Thursday, June 6, 2019


Stanley - Thursday

I suspect all readers have a love-hate relationship with their To-Be-Read piles. There is the anticipation of hours of pleasure, and the frustration that one will never read all the books you want to.

My bedside table and TBR pile
I try to keep my official TBR pile short because I don't sleep well with a tall pile of books on my bedside table. I can just see the coroner's report - death by blunt instrument, viz. The Undesired by Yrsa Sigurdardottir. Given the fact that there would be many other books lying around my corpse, the detectives probably wouldn't suspect Yrsa of actually perpetrating a vile crime. They would also realise that hitting me with a book would be far too tame for her. Now if I had been found with a soldering iron pushed into my ear . . .

I am currently reading two books. The first is Gulliver's Travels, which I am finding harder going than I remember from when I first read it nearly 60 years ago. It is part of a New Year's resolution that I am just getting round to. The promise I made was to reread some of the classics. In case you are feeling a trifle guilty that you haven't started on your resolutions yet, I feel obliged to posint out that the resolution was made in 2007.

The second book is I Shot the Buddha by the incomparable Colin Cotterell, someone whose books I pick up as soon as they are published.

So what are the other books on my (short) pile?

Next in line is a book by an author I have not read - Xavier-Marie Bonnot. I am very much drawn to the title, The Voice of the Spirits, partly because of the role spirits and ancestors play in some of our Detective Kubu books.

Below that is Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. I have to confess that it is not part of the New Year's resolution mentioned above, but rather in the pile in case a dinner guest wanders into my bedroom and checks out what I'm reading. I bought the book at a garage sale a few years ago with the very best of intentions, but when I found that it did not have a Cast of Characters, with all the different ways Russians can be addressed, my enthusiasm waned. At my age, I just can't remember who is who in a large cast of unpronouncables. However, there was some reward for the $1 that I spent on the book - it was annotated, probably by someone who wasn't into great literature.

I did a Google search on 'Ornette' and found a legendary saxophonist, Ornette Coleman. But he wasn't Russian, nor did he have a beard. So who was Ornette. Hmmm. Maybe the annotater was so impressed by Tolstoy's beard because he couldn't grow one. (Zoë, is there a word for the inability to grow a beard?)

The next two books will (hopefully) encourage Caro to give me a therapeutic shoulder massage the next time we meet. The first is How the Scots Invented the Western World. I'll even put up with listening to Caro say over and over again 'I told you so!' Things could be worse.

The second is Caro's Tears of Angels, which I was sure I had read, but when I read the jacket blurb, I wasn't so sure. To avoid any possibility of losing my massage, I have filed it under the New Year's resolution: rereading a classic.

The is my non-fiction book of the moment: Dave Pelz's Putting Bible - a golf book for those who were unsure of how to pronounce 'putting.' Given the state of my game at the moment, it should really be at the top of the pile, or perhaps even under my pillow.

And finally is Celeste Ng's Little Fires Everywhere - a book read last month my the book club in my Minneapolis apartment building. It received such good reviews I think I will actually read it.

Of course, I have books all over the flat, in bookcases, on the floor, and in boxes, all vying to be put on the bedside table.

And so, I have to ask 'What's in your TBR pile?'


June 11
Publication date for Shoot the Bastards, which is the US name for Dead of Night.

June 18, 1830 for 1900
Once Upon a Crime bookstore in Minneapolis
Launch of Shoot the Bastards - in conversation with Kent Krueger.


  1. The trouble is, I cheat. I have my TBR pile but then something new comes up. Then, of course, my Kindle is also in the pile.
    LAGOS NOIR - fascinating collection of stories from Lagos edited by Chris Abani. Leye's may be my favorite so far.
    THE ACCORDIONIST by Fred Vargas.
    THE SEAGULL by Ann Cleeves
    TALION by Beyers de Vos
    FORCE OF NATURE by Jane Harper
    TURBULENT WAKE by Paul Hardisty
    NO RIGHT WAY by Michael Niemann I must get back to my reading...

  2. Well we Scots did invent everything and even if we didn't, we claim we did.
    And Tears Of Angels? Much of that book happens across the loch from where we had dinner that night. You might even recognise it as you read it. Oh, and there's a murder.

    How many pages do you give a book before you give up Stan?

  3. Shakespeare’s Wife by Germaine Greer
    Hipster Death Rattle by Richie Narvaez
    The Cowbird by Shel Arensen
    The Once and Future King by TH White
    The Kingdom of Light by Giulio
    The Line by Martin Limon
    The Edge of Death by John Benedict
    PLUS —by actual weight 14.2 pounds of research for my WIP