TBR Thursday 165… 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…

A spectacular reduction in the overall figure! Bet you’re gobsmacked! This is because, apart from review copies, I’ve been restricting myself to only acquiring books that are already on my wishlist, and I’m being brutally ruthless about culling that wishlist at the end of every month. If a book doesn’t sparkle brightly and sing my name, it gets thrown back in the pond. I’m a TBR Champion!

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The Around the World in 80 Books Challenge

Last check-in was in March, and I’ve had another exciting three months of travel since then…

I had lots of interesting detours again, starting with a trip to Toronto, Canada, where I spent some time with immigrants from Trinidad in David Chariandy’s wonderful Brother. In Appointment with Death, I accompanied Agatha Christie, Poirot and a group of deeply suspicious characters on a trip to the Rose Red City of Petra in Jordan. Damon Galgut took me to visit a disillusioned post-apartheid South Africa where I met The Good Doctor. I thoroughly enjoyed my trip to Lebanon where Najla Jraissaty Khoury regaled me with a host of traditional folk tales in Pearls on a Branch. I had a rather disappointing trip to Colombia with Juan Gabriel Vasquez streaming his consciousness and a lot of Colombian history at me in The Shape of the Ruins. And finally I visited one of the destinations on my Main Journey in the company of Valeria Vescina, whose wonderful story of the intensity of first love, That Summer in Puglia, took me to Brindisi and other locations in the beautiful heel of Italy.

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

This is a map showing the countries I’ve visited so far. Some pretty big gaps there! Must start being selective…

52 down, 28 to go!

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The Classics Club

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

24. The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner by James Hogg – 5 stars for this great Scottish classic, an entertaining mix of humour and horror, with some excellently satirical characterisation.

25. The First Men in the Moon by HG Wells – 5 stars for this science fiction classic. A great read with lots of humour and imagination,  and enough depth to make it interesting without feeling heavy – hugely entertaining.

26. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell – unfortunately, this one didn’t work for me at all, and I abandoned it fairly early on. Just 1 star, I’m afraid.

27. Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman – sadly, the anti-man type of feminism I most dislike and, even more sadly, she forgot to put a plot in. 2 generous stars for this one.

28. The Dain Curse by Dashiell Hammett – 4 stars for this entertaining if somewhat silly and almost entirely incomprehensible novel, that is saved by the relentless pace and the snappy, hardboiled style.

I’ve also made a couple of changes to my list:

  • After the Gone with the Wind debacle, I decided to stop reading books with a race element, written by white American authors long ago. So I’ve replaced Uncle Tom’s Cabin with Go Tell it on the Mountain by James Baldwin.
  • Having been gifted a Scottish classic I wasn’t aware of when I made my list, I’ve removed one of my re-reads to make room for it. So Annals of the Parish is out, and Marriage by Susan Ferrier is in.

28 down, 62 to go!

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Reading the Russian Revolution

I’ve read the final three books for this challenge but have still to post my review of the last one. So just two this quarter.

15. The Commissariat of Enlightenment by Ken Kalfus – a great book from one of my favourite authors, this is an examination of the birth of the art of propaganda and myth-making, told with a great mix of light and shade. 5 stars.

16. And Quiet Flows the Don by Mikhail Sholokhov – the story of a Cossack family before and during the Revolution and the Civil War, showing how their way of life would be altered forever. This is a wonderful novel, one that fully deserves its reputation as a great classic of the Revolution, and of literature in general. 5 stars.

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Murder Mystery Mayhem

This quarter I’ve read four books for this one, but so far only reviewed three. Fewer than I intended – I need to stop being distracted by all the other vintage crime I’ve been reading, and focus! To see the full challenge, click here.

15.  Some Must Watch by Ethel Lina White – an insane serial killer is rampaging the countryside, murdering young women. Unfortunately the plotting in this one gets a bit silly and it’s too long for its content. Just 3 stars.

16.  The Red House Mystery by AA Milne – lots of humour and two likeable protagonists for this take on a locked room mystery. Well written, pleasingly devious, and above all, entertaining! 5 stars.

17.  The Dain Curse by Dashiell Hammett – despite the fact that the plot is nonsensical, episodic, and barely hangs together, this is oddly entertaining, largely due to the snappy, hardboiled style of the writing and the relentless pace. 4 stars.

17 down, 85 to go!

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5 x 5 Challenge

I’ve been struggling to fit this challenge in, though it should be easier now the Russian one’s coming to an end. But just one so far…

1. Fatherland by Robert Harris – In a world where Nazi Germany won World War Two, Hitler still rules and the people of Germany and the lands they conquered are in the grip of a totalitarian regime, Detective Xavier March must investigate a mysterious death. Great plotting in this excellent example of an alternative history novel. 5 stars.


1 down, 24 to go!

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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! 😀

I’m taking some time off now to watch Wimbledon and stuff, so don’t do anything exciting while I’m…

 

61 thoughts on “TBR Thursday 165… and Quarterly Round-Up

  1. Wow, FF – so many books! Your eyes must be hanging out your head! You know, I think book reviewers are greatly under-appreciated. Pretty much every day you provide us with an insightful, entertaining and brilliantly written account of a different book. It really is impressive. There should be some sort of knighthood for book reviewers. In the meantime, I suggest chocolate and a wine ice lolly 😉

  2. I am in awe at the way you’ve reduced that TBR, FictionFan! I need to work a lot harder at my own, if I’m being honest. It looks as though you’re making progress on a lot of your reading goals, too, which is great. I hope you richly enjoy all the Wimbledon action. We’ll save some chocolate for you… 🙂

    • Frankly, Margot, so am I! 😉 Definitely a monthly cull of the wishlist helps – if I can’t remember what appealed to me about a book, out it goes! Yes, I do seem to read a lot of my challenge books, don’t I? And yet, oddly, I never seem to actually finish a challenge… *shakes head in bafflement* Haha – hopefully Rafa will help to take my mind off all these existential questions for a bit… 😉

  3. Well based on our last conversation about spreadsheets I took a look at mine and decided I needed to revise mine…but the numbers are shocking. I can’t believe how many books are still on my TBR.

    And here’s a question, do you count multiple copies of the same book as read (😂😆🙈)

    • Hahaha – no, that would be cheating! But I do have some crossover in my various challenges, so if I’m lucky I can make one book tick three boxes… 😉 Yes, it was the first time that I added up all my various lists that I realised something had to be done – unless they invent immortality pretty quickly I’ll never get through them all… Now you must reveal all, to make me feel better! 😂

      • I have to figure out how I want to revise the sheets in my spreadsheet to make sense of the TBR but I want to read instead of working on it.

        Side note: love your challenges – I thought I was the only one who readily says, “a reading challenge here, there, everywhere! I can do at least 2 of these…”. 🙈😂 anyway good job keeping up with them and I’m feeling faint at your rating for GWTW but that’s ok, we still have Moby😂

        • My spreadsheet currently has sixteen different sheets, so I think it’s safe to say I’m a bit obsessive about list-making! 😉

          Hahaha – I think a lot of people were kinda horrified at my reaction to GWTW, but fiddle-dee-dee! I’d have fed Scarlett to Moby if I’d had my way… 😂 I love doing all these challenges, but it’s a real juggling act fitting them all in. And somehow no matter how much I read, I never seem to finish any of them… 😉

  4. holy wow! The way your TBR is organized just blew my mind – I’m inspired! I’ve just been trying to keep track with piles on my bookshelf and hoping I remember all the great ones I haven’t purchased yet

    • Hahaha – it kinda blows my mind too! I reckon if I spent less time on lists I could probably read a couple of extra books a month… 😉 And as for keeping lists of books you want – fatal! That’s where I made my big mistake… 🤣

  5. Congratulations! I’m glued to tennis at the moment – Rafa’s just gone through in three sets, but it was a lot harder than the score-line suggests. Enjoy you time off.xx

    • Haha – any semblance of control I may seem to have is purely illusion, I assure you! 😉 Though I do find a monthly cull of the wishlist helps – as often as not I can’t remember why I added a book or what it’s about, which suggests I’m not really that mad keen to read it after all…

  6. I should have known you’d be this smart and organized, FF! I am in awe, and I love your stats and charts, and all of it. This is a mesmerizing post, and I’ve got to spend some more time with it! Well-done!

    • Haha – thank you, but don’t be fooled by appearances! I may look organised but that’s just so I can pretend to ignore the piles of unread books all over the house… 😉

  7. Well that was a surprise with the overall total falling – good policy on removing items if they don’t sing to you when you review them. Fantastic job on the challenges too – you are on fire!

    • Haha – don’t tell anyone but it was a surprise to me too! This culling is working better than I thought! 😉 I have a question for the Gods of the Books though – if I read all these zillions of challenge books every quarter… then how come I never actually finish a challenge??? *goes off to lie in a darkened room*

  8. I think you’ll like James Baldwin. He writes beautifully, and I agree that it’s a good idea to read novels that focus on race written by people from that race. He was also a gay man, but I can’t remember if sexuality plays a role in the book you’ve chosen. Baldwin’s novels tends to be short. If you want a classic of similar size to Uncle Tom’s Cabin, try Roots by Alex Haley.

    I’m currently reading Joan Fontaine’s autobiography. I never realized her sister, Olivia, played Melanie in Gone with the Wind. I’ve never made it through that whole movie. It’s always seemed trivial to me. Anyway, Joan starred in Rebecca, so I’m team Joan (even though she DOES seem a bit of a shit in her own book).

    • I got the impression this one is mainly about race rather than his sexuality, thankfully – I don’t care who people have sex with, but I do wish they would restrain themselves from telling me about it… 😉 I did have Roots on the TBR for a bit, but the length put me off, plus I understand there’s a lot of controversy about his research.

      I always remember thinking it odd that they were sisters – they seem so very unlike each other. But of course, my perception of them will be mostly based on the roles they were cast in rather than their actual personalities.

  9. Enjoy Wimbledon! I think the challenge that you’re doing that I personally find most interesting/useful is the around the world challenge. Will you actually be able to find a book that takes place in every country? I sure hope so!

    • I’m enjoying that one and the Classics Club most, I think, though they’re all fun, in my weird world! 😉 Ha – fortunately the challenge is only to read eighty books from different countries. But I believe some blogger did a challenge of reading a book from every country in the world in the space of a year, and did manage to find something for every country. I believe she went on to publish a book of her own about the challenge. I’m toying with expanding beyond the eighty countries, but I’ll see how I feel when I get there… 😀

  10. Wow, so many challenges and such great progress – you’re on fire! I love your AW80Books map, I must do one of those for me to help focus the mind and redirect my travel reading.

    • Ha – too many challenges!! Somehow I seem unable to resist! 😉 I enjoyed doing the map and it really shows how I’ve mostly stuck to the Europe and the English-speaking world so far – must get to Africa and South America soon!

  11. You’re doing great on the challenges! As usual I’m impressed with the variety and volume. You’ve earned a rest! Try not to get tennis elbow swinging that TV remote. 😀

    • Ha – but how come I never seem to finish any of these challenges?? It’s a conspiracy against me, I’m convinced! 😉 Haha – I’ll try, but if Rafa gets beaten I may have to throw the remote at the screen… 😱

  12. I’m impressed with your “real” TBR total! I really have to start being more ruthless. There are so many books I put on my list while thinking to myself. “good luck getting to that one!”. However, it makes me feel better to put it on a list, just so that I won’t forget about it. I also think I’d take more *off* my list if they made that easier to do over at Goodreads. Right now, I seem to only be able to do it one at a time. Which is painful when you have hundreds of books on your list!
    I love seeing how you’re doing on all your challenges – your Around the World Challenge being to most interesting, I think. (To me!) But I also love hearing about the Classics, even though I don’t read many of them myself. I hope you’re enjoying “Marriage”!

    • I’ve never got into listing my TBR on Goodreads thankfully – I spend more than enough time on lists as it is! Mine is all on my Amazon wishlist, and I’ve culled it down to just the ones I need for all my various challenges, plus a few I’ve been persuaded by fellow bloggers I must read… 😡

      I’ve loved the Around the World challenge and so far have mostly filled in the places with books I was reading anyway. But I’ve reached the point now where I’ll have to be more selective if I want to get to Africa and South America. The classics has been great fun too, especially forcing me to read some Scottish classics I should have read long since. ‘Marriage’ was good – but not quite as good as I’d hoped, sadly. I fear the comparison to Jane Austen is a bit of hype…

    • Ooh, I’m feeling smug now! I felt the AW80 was taking me ages and everybody else must be way ahead. I cannot lie – it’s been a bad couple of weeks for the old TBR though… 😉

  13. A monthly cull of the wish list is a terrific idea! I need to borrow that!

    Also, very excited that you’re including a James Baldwin novel on your Classics Club list. I’ve only read some of his nonfiction, but I have another of his novels on my shelf and list and am very excited to read it. He was a brilliant man.

    • It really works! The amazing thing is that as soon as I’ve culled a book I forget about it, so I don’t end up full of regrets… 😉

      I haven’t read anything by James Baldwin but Melanie recommended him as part of my drive to include more black writers on my American list. I’m looking forward to it – hope you enjoy yours too!

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