Love Your Library, April 2023

Cheers to Elle and Laila for participating this month! Thanks also to Laura for her review of The Marriage Portrait and Naomi for a write-up of her recent Atlantic Canada reads, all from the library.

Last month Jana mentioned the non-media items that her library lends out. This reminded me of some interesting kits my library system offers: “wellbeing bags” (a joint venture with the local council) that contain an identical assortment of colouring sheets, card games, short self-help books and language learning tools; and “Reminiscence Collection” boxes specific to a particular decade or experience, geared towards the elderly. I wonder if they have been found to be helpful when working with people with dementia.

Yesterday was the start of National Library Week in the USA. Book banning and censorship are, alas, perennial news items in relation to libraries there. This week the Washington Post’s Ron Charles featured the Llano County, Texas counter-protests in his newsletter (so often my source of bookish news). The list of books banned is ridiculous. A federal judge in Austin paused the bans, prompting county commissioners to float the idea of closing down the library system entirely. Many turned out to support keeping the libraries open. You can read more about the case here.

As for my own library reading since last time (some great stuff this month!):



  • Old Babes in the Wood by Margaret Atwood
  • Old God’s Time by Sebastian Barry
  • Children of Paradise by Camilla Grudova*
  • Two Sisters by Blake Morrison
  • The Marriage Portrait by Maggie O’Farrell
  • Rain by Don Paterson
  • Of Mutability by Jo Shapcott (a re-read)
  • Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog by Dylan Thomas

*My first-ever e-book loan! I couldn’t figure out how to get the file to open on my e-reader, so I read it on my PC screen, 10 pages or so at a time, as a break between doing other things.



  • I Can’t Date Jesus: Love, Sex, Family, Race, and Other Reasons I’ve Put My Faith in Beyoncé by Michael Arceneaux
  • Shadow Girls by Carol Birch
  • Fire Rush by Jacqueline Crooks
  • The Cats We Meet Along the Way by Nadia Mikail
  • All the Men I Never Married by Kim Moore
  • The Boy Who Lost His Spark by Maggie O’Farrell
  • The Furrows by Namwali Serpell
  • Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont by Elizabeth Taylor (a re-read for book club)
  • Glowing Still: A Woman’s Life on the Road by Sara Wheeler
  • In Memoriam by Alice Winn


  • This Is How Your Marriage Ends: A Hopeful Approach to Saving Relationships by Matthew Fray
  • Cuddy by Benjamin Myers
  • Between the Chalk and the Sea by Gail Simmons
  • The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher by Kate Summerscale (a re-read for book club)



  • How Not to Drown in a Glass of Water by Angie Cruz – I read the first 40 pages. A voice-driven novel about a middle-aged immigrant re-entering the work force, it has a certain charm but also (the Spanglish!) a slightly irksome quality.
  • Milk by Alice Kinsella – I was enjoying this a lot and had gotten to page 116 before it was requested on an interlibrary loan. I’ll pick it back up as soon as it returns to West Berkshire.



  • The Book of Eve by Meg Clothier – The first few pages didn’t grab me, but maybe I’d try it another time.
  • The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid – This seems like it would make a good holiday read, so I’ll wait until the demand for it dies down and try it later on.
  • A Complicated Matter by Anne Youngson – This was requested; I was also doubtful that I felt like reading yet another WWII novel just now.


What have you been reading or reviewing from the library recently?

Share a link to your own post in the comments. Feel free to use the above image. The hashtag is #LoveYourLibrary.

18 responses

  1. The well-being bags are an excellent idea! Glad to see you enjoyed the Barry. Interested to see what you think of In Memoriam, too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m enjoying In Memoriam very much. It’s rare to find a war story that feels different.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I think Book of Eve gets a lot better after the first few pages. It suffers from the classic problem of having an ‘exciting’ prologue imposed on it.

    The library has been good to me this month, giving me The Furrows, Birnam Wood and Cursed Bread as well. Turns out Newcastle central has started buying the full WP list as well, and the smaller local library usually has a few too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ll wait until the demand dies down and try The Book of Eve again.

      I thought my library did the same, but I’m still waiting for them to buy Memphis!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. We too have Wellbeing bags at our local library/ I’m not sure how much they’re borrowed, Also jigsaws. Don’t understand why people like these: it just interferes with reading time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I had no idea about the wellbeing bags until one turned up on my shelf check list of reservations and I had to ask a staff member what and where they were!

      Ha – I used to do jigsaws while watching telly … now I do neither. As you say, it’s just lost reading time.


  4. Libraries are so much more than a repository of books, especially in times and places where cuts to social spending have left them doing more and more of the heavy lifting that should be covered by mental health and housing services. It is beyond infuriating that the people who approved those spending cuts are often politically aligned with (/identical to) the people who would support library closure. It’s hard to see the motivation as anything other than naked cruelty and a desire to see people die in the street.

    [descends from soapbox] Anyway, here’s my LLL post for this month: a good one!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Down with Tory councils everywhere!

      Liked by 3 people

  5. There’s inevitably a close link between authoritarian governments, local and national, of whatever stripe, and book-banning coupled with officially sanctioned texts. It’s dispiriting, and deliberately meant so, and it’s everywhere. 😦

    Books I currently have on loan are Madeline Millers short story in mini format Galatea, Arthur Machen’s The Green Round, a new Penguin translation of Hesiod’s Works and Days and, finally, Highsmith’s Strangers on a Train. Hopefully I’ll get to some of these in the next few weeks…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Strangers on a Train is the only one of those that I’ve read. Controversially, I might have preferred the Hitchcock film!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. It’s an anxiety-inducing time to work in a library, I’ll tell you that.

    So you and I are the only ones left who haven’t read Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, eh? 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve still only read Daisy Jones and the Six, but I really liked that so will try to get to this one, maybe over the summer. (I DNFed Malibu Rising.)

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Wellbeing Bags and Reminiscence Boxes sound like a great idea! We’re working toward having more adult-oriented take home kits, but at the moment most things available are just for kids. I also haven’t read The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, or anything by Taylor Jenkins Reid – despite seeing them everywhere, they just don’t look like my cup of tea. Happy reading!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for your contribution! I love hearing about what other library systems have to offer. The Earth Day craft kits sound great. Similar to the tax information you provide, here we have signs offering help with getting people ready for voting with ID.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. The book banning and harassment of libraries here is horrifying, but it has been heartening to see a backlash against the stupidity. (I’d add a bit to your response to Elle – ‘and Republicans.’

    The library books I’m currently making my way through are: Finches by A.M. Muffaz, Spring Garden by Tomoka Shibasaki, and The Fawn by Magda Szabó. Am also listening to Seamus Heaney’s translation of Beowulf read by the poet.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, absolutely: “Tories” (Conservatives) are the UK equivalent of the Republican party.

      That sounds like a nice variety! I read Spring Garden a couple of years ago.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Close the libraries?!! Things are worse than I thought. No wonder my daughter is so upset all the time. (She reads the news more than I do – I’m good at staying away from it. Or, I’m just not on my phone as much?) The bum and fart books at our library are the most popular! We all love them so much!

    I can’t wait to read Old Babes in the Woods. Right now my library stack is toppling – there’s no way I’ll read even half of them before they have to go back. But I’ll just keep putting them back on hold. 🙂
    I’m another one who still hasn’t read Evelyn Hugo, although both of my daughters have!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There’s a lot in the world to be outraged about, it’s true. We need libraries to help educate and equip people for the fight for social justice!

      Old Babes in the Wood is so good. You and Marcie have got to read it for MARM if not before.

      Liked by 1 person

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