I’ve never registered for this meme before, as I don’t usually do half-yearly retrospectives. But 2020 is no ordinary year, and reflecting over the past six months might illuminate some interesting developments. Thanks to Jo from The Book Jotter for the inspiration.

Six International Crime Novels

Weeping Waters – Karin Brynard (South Africa)

Black Water Lilies – Michel Bussi (France)

The Cold Summer – Carlo Carofiglio (Italy)

Black Diamond – Zakes Mda (South Africa)

The Aosawa Murders – Riku Onda (Japan)

Sword – Bogdan Teodorescu (Romania)

Six from the Historical Fiction Shelves

The Lost Lights of St Kilda – Elizabeth Gifford (UK)

Tyll – Daniel Kehlmann (Germany)

The Eighth Life – Nino Haratischvili (Georgia)

The Mirror and The Light – Hilary Mantel (UK) (No review- listened to audio book and have no idea where to start!)

Hamnet – Maggie O’Farrell (UK)

Winter in Wartime – Jan Terlouw (Holland)

Six from the Non-Fiction Shelves

This Little Art – Kate Briggs (UK)

A Little History of Poetry – John Carey (UK)

Around the World in 80 Trees – Jonathan Drori (UK)

I Remain in Darkness – Annie Ernaux (France)

The Old King In His Exile – Arno Geiger (Austria)

A Woman In the Polar Night – Christiane Ritter (Germany)

Six Reads Prompted by Online Events

This has to be the silver lining of COVID-19 crisis: free to attend online literary festivals, not to mention a plethora of other online events.

Two Blankets, Three Sheets – Rodaan Al Galidi (Iraq/Holland) (Read for the New Dutch Writing interview)

Queen Lucia – E F Benson (UK) Read for #1920club

Dark Satellites – Clemens Meyer (Germany) (Read for #fitzcarraldofortnight)

A Cage in Search of A Bird – Florence Noiville (France) (Read for #seagullbooksfortnight)

The Golden Store – William Wordsworth (UK) (Read for the Hay Digital Wordsworth Weekend)

Your Ad Could Have Been Here – Oksana Zabuzhko (Ukraine) (Read for the Ukrainian Institute event but reviewing time passed me by.)

Six Books Bought During Lockdown

Oh dear. I’ve bought far many new books (both e- and hardcopy) during lockdown. But there has been an industry to support! Here are 6 that have reading dates pencilled into the schedule during the next few months.

Their Little Secret – Mark Billingham (UK)

The Zookeeper’s War – J W Mohnhaupt (Germany)

Fracture – Andres Neuman (Argentina)

A Necessary Evil – Amir Mukherjee (UK)

Temptation – Josef Szekely (Hungary)

The Exiles Return – Elisabeth de Waal (Austria)

The Moth: Occasional Magic (Various)

Six Books readied for the next major reading project (to be started any time now)

Having completed Mantel’s Cromwell trilogy (and being all Tudored out), I decided to go back in time to the Plantagenets – a bellicose lot, but they, too, knew all about times of plague and pestilience.

The Pastons – A Family in The War of the Roses (Edited by Richard Barber)

The Revolt – Clara Dupont-Monod (France)

Pilgrims – Matthew Kneale (UK)

To Calais, In Ordinary Time – James Meek (UK)

Lionheart – Throvald Steen (Norway)

The Turn of Midnight – Minette Walters (UK)

Final note

It’s been a good reading year so far, even if COVID-related circumstances leave something to be desired. I recommend all of the above. The highlight (and surprise) so far has been how much I enjoyed those non-fiction reads. I expect a goodly number to reappear in my best of 2020.