TBR Thursday 154… 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 fabulous! Although the owned books have increased, the wishlist is dropping, due in part to my rigorous monthly culling. And considering I added approximately twenty books all in one go last month for my latest Five x Five Challenge, then I think it’s spectacular that the overall figure has gone down!

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The Around the World in 80 Books Challenge

Last check-in was in December, and I’ve been travelling non-stop since then…

780px-Around_the_World_in_Eighty_Days_map

I didn’t go to any of the locations on the Main Journey, but I had lots of interesting detours. First, William Boyd took me to study chimps and humans in the Republic of the Congo in Brazzaville Beach. Then I headed off with Angela Savage to look at the seamier side of life in Thailand in Behind the Night Bazaar. I had a harrowing but wonderful journey across the Antarctic under the leadership of Ernest Shackleton, in Alfred Lansing’s Endurance. I thought a little trip to Wales would be nicely relaxing after that, till Arthur Machen showed me the ancient evils hidden behind every Welsh rock in The Great God Pan and Other Horror Stories. Leonardo Padura took me on a mini-world trip in The Man Who Loved Dogs, on the trail of Trotsky’s assassin – we visited Cuba, the USSR, Mexico and Spain. After much thought, I’m declaring it for Spain, since I feel I learned most about that country from the book. Then off for a nice winter break in a resort town in New Zealand, only to get mixed up in a murder or two in Gordon Ell’s The Ice Shroud. And finally, murder reared its ugly head again when I fled to Gibraltar with Robert Daws for a bit of sun, sea and sand in The Rock. Phew! This travelling business isn’t very restful!

To see the full challenge including the Main Journey and all detours, click here.

46 down, 34 to go!

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The Classics Club

I’ve read five from my Classics Club list this quarter, but so far only reviewed four. Still a little behind, but I’m gradually catching up…

  1. Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens – 5 stars for this wonderful, typically Dickensian novel – one of his very best and a great way to start the year.
  2. Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith – just 4 stars for this influential psychological thriller, which I didn’t enjoy quite as much as I enjoyed Hitchcock’s film of the book
  3. The Code of the Woosters by PG Wodehouse – 5 glittering stars for this sparkling comedy from the master where, as always, Jeeves saves the day.
  4. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark – 5 stars for this novel in which Spark uses brilliantly barbed humour to skewer Edinburgh society of the between-the-wars years.

23 down, 67 to go!

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Reading the Russian Revolution

Getting very close to the end of this challenge now. This quarter, I’ve read three but so far only reviewed two. To see the full challenge, click here.

13. Rasputin: The Biography by Douglas Smith – I was a little disappointed in this one, which seemed to spend more time debunking myths about Rasputin than shedding light on the truth of the man and his life. Just 3 stars.

14. The Man Who Loved Dogs by Leonardo Padura –  a monumental novel about two men: Trotsky and the Spanish agent of Stalin’s USSR who assassinated him. Although it often reads more like a factual book than a fiction, the combination of great writing and thorough research make it a winner, and an essential read for anyone interested in the history of communism. 5 stars.

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Murder Mystery Mayhem

This quarter I’ve read five books for this one, but so far only reviewed four (yes, I’m way behind on reviews). To see the full challenge, click here.

11.  Quick Curtain by Alan Melville – this one claims to be “witty”, but wit is in the eye of the beholder. This beholder thought it was silly to the point of irritation and felt quite generous when she gave it 2 stars.

12.  The Four Just Men by Edgar Wallace – a novel about a group of self-appointed vigilantes who set out to right what they see as wrongs. This one has a surprisingly contemporary plot about foreign political agitators and what to do about them. 4 stars.

13.  Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith – one of the first “psychological thrillers”, which looks at the effects of murder on the minds of the murderers. An essential read for its influential status. 4 stars.

14. Bats in the Belfry by ECR Lorac – an excellent early example of the police procedural, with realistic detection, a strong plot, some appealing characters, humour and a nice touch of horror. A well-deserved 5 stars.

14 down, 88 to go!

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5 x 5 Challenge

Give me a break! I’ve only just started it…!

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A good quarter’s reading! Thank you for joining me on my reading adventures, and…

Here’s to more great reading next quarter! 😀

43 thoughts on “TBR Thursday 154… and Quarterly Round-Up

  1. You are making real progress, FictionFan! I’m especially impressed with the breadth of your reading. Classics, a wide geographical reach, etc… I would definitely take pride in this! And I’m glad most of your reading has been a good experience. It’s always so annoying to invest time and energy for books that aren’t worth it.

    • I’ve been so good at sticking to my challenges this quarter that I’m now thinking of throwing it all in the air and reading something JUST BECAUSE I WANT TO! What a rebel!! 😉 Yes, more seriously, I’m enjoying all these various challenges because they’re making sure I get a good mix, and with so many of them being classics, the majority of them are bound to be good… 🙂

  2. Oh my word! Your stats make me dizzy! I’ve been nursing the same book for over a week, so my stats would be pretty hilarious in comparison. Good on you!

    • Hahaha – I love my stats nearly as much as my books, I fear! But it looks more than it is, really – several of the books fit into more than one category… 😉

  3. Good lord. This is… this is Herculean, dear FF! I cannot help but admire your fortitude. I feel a little sad that the Russian challenge is coming to an end, of course – I am almost a fully-fledged comrade now!
    Keep up the good work, my friend! (Also – this is a lovely post and I really enjoyed reading it 🙂 )

  4. Whew, I’m tired just reading over your accomplishments, FF! Where do you find time to complete all this reading? Oh, I know, you’ve secretly managed to snag Hermione’s time-turner thingy, and now you’ve got plenty of time available, right?!

    • Hahaha – I know – I seem to have gone completely over the top this quarter! Too much discipline – I must rebel!! The odd thing is I read less and less every year I blog – I think I’m just better at sticking in lots of short books now… 😉

    • Hahaha – thank you! I must admit I do think I should be voted in as Queen of the Spreadsheet! I love my spreadsheets nearly as much as I love my books… 😉

  5. I love the description of the globetrotting challenge, life you really went but tangled up in what happened in the novel in real life! It reminds me of an audio book I’m listening to in which the author writes letters to books, making them seem like real people.

    • Haha – thank you! I do feel like it’s nice of these authors to invite me along on their travels, but they really need to research the destinations a bit more – so many murders! 😉

  6. Good grief, you’re on fire! Hat’s off to your progress on all your reading challenges, and thanks – you’ve given me a much needed boot up the backside to crack on with my own arm-chair reading travels!

    • Haha – I know! New Year’s Resolutions haven’t worn off yet this year – I must be sickening for something… 😉 The AW80 Challenge was an inspired idea – I’ve reached a point now though where I’ll have to start seeking out books for some countries rather than just landing there by accident in the course of my normal reading…

    • It’s falling dramatically now! I may run out of books entirely soon… 😉 I’ve enjoyed just seeing where my normal reading takes me in the AW80 challenge so far, but I’m reaching a point now where I’ll have to start specifically looking for books for countries I haven’t visited…

  7. Wow. I’m in awe of your statistics. I have barely read 10 books (*sigh*) and it doesn’t seem like that figure is going to grow much in the following months. Well done!

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