My TBR by the decades – The 1960s

[For those who don’t know, I am participating in A Century of Books this year which requires me to read one book from each year from 1919 through 2018.]


Eating People is Wrong – Malcolm Bradbury
The Lovely Ambition – Mary Ellen Chase
Trustee from the Toolroom – Nevil Shute
Butcher’s Crossing – John Williams

I really loved John Williams’ novel Stoner so I’ve owned Butcher’s Crossing for ages. The thing is ,because it is a Western of sorts I haven’t been able to bring myself to read it. I’ve heard people say it is great but I haven’t been able to get over the Western part. I should choose it for 1960 but I could also see myself going for the Nevil Shute which I know I will enjoy.


The Judas Tree – A.J. Cronin
The Fringe Dwellers – Nene Gare
Everything Flows – Vasily Grossman
Sunlight on a Broken Column – Attia Hosain
The Chateau – William Maxwell
A Trip into Town – Michael Rubin
The Winter of Our Discontent – John Steinbeck
In a Summer Season – Elizabeth Taylor
Dawn – Elie Wiesel

I think William Maxwell is best known for his short stories. I remember a  friend in 1995 telling me  I should read his stories. So over the years I’ve purchased a few of his anthologies and I haven’t even read a first line. I also bought this novel of his The Chateau. It had a nice cover and I am still holding onto this notion that I have had since 1995 that William Maxwell is someone I should read. This might be his year.


That’s How it Was – Maureen Duffy
An Unofficial Rose – Iris Murdoch
Morte d’Urban – J.F. Powers
Day – Elie Wiesel

I’m completely ambivalent about all of these titles except for Day. I used to really love Iris Murdoch but I am not sure that I still do. And the Murdochs I have on my TBR are all a little thick. I also have a sense that I prefer early Murdoch.


Cobbler’s Dream – Monica Dickens
Careful, He Might Hear You – Sumner Locke Elliott
The Guilt Merchants – Ronald Harwood
A Day in Late September – Merle Miller
Let’s Kill Uncle – Rohan O’Grady
Joanna and Ulysses – May Sarton

Merle Miller is an author I only know about because of Nancy Pearl’s first book Book Lust. I’ve read two or three of his novels and liked them and had fun uncovering his work while browsing used book shops. I think I have been saving them for a rainy day. As for Sarton’s Joanna and Ulysses, which is about a woman meeting a mistreated donkey. I love Sarton, but I am not sure how I feel about that. 


The Rector – Louis Auchincloss
Hard Rain Falling – Don Carpenter
Kate and Emma – Monica Dickens
The Hand of Mary Constable – Paul Gallico
The Sparrow – Mary Hocking
Dancing Lessons for the Advanced in Age – Bohumil Hrabel
Corridors of Power – C.P. Snow
The Soul of Kindness – Elizabeth Taylor

This is one of those years where I could go several different directions and probably be happy, but I really have been wanting to read another Auchincloss lately. I totally enjoyed The Book Class and The Partners and don’t know why I haven’t ever come across anyone who has read him. 


My Dog Tulip – J.R. Ackerly
The Garden of the Finzi-Continis – Giorgio Bassani
The Millstone – Margaret Drabble
The Comedians – Graham Greene
The Young Spaniard – Mary Hocking
The Double Image – Helen MacInnes
The Red and the Green – Iris Murdoch
The River Between – Ngugi Wa Thiongo

I saw the movie The Garden of the Finzi-Continis when I was taking Italian language classes way back in college. Since I am taking Italian again, might be fitting to read the book finally. But I must admit that My Dog Tulip is kind of calling my name.


The Embezzler – Louis Auchincloss
The Railway Police – Hortense Calisher
The Room Upstairs – Monica Dickens


Dirty Story – Eric Ambler
Towards the End of the Morning – Michael Frayn
A State of Change – Penelope Gilliatt
Ask No Question – Mary Hocking
A Flag on the Island – V.S. Naipaul
The Mimic Men – V.S. Naipaul
All the Little Live Things – Wallace Stegner


A Compass Error – Sybille Bedford
Eva Trout – Elizabeth Bowen
The Landlord’s Daughter – Monica Dickens
A Very Private Life – Micheal Frayn
A Time of War – Mary Hocking
The Heritage – Frances Parkinson Keyes
Talk – Linda Rosenkrantz
To Each His Own – Leonardo Sciascia
The Sleep of Reason – C.P. Snow
Sarah’s Cottage – D.E. Stevenson

I think I am going to have to try and shoot for The Heritage by Frances Parkison Keyes. Sometimes I buy books for some combination of age, cover, and a vague sense that I might be finding the next best (old) thing or a new favorite author. I’ve done that with FPK and I think the time has come to figure out if I made a mistake or not.


The Woman Destroyed – Simone de Beauvoir
A Pocketful of Rye – A.J. Cronin
Fat City – Leonard Gardner
Checkmate – Mary Hocking
The Road Through the Wall – Shirley Jackson
The Play Room – Olivia Manning
Memoirs of an Anti-Semite – Gregor von Rezzori
Seasons of Migration to the North – Tayeb Salih
The Poet and the Donkey – May Sarton

Huh. Another May Sarton donkey book? I have at least 3 Cronin’s on my shelves. I am going to have to read at least one of them. I have liked he two other novels of his that I have read. Olivia Manning is someone I have read but I may not have been in the mood for her. My problem is hat she has a series or two and I don’t know if this fits into tone of them.

The whole list

TBR Chron

10 thoughts on “My TBR by the decades – The 1960s

  1. Victoria January 20, 2018 / 9:07 am

    I’m not usually bossy but I insist you read ‘The Garden of the Finzi-Continis’!


    • Thomas January 23, 2018 / 3:18 pm

      Point taken. I will factor that in for sure.


  2. Grier January 20, 2018 / 9:20 am

    I’ve read The Book Class and didn’t love it but liked it enough to try another Auchincloss.


    • Thomas January 23, 2018 / 3:20 pm

      I know what you mean. More a collection of vignettes than a novel. I enjoyed it, but I think I have grown to like it even more as time passes. And his book The Partners I really enjoyed. For me so far, I think there is just something about his style and content that I really like.


  3. Karen K. January 20, 2018 / 10:56 am

    I’m also intrigued by The Garden of the Finzi Continis, saw it in a bookstore in Italy last year and was very intrigued. It was rather expensive for a paperback so I balked, and now I’m sorry.

    And I loathed My Dog Tulip; however, William Maxwell’s The Chateau is long but wonderful.


    • Thomas January 23, 2018 / 3:22 pm

      Books in Italy can be expensive. In 1992 I paid $15 for a mass market copy of The Razor’s Edge that the Rome train station. And you loathed My Dog Tulip. Might be a good reason to give it a go to see if it deserves to stay in my house.


  4. ASD January 20, 2018 / 2:13 pm

    My dear Thomas,

    One is spoilt for choice in your amazingly eclectic taste in your selection of novelists. I happen to be a great admirer of May Sarton’s writings too. I wrote about her recently especially her journal titled “The House by the Sea” which is always among my bedside table books.

    The other anthology book, which I am sure you would have, is called “From May Sarton’s Well: Writings of May Sarton” with beautiful photography by Edith Royce Schade, always sits on my coffee table.

    I do not want to spoil your choice but time will only tell whether Sarton’s fiction stands the test of time or not. As far as “Joanna and Ulysses” is concerned, I would say that it is for only May Sarton’s aficionados and avid fans which you, I understand, are one of them. This kind of story is far from the literary height she can reach in her 1978 novel, “A Reckoning” which the critic Bradford Dudley Daziel compared to Tolstoy’s “Death of Ivan Ilyich”. I have lost all the patience in Joanna and the donkey Ulysses and their trials and tribulations. This story reminds me of the kind of charming stories that one would read in The People’s Friend weekly magazine.

    While I’m here, I thought I would inform the new book that is coming out by Laura Shapiro called “What she ate: Six remarkable women and the food that tells their stories” (Fourth Estate) just in case you have not heard about it before. Your favourite writer, Barbara Pym is one of the woman writers in this book.

    Good luck with the selection. “A Legacy” by Sybille Bedford is absolutely beautiful. SB’s name often came up in Sarton’s journals because she admired her writing and Sarton read two volumes edition of Bedford’s biography of Aldous Huxley while Sarton was writing her portraits book, “A World of Light: Portraits And Celebrations”.

    Have a good weekend.

    Warmest wishes, ASD


    • Thomas January 23, 2018 / 3:25 pm

      In general I really like Sarton’s novels. A few of them are among my all time favorites (As We Are Now and The Magnificent Spinster).

      I have the Laura Shapiro book and heard her give a paper on Pym at the 2103 Pym conference in Boston. No doubt the basis for that chapter. She is very interesting and wonderful to listen to.


  5. Susan in TX February 21, 2018 / 1:37 pm

    Let’s Kill Uncle is the only one in this decade I’ve read. It was darker than my normal fare, but I found myself enjoying it.


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