TBR Thursday 246… and Quarterly Round-Up

TBR Quarterly Report

At the New Year, as I do every year, I set myself some targets for my various reading challenges and for the reduction of my ever-expanding TBR. It was already beginning to go horribly wrong when I last reported at the end of March, and I fear my plaguophobia has made this my worst quarter since I started blogging and maybe for several years before that. However I haven’t given up all hope of finding my groove and making up for lost time in the second half of the year. Time to see just how bad the situation is!

Here goes, then – the second check-in of the year…

 

Oh dear, most of the challenges have fallen badly behind, especially the Classics Club and the challenge to read some of the older books on my TBR.

However, while the TBR (books I own) remains stubbornly high, the combined TBR/wishlist figure is looking better. The mathematically-minded among you will realise that’s because books are gradually moving off the wishlist onto the TBR as I acquire them, and I’m not madly adding new ones. Mostly this is due to a lack of enthusiasm, but it’s also because I’m receiving almost no books for review at the moment, as my favourite publicity people remain furloughed. This is no bad thing since it’s allowing me to clear my feet of old overdue review copies a bit, but I do miss those parcels popping through the letterbox!

 

* * * * * * *

The Around the World in 80 Books Challenge

Last check-in was in March, and since then I’ve broken out of quarantine three times but have only reviewed two of them so far – my reviewing slump is even worse than my reading slump!

On the Main Journey (made by the characters in Around the World in 80 Days) I spent a long visit in Egypt with the family of al-Sayyid Ahmad Abd al-Jawad in Naguib Mahfouz’s wonderful historical saga Palace Walkset in Cairo to the backdrop of the end of WW1 and the movement for independence. Then it was off to the Alps for a skiing holiday in the company of Carol Carnac in her Crossed Skis – a trip which, as is so often the way with vacations, promptly turned into a murder mystery. (Originally I had put Frankenstein in the Alps slot, but having now abandoned three books in my attempt to fill the Arctic slot, I’ve shoved Frankenstein into it and put this one in the Alps instead. All this world travelling gets quite complicated…)

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

78 down, 2 to go!

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The Classics Club

I’ve only read three from my Classics Club list this quarter, and still have two to review, so just one review this quarter…

63. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers – The story of deaf mute John Singer who attracts a small group of broken and lonely people, each of whom finds his silence allows them to talk openly to him in a way they can’t to other people.  A profound and moving study of the ultimate aloneness and loneliness of people in a crowd, and of the universal human desire to find connection with another. The writing is beautiful, emotional but never mawkish, with deep understanding of the human heart and sympathy for human fallibility – a book that fully deserves its classic status. 5 stars.

Low on quantity this quarter, but high on quality!

63 down, 27 to go!

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Murder Mystery Mayhem

Although I’ve read several vintage crime novels, I’ve only actually read one for this challenge this quarter. To see the full challenge, click here.

37.  The Innocence of Father Brown by GK Chesterton – This is the first collection of Chesterton’s stories about the little Catholic priest who not only solves inexplicable mysteries but also cures souls as he goes along. I honestly don’t know what it is other people see in the Father Brown stories – they don’t work for me at all, and I abandoned this after the first four stories. 1 star.

37 down, 65 to go!

* * * * * * *

Reading the Spanish Civil War Challenge

This challenge really only started properly in June, so I’ve only read one book for it this quarter and unfortunately haven’t reviewed it yet. My enthusiasm is high though, so expect this section to be busier next time I report!

1 down, indefinite number to go!

* * * * * * *

So not the most productive quarter but I still enjoyed most of the few books I read for my various challenges. Thanks as always for sharing my reading experiences!

Here’s to more great reading next quarter! 😀

52 thoughts on “TBR Thursday 246… and Quarterly Round-Up

  1. I know just what you mean about reading slumps, FictionFan. You’d think that this time of staying home would mean we’d take more time to read, but it’s so unsettling that a lot of people don’t have their reading mojo. Or, if they do, they find it hard to concentrate. It’s a strange time… I’m glad you’ve got some reading done, even if it’s not much. And there’s still another couple of quarters to go this year.

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    • Yes, I find I’m spending way too much time watching news, and when I do read I’m constantly having to go back over paragraphs because I realise my mind has wandered. Makes it even harder to work out whodunit than usual! 😉 My reading is gradually picking up but my reviewing mojo is still stubbornly on strike. Maybe next quarter…

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  2. Yes, I think we’ve all experienced some form of reading slump… I was relieved to hear that even translator Daniel Hahn (who is a reading MACHINE) says he has barely read or worked on anything these past few months. I am cautiously, cautiously raising my head above the parapet now with my reading (wish it were with my writing, but hey you can’t have everything), but one bad book is enough to sink me once again!

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    • Yes, it’s hopeless trying to force myself to read some of the heavyweight books on my list while my concentration isn’t firing on all cylinders – more Agatha Christie re-reads are required! It’ll all be better soon… 😀

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    • Given that I’m usually a hermit anyway I wasn’t expecting it to bother me as much as it has. Too much news watching! But I’m still hopeful of getting through my 20 short books of summer… 😀

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    • My reading is slowly returning to almost normal, but I still can’t get up much enthusiasm for writing reviews. Soon, I hope, before I forget what all the books I read were about… 😉

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        • I’ve thought of doing mini-reviews and might have to to clear the oldest ones. I’m trying to get back in the habit of writing the newer ones within a day or two so they don’t end up on the backlog too!

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  3. Don’t beat yourself up about the reading slump, we’ve all been the same. June turned out to be a terrible reading month for me with one thing and another, but hopefully I can get back on track soon. You’ve reminded me I need to return to The Heart is a Lonely Country. I began reading it in May, but I really wasn’t in the right mood for that kind of story at the time, but it had potential. Onwards and upwards!

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    • My slump looks even worse than it is on this post, because it’s all these more heavyweight books that I’m struggling with at the moment – just can’t concentrate for long enough. But I’ve been re-reading lots of favourites – Agatha Christie, Reginald Hill, etc – so it’s not all bad. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter is great, but it’s definitely one that requires concentration and while it’s not utterly depressing it’s not exactly a barrel of laughs either… 😉 I’m sure you’ll enjoy it when you’re in the right mood for it.

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  4. Oh, dear. I do empathize with your reading slump, only mine’s more of a writing slump! One would think, with everything locked down and absolutely nothing good on TV, that I’d have more than enough time to finish writing this novel. Hah! Time I’ve got; concentration I lack. Well, hang in there, FF. We can only do so much, and let’s hope next quarter is more productive!

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    • Gosh, yes, given how hard I’m finding it just to put a review together, I sympathise – I can’t imagine doing anything that required real creativity at the moment! It’s funny – we all say constantly that we’d like more time, but I guess we should be careful what we wish for, eh?

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    • Ha! Well, my trick is to live for a long time and retire from work! 😉 I didn’t read anything like the amount I do now when I was younger and busier – I’m kinda making up for lost time… 😀

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  5. I’ve definitely had a reading slump this year, although for the time being it seems to be over. I don’t know anyone who was reading at the start of the quarter, though – I remember feeling so much like I was in a novel (and not at all in a pleasant way!) that trying to read anything really irritated me.

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    • I’m able to read things that don’t require real concentration, so lots of re-reads mainly. I find I’m constantly interrupting myself to check the news, though what good that does I don’t know! My reading has definitely picked up recently, but I still can’t get up the necessary enthusiasm for writing reviews. Soon, I hope – the backlog is reaching humungous proportions! 😉

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  6. Don’t be so hard on yourself FF, we are all struggling in our own ways, and simply ‘getting through’ should be our main goal 🙂

    Like you, my physical ARCs have slowed down, and since I don’t really accept digital review copies I’m making good headway on my TBR. Things seem to be opening up more here now, so I’m getting more book mail, but it’s definitely slower than usual, especially with the big Fall season coming up!

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    • Ha, I know! If I’d realised how pathetic my achievements would look I’d have delayed this post for a quarter, but once I’d done it, I felt I might as well post it.., 😉

      I’ve been cutting right back on NetGalley ARCs, and I only get paper copies from three publishers usually, two of whom don’t seem to be back in action yet. But I got a parcel from the third one last week, so there’s light at the end of the tunnel! So many books have had their dates pushed back I’m not even sure what books are coming up soon. You’d think all this would mean my TBR would be going down… 😉

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    • Ha, it’s surprising since so many books have had their publication dates put back! I did get a parcel from one publisher at the end of the week, so maybe there’s light at the end of the tunnel… 😀

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    • Haha, our secret is safe with me! 😉 I’ve only seen a couple of episodes of the TV show, but I agree they’re more fun. I’m afraid his style just doesn’t work for me at all…

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  7. My concentration comes and goes too. It’s reassuring that you talk about it.
    I always enjoy this post regardless of whether your numbers go up or down. 😀 You’ve had some good books this quarter anyway.

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    • Sometimes a book grabs me and I can get lost in it, but if it’s just mediocre I find my concentration just isn’t there. And I can’t seem to gee myself up to write reviews – it feels like work, and I strongly object to feeling like I’m working! But maybe now that things are looking better here and in your neck of the woods, we both might be able to get back to normal soon… I hope!

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    • It certainly has, and I’m one of the lucky ones who’s only had my reading disrupted, so I shouldn’t complain! Yes, I’ve really enjoyed the Around the World challenge and will be kinda sorry to finish it… 😀

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  8. Shove Frankenstein in the Arctic! 😂 That had me in fits for some reason! Seems a perfectly reasonable place to shove him as it’s where we last see him if memory serves. But to the important business in hand – I think you’ve done very well this quarter and I’m awarding you a chocolate trophy in recognition of your efforts 🍫 It’s been such a weird time; everyone’s lives have been upended and habits changed. Once I got my reading mojo back (and weaned myself off 24 hour news channels) I have been wildly off piste – reading what I felt I could cope with or what grabbed my attention at that moment rather than sticking to any kind of plan. (As will be evident when -not if but WHEN- I start reviewing for Jazz Age June and 10 Books of Summer…. )

    So – well done you! Here’s to the next quarter! 😃

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    • Haha, poor old Frankenstein! But he has come in useful by trotting all over the place – he’s been moved around my map quite a bit as I’ve filled and not filled various slots! 😀 Yes, it’s constant news watching that’s done for me too. I’m always a news junkie but not to this extent! It’s made it difficult to concentrate on more serious stuff but I’ve been doing a lot of re-reading of old favourites which doesn’t require so much concentration. I’m so glad I went for short books for the 20 Books though – even at that I’m miles
      behind!

      Haha, thank you! I’ll either do better next quarter or I’ll just “forget” to do a round-up… 😉

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  9. Be kind to yourself. I went through a light novels only thing at the start, so my fic/nonfic ratio is not going to recover this year, but it’s OK. I have gathered a new at the company publicist and a new to me entirely one so the flow of books is still coming here. That and NetGalley, thankfully invisible in TBR photos, are keeping me going. And that book token frenzy. And other books …

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    • I’ve more or less given up on m Goodreads challenge – so far behind I’ll never catch up! But if I can get back to normal I might still catch up with the other challenges, and if not, there’s always next year! Or at least, so I hope… though after this year, who knows what might happen next! 😉 Haha, yes despite the shortage of book parcels, my TBR seems never to go down – it’s a miracle! I’m sure the books are breeding… 😀

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  10. Well, it could have been worse. Did you consider modifying your annual targets, taking the unusual situation into account? I had a period, where I stuck to lighter reads, then my normal reading habits returned, but I struggled to write the reviews. Now it seems things are back to normal (when it comes to blogging). I hope that will happen for you as well. If not – just go with the flow 😉

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    • I always assume I’ll fail at all my targets and kinda set them high with that expectation in mind – it keeps me on my toes! I’ll be down on the overall number of books read this year, but I still might catch up with the challenges, more or less, if I get back to normal soon. My reading is recovering, but my review writing mojo is still AWOL, I think it’ll be a while yet before I’m back to blogging as regularly as I usually do. Did I hear a sigh of relief? 😉

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      • Haha, no sigh of relief from me. I still think you outperform me with a considerable amount of posts even when you are in a slump, so don’t be too hard on yourself.

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    • Yes, it’s been a strange time indeed! My reading is gradually getting back to normal – now I just need to find my reviewing mojo again. I know – one book left to read and two to review! I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the Around the World challenge – I’ll miss it. 😀

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    • Haha, excellent way to look at it! 😀 I know, but I do think it’s beginning to pass, reading-wise anyway. I’m still struggling to write reviews, maybe because I’m not concentrating on the books fully. But now that we’re finally getting back to the “new normal” here at last, hopefully I won’t feel quite so compelled to obsess over the news… 🤞

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