TBR Thursday 126… 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…

Last time I mentioned that I had a new system for cutting back on review books – namely, that before I click request on NetGalley or Amazon Vine, I ask myself “Would you really rather be reading this than one of the books you already own?” This has actually been working well (though the figures don’t show it yet, mainly because so many publishers have been kindly providing me with books for the Reading the Russian Revolution Challenge, which I greatly appreciate). So I’ve now extended that principle to my wishlist which had got out of hand again, resulting in a massive cull of some of the many books on there that I can’t convince myself are must-reads. I’ll be culling even more deeply over the next few months…

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The Around the World in 80 Books Challenge

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

780px-Around_the_World_in_Eighty_Days_map

I haven’t visited any of the places on the Main Journey this quarter but I’ve made a few detours to some less frequented parts of my fictional world. Anthony Marra’s The Tsar of Love and Techno told me stories of war and love in Soviet Russia and Chechnya, so I’m declaring it for Chechnya on the grounds that I’m more likely to visit Russia again. Then Kanae Minato took me to Japan to witness the after-effects of a murder in Penance. Off for a brief visit to Beijing in the company of Peter May for murder and strange traditions in The Ghost Marriage. Colm Tóibín transported me through space and time to ancient Greece in House of Names – more murders, not to mention human sacrifice! And to finish, a different war – Scott Turow’s Testimony is set partly in Bosnia and Herzegovina and partly in the Hague at the war crimes tribunal. Hmm, declaring it for Bosnia, I think…

Maybe next quarter I’ll try to do a trip that involves a little less death and mayhem and a little more sun, sea and sand…

To see how I’m doing on the Main Journey plus all the detours so far, click here.

35 down, 45 to go!

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The Classics Club

classics club logo 2

Four off my Classics Club list this quarter, making a total of 10 in the first year – getting way behind schedule now! But I have several of the shorter ones planned for over the summer, and then will get into some of the chunkier ones over autumn and winter…

7. The Cone-Gatherers by Robin Jenkins – 3½ stars for a tragedy that left me disappointingly unmoved even though I admired the prose.

8. The Island of Dr Moreau by HG Wells – 5 stars! Superbly written, I found the depth of the ideas it contained vastly outweighed the horror of the imagery.

9. The Valley of Fear by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – another 5 star read, taking us on a thrilling adventure in the Pennsylvanian coalfields where the infamous Scowrer gang control the valley through fear, intimidation and murder!

10. Lorna Doone: A Romance of Exmoor by RD Blackmore – 4 stars for this historical fiction about love and the infamous Doone gang in rural England. Coma-inducingly slow start, but worth it in the end…

I’m also making one change to my list. I’m removing William S Burroughs’ Naked Lunch – having read some reviews, I’ve gone totally off the idea. And I’m replacing it with We by Yevgeny Zamyatin, which a couple of people have recommended to me both as an excellent book in its own right and as relevant to the Reading the Russian Revolution Challenge.

10 down, 80 to go!

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Reading the Russian Revolution

Just two reviews from the main list this quarter, but since they’re the two massive histories, I’m quite satisfied with that. I’ve also finished reading Doctor Zhivago and Lenin The Dictator, but haven’t reviewed them yet, so they’ll be included in the next round-up. To see the full challenge, click here.

3. History of the Russian Revolution by Leon Trotsky – an extremely detailed and occasionally biased account of the events of 1917. A fascinating book, not by any means an easy read, but certainly an enlightening and worthwhile one. 5 stars.

4. A People’s Tragedy: The Russian Revolution by Orlando Figes. This is an exceptional book – an exemplary mix of the political, the social and the personal. Should you ever be struck with a sudden desire to read an 800-page history of the Russian Revolution, then without a doubt this is the one to read. 5 stars.

I’m adding another book that wasn’t on the original list:-

5. The Tsar of Love and Techno by Anthony Marra. Although this isn’t about the Revolution itself, it has much to say about the USSR and Russia from 1937, under Stalin, to more or less the present day, but this time in fictional form. Another great book – 5 stars.

Finally, I’ve decided I can’t face Solzhenitsyn’s November 1916, which I included on the original list. So I’m replacing it with a biography of Rasputin which I suspect will be much more fun.

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20 Books of Summer

But there’s still two full months to go, right? Ooh, look! A diversionary tactic!

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Thanks for joining me on my reading journeys! 😀

51 thoughts on “TBR Thursday 126… and Quarterly Round-Up

  1. I see through that tactic, FictionFan!!!! I must say, though, that it’s quite appealing… 😉 – At any rate, you’re really making some progress on your goals for the year, and that’s great. And I know just what you mean about culling the wish list as well as the actual number of books in the TBR. I swear it’s a losing battle…

    • I thought about making a GIF, but I was worried it might over-excite people… 😉 Yes, I’m having fun with my challenges even if I only manage to read a few books for them each time – quality rather than quantity, eh? Haha – I know! Every time I cull, I just start adding other stuff… it’s hopeless!

    • Hahaha! Doing this round-up post makes it seem I have some kind of plan I stick to. Fake news!! 😉 Really I mostly just stumble along and hope some of the books I read will fit in somewhere…

  2. Well done. And all your carefully made lists must make for a (fairly) tidy virtual space. Though I do suspect you also have a virtual secret cupboard which at some point will burst out of its confines, scattering TBRs everywhere.

    I promise I am not looking smug or perfectionistic here. I simply avoid my own virtual count, and occasionally dust the tottering piles of real TBR on the bedside table, and, even more regrettably, beginning to creep along the bedroom floor.

    When it took more than 2 years for American Pastoral to make it from the TBR to one of my most stunning reads of this year, I can hardly fling aspersions and nasturtiums in your direction, can I. Especially as I have surrendered yet again to someone who periodically emails me to let me know what books Amazon have as deals of the day/special 99p offer on Kindle which might prove irresistible to a Lady Fancifull. I don’t look at the emails Amazon send, for fear of TBR temptation, but a personal email from a chum………CURSES!

    It’s been an unusually bad year for me this year – a LOT of the books I surrendered to, w have not been finished (and therefore, unless I HAD to) not reviewed, or, maybe were finished but were too mediocre, okay to while away time waiting in a queue stuff, to want to spend any more of my time review crafting.

    But, YOU can look justifiably so smug on the Roth. A corker, albeit a very uncomfortable one

    • Ha! Tidy!! You’d think so, wouldn’t you? And yet oddly, not! I’ve reached the point that I have a little pile of books balancing on the clothes horse till I can think what on earth to do with them… I hope it happens soon before I run out of clean clothes…

      I do have a great deal of fun playing with my various spreadsheets and lists, though. Sadly however, this seems to leave me less and less time for actually reading! I feel my system requires some kind of overhaul. I’ve been having a mixed year, really. Nothing that I’ve become evangelical about (except maybe The Tsar of Love and Techno), but equally not too many I’ve hated. I’m getting much tougher about abandoning at an early stage though, which accounts for that. I’ve abandoned as many already this year as I usually do in the whole year. I guess knowing I have another two hundred on standby makes me less enthusiatic about ploughing through the less than stellar ones…

      I’m glad the Roth had the same effect on you. I’m hoping to read more of him soonish – or rather re-read. I want to re-read the other two books in the American trilogy – I prefer him in that mode to his less political more dirty-old-man mode… (I’m so confident he won’t read that comment, I might even mock his hairdo…)

      • Ha Ha!! (Authorial bad hair day aside) Well, as the ONLY Roth I ever read was him in dirty young man mode with Portnoy, I veered right off further submersion into Roth…….probably why it took me so long to GET to AP. But, he (and you) have left me wanting to go further with the political Roth (still I guess with some curious DOM touches, with the Rita Cohen section)

        Oh I have sent several ‘I can’t review this as it has been ABANDONED’ emails to the Galley. There may be more to come, as some pruning of very elderly abandoned Galleys are still lurking from about 2 or 3 years ago. I limp rather along with Word docs, as opposed to proper grown up spreadsheet stuff, but it appears that around a tenth of my reads this year I did not find worthy of review unless it HAD to be done (Vine) and I have a fairly alarming clutch of Vine books heading the way of a weary unenthusiastic, hearts not really in it, minimal review. It all just drove me into the charm of sequential Ngaio Marsh. That and the sadly injured and or unwell or done a foolish thing state of British tennis players. Hopefully Jamie will have a decent run at the doubles. and Rafa and Roger will manage to delight us. Poor Andy, It’s kind of painful to watch him at the moment, not being able to rely on his body to get through the punishments

        • I was lucky – AP was my introduction to Roth and then I read the rest of the trilogy, all of which are excellent, although the other two aren’t as powerful. But then I tried a DOM book – can’t remember which – and yuck! So when I read reviews of Portnoy’s I knew to avoid!

          Yes, I have a few ancient NetGalleys lying around too that I keep thinking I should just admit I’m never going to read. I got rid of several during my last cull though – brutal, that’s me! I can’t believe Dan – I’m furious at him actually. He’s not a kid. Since my general feeling is that people caught taking any kind of drug should be banned for life, I have to hope they come down on him like a ton of bricks. I also have to wonder if his recent improvement is due to drugs. Grrr!! But anyway… here’s hoping for a great tournament – the sun is shining!! Andy or Rafa for the Men’s and Petra for the Ladies!

    • Hahaha! It just looks good when you summarise three months of reading all at once – in reality I’ve had such a slow reading year. I’m wayyyyyyyyy behind my Goodreads target! He’s rather nice isn’t he? I was going to make a GIF of him in the bath, but I didn’t want people to get over-excited… 😉

  3. I worked out that if I keep reading at my current rate I’ll get to the end of my TBR by my mid-50s… Assuming I add NOTHING to it between now and then of course. I’m currently in my late 20s. The solution – read more, read faster, read EVERYTHING, it can be done, it can it can.

    • Hahahaha! That makes me feel so much better about my own TBR! I suspect the only real solution is to grow a few extra heads… or at least some extra pairs of eyes, maybe dangling from our head at various angles… I have no doubt some scientist somewhere is working on it… 😉

  4. My TBR list is down to 1 room in my house, 30% of the town library, 5% of the university library and maybe a quarter of the bookshop. The Goodreads percentage is more difficult to calculate.

    • Hahaha!! You’re doing brilliantly! Only a quarter of the bookshop – such restraint! Goodreads keeps telling me I’m behind schedule – it’s like having a grumpy boss…

  5. Oh, dear. I might find such a task daunting, but I’m glad you’re handling it with your usual class! Yes, that’s a LOT of reading. Yes, there’s a LOT of tennis going on this summer. But I see a lot of progress here, so there’s still hope you’ll whittle the TBR down even more. And who’d really want to be without a TBR at all anyway, right?!

    • Absolutely! I can’t imagine not having a TBR – the idea gives me nightmares! But books take second place for the next fortnight – just settling down to watch Wimbledon. And it looks as if it’s actually not raining! That won’t last… 😉

    • Haha – it looks better when you round up three months worth – especially if you manage to count some books in more than ine category… 😉 I must admit I’m determined to reduce the TBR – it really is ridiculous now! It’s blogging – I never used to plan more than a few books ahead and now I’m addicted to lists…

  6. 370! (*tries not to stagger with imaginary weight and fails*) May you read them all soon.. 😛 On an aside, how are you, FictionFan? It’s been such a long time.. 😛

    • Hahaha! But I only really count the ones I already own – so just 200 then! No problem. 😉 I’m good thanks – nice to hear from you! Hope you’ve been enjoying life… 🙂

  7. I liked the diversionary tactic, and I laughed when I saw it. (Not in a make fun way, in a laugh of understading!). I loved your phrase “the full extent of the horror” of the TBR! Well. I am down to three books! Only three! And I have resolved not to buy any more until I am down to my very last book! I so admire what you do. It takes me so long to read a book it’s shameful.

    • Three?!!! I’d have a nervous rash if I only had three books to read! 😉 However, 200 seems a bit extreme in the other direction, I admit. I’d like to get back to under a hundred, if I could. If only I could stop acquiring more… *sighs helplessly*

      But no time for reading for the next couple of weeks – Vamos, Rafa! C’mon Andy! 😀

  8. I like the idea for the reading around the world challenge. I think most of my reading is usually restricted to countries in Africa, US and US. It would be nice to take up the challenge someday. All the best with the TBR and all your reading goals.

    • Thank you! Yes, I’m enjoying this challenge. In the beginning I thought I read pretty widely, but I’ve discovered I hardly ever stray outside the UK, America and Europe in reality. So now I’m making a proper effort to acquire books from further afield, which is why I enjoy finding out about African authors on your blog.

  9. Blogging time has been limited lately, so I was happy to see this post – now I’m feeling a little more up to date on your reading!
    That Rasputin sure looks like a lot of fun, doesn’t he? 😉

    • We’re out of synch – I’ve been off blog watching Wimbledon so apologies for the delay in replying! Ha! After some of the Russian histories I’ve been reading, I think the Rasputin looks like a bit of light entertainment – just wish I could get the Boney M song out of my head… 😉

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