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Archive for the ‘Library Loot’ Category

badge-4Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Sharlene from Real Life Reading that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.

How are you doing?  For most of us, this week marks a year since Covid restrictions first entered our lives and everything got very quiet very quickly.  I remember dashing around stocking up on library items in the days before the lockdown started, sensing that it would be coming and being very thankful in the months that followed that I had!  Of all the things I had to worry about, running out of reading material was not one of them.

A year later, hope is in sight – especially for those of you in the US and the UK where the vaccine rollout has been so miraculously fast.  What a thing to already have already given the first dose to a quarter and a third of your eligible populations!  We are administering whatever vaccine supply arrives (we cannot produce it domestically) but it will be a much longer wait – in my province the hope is for everyone to have their first dose by the end of July.  Until then, at least there are books!

No Picnic on Mount Kenya by Felice Benuzzi – I’ve had this tale of Italian POWs’ escape on my list for a few years but it was reading Eric Newby’s memoir Love and War in the Apennines last month that made me seek it out.  After reading about Brits escaping Italian captors, what better foil than Italians slipping past their British guards?

The Man Who Was Greenmantle by Margaret FitzHerbert – I feel rather guilty about this one.  Herbert has been on my periphery for a while but it was reading A Rage for Rock Gardening, an elegantly slim biography of his friend Reginald Farrer, that proved the tipping point for seeking this out.  Farrer, a plant hunter and gardener, had considerable achievements of his own but made extraordinary friends at Oxford whose achievements and exploits would outclass his.  I took away many things from the Farrer biography but chief among them was the determination to read about his friends, Herbert especially.

A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes – The Trojan War as seen through women’s eyes.  Jane was enthusiastic when she read it last year and included it in her Box of Books for 2020.


Lost Children by Edith Pargeter – It’s hard too find too much about this but it appears that mystery-writer Pargeter (who wrote primarily as Ellis Peters) wrote “a love story set in post war Britain about the relationship that grows between an upper-class girl living in a grand house and a young national serviceman stationed nearby” (thank you Google Books).  I’m intrigued.

The Jewel Garden by Monty and Sarah Don – The Jewel Garden is the story of the garden that bloomed from the muddy fields around the Dons’ Tudor farmhouse, a perfect metaphor for the Monty and Sarah’s own rise from the ashes of a spectacular commercial failure in the late ’80s . At the same time The Jewel Garden is the story of a creative partnership that has weathered the greatest storm, and a testament to the healing powers of the soil. 

Kiftsgate Court Gardens by Vanessa Berridge – Gorgeous book about the family-run Cotswolds garden and the three generations of women who have created and cared for it.

A completely unintentional trio of WWI-themed books:

No Man’s Land by Wendy Moore – the story of pioneering female doctors and the life-saving military hospital they ran.  Published as Endell Street in the UK.

Band of Sisters by Lauren Willig – I read this as soon as I picked it up on Saturday and thoroughly enjoyed Willig’s newest release, a novel about a group of Smith College alumnae who leave America in 1917 to provide aid to devastated French villages near the front lines.

Into the Blizzard by Michael Winter – I was looking for books about walking and came across this history-cum-travel-memoir in which Winter travels through the battlefields of the First World War while telling the devastating story of the Newfoundland Regiment and the battle of Beaumont-Hamel.

What did you pick up this week?

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badge-4Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Sharlene from Real Life Reading that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.

Lots of excitement in our family since my last library post: last Friday (on my birthday) my newest nephew was born!  That brings it to three kids in under 39 months for my brother and sister-in-law – a busy household for years to come!  It’s hard – especially for the grandparents – not knowing when we’ll be able to go and visit them, even for a socially distanced sighting of the new arrival, but we’re hopeful travel will become an option as we move into spring.  Until then, plenty of books remain to keep me occupied.

A Sky Painted Gold by Laura Wood – I’ve been hearing good things about Laura Wood for a few years but it was Jane’s inclusion of Wood’s most recent novel in her box of books for 2020 that finally spurred me to action.  (Jane’s review of this, Wood’s first YA novel, is also worth checking out.)

Love and War in the WRNS by Vicky Unwin – I’ve had this on my to-read list for a few years but can’t remember now where I originally came across it.  It’s a collection of one woman’s letters from her time in the WRNS during the war, so no surprise that it appealed to me.

Twilight of Democracy by Anne Applebaum – Applebaum, a writer for The Atlantic, looks at why authoritarianism thrives.  This article from 2018, which describes the rifts Applebaum and her husband have experienced with one-time friends in his Polish homeland as the country has become increasing divided, was the inspiration for the book.

The Ex Talk by Rachel Lynn Solomon – I’ve just starting reading this delightful rom-com about two public radio colleagues who become cohosts of a new show about relationships based around the lie that they once dated.

The Piper on the Mountain by Ellis Peters – Elisabeth mentioned this 1960s mystery at the end of 2019 as one of the best books she had read that year and I was immediately intrigued by it’s Slovakian setting.  It just took me a while to do anything about it.

All the Young Men by Ruth Coker Burks with Kevin Carr O’Leary – A moving memoir of an Arkansan woman who became a caregiver and passionate AIDS education advocate starting in the mid-1980s.

What did you pick up this week?

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badge-4Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Sharlene from Real Life Reading that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.

Brrr.  February is off to a chilly start but the skies are blue and, with sunshine now available, you can actually tell the days are getting longer!  It is so encouraging and with all of the snopdrops, crocuses, and camellias in blossom, spring feels very close now.  Except for the snow in the forecast but I’m doing my best to ignore that (may it chose to ignore us in return).  Still no changes to our restrictions here (we have had rules restricting socialising outside of your household group since early November) so still lots of time to read and lots of new books from the library:

Rest and Be Thankful by Helen MacInnes – a few years ago, Elisabeth made a list of her favourite “hidden gems“.  It contains several books I already love so I immediately added the others to my to-read this, with this title being the one I was most intrigued by.  Published in the late forties, it is the story of two friends who, after almost twenty years in Europe, decide to host aspiring writers at a ranch in Wyoming.

A Sound Mind by Paul Morley – When I wrote about Year of Wonder in January, Karen mentioned she had been reading this title, also about classical music, so I immediately tracked it down.

That Can Be Arranged by Huda Fahmy – I don’t follow Fahmy on social media but her wonderful comics about life as an American Muslim woman are reposted so often by friends that it can feel like I do.  In this graphic memoir, she shares how she met and married her husband.

Ghosting by Jennie Erdal – A memoir about life as a ghostwriter (which I’m only aware of thanks to its reissue by Slightly Foxed).

A Bookshop in Berlin by Françoise Frenkel – A memoir of a Jewish bookstore owner’s experiences during the Second World War.

Ex Libris by Michiko Kakutani – One hundred personal essays about books – who could resist?

She Wore Red Trainers by Na’ima B. Robert – I have a long list of titles to track down through inter-library loan and am slowly working my way through it.  There are a lot of new YA titles from Muslim authors these days but back in 2014 that seemed to be much rarer, which is how this caught my attention.  More than six years later, here we finally are.

La Seduction by Elaine Sciolino – I have been watching almost entirely French programing the last five or six weeks so, clearly, need that to now expand over into my reading.

Our Darkest Night by Jennifer Robson – I was so excited about this new release from Robson, a historical novel featuring the always reliable plot device of a marriage of convenience to save someone from the Nazis.  Who can resist this?  And set in Italy no less!  I read it as soon as I picked it up from the library but was deeply disappointed.  It’s not awful but it was sadly flat.

What did you pick up this week?

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badge-4Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Sharlene from Real Life Reading that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.

There was a superb episode of the podcast “You’re Booked” over the holidays with Ella Risbridger, in which they talked about the Out of the Hitler Time trilogy by Judith Kerr, consisting of When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit, Bombs on Aunt Dainty, and A Small Person Far Away.  I read When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit as a child but had no idea that Anna’s story continued in other books so have set out to read the series in sequence.

A strong showing for the interlibrary loan system this week with three intriguing titles:

Illyrian Spring by Ann Bridge – I’ve been looking forward to reading this for years thanks to Rachel’s enthusiasm for it.  After such a long time without travel (and so much longer still ahead), books about people on vacation are the next best thing – especially as the setting here is the Dalmatian Coast, one of my favourite places.

Dashbury Park by Susan Tweedsmuir – Scott recently wrote about Susan Tweedsmuir’s Victorian novels and while I was familiar with Cousin Harriet (an excellent book), somehow the other two had passed me by.

The Youngest Lady-in-Waiting by Mara Kay – the sequel to Masha, which I read earlier this month.  I only became aware of these children’s books recently after reading Elaine’s very fond review at Shiny New Books.

Hafiz of Shiraz translated by Peter Avery and John Heath-Stubbs – Simon was talking about his desire and determination to be a person who likes poetry last week.  I’ve never had huge success with poetry but, like Simon, I keep trying to read it and find what I like.  I’ve read and watched a few things set in Iran this month so Hafiz was top of my mind when it came to poets and I picked up this slim volume of only 30 poems.

Love Thy Neighbor by Ayaz Virji – This caught my eye back in 2019 thanks to this NPR interview and my library has now acquired a copy.

The Family Tree by Sairish Hussain – Hugely praised and shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award last year, I’m about a third of the way through this novel about a British Muslim family and have mixed feelings.  The writing is good and the characters well-drawn but it feels unnecessarily long.  I’m going to persevere a while longer but this may be one I abandon.

In February (which is next week!), Karen and Lizzy are hosting Reading Independent Publishers Month.  I have plenty of things off my own shelves that I’m looking forward to reading but couldn’t resist picking up two titles I’ve long had on my TBR list from Eland Books: Two Middle-Aged Ladies in Andalusia by Penelope Chetwode and Journey into the Mind’s Eye by Lesley Blanch

A Deadly Divide by Ausma Zehanat Khan – The final book in the Khattak/Getty mystery series which began with The Unquiet Dead.  It’s rare that I read mysteries and rarer still that I race through them as quickly as I have with this excellent series.

What did you pick up this week?

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badge-4Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Sharlene from Real Life Reading that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.

My library has decided to kick off the New Year with a return to normality.  The extra long loan periods we’ve been enjoying and moratorium on late fees are now a thing of the past.  Ah well, they were good while they lasted (though I never got to test the late fee exception – I’m too well trained to break rules even with approval to do so).  Our usual loan period here is 3 weeks, with the option to renew books up to 2 times if there isn’t a hold queue, so there’s still plenty of time available to read everything.

I don’t read mysteries but made an exception after hearing so much praise for The Unquiet Dead by Ausma Zehanat Khan.  It is superb and, after quickly passing it on to my mother to read, I immediately placed holds on the next three books in the series: The Language of Secrets, Among the Ruins, and A Dangerous Crossing (published as No Place of Refuge in the UK).  I am now rationing them out so I don’t speed through the series too fast.

For something completely different, I also picked up:

Just Enough Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse – a collection of the best Jeeves novels: Right Ho, Jeeves, Joy in the Morning, and Very Good, Jeeves.

Off the Road by Jack Hitt – I was running errands on the weekend and dropped by a library branch I don’t usually visit.  I found this during my brief browsing and was delighted.  You know by now that I can never resist a travel memoir about a walk (though I wouldn’t complain if people wrote about journeys other than the Camino de Santiago).

Map of Another Town by M.F.K. Fisher – Food-writer Fisher’s memoir of her move to Aix-en-Provence after the Second World War.

What did you pick up this week?

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badge-4Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Sharlene from Real Life Reading that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.

We have almost made it to the end of 2020!  That came up fast – so fast in fact that I didn’t realise how many library holds I had paused until the end of December until they suddenly arrived this week in an avalanche.  But it’s the best and least lethal form of avalanche and I have every hope of being able to dig my way out while enjoying the process.

We Germans by Alexander Starritt – I’m very intrigued by this slim novel, which takes the form of a letter written by a German veteran of the Second World War to his British grandson.

Life and Fate by Vasily Grossman – I read the epic Stalingrad a few months ago and this companion is praised as even more engaging and the best of Grossman’s works.

How to be an Epicurean by Catherine Wilson – the stoics have had their recent revival and here philosopher Wilson does her part to reestablish the Epicureans’ recipe for happiness: “a philosophy that promoted reason, respect for the natural world, and reverence for our fellow humans”.

Sarah’s Cottage by D.E. Stevenson – the sequel to Sarah Morris Remembers, which I recently reread.  I remember this being weak and unimpressive and yet I wasn’t ready to be done with Sarah after finishing the first book.

The Nymph and the Lamp by Thomas H. Raddall – During the 1956 Club back in October, Naomi at Consumed by Ink reviewed another book by Raddall, which intrigued me.  She also mentioned that this was her favourite title by him so I made it the first one I tracked down.

From Here to There by Michael Bond – I find the navigating instinct fascinating and so it’s no surprise that this volume, subtitled “the art and science of finding and losing our way“, appeals.

Rain by Melissa Harrison – There are many joys to be had from walking in the rain, which is good is it’s the only possible type of walking available here for much of the year.  Here Harrison takes the reader along on four walks taken in the rain throughout the year around England

A Promise of Ankles by Alexander McCall Smith – The most recent instalment in the 44 Scotland Street series.

All About Us by Tom Ellen – a light and fluffy filler.

Islamic Empires by Justin Marozzi – portraits of 15 different Islamic cities across history, focusing on each at the height of its powers.  I love the premise of this, though it did get a brutal review in the Guardian.

Masha by Mary Kay – I recently saw a review of The Youngest Lady in Waiting over at Shiny New Books and immediately placed a hold on this earlier book.

Noble Savages by Sarah Watling – Finally!  This was in every bookstore when I visited London last year but limited luggage space kept me from buying this biography of four fascinating sisters.  I’m delighted that my patience has finally been rewarded.

What did you pick up this week?

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badge-4Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Sharlene from Real Life Reading that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.

Sharlene has the Mr Linky this week

The last gasp before Christmas and I am certainly gasping.  This year has felt like a marathon that will never end and I so looking forward to taking some time off.  I’m working Christmas Eve morning but after that will be off until January 4th, leaving plenty of time for Christmas celebrations (which start and end on Christmas Eve in our house), lots of time outdoors (most likely in the rain, based on the weather forecast, but positive temperatures in December are a highlight of living in Vancouver), and, of course, reading.

I still have plenty of books left from recent library trips but have added still a few more (and the library will be open next week so I’ll doubtlessly find more then):

Dark, Salt, Clear by Lamorna Ash – I read about this account of life in a Cornish fishing town back in the spring and was delighted to see the library had acquired it.

Possession by A.S. Byatt – I haven’t read this in far too long and it truly is the perfect book for dark wintery nights.

The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13 3/4 by Sue Townsend – I think I was younger than Adrian Mole last time I read this and am looking forward to some humour – if ever there was a year when we needed funny books!

What did you pick up this week?

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badge-4Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Sharlene from Real Life Reading that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.

With just about two weeks left in 2020 (hurrah and good riddance!), I am stocking up on books for the holidays.  I’m not taking too much time off – just three working days – but the way the holidays and weekends align means I’ll have a lovely 10 and a half days without work.  With no entertaining pressures this year (no socialising outside of your household where I live), that leaves a lot of time to fill with books and walks.  Sounds perfect!

A Bite of the Apple by Lennie Goodings – the much-read memoir about the founding of Virago Press.  The Guardian described it as an “essential literary memoir” and everything I’ve heard from other readers has been enthusiastic.

Love and Freedom by Rosemary Kavan – A memoir of the sinister early years of the communist regime in Czechoslovakia by an Englishwoman married to a Czech.  This complements the extraordinary memoir, Under a Cruel Star by Heda Margolius Kovály, as both women’s husbands were persecuted during the show trials of the early 1950s.

Outpost by Dan Richards – a journey around the world in search of remote retreats.

Book by Book by Michael Dirda – Subtitled “notes on reading and life”, I’m so looking forward to this.  I loved Browsings by Dirda and think he is one of the best writers about books and the joys of reading.

Perfume from Provence by Winifred Fortescue – a 1930s  best-seller about moving to France.

The Pattern in the Carpet by Margaret Drabble – Last Christmas we pulled out some old jigsaw puzzles for the first time in years and since then have been unstoppable.  Drabble has been a more constant of lover of puzzles and here looks back on her life-long enjoyment of them.

Rachel to the Rescue by Elinor Lipman – a new book from Lipman!  A political satire/romantic comedy for the Trump era seems ambitious but I trust Lipman to always be entertaining.

Better Luck Next Time by Kate Hilton – Not a winner.  I’d heard this mentioned as a family story about the children of an activist icon and their cousins but, belatedly, also saw it advertised as a divorce romantic comedy.  It didn’t succeed as either for me but it was one of those quick books that I kept reading, willing it to get better and reward my attention.  It didn’t.

Swiss Watching by Diccon Bewes – I can’t go and observe the Swiss in person (*sob*) so I might as well read Bewes’ take on them.

What did you pick up this week?

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badge-4Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Sharlene from Real Life Reading that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.

The Selected Writings of Sydney Smith edited by W.H. Auden – When I read The Wry Romance of the Literary Rectory back in 2013, the standout individual profiled in it – for me – was Sydney Smith, the witty essayist, diarist, and clergyman.  He was already on my radar then but the book confirmed my desire to learn more about him…so of course I did nothing for eight years.  Picking up An Englishman’s Commonplace Book by Roger Hudson recently, I was inspired the Smith quotations included there to finally track down this selection of his writings.

A Chip Shop in Poznan by Ben Aitken – Back to my favourite genre: the expat memoir.  Here Aitken moves to Poland for a year to better understand why Poles are leaving their country.

Life without a Recipe by Diana Abu-Jaber – I loved Abu-Jaber’s first memoir, The Language of Baklava, and am looking forward to this follow-up.

The Unquiet Dead by Ausma Zehanat Khan – I borrowed this back in August as an e-book but reached a point where I couldn’t stand to use my e-reader for a while.  I’ve got this out now as a nice hardcover – much more satisfying.

Us Against You by Fredrik Backman – I finally caught up with the rest of the world and read Beartown last week and loved every page of it.  Even before I finished reading, I made sure to grab the sequel.

Sarah Morris Remembers by D.E. Stevenson – I read this in 2012 back when I was racing through all of D.E. Stevenson’s books and it stood out then as one of her best.  I’ve been struggling to find a copy of my own so am delighted the interlibrary loan system is running again and was able to lend this to me.  It’s the perfect cosy comfort read for winter.

What did you pick up this week?

Read Full Post »

badge-4Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Sharlene from Real Life Reading that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.

Last week didn’t go quite as planned for me.  I’d been looking forward to taking Thursday and Friday off work (following the Wednesday holiday for Remembrance Day) and escaping to Vancouver Island for a little break.  I’ve only left Vancouver twice in the last year and was eager to be anywhere that wasn’t my house for just a couple of days, even a place that I’d usually visit as a day trip.  But alas, the COVID numbers are rising dramatically here so they’ve sensibly asked us to avoid non-essential travel from the plague-ridden metropolis.

Instead, I spent my time off doing lots of walking, gardening, and, to a surprisingly small extent, reading.  I’m deep into The Eighth Life by Nino Haratischvili, which is a wonderfully absorbing Georgian family saga, though I’m picking up a few shorter books to give myself little breaks from it (it’s over 900 pages).  I couldn’t resist starting in on one of my most recent library books as soon as I picked it up…

Gilead by Marilynne Robinson – yes, I’ve finally gone and read this beloved Pulitzer-prize-winning novel!  And very suitably it’s also the subject of Simon and Rachel’s most recent podcast episode.

Frederick the Great by Nancy Mitford – Obviously better known as a novelist, I’m intrigued by the non-fiction books Mitford wrote.  This will be the first one I’ve actually read but where better to start than with one of the most fascinating of enlightened despots?

Fabulous Monsters by Alberto Manguel – I’m in the mood for books about books and it’s hard to be in safer hands than Manguel’s.  Here he takes “an original look at how literary characters can transcend their books to guide our lives.”

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig – This sounds wonderful and like just the right thing to read in these dark days.  I know I’m in safe hands with Haig.

What did you pick up this week?

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