TBR Thursday 116… and Quarterly Round-Up

TBR Quarterly Report

At the New Year I added up the full extent of the horror of the TBR, including the bits I usually hide. So time for another count to see how I’m doing…

Well, that’s pretty stupendous! The overall total has actually decreased by 1! So at the rate of 1 down every three months, I’ll be clear by… er… em… 2111! Hope they’re working hard on that immortality thing…

I see the review copies have leapt up again. I just cannot seem to control that addiction, even though there are loads of books languishing on the TBR I’d much rather read than most of the new releases I take for review. So my new system is that, before I click request on NetGalley or Amazon Vine, I ask myself “Would you really rather be reading this than Amitav Ghosh’s The Sea of Poppies (which has been on my Kindle since Feb ’14)?” Or if it’s a crime novel, “Would you really rather be reading this than Raven Black by Ann Cleeves (added Dec ’13)?” It’s actually working so far – my requests in March have dropped dramatically to 3, rather than the seven or eight I normally end up with each month. So I’m feeling pretty smug…

* * * * * * *

The Around the World in 80 Books Challenge

Last check-in was in December, and I’ve been on quite a few journeys since then…


I’ve visited a few of the spots on the main journey – the places Phileas Fogg travelled through in the original book. First off, I had fun watching cricket in Bombay with Aravind Adiga in Selection Day. Then a slightly more harrowing journey across the Atlantic to Queenstown in Ireland aboard the Lusitania, courtesy of Erik Larsen’s Dead Wake. To recuperate, Victoria Blake allowed me to steep myself in a bit of art and culture on a time-travelling trip to 16th century and present-day Venice in Titian’s Boatman. Another sea journey, from Britain to Australia in Rachel Rhys’ A Dangerous Crossing – though at least the ship didn’t sink this time – with part of the journey being via the Indian Ocean. (I actually had another one lined up for this slot, so may swap them later.)

I also made some detours along the way. I helped John Bude solve a murder and break up a counterfeiting ring in Death on the Riviera. And then I got harrowed all over again in revolutionary Kiev with Mikhail Bulgakov and The White Guard. And harrowed yet again by The Accusation – Bandi’s collection of short stories set in North Korea under the totalitarian regime of Kim Il-sung.

So here’s how I’m doing on the main journey. To see all the detours so far, click here.

The Main Journey

  1. London  – Martin Chuzzlewit
  2. Orient Express – Travels with My Aunt
  3. France – The Sisters of Versailles
  4. Alps
  5. Venice – Titian’s Boatman
  6. Brindisi
  7. Mediterranean Sea
  8. Suez
  9. Egypt
  10. Red Sea/Arabian Sea
  11. Bombay – Selection Day
  12. Calcutta – A Rising Man
  13. Kholby
  14. Elephant Travel
  15. Allahabad
  16. Indian Ocean/ South China Sea – A Dangerous Crossing
  17. Hong Kong
  18. Shanghai
  19. Yokohama
  20. Pacific – Moby-Dick: Or, The White Whale
  21. San Francisco
  22. Sioux lands
  23. Omaha
  24. New York – Three-Martini Lunch
  25. Atlantic Ocean
  26. Queenstown (Cobh) Ireland – Dead Wake
  27. London – The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

30 down, 50 to go!

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The Classics Club

classics club logo 2

Only two off my Classics Club list this quarter, making a total of 6 – still behind schedule, but I have several planned for the next couple of months.

5. Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens – 5-stars even though I didn’t rate it as one of his best. Because… Dickens!

6. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier – and another 5! A true classic of suspense filled with wonderfully atmospheric descriptive writing.

6 down, 84 to go!

* * * * * * *

Reading the Russian Revolution

Just a couple so far in my newest challenge, although I’m thrilled to say I will have defeated Trotsky any day now – perhaps even today! To see the full challenge, click here.

1. Animal Farm by George Orwell – an interesting and cautionary re-read in these days of “fake news” and “alternative facts” although I found I had some issues with Orwell’s message. Only 3 stars.

2. The White Guard by Mikhail Bulgakov – on the other hand I was blown away by this one, set over a few days in Kiev at the height of the Revolution. No issues with this brilliantly written book – a definite 5-star.

* * * * * * *

Thanks for joining me on my reading journeys! 😀

59 thoughts on “TBR Thursday 116… and Quarterly Round-Up

  1. Yes, I need to ask myself that searching question as well before requesting any more books – although the library is likewise a source of anguish and downfall for me… On the other hand, I’ve got to keep our local library going, right?

    • I avoid the library like the plague these days! And yet I used to love the randomness of just seeing what they had on the shelves and going with how the mood took me. I do find it sometimes feels like a job when I have too many review copies each with a deadline attached…

  2. Same here. I am become extra extra choosy in taking review copies because I still have a few from 2016 that I have not reviewed yet and I feel super bad about it. Animal Farm has been on my TBR forever. I am seeing a lot of love for the Classics Club on so many blogs. I am thinking of compiling a list myself.

    • You’ve got so much more willpower than me – I visit NetGalley every day just in case there’s something unmissable. The sad thing is there usually is… or at least it seems unmissable at that moment in time… 😉

  3. Very happy for you, FIctionFan, that the TBR has plummeted like that! Hurrah! Actually, you are making enviable progress on the goals you’ve set for yourself. I’m impressed with the breadth of your reading, too.

    • Haha! A massive drop – almost dizzying! 😉 The challenges do make me think more about what I’m scheduling, which theroretically at least helps me not just to read a constant diet of new releases, so they’re useful from that persoective. But also fun! 😀

  4. You’re doing great on the Around the World Challenge! And congrats on dropping one book on your TBR. The doctor recently told me I lost one pound, so a drop of one should be celebrated!

    • Yes, I had a sudden surge on the Around the World one recently – need to try and keep that going! Haha! I think I’d rather lose a pound than a book, to be honest… or maybe even two! 😉

  5. Oh, my gosh, that sock puppet GIF made my day. I was happy to see you have an Amitav Ghosh book! He’s coming to Notre Dame April 4th, and he sounds pretty prolific (though I haven’t read him).

    • Hehe – he’s nice, isn’t he? He used to advertise teabags over here. (The sock monkey, that is, not Amitav Ghosh!) Oh, that should be interesting! I haven’t read him yet either, which given my love of English-language Indian writers is a huge omission – he’s very highly regarded. I’ve been trying to fit in his major trilogy for ever!

        • Very little, except that the first one, The Sea of Poppies, was shortlisted for the Booker, I believe. But you’re right, it is about the Opium Wars – I’m not aware that he’s ever written fantasy, but I could easily be wrong…

  6. This is very impressive! You sure are working hard!
    My TBR is pretty overwhelming too, however, I’m trying to keep my review requests at a minimum (both from publishers and my own) because I just know it will just stress me out hahaha
    This challenge is really cool and I love how diverse your reading is 🙂

    • I know – we reach a point where we have more time, but then find we have less energy and concentration. It seems so unfair! I read less each year now, even though it still looks as though I read loads…

  7. Congrats on your reading accomplishments, FF! You know, with all the interesting-sounding books available today, it’s a wonder any of us can see light at the end of our TBR tunnel. Your will-power to turn away even a few impresses and inspires me!

    • Thank you – it’s been a good quarter for the challenges, though more through luck than good management! I know – I could easily take three times as many books as I do – sadly, I’d just never have time to read them all. Cloning is definitely the answer!

  8. It’s a bad year…….I have slumped on the reviewing stakes. I am working too hard. There are a lot of interesting new books, and I seem to be saying pretty please a lot. Oh for the days when I could dash off a medium length review in twenty minutes or so. Now it is at least a couple of hours, searching for the elusive cherry on the cake gif – like your marvellous sock puppet which brought a good five minutes of extreme pleasure to my weary admin tasks. Did I say I’m working too hard?

    • I’m struggling too, though I don’t have the excuse of working too hard. My enthusiasm for reading is mostly back, but the reviewing seems to be a real chore most of the time at the moment. I’m trying to shorten the crime reviews, but I feel the classics and so on deserve a decent review and, as you say, they can really eat up time! That’s why I’ve kinda dropped the short story reviews at the moment – they just take too long when I’m always behind with other reviews. Need to find a way to get the fun back into it all, or I foresee a long hiatus on the horizon!

      • Well, I seem to have slumped from 3 reviews a week to sometimes two weeks between postings, so I am indeed hiatusing…..and I even missed my fourth birthday yesterday. Ah well. The problem is a couple of books which absolutely deserve excellent reviews, but I started reading something else immediately on closing the book. I have been tempted a LOT by NG and Vine this year, and most of the temptations are good ones. (Hangs head and shuffles guiltily past the to be reviewed pile…….

        • Yes, I’d noticed your absence, and missed you. Happy birthday! Who’d have guessed we’d still be doing this four years on though? No wonder we both feel the need of a proper break! Vine has improved dramatically after the lifting of the 30-day rule – I’m trying to be very choosy though, what with my NetGalley addiction and all. I don’t think there will be a book shortage in Kirkintilloch for a while… 😉

  9. Huge drop! 😉 I must say your work sounds very difficult, with all the reviews needing to be done. Kudos on all the reading you’ve done. I loved the “Around the World” challenge…..as always, great reading here.

    • Ha! I must say sometimes it does feel too much like work! The reading is fun, the review writing can get a bit overwhelming at times. But I like the challenges – they keep me inspired… 😀

  10. Love that your TBR is decreasing at such a rate!! I’m telling myself at least I’ll be prepared if there should be a sudden book shortage… You really are juggling all the challenges well too – with a few for each one, I’d never manage as I get too hooked on one subject. I can’t wait to hear how Trotsky fared in your battle and of course I’m absolutely delighted that A Dangerous Crossing took you to a previous unconquered land!

    • It’s a huge drop, isn’t it? You must be so jealous… 😉 I’m liking that the challenges make me read more widely – I do my best to fit in suitable books when i do my schedule, but the review copies as always are the major problem! Haha! There were points when Trotsky nearly beat me, but I wrestled long and hard, and I think I’ve finally defeated him! And it was good that A Dangerous Crossing took me to the Indian Ocean, ‘cos I thought I might struggle to find a good book for there… 😀

    • I’m getting better at only taking books I really want to read rather than getting sucked in by the hype around whatever the next bestseller is, but I still find I take far too many. I love it for history and biography, though, and pop science – books I’d probably never buy but love to read… 😀

  11. So far I haven’t gotten sucked in by Netgalley… I won’t even let myself look! With my 400-ish TBR list, I have more than enough things to choose from , wouldn’t you say? 😀. Congrats on the drop!

  12. I love your updates – they always make me smile (and not just because I’m laughing at your self discipline struggles!). 🙂
    I like your strategy for refusing review books. I’ve been doing pretty well on that front myself. I’ve been telling myself if I want to read it badly enough, I can get it at the library. And it works! (Most of the time.)

    • Me? Self discipline struggles?? But I’m the Queen of Willpower!! 😉

      The review copies thing is a hard habit to break, but really I find I always seem to be reading to a deadline and that takes a lot of the fun out of it. So if I can clear the bulk of them over the next two or three months, I’ll then be able to read what I like, when I like… which will be nice!

  13. I am concerned, FictionFan, about how harrowing you have been finding your bookish life in this quarter. There’s a great deal of harrowing been going on according to this magnificent chronicle of your exploits. I hope you’ve been keeping up morale with plenty of chocolate….

    • Haha! I know! I was doing next week’s quotes post this afternoon and realised that every book I’m reading at the moment is more harrowing than the one before – I desperately need some PG Wodehouse in my life, urgently!!

      • Wodehouse and chocolate…. hasn’t quite got the right ring to it…. I think perhaps it must be cake with the Wodehouse. An excellent prescription to soothe your fractured nerves 😉

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