Library Checkout: June 2016


A bit different this month – I feel like June has lasted forever and I’m constantly surprised that it’s not already July. Still, June is ending which means it’s time to join Shannon @ Rivercity Reading in looking at library use! Hoping your reading takes off for you soon, Shannon!

June has been a busy month. Lots of socializing. And it’s been warmer which means that I’ve been driving into work more often (to avoid getting home and vomiting because the bus isn’t air conditioned and I am not made for that…First. World. Problem) so I’ve lost some reading time there as well.

One thing that hasn’t fallen away is my use of the library though. Out of the 11 books I’ve read this month, 6 of them have been library books. These sunny days also make it impossible not to walk over to the library at lunch to pick up more books and read in the grass outside.

So let’s get to the rundown.

Library Books Read
Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist by Sunil Yapa
Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye (really liked this one!)
The Wife, the Mistress, and the Maid by Arial Lawhon
Secret Lives of the Tsars: Three Centuries of Autocracy, Debauchery, Betrayal, Murder and Madness from Romanov Russia by Michael Farquar (this was amazing)
The Little Book by Selden Edwards (I finally, finally finished this…it’s been a process that I will post about later)
Midwives by Chris Bohjalian

Checked Out, To Be Read
The White Russian by Vanora Bennet
The House Girl by Tara Conklin
The Careful Use of Compliments by Alexander McCall Smith
The Radleys by Matt Haig
The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler

Returned, Unread
None yet but who knows at this point. I wish I could get back the time I’ve spent with The Little Book.

On Hold
Still not doing the library holds thing. I just like the browsing.

How did your June at the library look?


Library ghettoes

I started reading Beatriz Williams for the first time this year. I bought A Hundred Summers and the next time I went to the library, I thought I would go ahead and pick up another one of her books.

When I got to the W section, I couldn’t find any of her books. I assumed that she was incredibly popular and all of her books were currently out. The next time I was in the library, I did the same thing. Still, none of her books were there. I decided to use the computer to see what was going on and learned that Beatriz Williams’ books are considered Romance books and have their own section.

The problem, for me, is that I’ve long held Romance novels to be the domain of silver haired golden girls. I couldn’t just roll up to the Romance section and have other people see me searching the shelves for a book to read! I strolled past, like I was just passing through, and quickly dipped down to pick one up – luckily the Ws fell at the end of the row.


Me, sneaking into the Romance section

I’ve since returned a couple of times (for more) and every time I get the same feeling. I actually stopped and checked out some of the authors the other day and realized that I had looked for some of these authors in the past but never found them because I never go to the Romance section.

And this got me thinking: why the hell is there a romance section? And how are these decisions made? Jane Fallon, Jane Green and Sophie Kinsella are not Romance but Nora Roberts and Beatriz Williams are?

What about Danielle Steele? I’ve definitely seen her books in the regular fiction section.

The thing is, there are probably loads of readers that have never read work by authors they might really enjoy because they’ve been relegated to this Romance ghetto. I used to bypass the crime fiction/mystery section for the same reason. I thought that those books were only for old people (why am I so ageist?!) and gave them a pass until I started reading Agatha Christie several years ago. Crime fiction is still fiction. Romance novels are still fiction. Fantasy is still fiction.

Graphic novels – those can have their own section, that’s totally fine.

Why can’t they all live together in one big fiction section?

If you know the actual reason, please tell me!


Library Checkout: May 2016

Another month gone by! And so it’s time to talk about library books, thanks to Shannon @ Rivercity Reading.


Shannon didn’t use her library much this month, but I did. Especially when you consider that, overall, I didn’t read that much. I’m hoping to finish one more by the end of the month but that would still only bring me to 12 books read total.

Still, I wasn’t going to not go to the library. It’s not even that I haven’t been enjoying the books I’ve been reading – for the most part, I really have. I’ve just been adulting and that’s taken some time out of reading. But hey – the pace of summer is slower right? More reading time is just around the corner.

Here’s what I managed with the help of my library this month:

Library Books Read
Twain’s End by Lynn Cullen
Flappers: Six Women of a Dangerous Generation by Judith Mackrell (YAS to this book)
The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
Dietland by Sarai Walker (still in love)
Tiny Little Thing by Beatriz Williams
The World According to Bertie by Alexander McCall Smith

Checked Out, To Be Read
The Wife, the Maid and the Mistress by Ariel Lawhon (second time checking this out, better read it this time)
The White Russian by Vanora Bennett
Jane Steele by Lindsay Faye (someone is waiting for this one now so I either need to read it ASAP or return it)
The Little Book by Selden Edwards (read the first page, SO intrigued)
Midwives by Chris Bohjalian
Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist by Sunil Yapa (which apparently also has someone waiting for it and I totally found it on the shelves…not sure I can handle this kind of pressure)

Returned, Unread
None this month, huzzah!

On Hold
Maybe one day I will get into holds…

Did you go to the library this month? What did you take home?


Library Checkout: April 2016


I don’t know how, but we’re sailing into May! Shannon @ Rivercity Reading keeps inspiring me to go to the library – mostly so I can participate in the Library Checkout. Anytime you can get an easy blog post, you do it.

Library reading in April wasn’t great but it wasn’t terrible either. I anticipate more library usage in the future as we get serious about this moving thing. The books that I did read from the library were underwhelming but I feel like I still have a bunch out that could be great.

You may be wondering why I’m still using the library when I have a veritable library of unread books at home. I don’t have an answer except I’m a greedy reader and I’m doing my part to keep circulation numbers up.

Library Books Read
Girls of Riyadh by Rajaa Alsanea (wanted it to be like Crazy Rich Asians, it tried but wasn’t)
The Secret Life of Violet Grant by Beatriz Williams (strong ending, before that was kind of meh)
The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas (still mad)
One Plus One by Jojo Moyes (mostly charming but am hoping the next one of hers I read doesn’t involve a poor, struggling woman who falls in love with the rich man she’s working for)

Checked Out, To Be Read
The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
Flappers by Judith Mackrell
Twain’s End by Lynn Cullen
The World According to Bertie by Alexander McCall Smith
Tiny Little Thing by Beatriz Williams

Returned Unread
After Alice by Gregory Maguire

On Hold
You know I rarely put anything on hold. Still true.


Library Checkout: March 2016


Each month, Shannon @ Rivercity Reading does a library useage rundown and invites all of us to do the same.

I wrote this post. And then I realized that my library use in March was pathetic so I rectified it immediately. It started with wanting to return the books so others could love them and ended with a new pile of 5 books. A conservative stack, really.

Herewith, March, the library and me:

Library Books Read
Jennie Churchill: Winston’s American Mother by Anne Sebba
The Sisters: Babe Mortimer Paley, Betsy Roosevelt Whitney, Minnie Astor Fosburgh: The Lives and Times of the Fabulous Cushing Sisters by David Grafton
The Mathematician’s Shiva by Stuart Rojstaczer
In the Woods by Tana French
Dead Man’s Folly by Agatha Christie

Checked Out, To be Read
The Slap by Christos Tsoikos
The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johanson
Flappers: Six Women of a Dangerous Generation by Judith Mackrell
After Alice by Gregory Maguire
Girls of Riyadh by Rajaa Alsanea (sounds like Crazy Rich Asians in Saudi Arabia!!)
The Secret Life of Violet Grant by Beatriz Williams

Returned, Unread
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
The Color Purple by Alica Walker

On Hold
None. When I wrote this before I was like “no holds, I’m boring, sorry.” But now I have all these new books to read and I’m stoked.

What did your library reading look like in March?



Library Checkout: February 2016

Last month was dismal for library reading so I didn’t bother joining in with RiverCity Reading’s Library Checkout. But February was EXCELLENT for my relationship with the library and here we are!


Library Books Read
My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem
The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez
The Wrong Girl by David Hewson
The Grownup by Gillian Flynn
The Taxidermist’s Daughter by Kate Mosse
The Right Attitude to Rain by Alexander McCall Smith
A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby
The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights by Katha Politt

Returned Unread

Still To Be Read
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
Jennie Churchill: Winston’s American Mother by Anne Sebba
The Color  Purple by Alice Walker
The Sisters: Babe Mortimer Paley, Betsy Roosevelt Whitney, Minnie Astor Fosburgh: The Lives and Times of the Fabulous Cushing Sisters by David Grath

On Hold

See? A great library month. There was nothing better in February than the crackle of a fresh library cover. You know that particular sound that comes from reading a library book, yes?

How was your library month? I don’t know about you, but posting about my library usage always makes me want to run back to the library and get more books. And I need more books like I need a hole in my head.



Library Checkout: November 2015

We’ve already celebrated Thanksgiving up here in Canada but since this will go up on American Thanksgiving, just wanted to wish all of you celebrating a happy, delicious day with your loved ones.

I know I’m super thankful to Shannon at Rivercity Reading for starting this handy little library love chain letter because it means I don’t have to think about content for a blog post! And of course, I’m so thankful to have such wonderful libraries close to home because they continue to support my love of reading without devastating my bank account.

Let’s get to it!


Library Books Read

Dreams of Joy by Lisa See
Broken Harbour by Tana French
Snobs by Julian Fellowes
The Hypnotist’s Love Story by Liane Moriarty
The Pearl That Broke Its Shell by Nadia Hashimi

It felt like I had a strong library reading month but actually, I just had a strong library visiting month. I did manage to read these before my crippling inability to CHOOSE a book handcuffed me. (Anyone else feeling this right now? I dread finishing books because I have to DECIDE what I’m going to read next and I don’t want to make the “wrong” choice. As if there’s such a thing.)

Checked Out, To Be Read

The Wife, The Maid and the Mistress by Arial Lawhon
Partners in Crime by Agatha Christie
The Tsar of Love and Techno by Anthony Marra (I thought I had A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, Chelsey, but I don’t! This is the one I grabbed)
Carol by Patricia Highsmith

For some reason when it’s time to choose a new book and I look at these books I don’t want to read any of them. But I have the same issue with all the books I have yet to read, the ones I’ve borrowed and my own. What is happening?

Returned Unread

The Bishop’s Man by Linden McIntyre

I started reading it, was looking forward to reading it in fact. But nothing about it hooked me and after 60 pages I decided that actually I wasn’t in the mood to read about the horrible things priests did to kids that the Church did nothing about.

On Hold

Still nothing! I don’t deserve to get to hold anything – I was late returning some of the books and now I owe $0.60.

What did your library month look like? Any tips for healing my choosing paralysis? 



I Swear I’ve Been Reading

I have been suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuch a slacker blogger this week. I kept meaning to put some posts together but I’ve been so busy and then so tired from being busy that when I do get some time I just really want to watch 10 episodes of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia because, I mean, it’s the best.

And to be totally honest, I’m still not 100% on my game. So instead of the quality reviews and posts that you’ve obviously come to expect, here are a couple of mini-reviews. Less effort but you know that I’m not dead so everyone wins.


Shanghai Girls by Lisa See. Pearl and May are a pair of beautiful sisters, daughters of a wealthy business man in Shanghai. It’s 1937 and they spend their evenings in the “Paris of Asia”, modelling for calendars and hobnobbing with all the right people in exclusive nightclubs. But when their father loses all their money, he arranges marriages for both of them with the sons of a man who has gone to California to find his fortune. Soon after, their entire world literally collapses as the Japanese fly in and bomb Shanghai. With nothing left, the girls travel to Los Angeles to join their husbands but nothing in their new life is what they expected.

Why did no one tell me that this isn’t a complete story?! I read the whole thing and then it ends and I was like “WHAT’S THE REST OF THE STORY!?”Apparently there’s a sequel (Dreams of Joy) that needs reading? But I don’t even mind because it just means I get to spend more time in Lisa See’s world. I find that See does an incredible job creating a real sense of place. Ultimately this is a classic sister story, where two very different women have to live together because of their sisterhood and it was wonderful.

ronson_coverSo You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson. I’ve been meaning to read this book all year. Every time I saw it at a bookstore, I would stop and read a few pages. Turns out I’d read a lot more of it than I realized because almost the entire time I was actually reading it, I had an intense déjà vu feeling. I expected it for the first chapter, and I knew I had read the Justine Sacco (the woman who sent that tweet about how she wouldn’t get AIDS in South Africa because she’s white?) chapter online but I had definitely already read about 60% of the book and I have no idea how that happened. Still this is the kind of book that I want to highlight and underline. Ronson’s look at shame in this social media age, where we share everything about ourselves, good and bad, so publicly was amazing.

But there were also parts of it that I read that made me so angry. Not because of anything he wrote but because of what he realized. Namely that if you are a woman and you f*ck up publicly, be prepared for your life to be over. Whether you’ve sent an ill advised tweet, become involved in a sex scandal or even called out men for sexist jokes, you will be hooped. But if you’re a man, it will probably blow over. I’d definitely recommend it, especially if you work with media in any capacity.

murder-after-hoursMurder After Hours by Agatha Christie. Do you ever think that I will read an Agatha Christie novel and come away going “that was terrible”? Me neither. A whole bunch of people are invited up to an English country house. Unusually for Christie’s novels, a lot of the story takes place before anyone ever gets murdered. You meet the victim and get an idea of how they are related to all the other people invited for the weekend. When the murder occurs, Hercule Poirot has just shown up for lunch. I will never know how Christie constantly manages to trick me. Every time I’m like “I got it this time, I’ve finally figured these out!” and every time I end up like “WHAT?! HOW?!” Agatha Christie, I will always bow down to you, you are superior to all of us.

How about you? What have you read recently?


I exercised zero control at the library!

I’m getting married in just under three months. Let’s just take a moment and think about how insane that is.

Sh*t’s getting real. And expensive. I may or may not have fallen off the book buying ban wagon. I have been exercising zero self control but it’s time to get my butt back to regular library trips.

So I went to the library and it was awesome. Every time I go back to the library after a lengthy absence I’m blown away all over again that all of these wonderful books are available to me for free. There is nothing better than free books.

I wandered around and started grabbing books left and right. Finally, a place where I don’t need to exercise any self control! I never get any of the Speed Reads. I don’t like the pressure. But good lord, if I was ok with that, there are so many books on those shelves that I want. Truly an embarrassment of riches.

This is the point in the blog post where I tell you about the books that I got at the library!

Every time I go, I always get an Agatha Christie. It’s probably official library policy somewhere: when one visits, one must take home one Agatha Christie mystery. This time was no different and I got Cat Among the Pigeons. I’d never heard of this one but the cover was purple and that was enough of a reason for me.

While I was in the Mystery section anyway, I poked my head around the Rs and wouldn’t you know it? Ian Rankin’s Saints of the Shadow Bible was there. Multiple copies! Mine.

Last year I realized that I loved Elizabeth Gaskell. But I thought I had already read all of her work (Cranford, Mary Barton, Wives and Daughter, North and South) but I was wrong! There was still Ruth to love! That too was added to my pile.

When I finished The Kingmaker’s Daughter, I found myself intrigued by The White Princess, despite my best intentions. I didn’t love The Kingmaker’s Daughter but the end was so…unfinished. I knew I’d eventually have to read the follow up. I haven’t come across it at very frequently – it was one book that I knew I wasn’t going to buy. But it was waiting for me at the library this time.

I keep hearing amazing things about The Storied Life of AJ Fikry. I’ve come across it in bookstores and I haven’t bought it. I ended up finding it tucked in among piles of books just returned and decided that it was the perfect time to actually read it. I can’t wait to get to this one.

I’m watching The Borgias with Jeremy Irons on Netflix right now and loving it. There’s a lot of really cool history happening but it’s an era that I’m not familiar with. I don’t know very much about different popes or the kings, dukes and leaders of Italy as it was; Italian history in general actually. The show has made me want to know more and when I found a biography of Lucretzia Borgia (one of my favourite characters on the show) I needed to have it. I suspect that this will be one of those times I’m sad that I didn’t buy the book.

Finally, I grabbed a biography of Queen Anne. I know about as much about the Stuart monarchs as I do about Italian history and I’m looking forward to remedying that.

What do you think of my library haul? Have you read any of them?