TBR Thursday 324 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. My reading dipped for a few weeks this quarter when the news took on such a grim aspect but I’ve now reached a point where I just can’t watch it any more, so my reading has returned more or less to normal, though with quite a few books finding themselves on the abandoned heap, as seems to happen in times of stress!

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

Hmm, overperforming on some targets and underperforming on others, but overall that looks pretty good to me. But then the first quarter usually does when I haven’t yet had time to be diverted by new acquisitions! It will all go horribly wrong soon, I expect, but hey! Who’s counting? 😉

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The Classics Club

I’ve had a flurry of classics reading as I finished my first list and started my second. I’ve read seven this quarter and had three left still to review at the end of last quarter. I’m still miles behind with reviews, though, so again have three still to come next quarter…

First List

83. The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester – Gosh, I hated this bad taste pulp science fiction from the 1950s – a vile book about a vile man doing vile things in a vile society. 1 star.

84. Rabbit, Run by John Updike – Gosh, I hated this misogynistic pile of drivel, an early example of the sex-obsessed, narcissistic bilge that too often passes for literature in these degenerate days! 👵 1 star.

85. The Tiger in the Smoke by Margery Allingham – A wonderfully atmospheric thriller making great use of the London fog, although let down a little by the ending. 4 stars.

86. The Hollow Man by John Dickson Carr – I could see why this is so popular among “impossible crime” enthusiasts but that’s not my favourite sub-genre so for me it was a mediocre read. 3 stars.

87. Go Tell It On the Mountain by James Baldwin – Gosh, I hated this tedious book, filled with the mumboing and jumboing of religious maniacs. I enjoyed seeing all the contrasting views from my Review-Along buddies though! 1 star.

88. No Mean City by A McArthur and H Kingsley Long – Not a great novel, perhaps, but of interest for its look at the Glasgow slums of the era, and as the book that gave the city the hardman reputation that has inspired so much gang-obsessed fiction since. 4 stars.

88 down, 2 to go!

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Second List

1. The Chrysalids by John Wyndham – A thought-provoking meditation on post-apocalyptic societies and how we humans treat those we see as different, while also managing to be a tense thriller. Again I enjoyed reading this as a Review-Along. 4½ stars.

I also attempted to read On the Road by Jack Kerouac but quickly abandoned it – I’m too old for the dreary drink and drug fuelled “adventures” of overgrown adolescents, I fear. I’ve replaced it on my list with The Walls of Jericho by Rudolph Fisher.

1 down, 79 to go!

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I think “mixed bag” is the only way to describe this batch of classics! That’s what happens when you get to the last books on your list and find you’ve lost all enthusiasm for them… 😉

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Murder Mystery Mayhem

I’ve read two for this challenge this quarter but haven’t reviewed either of them yet…

46 down, 56 to go!

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Reading the Spanish Civil War Challenge

I’ve read precisely none for this challenge this quarter, but reviewed one left over from the quarter before…

9. As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning by Laurie Lee – Despite many beautifully written passages, I felt that the whole memoir had been so embellished it was difficult to see what was true and what was fictional. Plus I hated the way he talked about women and young girls. 3 stars.

I have lots of books lined up for this challenge – it’s just a matter of fitting them in!

9 down, indefinite number to go!

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The People’s Choice

People's Choice Logo

I’ve read three and reviewed three – hurrah, I’m on track with this challenge! So did You, The People, pick me some good ones…?

January – The Siege of Krishnapur by JG Farrell – I was conflicted as to how I felt about this colonial satire, a fictionalised version of the real Siege of Lucknow of 1857. But my appreciation grew in the later stages, so in the end I was glad to have read it. 4 stars.

February – The Chink in the Armour by Marie Belloc Lowndes – An entertaining vintage crime novel, set in a gambling town just outside Paris. Far too long for its content, but fun overall, with a likeable, if frustratingly naive, heroine and a sexy French Count. 3½ stars.

MarchThe Chrysalids by John Wyndham – Set in a world devastated by nuclear war, this excellent novel provides much food for thought on the subjects of evolution and humanity’s tendency to fear and persecute difference. 4½ stars.

Three interesting, varied and enjoyable choices, People – you did great! Keep up the good work! 😉

3 down, 9 to go!

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Wanderlust Bingo

I’ve read three books for this challenge this quarter and had two still to review from the previous quarter. I’ve reviewed four, with one still to come. I’ve also abandoned one or two that I had planned would fill boxes, but I’ve tentatively selected others to replace them – fingers crossed! The dark blue boxes are books from previous quarters, and the orange are the ones I’m adding this quarter. I still might shuffle them again before the end if I have to, but I’m hoping not. (If you click on the bingo card you should get a larger version.)

CanadaStill Life by Louise Penny – 3 stars. The setting is one of the main strengths of the book, so I’ve slotted it into the North America box.

Turkey – Stamboul Train by Graham Greene – 5 stars.  Really the book covers a journey right across Europe from Ostend to Istanbul on the Orient Express, so it’s a perfect fit for the Train box.

IndiaThe Siege of Krishnapur by JG Farrell – 4 stars. Krishnapur may be fictional, but the events are based on the real history of the Indian Rebellion, so this slots nicely into the Indian Sub-Continent box.

USAThe Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles – 4 stars. This wasn’t quite as much of a road trip novel as I expected, but spends enough time on the Lincoln Highway to justify slotting it into the Road box.

Still some way to go, but the end is nearly in sight…

19 down, 6 to go!

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Doing well on some challenges, falling behind on others – story of my life, really! 😉 Thanks as always for sharing my reading experiences!

Here’s to more great reading next quarter! 😀

54 thoughts on “TBR Thursday 324 and Quarterly Round-Up

  1. I’m glad there have been lots of good reads in the first quarter and you’ve managed to move on some of the others too. Looking at your challenges: my reading has been influenced by these too! I completed the Wanderlust Bingo (prompting my reading Inés of My Soul amongst other new books) and have enjoyed being prompted to read Spanish Civil War themed books as well as more vintage crime. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well done on completing the Wanderlust challenge! More than either Margaret or I have managed to do! I feel as if it’s cursed – I’ve abandoned so many books I’ve chosen for it, so the end never seems to get much nearer… 😉 What did you read for “desert” – my most cursed spot? In fact, what did you read for them all?? I’m also getting tired of hearing myself say I’ll be reading more SCW books and never actually doing it – gah! But vintage crime and the classics ae my saviours… 😂

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      • Sorry for the long comment! I found I could more or less post my table here with some editing. Did you have a rule for not repeating authors? If so, I see I did do that for the desert example. There is a desert setting in part of the Gods Without Men.
        In these times especially, it’s good to read what we enjoy, with small pushes for extending ourselves here and there I think.

        Oceania. Auē. Becky Manawatu. NZ
        North America. Brother. David Chariandy. Canada
        South America. Inés of My Soul. Isabel Allende. Chile et al.
        Southeast Asia. Smaller and Smaller Circles. Felisa Batacan. Philippines
        Indian Subcontinent. Night Theatre. Vikram Paralkar. India
        Africa. Things Fall Apart. Chinua Achebe. Nigeria
        Europe. Red Pill. Hari Kunzru. Germany
        Middle East. The Alchemist. Paulo Coelho. Egypt
        Far East. Convenience Store Woman. Sayaka Murata. Japan
        Polar Region. Lean Fall Stand. Jon McGregor. Antarctica
        Space. The Ship Who Sang. Anne McCaffrey. Space
        Island. The Chill Factor. Richard Falkirk. Iceland
        Sea. Cove. Cynan Jones. Wales
        Mountain. For Whom the Bell Tolls. Ernest Hemingway. Spain
        Desert. Gods Without Men. Hari Kunzru. USA, Mojave
        Forest / Jungle. State of Wonder. Ann Patchett. Brazil, Amazon
        River. Heart of Darkness. Joseph Conra. Congo
        Beach. The Survivors. Jane Harper. Australia
        Road. The New Road. Neil Munro. Scotland
        City. Death in Venice. Thomas Mann. Italy
        Small Town. Sergeant Cluff Stands Firm. Gil North. England, Gunnarshaw
        Village. Snow. John Banville. Ireland, Ballyglass
        Walk. Town Like Alice. Nevil Shute. Malaysia
        Train. The Lady Vanishes. E L White. Switzerland
        Free choice: Underground. Underland. Robert Macfarlane. Mixed

        Liked by 1 person

        • Wow, you have some great books there! No, no rule about doubling authors – only about not doubling countries. I think I’ve doubled Richard Falkirk for Iceland (Island) and Israel (Middle East).
          Gods and Men is a fantastic choice for desert – I loved that book and still think of it quite often. In fact, I toyed with a re-read of it for Desert if I keep abandoning books I choose for it, but I haven’t given up yet! I wasn’t so keen on Red Pill – how did you get on with it? Some real favourites of mine in there – For Whom the Bell Tolls, The New Road, Brother, the wonderful Night Theatre, Sergeant Cluff (I wish the BL would publish more of his books), A Town Like Alice, and Heart of Darkness – another book that lives permanently in my mind now. I may have missed some! I’m not a fan of Banville in detective story mode, though I loved one of his other books and have The Sea on my TBR. And I fear I did not get along with Mr Macfarlane and his interminable tunnels! Several more in your list for me to check out… What did you think of Death in Venice, one of those books I keep meaning to read but never do?

          You’ve done brilliantly! I’m already thinking of a follow-up challenge – I do like being reminded to look for books that take me out of Britain. But next time there won’t be a Desert option! 😉

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          • I struggled with Red Pill initially but having committed myself to the story’s journey, I came to engage with it quite strongly. I think I remember the intelligence of the ideas particularly capturing me. I found Death in Venice almost a claustrophobic read (luckily it’s novella length) but worth it for the luxurious language.
            Somehow I find myself more enticed by your challenges rather than setting my own. There are a number of books in this list I read specifically to fill in gaps (and then enjoyed them!).

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            • I think I read Red Pill during one of my recent slumps and I’ve definitely been more critical and less able to work at it when a book doesn’t immediately grab me over the last couple of stress-filled years. Death in Venice does sound intriguing though maybe not right now. I must put it on my wishlist though for a future read. Yes, it’s trying to fill in the gaps that I find fun too, and that make me try books I otherwise wouldn’t – but that also leads to more abandonments than there otherwise would be! But the unexpected gems make up for the disappointing ones… 😀

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  2. That’s interesting about the James Baldwin as it’s one I am keen to read! Also interesting that you abandon books more in times of stress, too – I thought I was the only one who did that!

    So far this year I have…
    over-achieved – millions of books for Annabel’s Nordic FINDS
    under-achieved – Kaggsy’s readindies and my own TBR reading
    on target – my own Larry McMurtry re-reads project
    just about on target – keeping up with NetGalley – read all in Jan and Feb, 9 out of 11 in March with one being read, not too many to read in April

    Liked by 1 person

    • Other people loved the Baldwin so don’t be put off! I just couldn’t tolerate all the verbatim quoting of crazed sermons and prayers.

      You’re doing well! NetGalley is often my downfall but so far this year I’ve managed not to completely overload myself with them.

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    • The only good thing about slumps for me is that I tend to read voraciously for a few weeks once they’re over – as if my brain is making up for lost time! But my DNAs have been terrible for the last couple of years – just haven’t got the patience to stick with something that isn’t fully capturing my attention.

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  3. I’d say you’re doing quite well, FictionFan! And I’m happy that, for the most part, your reads have been good ones. I know what you mean by getting distracted as the year goes by; I’m sure that’ll happen to me, too! In the meantime, though, you’ve definitely made progress. And I do admire the way you keep track of your reading!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha, yes, the review copies are beginning to pile up again and that’s when it all starts to go wrong! My reading is better than my reviewing at the moment – I still have one or two from last year to review! Can’t imagine I’ll remember enough about them… 😉

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  4. It all looks pretty darn good to me. I can’t imagine being on a second CC list! (and I think there are some who are on a third!) I forgot to mention this before, but I don’t particularly like the cover on the version of The Chrysalids you read. I much preferred my psychedelic cover! 😵‍💫

    Here’s to a stellar second quarter! 🍻

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha, I know – I never thought I’d finish the first list much less be willing to do it all again! But now I’m super-enthusiastic about the new list! I hate that cover too, but I have a thing about always using the actual cover of the copy I own, even if it’s horrible! I don’t think this cover gives any impression of the book. Mind you, Karissa directed me to a cover with a kind of green bug with a fancy space-gun on it, and that didn’t seem quite right either! 😂

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  5. Definitely with you on the Updike and Kerouac, not sure the latter is all that appealing for those of us who are female and over a certain age. (Along with Catcher in the Rye.) You’ve made impressive inroads into your TBR and challenges considering how distracting life has been recently…

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    • There’s definitely more of a tradition of books by men and seemingly aimed at men in the US than here, and I feel I’ve had my fill of trying to learn to love them now! I’ve reached a point where I can only bear the news in short bursts so have been reading up a storm to try to escape from reality. It only partially works though…

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  6. Giggled at your reaction to the prospect of reading Kerouac – chimes perfectly with my own aversion to this book. You’ve convinced me I can skip Updike and Baldwin. I’m impressed thst you are already starting on round two of the Classics Club. I’ve debated doing a second round and have even got as far as making a list of books but then I remember that I don’t do so well with reading from a list, preferring the free and easy approach.

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    • I’m ready to admit that a lot of male American authors simply don’t work for me and give up trying to learn to love them! I’ve found I like having lists to read from – it stops me from going from one crime novel to the next and never reading anything else. But I have swapped quite a few classics as I’ve gone along, and this second list is more heavily packed with authors I already know and love.

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      • I have the same feelings about a number of American male authors too – have tried and failed several times with William Faulkner. Have now given up – there are so many other people to discover, why give myself grief over this one

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        • Oh yes, I only got half-way through my one attempt at a Faulkner novel. The proliferation of these terrible male mid-twentieth century writers in the US is odd – can’t understand why so many of them are still revered.

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  7. Laughing like mad at your reaction to On the Road. I rolled my eyes the whole way through The Dharma Bums, probably for the same reasons as you abandoned this.
    Stressful times really bring clarity about what is worthwhile to us. It’s interesting that it seeps into our tolerance for books, too.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. You don’t need any suggestions, but have you read any of the “Mr. and Mrs. North” mysteries by Frances and Richard Lockridge? We’ve been watchi9ng the early 1950s tv series and it’s loads of fun! So are the books. Start with “The Norths Meet Murder.”

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Speaking of not listening to news as much – I think many of us booklovers feel the need to follow the news, and in some ways keep informed, and bear witness to the pain others are going through – the world is full of so much hate and pain, and no one is more aware of that than us who read widely! Having said that, I removed twitter off my phone, and I’m making more of an effort to read my books instead of consume social media or listen to the news on the radio and I find it’s helped improve my mental health immensely.

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    • I’m thinking of doing away with Twitter too – it often seems as if all the hate in the world is gathered there and it makes me despair for the stupidity of humanity! I’m sure that can’t be healthy… 😉 I’ve developed a habit of having a news channel running on the TV all day as background though usually with the sound turned down. It keeps me informed but sometimes it all gets too much and I have to force myself just to watch the main bulletin in the evening. This last few years has been one horror story after another, just when I thought the world was beginning to improve!

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