What the Great Outdoors Can Do for Your Mind by Isabel Hardman even just skimming it. I was not a fan …

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I remember our exchange about that one. Thus far I’m finding it repeats much of what I’d already learned from Losing Eden by Lucy Jones (which came out two months earlier), so it feels redundant.


  6. Wow! How many books do you read in one go?! Just curious 😂


    1. Usually 20 or so, but at the moment it’s a slightly ridiculous 32 😉 Always a mixture of print and e-books from various genres; and of review copies, library books, and stuff from my own shelves.


  7. Do you know how many books I’ve added to my list just from this catching-up session on your blog?! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mwa ha ha! That’s what I’m here for 🙂


  8. Congrats on getting to volunteer again at the library!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’d missed having a reason to leave the house 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Most of the titles have at least some appeal for me. And I share your challenge of having too many new books at one time from the library (a spectacular “problem” to have, especially with #stayhome, because this is a reliable source of “new” for me, even under those circumstances). I used to rush home with library books and paw over them with a cup of something tasty. For the past year, I’ve let them sit for a week in a private quarantine (even though I recognize that surface transmission is low risk) and have pulled them out gradually after that time elapses, so it’s like a series of mini discoveries (because, yes, there are enough of them that I tend to forget what’s already arrived and what’s in the works). I’d’ve liked to snag your One-Armed Sister, as there’s still a hefty queue ahead of me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I may try again with One-Armed Sister if it makes the shortlist. But I’m happy for now with my set of eight WP titles read, and will probably get to a few more as they come in as library holds, but I don’t feel an urgency about them.

      Liked by 1 person

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