Library Loot

Library books have been coming home more quickly than they are going back, but it is so tempting to check my library account, see if anything has arrived, look for any good book I’ve spotted, see if anything I’ve been waiting for has come into stock, maybe order a book from one of my library lists

There are worse – and more expensive – sins!

But I have to catch up with myself because this week I took just one book – that I didn’t get on with – back, and I picked up four reservations.

My library ticket will only stretch so far!


The Sea Sisters by Lucy Clarke

“There are some currents in the relationship between sisters that run so dark and deep, it’s better for people on the surface never to know what’s beneath …”

I love stories about sisters, I love stories about the sea, and so I had to order this one.

The Promise by Ann Weisgarber

“I read Oscar’s letter again. He offered escape from my debts, from my mother’s rejection, and from certain poverty. He offered escape from myself.”

This went on to my ‘please put it into stock’ list when Lindsey wrote about it, and when I spotted it going into stock I jumped into the queue. I’ve nearly finished this one, and I’m impressed …

Dot by Araminta Hall

“Dot he thought, let her be Dot. because she is a beginning. A tiny dot of life that will grow into something wonderful.”

I liked Araminta Hall’s first novel, this looked like an interesting progression, and when Naomi wrote about Dot I just had to place an order. I’ve read just the first few chapters, and I’m intrigued …

The Curious Habits of Doctor Adams: a 1950’s Murder Mystery by Jane Robins

“Was Mrs Gertrude Hullet murdered at her luxurious 15-room house on Beachy Head? detectives are trying to establish the cause of the 50-year-old widow’s sudden death …”

I was impresses with Jane Robins’ first book – an account of the brides in the bath case that mixed intrigue, biography and social history – and so when I saw she had written another, about a case I knew nothing about, I ordered it straight away.

I’m quite taken with the fact that my library loot is colour coordinated this week.

And I’m pleased that I’ll be able to take a couple of books back this weekend, because there are already more reservations waiting …

The Library Reservations Project: Hooray for Lists

Earlier in the year I ditched the idea of restricting library reservations and changed my project into one to celebrate the magic of library reservations.

The Library Reservations Project1

I’ve tried to strike a balance between not ordering too many books and not forgetting about them by using the list making facilities on my library’s website. I have a ‘soon’ list, a ‘maybe one day’ list and a ‘please put it into stock’ list.

A few weeks ago I ditched the idea of restricting library reservations and changed my project into one to celebrate the magic of library reservations.

I’ve tried to strike a balance between not ordering too many books and not forgetting about them by using the list making facilities on my library’s website. I have a ‘soon’ list, a ‘maybe one day’ list and a ‘please put it into stock’ list.

They are growing at a healthy rate, and reminding me that I need never run out of great books, and I don’t need to break the bank to but them all

And here’s list of ten interesting prospects for the future:

Heroines & Harlots: Women at Sea in the Great Age of Sail by David Cordingly

I really don’t remember how I found this one, but I love the title, I love stories of the sea, and so I popped it on a list.

Memories: incorporating Perverse and Foolish and Memory in a House by Lucy M Boston

I read such praise for Lucy M Boston’s two volumes of memoirs that I had to look for a copy. I found one, but I was distracted by Yew Hall, her one novel for adults, and so this one went in to a list to be ordered another day.

The Knot by Jane Borodale

“When Henry Lyte brings his young bride Frances home to his Somerset estate, he hopes she will share in his devotion to the garden – a refuge of fruit trees and flower beds, with a knot of herbs at its heart. Henry is a scholar, and his life’s work is his ‘herbal’ – a book of plants and their medicinal properties, intended for those who cannot afford physicians’ expensive cures.But life on the edges of the flood plains makes Frances uneasy, and there are strange rumours abroad concerning the death of Henry’s first wife – rumours that can be traced to Henry’s step-mother Joan Young, a grasping woman eager to seize control of the family’s lands. And while Henry cannot tear himself from his studies, he stands the risk of losing everything he loves.”

I liked Jane Borodale’s first novel – with just a few reservation – but I think this could be lovely – and a real progression – so I out it on the list, ready to order when the historical novel reading bug next strikes.

The Cornish Fox by C H B Kitchin

I spotted Streamers Waving by C H B Kitchin in the Faber Finds catalogue, I liked the look of it, I read it, I loved it, and it slotted nicely into my Century of Books. When I looked to see if the library had any more of his books I was intrigued by this title. I haven’t been able to find out anything about it, but I’ve added it to my list to be read one day when the century is done.

The Hive: the Story of the Honeybee and Us by Bee Wilson

Bee Wilson’s Consider The Fork has been on my bedside table for ages. It’s lovely, but it’s a dipping into and reading the same bit over and over again kind of book, and I don’t really want to reach the end. But I checked to see if Bee Wilson had written anything else, and I found this, and listed it to order when I finish my consideration of forks. And not just forks pretty much anything else you might find in a kitchen too …

Pied Piper by Nevil Shute

I read a few of Nevil Shutes’ novels from my parents’ shelves back when I first started reading grown-up books. They didn’t have this one, but Darlene gave it a very warm recommendation, and that’s a good enough reason to add it to my library lists.

The White Lie by Andrea Gillies

“On a hot summer’s afternoon, Ursula Salter runs sobbing from the loch on her parents’ Scottish estate and confesses, distraught, that she has killed Michael, her 19 year old nephew. But what really happened? No body can be found, and Ursula’s story is full of contradictions. In order to protect her, the Salters come up with another version of events, a decision that some of them will come to regret. Years later, at a family gathering, a witness speaks up and the web of deceit begins to unravel.”

I ordered this not long after it was published, but I couldn’t find the time to read it before I had to return to, to be passed on to the next person in the queue. This was before I could make lists on my library account and I nearly forgot it, but Cat wrote about it not so long ago, and I listed it to make sure I don’t forget it again.

Lucy Carmichael by Margaret Kennedy

I’ve fallen in love with Margaret Kennedy’s writing, and I’m slowly working my way through a number of her books that the library has in reserve stock. This one is next. because I love the idea of the story – a heroine jilted on her wedding day strikes out on a new path in life – and because it will fill a vacant year on my Century of Books.

And Then There Was One by Joyce Dennys

I stumble across this childhood memoir purely by chance, and I listed it ready to order once I’ve read Joyce Dennys’s  much loved Henrietta novels. I own the first, and I’ve spotted a copy of the second in my local library.

To Serve Them All My Days by R F Delderfield

This is another book I read from my parents’s shelves years ago – and I remember a very good television adaptation too. I was delighted to spot it when I was looking to fill difficult years in my Century of Books, checked the library catalogue, found a copy, and listed it so I wouldn’t forget.

…. and that’s ten!

Library Loot

A couple of years ago I worked within walking distance of home, and my route took me past the library in opening hours. that meant that I could pop in any day of the week, to return books, to pick up reservations, to check for new arrivals …

Now though I drive to work and with earlier closing times I can only get to the library on Saturdays.

Which is not to say that between reservations and books found on the shelves that my ticket isn’t stretched.

This week four books came home:


I spotted an NYRB Classics edition of Stoner by John Williams a few years ago, I read some very positive reports, and I added it to my wishlist. A few weeks ago I noticed that there was a UK edition too – published by Vintage. I checked the library catalogue and I found that there was one copy, further up the county. I placed an order, and it’s going to fill one of the vavant slots in my century of books.

I’ve been meaning to read more about suffragettes ever since I read No Surrender by Constance Maud, and I think that March Women March by Lucinda Hawksley might be exactly the book I wanted. A broad history of the women’s movement in the UK from 1792 to 1928, full of extracts from letters and diaries.

I’ve been looking out for Lesley Thomson‘s first book, but her second book turned up first.  The Detective’s Daughter is a mystery, and with comparisons drawn with both Kate Atkinson and Ian Rankin it looks very, very promising.

And then there’s Flappers by Judith Mackrell. I’ve been stalking this one – a collective biography of six fascinating women: Diana Cooper, Nancy Cunard, Tallulah Bankhead, Zelda Fitzgerald, Josephine Baker and Tamara de Lempicka – and I was ready to place an order the very moment it was added to stock.

An excellent return on just one visit …

What did you find in the library this week?

Ten Library Books and Ten Very Good Reasons for Placing a Reservation.

A few weeks ago I ditched the idea of restricting library reservations and changed my project into one to celebrate the magic of library reservations.

The Library Reservations Project1

There are so many things that can spark a search, and it’s wonderful what you can find, in reserve stock or in other libraries, just by running a simple search.

So here’s a list of ten books – a couple that have come home, a couple that are waiting at the library, a few that I have on order and a few more that I plan to order very soon.

What Not by Rose Macaulay

‘The Love-Charm of Bombs’ made me want to read more of Rose Macaulay’s books. Most of all I wanted to read ‘What Not’ –  a book she wrote during the Great War, inspired by her work at the Ministry of Information and her new love affair with Gerald O’Donovan. That relationship would continue until his death, in 1942. The book is out of print and I’ve never come across a copy, but I found one in the library’s fiction reserve.

Nancy: The Story of Lady Astor by Adrian Fort

When this appeared as a group read for the GoodReads Bright Young Things I realised that I new very little about Nancy Astor. Save that she was American, that she was the first woman MP to take her seat, and that her constituency was in Plymouth. I’m curious but I can’t justify buying a book only available in hardback that I’ll probably read only once. The library has a few copies scattered around the county, so I placed an order.

Yew Hall by Lucy M Boston

A mention of Lucy M Boston’s memoirs in the comments that followed Hayley’s lovely post  about Rumer Godden’s ‘A Fugue in Time’ sent me scurrying to the library catalogue. The book was there. And I spotted Lucy M Boston’s first novel, a story of a house with a long history, written for ‘new adults’ and thought it might sit well on the 1954 slot in my Century of Books.

Jambusters: The Story of the Women’s Institute in the Second World War by Julie Summers

One book caught my eye in the window of The End of the World Bookshop with Briar one evening last week. It wasn’t in the library catalogue when I looked for it later that evening, but I put it on to my ‘please add it to stock’ list and a few days later it appeared.

At this point I must say that I do visit bookshops in opening hours and I do buy new books, but I lack both the budget for hardbacks and the patience to wait for more affordable paperback editions.

The Carrier by Sophie Hannah

This is a simple case of knowing a ‘must read’ author had a new book coming out, watching for it to come into stock and then getting my order in. I’ll probably add a copy to my collection when out in paperback but I couldn’t wait that long and I could see copies going on to library shelves up and down the county ….

Carnival by Compton Mackenzie

I’d never thought to find out what Compton Mackenzie had written beyond
Whisky Galore, Monarch of the Glen, and diaries. But Hayley’s post about The Adventures of Sylvia Scarlett intrigued me. Now I’ve looked I’ve found a far more interesting author than I’d ever  realised, and I’ve ordered Carnival, from 1912, a story of theatrical folk with a Cornish connection to fill a gap in my Century of Books.

Underground, Overground: A Passenger’s History of the Tube by Andrew Martin

Last year’s new edition of ‘Poems from the Undergound’ made me nostalgic for my commuting days and so when I spotted Karen buying this book I added it to my wishlist. And when she mentioned a reference to Dorothy Whipple I placed my order.

The Lovely Ship by Storm Jameson

When I saw mention of a trilogy by Storm Jameson in ‘We Write as Women,’ I thought it would be ‘The Mirror in Darkness’ trilogy that I read years ago. But it wasn’t, it was another trilogy telling the story, beginning in the 1840s, of a woman who was heir to a great shipbuilding company. I was intrigued, the first book came from a year still to be filled in my century of books, and so I placed an order.

Bloomsbury Ballerina: Lydia Lopokova, Imperial Dancer and Mrs John Maynard Keynes by Judith Mackrell

I spotted ‘Flappers’ when Cate pinned the oh so striking cover, and I immediately went to add it to my wishlist. It was then that I spotted and other intriguing title by Judith Mackrell. I’d already bought two books that day and I couldn’t justify another so I checked the library catalogue. There are two copies further up the county.

Summer Visits by Margery Sharp

If only somebody would reissue Margery Sharp’s novels I would rush out and buy them all. But as nobody has – yet – I pick up used copies where I can and I order others that the library has and I haven’t found when the mood strikes. ‘Summer Visits’ sounded so appealing on a cool, grey day …

And that’s ten!

The Library Reservations Project is Dead … Long Live the Library Reservations Project …

The Library Reservations Project1

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

“I order lots of books from the library. New books that I don’t expect to see on the shelves. Old books tucked away in reserve stock. Books that I’d be inclined to buy, but I check the library for first …

None of those are bad things, but often I find I don’t have space on my card when a stack of books arrive at the same time, or that I don’t have space left on my ticket for anything I might spot on the shelves. Which is a very bad thing. Because often the best books are the ones you haven’t heard about, that you just spot, and you can tell other people about.

And so this year I am going to restrict my library reservations. I couldn’t give up completely – I wouldn’t even try – but I am allowing myself just twenty-four for the year. My thinking is that way I can order one shiny new book and one lost gem a month, and anything else can go on my ‘one day list’ – until a copy turns up, until I have a spot to fill, or until I change my mind.”

But it was never going to work.

It did for a while, but then I read The Love Charm of Bombs and I was inspired  to to seek out the works of the authors celebrated in its pages: Elizabeth Bowen, Graham Greene, Rose Macaulay, Henry Green, Hilde Spiel.

I have some of their books on my shelves, but many that I don’t are tucked away in reserve library stock. And it made sense to order the library books, that may not be there forever, and come back to my own books later.

We Write as Women set me off looking for even more old books.

Darlene praised for Nevil Shute, encouraging me to search the library catalogue again. Lots of books in reserve stock!

Hayley made me realise that Compton Mackenzie was a far more interesting author than I’d thought. And yes, he’s well represented in reserve stock too.

I could go on, but I’m sure you’ve got the idea by now.

And, of course, there are new books that catch my eye. When there’s a book I really want to read, when I can see there are copies just sitting on library shelves further up the country, goes it not make sense to place an order?

I don’t order everything straight away. I use my library’s list facility and I keep three lists – ‘soon’, ‘some day’, and ‘please put it into stock’ – so that I can keep my library pile to a manageable size. I’m not looking at numbers any more, but I’m going to make sure I don’t put myself in a position where I have more books to pick up than I can fit on my ticket.

I realised that the project had to be overhauled when I found myself thinking that I’d used up my quota of reservations so I’d have to buy the book instead. I do buy books, of course I do, but I buy the books I can’t get from the library and the books I’m quite sure I will want to keep.

So numbers and quotas are out, but here’s the bit of the project I’m going to keep:

“And, because I want to support the library, I am going to shout about my reservations.

Look at this lovely new book I got from the library!

Look at this wonderful old book the library hung on to!

Look at this book I’d forgotten all about, that isn’t in the shops any more, but the library had!”

I’ll write posts about the books I’ve ordered, the books I’ve added to my lists, how I’ve found them every so often. No fixed schedules – I have enough of that in my day job – but semi regular posts when I have enough books I want to write about.

The Library Reservations Project is Dead … Long Live the Library Reservations Project …

Writing Women … Then and Now …

I’ve had wonderful luck in recent years browsing the library’s reserve fiction stock. I’ve found out of print works by authors I’d discovered thanks to Virago and Persephone, I’ve found books that had been reprinted but I couldn’t quite justify buying,  I’ve found books that I read about in books like Nicola Beauman’s ‘A Very Great Profession’, and I’ve found books just by random luck and following links.

A few days ago I ordered up the first volume of the Lucy Maud Montgomery’s journals, and while I was there I thought I’d check a few other authors who would work for my Canadian reading challenge. I searched for Margaret Lawrence, a Canadian author from the Virago Modern Classics list, and I found a title I didn’t know that intrigued me. It was a book titled ‘We Write as Women’ that had been published in 1937. I placed my order.

Today I picked the book up, and I decided that I had found a gem.

Here’s the first paragraph:

“Sappho wrote her beautiful lines, and then there was a long silence. It was a silence broken here and there by the letters women wrote, and the diaries they kept, but these were personal, and so we do not have them to show as the writing of women. The little songs that were made to sing to children, the little phrases made to say to a lover, all of these were the very fabric of a woman’s expression of herself, but they could not be kept as literature. They were too fleeting. They were like prayers, something a woman who would not put them down to show. But there must have been many of them.”

This words gave me hope that there was a wonderful journey in front of me. And when I saw the author’s name in the table of contents I knew that there was.

The early selections were obvious: Mary Wollstonecraft, Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters, George Eliot …. but I loved seeing George Eliot described thus: ‘Who sat like the recording angel and wrote.’

And then I spotted twenty-two – yes twenty-two – authors from the Virago Modern Classics list.

How many of then do you recognise I wonder?

1 Women Who Write

Among the others I found familiar names – Virginia Woolf, Elizabeth Bowen, Pearl Buck. I found others I have in my sights – Sylvia Thompson, Clemence Dane, Phyllis Bottome. And I found just a few new names to investigate – Mary Borden, Beatrice Kean Seymour, Margaret Goldsmith.

And I should tell you the names of those Virago authors. I found that some faces were familiar but others I knew not at all. From the top:

G B Stern
Margaret Kennedy
E H Young
May Sinclair
Sylvia Townsend Warner

Kate O’Brien
Dorothy Richardson
Dorothy Canfield
Rosamond Lehmann
Winifred Holtby
E M Delafield

Willa Cather
Daphne Du Maurier
Rebecca West
Naomi Mitchison
Edith Wharton
Vita Sackville-West

Katharine Mansfield
Mary Webb
Rose Macaulay
Olive Schreiner
Radclyffe Hall

And now I realise that Storm Jameson was in there too. No slight was intended, far from it, and here she is:


Now at this point I had planned to write that it was wonderful to think that the authors celebrated and the author celebrating them had been brought together again by Virago decades later. But those who know their Canadain woman authors better that I do will have spotted my mistake.

The Virago author I was thinking of was Margaret Laurence not Margaret Lawrence. And she was born in 1926 and so it’s unlikely she would have published a work like this at the age of eleven!

There’s a more recent author called Margaret Lawrence, but this book is too early for her, and so I have no idea who this Margaret Lawrence is. I might do a little more digging, or I might not, but I think I’ll begin working my way through her book.

I may be some time, because I have a feeling it’s going to inspire me to pluck any number of books from my shelves along the way, but I’ve ordered a copy to keep.

Because I’m still thrilled I found so many wonderful woman authors being celebrated in the same book!

The Library Reservations Project

Books are a joy.

And I find them in so many places: on my own shelves; in bookshops; in the library; on blogs and on other bookish websites; in charity shops; in the library’s reserve stock …

It’s wonderful, and please don’t think I’m complaining, but sometimes it can be a little overwhelming.

I waste far too much time deciding what to read next. The book that I just had to buy? The lost gem that I ordered up? The new library book that I know someone else is waiting for? The book I just read that I know is her somewhere?

There’s nothing at all I want to stop. Booksellers really need to be supported. Library visits are so therapeutic. Book bloggers make wonderful recommendations. I just need to streamline things a little.

And here’s how I’m going to do it:

The Library Reservations Project1

I order lots of books from the library. New books that I don’t expect to see on the shelves. Old books tucked away in reserve stock. Books that I’d be inclined to buy, but I check the library for first …

None of those are bad things, but often I find I don’t have space on my card when a stack of books arrive at the same time, or that I don’t have space left on my ticket for anything I might spot on the shelves. Which is a very bad thing. Because often the best books are the ones you haven’t heard about, that you just spot, and you can tell other people about.

And so this year I am going to restrict my library reservations. I couldn’t give up completely – I wouldn’t even try – but I am allowing myself just twenty-four for the year. My thinking is that way I can order one shiny new book and one lost gem a month, and anything else can go on my ‘one day list’ – until a copy turns up, until I have a spot to fill, or until I change my mind.

It’s one small, but significant change, to get myself back on track.

And, because I want to support the library, I am going to shout about my reservations.

Look at this lovely new book I got from the library!

Look at this wonderful old book the library hung on to!

Look at this book I’d forgotten all about, that isn’t in the shops any more, but the library had!

Watch this space!

A Lovely Quotation … and a Heartfelt Plea …

“Yesterday all day long I lay on the grass in front of the door and watched the white clouds slowly passing one after the other at long, lazy intervals over the tops of the delphiniums I planted all those years ago. I didn’t think of anything; I just lay there in the hot sun, blinking up and counting the intervals between one spike being reached and the next. I was conscious of the colour of the delphiniums, jabbing up stark into the sky, and of how blue they were; and yet not so blue, so deeply and radiantly blue, as the sky. Behind them was the great basin of space filled with that other blue of the air, that lovely blue with violet shades in it; for the mountain I am on drops sharply away from the edge of my tiny terrace-garden, and the whole of the space between it and the mountains opposite brims all day long with blue and violet light…”

from In The Mountains by Elizabeth Von Arnim

Lovely to read on a grey showery day in Cornwall!

Ali inspired me to start re-reading Elizabeth Von Arnim and, as well as pulling a book out of my Virago bookcase, I checked the library catalogue, just in case they had a book tucked away that I didn’t have. They did, and Into The Mountains looks wonderful. I shall read more just as soon as I have finished one or two of the silly number of books I have part-read.

And that brings me to the plea. Please check your library catalogue for interesting books that might be in stock but not on the shelves.

You may just find some gems, and in these days of service cuts those older books that wise librarians tucked away for future generations would be terribly easy to sell without too many people noticing or making a fuss.

I suspect that might already be happening in Cornwall.

But a copy of Faster! Faster! by E M Delafield has disappeared from the catalogue. And I’m sure that there used to be more Ann Bridge titles than there are now.

Of course I might just be a little paranoid. But there are some wonderful books in stock that should be kept for future generations of readers to borrow.

I love Slightly Foxed Editions, but so many of them had already sold out by the time I had a job and could think of making the investment. But I started checking the library catalogue and I’ve ordered in Blue Remembered Hills by Rosemary Sutcliffe and My Grandmother and I by Diana Holman-Hunt. There are a couple more in stock, but I have to hold off ordering until I have a little more space on my ticket.

A few days ago, when I was in the mood to browse, I spotted Ooty Preserved by Mollie Panter-Downes. I knew nothing at all about the book, but I was happy to take anything by such a wonderful, wonderful writer on trust.

I spotted a copy of White Ladies by Francis Brett Young in a bookshop, and it looked rather interesting. But I couldn’t justify the cost – it was a signed first edition – and so I checked the library catalogue. There was a copy in the fiction reserve!

The name Pamela Hansford Johnson rang a bell when I saw it in the Bello Books catalogue. Her books were on the shelf when I first moved from the junior library to the adult shelves; back then they looked rather serious and grown-up and so I didn’t pick them up. And now I’m curious, but a little wary of investing in new books by an author I’m not quite sure about. So I checked the library catalogue, invested 50p for a reservation and the novel that caught my eye – Catherine Carter – has just arrived.

So it really is worth taking a good look around your library’s catalogue …

A Walk Around The Fiction Shelves

Last time I was in the library I realised that I hadn’t posted about library books for quite some time. And I had an idea. Instead of writing about the books I brought home I would write about the books that caught my eye, for many different reasons, but got left behind…

I was disappointed to see Isabel Ashdown’s first two novels – Glasshopper and Hurry Up and Wait – on the shelves. Two wonderful books that really should be out on loan.

I do wish that my library had a system in place for displaying reader recommendations. At the moment I just rearrange books so that ones I think need a little push are more prominent, but I’ve signed up for a new friends of the library group, so hopefully I’ll get the chance to do a little more.

I noticed a lovely hardback copy of The Children’s Book by A S Byatt. I have a copy of my own and it looked rather intimidating but recently I picked up Ragnarok, Byatt’s contribution to the Canongate Myths series, and it reminded me just how good her writing is.

I counted three titles by Willa Cather in Virago Modern Classics editions – Lucy Gayheart in a traditional green cover and O Pioneers and My Antonia in more recent editions. I love Willa Cather’s writing but its a long time since I read any of her books.

All of her novels are on my shelves and I’m hoping to re-read at least one of two for the Willa Cather Novel Reading Challenge at Wildmoo Books

I spotted two books that I’d borrowed and then had to return unread, because other people had them on order and I didn’t want to read them in a rush. One day I’ll read them:

The Songwriter by Beatrice Colin and The Spider Truces by Tom Connolly

Please tell me I’m not the only person who has to do this?!

I caught sight of Henrietta’s War by Joyce Dennys, and wondered why I haven’t read it yet. I have a copy of my own, it’s very short, and it looks terribly readable. Silly really!

I paused to peruse an Everyman Classics edition of The Wings of The Dove by Henry James. It was mentioned as a possibility for Venice in February, and now that I’ve look at it again the idea of a re-read really appeals. But it may be a book too many. I’ll see how things are – and if it’s still on the shelf – when February comes.

I’m always drawn to The Wilding by Maria McCann. A lovely historical novel and the hardback edition has a beautiful cover.

My hand automatically went out to A Month in The Country by Jocelyn Playfair. Because it was a dove-grey Persephone edition and I always hope that one day the library will have one of the Persephones I don’t own.

It hasn’t happened yet, but I can dream.

I noticed two more Virago Modern Classics with striking new covers – A Glass of Blessings and Excellent Women by Barbara Pym.

I love and miss the traditional green Virago covers, but I have to admit that new editions of books by Barbara Pym, Molly Keane and Elizabeth Taylor do seem to be very popular in the library. And that has to be a good thing, doesn’t it?

I saw Cutting For Stone by Abraham Verghese. I have read so much praise for this book and I will read it one day.

I spotted of the three books in Anne Zouroudi’s Greek Detective series – The Messenger of Athens, The Doctor of Thessaly and The Lady of Sorrows. Books one, three and four. Trouble is I’m after book two – The Taint of Midas.

Why does that always happen when I want to read a series in order? I see the earlier books that I’ve read, I see the later books that I’m not ready for, but I never seem to see the book I want!

And, finally, I saw Thérèze Raquin by Émile Zola. I meant to re-read it for this year’s RIP Challenge, but I wanted to read more books than I had time for and this one fell by the wayside. maybe next year.

So many books to ponder, for so many reasons.

Does anybody else do this too?

A Question for Librarians …

… or indeed library users.

There has been a change to the way the Cornish Library Service operates that I’m not too happy with, and so I’d be curious to know what happens elsewhere, and whether my concerns are reasonable.

Let me explain

The Cornish Library Service runs 32 branch libraries. And, of course, it buys books for them. Multiple copies of popular, mainstream books, one or even more per library. Less copies, sometimes even just one for the whole county, of others. But anything not in your branch can be ordered from another library in the county for a mere 50p.

Now that seems eminently sensible.

But here’s what’s changed.

In the past when I ordered a book that wasn’t in stock at my library it went back to the branch it came from when I returned it. But not now. Books stay where they land until somebody else orders it.

I had suspected that for a while, because an awful lot of books that I had to order in are now on the shelves in my local library.

And the rotation system has been stopped. The library used to move books that weren’t in stock in all of the branches between libraries from time to time, but no more.

Now I can understand that the new system might save library staff a lot of time and energy. But I can also see problems.

I used to be able to leave a book I wanted to read behind if the moment wasn’t right or I had enough books already, safe in the knowledge that it was in stock and would reappear sooner or later. But now books will won’t come back if somebody from another branch places an order.

It’s happened with The Woman before Me by Ruth Dugdall, which I’ve had my eye on for a while but not picked up.

And a while back I read something about A Vision of Loveliness by Louise Levene that piqued my interest. I remembered seeing it in the library, but when I went in to look for it disappeared from the shelf. And when I checked the catalogue it was gone, ordered by someone else in another library.

And here’s another scenario. I spotted the Ice Cream Girls by Dorothy Koomson in a charity shop. It looked good, but it wasn’t necessarily a keeper, so I put it down and checked the library catalogue. It showed that there was a copy in my branch out on loan, and so I waited for it to come back. I waited for weeks and weeks. And when I checked the catalogue again there wasn’t a copy in my library any more.

Am I being petty?

I know that all I have to do is place my order and pay my 50p. But I also know that books used to move around without a library user having to pay before, and now they don’t.

And I know that new books will be coming into my library when other people order them.

But I’m not convinced.

Yes, popular books will travel all around the county and everyone will get their chance. But maybe other will get stuck.

I’ve ordered in a lot of books longlisted for the Orange Prize and none of them seem to be moving on. Soon the entire longlist will either be in my library or my library pile, which is great for me but maybe not so good for the rest of the county.

And I have noticed a couple of instances where there are two copies and they are both in my branch – Secret Son by Leila Lalami and Dimanche and Other Stories by Irene Nemirovsky – both books I’ve ordered.

I know anyone in the county could order them, but not everyone realises that. Library users who just scan the shelves are at the mercy of those of us who order books.

And I’m really not convinced, looking at the books that appear on the shelves where we pick up our reservations, that they are going to get as good a service as they did from the old rotation system.

And here is the fatal flaw. You can only order the books you know about. The books you don’t know about, the books you would have spotted when they were rotated into your branch, will just sit on shelves forever.

And I fear that we are getting library cuts by stealth. While the focus is on book acquisitions and opening hours, powers that be are quietly cutting other things …

So tell me, what do you think? What happens where you are? How would you do things.