Quarterly reporting

Unlike the first time I did A Century of Books, this time I am loving it. In three months I’ve read 31 books and all but two of them count toward my A Century of Books challenge. So I only have 71 years to go. And all of them have been from my TBR. That must be some sort of record. And not just for me, for every person alive or dead.

Based on my brief analysis below, I would say that so far I’ve enjoyed the 1950s the most.

19teens

Since 1919 is the only year I need to read from the 19teens, there isn’t too much to say here. I did take a whack at The Haunted Bookshop by really didn’t like it and didn’t finish it. I moved on to Free Air by Sinclair Lewis and ended up really liking it.

1919 –  Free Air by Sinclair Lewis

1920s

Just three months into ACOB and I have only three years of this decade to go. As I look at the list I’ve read so far I think my success here has been more an initial desire to start at the beginning of the century as none of these books necessarily jumped off the shelf. It has been interesting to read so many from the same decade so close together. It’s really given me a sense of the era in a much more relatable way than The Great Gatsby.

1920 – Happy House by Jane D. Abbott
1921 – Vera by Elizabeth von Arnim
1922 – A Son at the Front by Edith Wharton
1924 – The Unlit Lamp by Radclyffe Hall
1925 – Rex by E.F. Benson
1926 – Marazan by Nevil Shute
1929 – The Bride’s House by Dawn Powell

1930s

Kind of interesting that three of the five books I have read from this decade have been mysteries/thrillers, and fabulous ones at that. Also interesting that R.C. Sherriff’s novelization of his novel Journey’s End has now been made into a movie. Was amazed to see the trailer in the theater recently.

1930 – Journey’s End by R.C. Sherriff and Vernon Bartlett
1931 – Mystery in the Channel by Freeman Wills Crofts
1932 – Invitation to the Waltz by Rosamond Lehmann
1934 – The 12:30 from Croydon by Freeman Wills Crofts
1939 – The Confidential Agent by Graham Greene

1940s

Very surprised that I’ve only read one novel so far from the 40s. Given that it was set during the Spanish Inquisition it wasn’t too evocative of the era in which it was written. Also, I love Maugham, but really found this one boring as toast. Scratch that, I love toast. It was boring.

1948 – Catalina by W. Somerset Maugham

1950s

So far the 1950s have been fantastic for reading. I supposed this is due partially to the fact that both Shute and Ambler are two of my favorite authors. But even at that, these are great examples of their work. I’d never read James Salter before and really liked this novel about an American  fighter pilot during the Korean War.

1954 – Slide Rule by Nevil Shute
1956 – The Hunters by James Salter
1959 – Passage of Arms by Eric Ambler

1960s

These three books do not exactly depict the swinging 60s. I guess given my tastes this should not be too surprising. Maybe the second half of the decade will be a little hipper.

1961 – The Chateau by William Maxwell
1962 – Morte D’urban by J.F. Powers
1965 – My Dog Tulip by J.R. Ackerley

1970s

The MacInnes was a fabulous throwback to another era. Not old fashioned but it could have been pretty much set anytime after WWII. The Spark on the other hand, while not something I even remotely enjoyed, was definitely evocative of its time.

1971 – Not to Disturb by Muriel Spark
1976 – Agent in Place by Helen MacInnes

1980s

Without taking the time to think hard about these three titles it is pretty much impossible to make any sort of generalization. Aside from the Sarton journal, the one I am most likely to read again is the Auster. A damn good book.

1980 – Recovering by May Sarton
1986 – To the Land of Cattails by Aharon Appelfeld
1987 – In the Country of Last Things by Paul Auster

1990s

I hope I enjoy the rest of the 1990s more than I enjoyed these two books. I hated the Fisher and, although I loved Cusk’s Outline, I had a hard time liking Saving Agnes despite some brilliant moments.

1990 – The Boss Dog by M.F.K. Fisher
1993 – Saving Agnes by Rachel Cusk

2000s

Love O’Farrell, but this was kind of bush league. Her second novel and not as good as her first or any that came after it. Back when President Pumpkinhead banned visitors from various muslim-majority countries I bought novels from each them. This is me finally getting around to reading one of them. Mata’s books takes place in Libya.

2002 – My Lover’s Lover by Maggie O’Farrell
2006 – In the Country of Men by Hisham Mata

20teens

Nothing yet! I am kind of holding these in reserve for the moments when I find I need a break from older books. Interesting that 31 books and three months in and I haven’t felt that need yet. But I think it’s coming.

The Whole Century So Far

1919 –  Free Air by Sinclair Lewis
1920 – Happy House by Jane D. Abbott
1921 – Vera by Elizabeth von Arnim
1922 – A Son at the Front by Edith Wharton
1924 – The Unlit Lamp by Radclyffe Hall
1925 – Rex by E.F. Benson
1926 – Marazan by Nevil Shute
1929 – The Bride’s House by Dawn Powell
1930 – Journey’s End by R.C. Sherriff and Vernon Bartlett
1931 – Mystery in the Channel by Freeman Wills Crofts
1932 – Invitation to the Waltz by Rosamond Lehmann
1934 – The 12:30 from Croydon by Freeman Wills Crofts
1939 – The Confidential Agent by Graham Greene
1948 – Catalina by W. Somerset Maugham
1954 – Slide Rule by Nevil Shute
1956 – The Hunters by James Salter
1959 – Passage of Arms by Eric Ambler

1961 – The Chateau by William Maxwell
1962 – Morte D’urban by J.F. Powers
1965 – My Dog Tulip by J.R. Ackerley
1971 – Not to Disturb by Muriel Spark
1976 – Agent in Place by Helen MacInnes
1980 – Recovering by May Sarton
1986 – To the Land of Cattails by Aharon Appelfeld
1987 – In the Country of Last Things by Paul Auster
1990 – The Boss Dog by M.F.K. Fisher
1993 – Saving Agnes by Rachel Cusk
2002 – My Lover’s Lover by Maggie O’Farrell
2006 – In the Country of Men by Hisham Matar

21 thoughts on “Quarterly reporting

  1. Wendy April 2, 2018 / 9:16 am

    You have read some that I too have enjoyed, I’m amazed Marazan is 1926 I would have put it later. I may consider a version of this challenge, one per decade perhaps🤔Kepp Up the good work.

    Like

    • Thomas April 10, 2018 / 8:49 am

      I agree about Marazan. I never would have pegged it that early. In my head I kept seeing planes of much later vintage despite the descriptions to the contrary.

      Like

  2. Claire (The Captive Reader) April 2, 2018 / 10:19 am

    I’m so happy you’re having fun with the challenge – and making such great progress! And it’s always interesting to see what decades people knock off first. For me (though I am woefully behind in my reviewing), it looks like the 1980s will be done first as I’ve been trying to work through the years that are more difficult for me first. Then I’ll have lots of easy, much anticipated reading towards the end of the year (hello 1920s through 1950s).

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    • Thomas April 10, 2018 / 8:51 am

      I’ve hit a spot in recent days where I was something much more contemporary.

      Like

  3. Grier April 2, 2018 / 11:57 am

    I’m one-third through with my Century, the 20th century, and unlike you, I didn’t have all of the years covered and it’s been fun to search for books that fit the needed years. I’ve read the most in the 1920s and 1930s and haven’t yet read anything after 1982. I haven’t duplicated any years but did read one 19th century book. One month I read all Persephones, and this month I’m reading mostly from the 1900s and 1910s. A group of us are reading Anita Brookners in order of publish date. I like reading reports on what others are reading.

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  4. Geoff W April 2, 2018 / 12:07 pm

    Truth.

    And not just for me, for every person alive or dead.

    I’m still struggling to finish my Classics Club list I should’ve finished two years ago and it was mostly from books I own!

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    • Thomas April 10, 2018 / 8:52 am

      Classics Club lists can be tricky because they tend to include meaty things that we think we ought to read. My rather large TBR is kind of devoid of books I think I should read.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. heavenali April 2, 2018 / 12:13 pm

    I am reading my 31st book of the year, and have ticked off twenty eight years. So I’m not too far behind you. Very much enjoying my first go at this challenge.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thomas April 10, 2018 / 8:53 am

      I’ve just noticed that 10 days into April and my total is still stuck on 31. Must rectify that this weekend.

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  6. dfarabee April 2, 2018 / 4:12 pm

    I recently read a Freeman Wills Croft novel (mostly because it was mentioned by a character in another mystery novel), but I wasn’t all that keen on it. Maybe I should try another one. And I recently read R. C. Sherriff’s Journey’s End. That was very good –for evoking the war.

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    • Thomas April 10, 2018 / 8:55 am

      It was kind of odd when I saw the trailer for Journey’s End. It easily could have been any number of WWI books/movies. There was nothing about it that should have made me think for a second it was going to be based on Sherriff’s book. But since I had just finished reading it no long before it was on my mind as I watched. Then when the name came up I nearly choked on my popcorn.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Ruthiella April 2, 2018 / 4:25 pm

    I think your Herculean effort in re-organizing your books is really helping this challenge go more smoothly this time Thomas! Thanks for keeping us updated! :)

    Like

    • Thomas April 10, 2018 / 8:56 am

      I kind of miss my Herculean efforts. I wish I had more I could organize.

      Like

  8. Simon T April 3, 2018 / 4:34 am

    Glad you’re enjoying it more this time! I, too, have almost finished the 1920s…

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Liz Dexter April 3, 2018 / 5:03 am

    Amazing work and yes you are the only person ever who has done this solely from their TBR.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Susan in TX April 4, 2018 / 10:43 am

    I continue to be amazed at your progress and all the variety (and gems) you have stashed on your TBR. Kudos to you for doing this from books in-house. I’m vicariously enjoying your Century of Books very much!

    Like

    • Thomas April 10, 2018 / 8:57 am

      And the thing is I didn’t really realize I had so many gems until I organized them.

      Like

  11. Pamela Foster April 9, 2018 / 3:07 pm

    I was wondering what you are going to do with the 31 books (and the rest from this project) when you are done reading them. Do they stay or go or does it depend?

    Like

    • Thomas April 10, 2018 / 8:58 am

      I am pretty ruthless these days about what I give away. If I don’t think I will want to read it again I get rid of it.

      Like

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