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Monkey's 2019 TBR hideaway

TBR Challenge

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Edited: Today, 11:41am Top

01. The first circle - Solzhenitsyn (2017)
02. The metamorphoses - Ovid (2017)
03. Oblomov - Ivan Goncharov (2018)
04. Che Guevara: A revolutionary life - Jon Lee Anderson (2018)
05. Picture this - Joseph Heller (2018)
06. Barnaby Rudge - Charles Dickens
07. House of the dead - Fyodor Dostoevsky
08. The Luzhin defense - Vladimir Nabokov
09. England made me - Graham Greene
01 10. Williwaw - Gore Vidal 8 Jan
11. War and peace - Leo Tolstoy
12. A posthumous confession - Marcellus Emants

02 13. Wagner the werewolf - GWM Reynolds 12 Jan
14. Seven Gothic tales - Isak Dinesen
15. The terror - Dan Simmons
16. Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
17. A Jew in America - Arthur Hertzberg
18. Frida Kahlo: the brush of anguish - Martha Zamora
19. The forest of the hanged - Liviu Rebreanu
20. On lynchings - Ida B. Wells-Barnett
21. Nazi hunter - Alan Levy
22. The river between - Ngugi wa Thiong'o
23. The informant - Kurt Eichenwald
24. We the living - Ayn Rand

Status: 2/24

CR 2019 thread for reviews of my non-list reading.

Edited: Jan 9, 5:34pm Top

I'm here I'm here! I had to settle on my last few titles, and then had some computer spazzing >_< but I'm here now! And I read one of my picks yesterday! Woo! XD

I still have to take everything out and get my annual photo, I've only pulled some of them so far.

I decided to be a copycat with Dinesen, and I have my standards, Dickens, Dostoevsky, Greene, Nabokov, Vidal... Threw in my other Rand to get it out of the way, worked well the last time I included my other unread of hers! And some random selections amongst those that made the continental move with me a decade ago, hahaha, plus just some other scattered picks. Hopefully I'll do a bit better hanging around this year! ;P

Jan 9, 5:27pm Top

#1 Williwaw ★★★★½
To think that this was Vidal's first book, and at such a young age... just amazing. I was hooked from the get-go and thoroughly enjoyed every moment. This was one of the earliest WWII stories published, and it was definitely deserving. The narration style feels very "run of the mill," as in, this is just what the life of a sailor entails nothing noteworthy to see here, sort of deal. The fact that it's about a massive freak storm that could easily have wound up in the sinking of the ship, among other things, only makes the style that much more interesting. It works impeccably well, and only serves to confirm that Vidal was always destined to be the master writer he became!

Jan 9, 6:02pm Top

Yay! I thought you'd abandoned us!

As usual, a very interesting list from you. I read the Marcellus Emants book at one point but that was long ago; IIRC I thought it was an ok 19thC psychological novel. Blixen's Seven gothic tales I read for this challenge in 2017, and they were good: I liked them a lot (my review here).

And, um, War and Peace? Together with Dickens, Madame Bovary, a Dan Simmons, and the Metamorphoses? Ambitious! Looking forward to your reviews!

Jan 10, 3:03am Top

>4 Petroglyph: Hahaha, I love the Russian classics, and they usually don't take me much time at all. :D Last year I read Anna in only 6 days. ;P Dickens is usually on the quicker side as well, though not as speedy, and I'm pretty sure the Simmons won't take me long at all either. Bovary, indeed, I'm unsure of, hahaha, and Metmorphoses as well, but we shall see! haha. Ida's On lynchings is real short, but that's one I worry more about taking a long time to get through, since it is quite literally, as the title says, on lynchings; she wrote 3 pamphlets, at risk of her life, on the topic, and this book is the collection of them. I think most of the selections are on the longer side, just tends to kind of happen with me lmao, but amusingly enough it's more of the ones that are on the short side that have me more concerned. XD

Jan 10, 4:33am Top

Great lists! War and Peace and The Terror are two of my all time favorites. Looks like a great reading year ahead. And congrats on being off to a quick start. :)

Jan 10, 7:32am Top

>1 .Monkey.:, cool, I wondered if you were going to show up. :)

Go, Che Guevara! I've sort of mixed feelings whether it was worth two months (!) of my time, but he was an interesting guy that's for sure, and it was a good way to learn some of the surrounding history instead of from the typical American perspective. Barnaby Rudge is one of those Dickens novels where the central character (Barnaby) isn't really the central character. A fascinating bit of history Dickens revisited there (Protestants are running wild in the streets, help!), and the raven has a nifty link to Poe. Nothing wrong with revisiting favourite authors, I've said elsewhere how I struggle to do this and would like to do it more often.

The Terror was pretty good, some Canadiana there and another dash of Poe (they found both the ships for realz recently, btw, and not where Simmons imagines they wound up, but ignore that). I thought Flaubert was impressive even in translation. Left my Objectivism phase behind in university, but I'd recommend that particular Rand novel to anyone as a capturing of life under early Communism and how it repressed the individual.

You'll probably read Dinesen before me; I'm expecting not until the fall myself, so I'll cross my fingers for a positive review.

Jan 10, 9:55am Top

>7 Cecrow: I actually keep my TBR list in a Notepad type file, that I edit as the year goes on and such, and at the bottom I keep a list of those authors/things that go on each time, so I don't forget what needs adding, hahaha. Aside of the particular authors whose large selection of titles I want to work through, there's also to be included a Dutch-language work and one of the African works a LTer sent me a handful of years ago that they were discarding that I'm slowly making my way through. And I also try to add from the books I brought with me a decade ago. And then for the rest just whatever strikes me as I browse the shelves, lol.

I do plan to read Dinesen sooner than later, but I never know where my mood will take me, lmao. I've also tentatively earmarked one each of the leftovers for each of the first few months of the year, but, again, who knows. xP I actually have a whole bunch of non-list books that I also really want to knock out this year, so I'm going to try using my tentative plan as much as possible so I finally make some progress with that, last year I wound up finishing 85 books in total but neglected a bunch I'd been wanting to get to, sooo. haha.

Jan 10, 10:11am Top

There is method to the madness! And the fun part is that we all have somewhat different methods - although mine also involves a text file of TBR, categorized by genre. I'm not yet at the point of listing where I've put them, I can still keep that much in my head. That'll change the first time that I lose one. I also don't identify year acquired, because who needs the pressure?

I tend to read my primary list top to bottom. I skip around sometimes, but I need an excuse slip, lol.

85! That at least gives you a lot of leeway around where to stick these 24. I might get 30 done, so I'm lacking that much wiggle room.

Jan 10, 12:27pm Top

I put the acquired date in LT, but for those before I was using it (or when I am being lazy) I only have a rough guesstimate, haha. But I do know, generally, what ones came over with me when I moved across the ocean. ;P

I don't even separate mine into two, I just split it in half for ease of finding the titles to cross out, haha, or else I wouldn't even put the space between. It's simply one list of 24 as far as I'm concerned, with a requirement of 12 of the 24 completed and a hopeful of all. xD

I separate my "upcoming plan" into the months of the year, and distribute my TBR amongst them along with the other titles I particularly want to get to, but it's a super tentative plan that even when I do cross out a lot of it, much shifting around happens, hahaha. It's also much heavier on the earlier months, just because it's a lot easier to redistribute down what I don't get to, than using it to try to choose more things to add, and also not wanting to keep things waiting till later that I then might not wind up getting to. So I'd rather have it on earlier and be kept on my mind as a thing I want to get to. xP Right now, the first half of the year all have 5 books (except Jan with 6) listed, and Sep-Dec basically have 1 each, lol. I have much experience, I know how this goes! hahahaha

Jan 10, 4:16pm Top

Welcome back!

Edited: Jan 11, 6:28am Top

Photo has been added! :D And to make anyone who's visited not have to scroll back up to check it out:

Jan 11, 7:58am Top

That's a handsome Greene omnibus. The Madame Bovary looks like a classic in more ways than one. ;)

Jan 11, 8:16am Top

>13 Cecrow: I have several of them, found randomly at the Deventer boekenmarkt and used bookshops over the years. 4 or 5? My EM Forster is one as well. :) The Greene was an iffy buy, since I already owned I think 3? of those titles individually, but I couldn't not add it to my collection! ;P And LOL yeah, Bovary was a random used bookshop find, it was cheap so I figured I may as well just grab it! XD They have a room with basically MMPBs, like 70% English, 25% French, and some scattered German, and if you buy 5+ they're €1 each, so we tend to wind up with a stack when we go ;P The Dickens one is also super beat up but less old, haha, I think I got it on Abe and wound up with a refund for the wrongly-stated condition, heh.

Edited: Jan 11, 11:56am Top

>14 .Monkey.:, I don't mind them beat up, probably more than half my entire collection is 2nd hand. You can get some in pretty amazing condition, even then. I'd swear that several of my acquisitions were never read. That's when I imagine a student dropping the course, or a gift that was quietly dropped in the donation box, lol. Good for you, for pursuing the refund with Abe. I'd probably just grumble and do nothing about it.

Jan 11, 3:39pm Top

>15 Cecrow: I'm okay with beat up if it's super cheap, and also not a highly treasured author (I enjoy Dickens quite a bit, but he is not among my dearly beloveds XD). I pretty much never buy anything online though listed in below "very good" condition, especially since sellers tend to be quite ...liberal in their use of good, hence, the above condition/refund, lol. If you list it as VG/G and it comes to me looking like someone schlepped it around with them in their bag for months, you will give me my money back for your blatant lies! hahaha. But yeah a great majority of my books are from used bookshops/the Deventer boekenmarkt/library sales, or else the Boekenfestijn - the annual book sale event that is mainly overstock/remaindered books, so new but super cheap, and sometimes a bit beat up from being stored for god knows how long before someone turned up the pallet somewhere and dumped what was on it, lmao.

Jan 11, 5:53pm Top

Welcome back! Nice to see Barnaby Rudge on you your list. Madame Bovary wasn't a favorite of mine but everyone should read it at least once. Admiring your ambition in tackling War and Peace along with all the others. One of these days I'll finish it.

Jan 11, 6:15pm Top

Love the photo. I have to kind of gather my books together at the beginning of the year because more than once I went to start a book on the list only to discover that I couldn't find it.

Jan 11, 9:33pm Top

I too love the photo. Since I include ebooks in my list now a photo just isn't the same. Maybe next year I'll go back to all physicals.

Jan 12, 3:27am Top

>17 LittleTaiko: Yeah I'm doing the same chronological-Dickens as Cecrow, but years behind, lmao, and also I don't have every one of them yet, so like I didn't have Nickleby yet and read Curiosity first, then managed to find a copy of Nickleby at Deventer, so managed to include that one last year, etc. ;P I'm only doing the novels, maybe someday I'll do the short stories/novellas, but those aren't my concern, probably won't ever do the nonfic either. However, I do not yet have Chuzzlewit or Dombey, so I either need to get at least one of them soon, or next year I'll be making an even bigger temporary skip ahead to Copperfield, hahaha.
So funny, everyone is worried about W&P taking so long, meanwhile I'm looking forward to that one and pretty sure it'll be a breeze. XD

>18 billiejean: I'm kind of batty about my book (and DVD) organization so I don't really need to worry about that, but since at least 95% of my books are in their bookshelves in another room, I like to go and get out my TBR picks and keep them in the small space I have near me at my desk, so they're easily at hand and I'm always reminded of them. We have one of the large IKEA Expedit units, that splits the space in this part of the room into my husband's desk area and my own, so on my side it is full of language learning/reference books, my cookbooks, (some of) my notebooks, some TV show DVDs and other non-book things, and then I have slightly more than 2 of the "cubbies" in it that I put my TBR books in. However, I left the Journey to the West books in there as well, so that extra space plus the large size of much of my selections, mean I'm rather overfull, hahaha. More motivation to get stuff knocked out quickly! xP

>19 Narilka: Haha, if I did some ebooks I'd probably gather the physicals, then write the names of the ebooks on slips of paper, and lay the reader beside the physicals with the papers scattered around it. Because I'm goofy like that. XD

Jan 13, 6:16am Top

Since I am (currently, at least) keeping up my CR thread as well with the more formal reviews, I may as well be fancy over here, too ;P So with that:
#2 is done!

Wagner the werewolf - George WM Reynolds ★★★★☆
8-12 Jan; ©1847; 483p; fic - Gothic, suspense, horror, supernatural
Why I acquired it: I have an affinity for the old Gothic stories, and fortunately for me, Wordsworth Editions makes super cheap editions of the old classic public domain works, so I have a nice handful of them. :D
Why I read it now: It was one of the somewhat more "random" picks for my TBR Challenge. I have a section of these "Tales of mystery and the supernatural" titles and I tend to pick one up each year.

Thoughts: I thoroughly enjoyed this. As is clearly gleaned from the title, the titular character is a werewolf, but oddly enough it really plays like much more minor of a detail than one would figure. A somewhat surprising number of characters get their moments in the spotlight, as opposed to following a mere one or two; there's a decent handful that have a good amount of space for themselves, which doesn't always work out very well, but in this case I enjoyed it. Reynolds does a good job at creating very different characters with their own motivations and sets of moral codes. There are some various other small bits of the supernatural, plenty of Gothic-style romance, plots, and intrigue, and multiple levels of mystery to unravel.
The night was dark and tempestuous – the thunder growled around – the lightning flashed at short intervals – and the wind swept furiously along, in sudden fitful gusts.

The streams of the great Black Forest of Germany bubbled in playful melody no more, but rushed on with deafening din, mingling their torrent-roar with the wild creaking of the huge oaks, the rustling of the firs, the howling of the affrighted wolves, and the hollow voices of the storm.

The dense black clouds were driven restlessly athwart the sky; and when the vivid lightning gleamed forth with rapid and eccentric glare, it seemed as if the dark jaws of some hideous monster, floating high above, opened to vomit flame.

And as the abrupt but furious gusts of wind swept through the forest they raised strange echoes – as if the impervious mazes of that mighty wood were the above of hideous fiends and evil spirits, who responded in shrieks, moans, and lamentations, to the fearful din of the tempest.

It was indeed an appalling sight!
Sure, it's Gothic, so naturally some parts are a little exaggeratedly over-the-top, and there's a few right-place-right-time moments that are a little too excessively convenient. And I did also notice a couple times where Reynolds apparently forgot a (very minor) thing he'd written (e.g. at one point there's an abduction, a weapon was on the person but unable to get at before being grabbed and obviously removed after - it would have been lost, but later in the book they are getting prepared, and lo, this weapon is part of the attire), but since it was written as a serial first I can imagine it's easy for small details to slip by. In any case none of this little stuff is enough to take away from the intriguing story and vivid characters.

Also of note, Reynolds was very anti-Christian (basically for the same reason many are today, the hypocrisy, judgment etc) and was a confirmed atheist. He included a Jew, which at first mention made me wince, money-lending Jews in old stories is normally BADBADBAD!, however, I was happily astonished to see him represented as a good kind man, and he even gives a wonderful speech at one point, which was, it turns out, because Reynolds very pro-Jew. He was also apparently an admirer of the Muslim empire, which given some of the things in this story isn't quite as clearly painted, however, he did include a lot dealing with them and it wasn't negative, just, more ambiguous. He also wrote strong independent women characters, and about the plight of the poor - placing the blame where it actually belonged. All this in the 1800s! Amusingly, while being a voice for the underdogs, he was seemingly incredibly arrogant and unpleasant and pretty much got along with no one for very long. But hey, you can't win 'em all! ;) I am definitely a fan.

Jan 13, 7:52pm Top

>21 .Monkey.:
Sounds like something I'd want to read. I love a good dramatically gothic read every so often.

Jan 14, 3:35am Top

>22 Petroglyph: It definitely ranks on the higher end of my Gothic reads, you should totally check it out. :D

Yesterday, 8:07am Top

>20 .Monkey.:, I almost despaired of finding Dombey lying around in a used market and came very close to ordering online, until it serendipitously appeared at our library sale - almost the first cover I laid eyes on as I came in the door that day. Love it when crazy stuff like that happens.

Yesterday, 10:01am Top

>24 Cecrow: haha, nice. I've had that happen with a few things, stuff I never thought I'd stumble on but need to eventually seek out, and then OH HEY! there it is, sitting nicely waiting for me, on some table at Deventer, or whatever, haha.

Yesterday, 3:52pm Top

>21 .Monkey.: That sounds pretty great. Thanks for the review.

Today, 11:40am Top

In case anyone is curious about the other stuff I read, my CR thread can be found here, at least, for as long as I manage to keep up the thread there. ;P

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