I’m recording the mid-way point. having read 11 books. What? 20/2 = 10, right?

Yeeeeess, except when a purchase sneaks in right at the beginning. i.e when reading book 2, I’m delirious with a winter lurgy and in no mood to tag myself a failure. So rather than reset the counter, I decided that to complete #tbr20, I would have to read 22 books from the TBR before purchasing another. So, 11 books read is my mid-way point.

That second book is proving problematic in more ways than one. It’s the only one I have DNF’ed and has now flounced off in a tantrum, refusing to turn up for the photo-call. Perhaps as well, no need to name and shame. I’m sure the DNF was a result of my foggy mind, rather than poor writing. I may return to it at some point (if it ever chooses to show its face again.)

All of which is a preface to a quick summary of the journey so far …

From left to right:

1 Fish Soup – Margarita Garcia Robayo Translated from Spanish by Charlotte Coombes. On the TBR since May 2018. 2 novellas, 7 scorching short stories. Fantastic cover. Brilliant writing in parts, but was not taken by the coarse sexual content in others. 3-stars overall.

2. DNF and AWOL!!!

3 A Question of Upbringing – Anthony Powell. On the virtual TBR since August 2018. (Edinburgh Book Festival). E-book purchased May 2019. Library book borrowed for photo-op! The first in the 12 part Dance to the Music series. While it didn’t blow me away, it did grow on me and has me sufficiently interested to carry on with the sequence. Just as well, as the omnibus e-edition I have contains the first three. 3-stars

4 The Dance of Death – Oliver Bottini Translated from German by Jamie Bulloch. On the TBR for 9 months. 4-stars. Review here.

5 Lucia – Alex Pheby On the TBR for 18 months A couple of years ago I awarded Alex Pheby a best novel set in a mental institution gong. I was expecting more of the same given Lucia Joyce’s history. The scenes set in the mental institution didn’t disappoint. i found the parallels between the egyptologist uncovering the secrets of the Egyptian tomb with the narrator uncovering the secrets of Lucia Joyce very clever. BUT (capital letters justified) I strongly disagree with the narrative premise: All things that are possible are, in the absence of facts that have been destroyed that might have proved them incorrect, equally correct. No, no and thrice no especially when artistic licence is used to concoct scenes of abuse by father and brother. Mud sticks regardless of evidence. How Lucia got this past the notoriously litigious Joyce estate is beyond me. My 2-star rating is no reflection on the quality of the writing, just a sounding of my objection to some of the content.

6 The Expendable Man – Dorothy B Hughes On the TBR since 2010. The 5-star cream of this crop. Full review here. And to think I only picked it up because Richard (who is also undertaking the #tbr20 challenge) gave high praise to another by her.

7 Party Fun with Kant – Nicholas Mahler Translated from German by James Reidel On the TBR for 12 months. Graphic novel in which famous philosophers of the past demonstrate their beliefs. I suspect these are basic lessons but as my knowledge of philosophy is utterly meagre, most of this was above my head. 3-stars.

8 Mother Courage and Her Children – Bertolt Brecht Translated from German by Tom Leonard. On the TBR since August 2019 (Edinburgh Book Festival). I never tire of Brecht’s anti-war masterpiece, and what can I say about a translation into Glaswegian? Other than fantastic! 5-stars.

9 and 10 The Honjin Murders – Seishi Yokomizo (3.5 stars) / The Aosawa Murders – Riku Onda (4.5 stars) Translated from Japanese by Louise Heal Kawai and Alison Watts respectively. Both on TBR for a couple of months. Brilliant start to the 13th Japanese Literature Challenge. Reviews of both here.

11 One Clear Ice-Cold January Morning at the Beginning of the Twenty-First Century – Rolamd Schimmelpfennjng Translated from German by Jamie Bulloch On the TBR for 2 years. A wolf wanders from Poland to Berlin. So too a number of humans whose stories are lightly stitched together to form a composite picture of contemporary Berlin. An enjoyable 3.5 stars.

I’m just about to finish book 13. So with 5 weeks and 9 books to go to my deadline (publication of the new Mantel), my #tbr20 (22) challenge is looking doable. I would like to hunt out a few more long-term residents of the TBR for the challenge, but with #fitzcarraldofortnight round the corner that might prove a little difficult.

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