Six in Six 2020

I saw this on FictionFan’s blog, but it’s a meme started by Jo at The Book Jotter. It’s a pause for reflection at the half year mark:  you select select six categories from the selection Jo provides or create your own categories, and then find six books you’ve read between January and June to fit each category. A great way to procrastinate from either reading, reviewing, writing, translating or working!


Six books I have read but not reviewed

Although I loved each of the books below, I somehow didn’t get round to reviewing them – either because I was planning to write something longer and more elaborate, or else because I just lost my reviewing super-power during lockdown.

Francesca Wade: Square Haunting 

Debbie Harry: Face It

Rosamund Lupton: Three Hours

Julian Symons: The Colour of Murder

John Dickson Carr: Castle Skull


Six authors I am looking forward to reading more of

Graeme Macrae Burnet – after reading The Disappearance of Adele Bedeau, I want to read more of his books, whether set in France or in Scotland.

Ron Rash – although I had mixed feelings about Serena, I certainly want to read more by him and have bought another two of his books

Machado de Assis – a rediscovery

Maggie O’Farrell – I really enjoyed Hamnet but have been told there is much more and better from where that came from

Elizabeth von Arnim – I’ve read her two most famous books a while back, but this year I discovered The Caravaners (which could easily fit into at least two other categories) and I think there’s a lot more there to explore

Marghanita Laski – Little Boy Lost was so captivating and nuanced and sad that I certainly want to read more (I’ve read The Victorian Chaise Longue as well)


Six books that I had one or two problems with but am still glad I tried

Carlos Ruis Zafon: Shadow of the Wind – I got about halfway through and didn’t finish it, which makes me feel guilty, since I was reading this as a tribute to him following the news of his death. I think I’d have enjoyed it a lot more if I’d read it in my teens, and I seem to remember quite liking Marina, the only other book of his that I’d read. But at least I know now that I haven’t missed anything by not reading more by this author.

Harriet Tyce: Blood Orange – I’d probably not have read it if it hadn’t been the May book for the Virtual Crime Book Club, as the subject matter was quite troubling and the descriptions a little too grotty for my taste. However, it was undeniably a powerful story and led to some good discussions at the book club.

Lily King: Writers and Lovers – I do like books about writers and about entitled male egos, so it was both fun and quite revealing, but just not quite as good as I wanted it to be

Nino Haratischwili: The Eighth Life – I struggled because of the sheer length of it and because family sagas are not really my thing, but it is undeniably ambitious, fascinating and entertaining

Kate Briggs: This Little Art – the only reservation I had about this is that it requires great concentration to read, you need to stop and reflect after every few pages, but I was completely captivated. Masterful!

Yokomizu Seishi: The Inugami Curse – very bizarre and somewhat crazy murders in this country manor mystery set in Japan – but lovely to see And Then There Were None transposed to a Japanese setting. Certainly enjoyed it much more than Shimada’s Murder in the Crooked House


Six books that took me on extraordinary journeys

Abir Mukherjee: A Rising Man – India (Calcutta) – and the start of a series I really want to explore

Shirley Hazzard: The Bay of Noon – Naples, Italy

Carol Carnac: Crossed Skis – my favourite sport and one of my favourite countries

Ludovic Bruckstein: The Trap – town nestled amidst the Carpathians in Maramures, Romania

Mary Stewart: Nine Coaches Waiting – the French Alps

Ueda Akinari: Ugetsu Monogatari – Japan (and ghosts of the past)


Six books to read to avoid politics

Nick Bradley: The Cat and the City

Mary Stewart: Airs Above the Ground

Philip Pullman: The Book of Dust

David Foenkinos: The Mystery of Henri Pick

Alan Melville: Weekend at Thrackley

Beth Ann Fennelly: Heating & Cooling


Six books purchased during lockdown but not yet started

All of the below have been purchased following tweets or reading reviews by fellow book bloggers:

Helon Habila: Travellers

Tshushima Yuko: The Shooting Gallery and other Stories (transl. Geraldine Harcourt)

Luke Brown: Theft

Sylvia Townsend Warner: The Corner That Held Them

Michele Roberts: Negative Capability

Antal Szerb: Journey by Moonlight (transl. Peter V. Czipott)


19 thoughts on “Six in Six 2020”

  1. What great choices, Marina Sofia. I agree with you about the Tyce. And I really do hope you read Burnet’s The Accident on the A35. It’s a well-done story, I think. And, yes, A Rising Man does take the reader on a real journey, and depicts the context so well. Oh, and I want to read Crossed Skis. I’ve heard different opinions about that one, but still…

    1. Crossed Skis may not be the most brilliant piece of crime fiction you’ve ever read, but it is good fun escapism as well as a rather accurate picture of two different countries in the post-war years.

  2. An interesting meme! I read The Shadow of the Wind when it came out and did love it, but I suspect not enough – because I never got to the follow ups and don’t feel inclined to go back to it now. Odd, that…

  3. Glad to hear that you plan to explore Ron Rash’s writing more, Marina, and Maggie o’Farrell’s, two. She’s particularly strong on dual narratives. Travellers is already on my list and I thought Theft was excellent. Hope you do, too. Happy reading!

  4. Isn’t it a fun way to waste a bit of time? 😀 I often feel we don’t read many of the same books, but actually I’ve read a surprising number of these – most of the vintage crime and a few of the more modern ones. The Abir Mukherjee series is generally great, though I admit I gave up on the last one because it was too much about opium addiction, a subect which bores me. But I’ll still be looking out for the next one. And I loved each of Burnet’s books to date.

    1. I don’t think we don’t read the same books. I possibly read slightly more translated fiction than you, but I often get influenced by your choices or I see you choosing books which I’ve recently read. Yes, not a huge fan of the opium addiction storyline (this somewhat spoilt Babylon Berlin series for me, so was happy when it became more downplayed in the TV series). The Burnet ones seem very different – not really crime at all.

  5. It develops in a more sophisticated way, a basic idea of the ‘short stack’ (like pancakes!) I had just been mulling over separately! I’m interested in reviewing books by any means, in order to develop that skill, but also to be a better literary citizen :). I enjoyed all the suggestions and especially the admissions to books one doesn’t get on with while becoming a slightly better person for having tried, ha ha. Thank you!

    1. Feeling very virtuous about reading through the pain, ha ha! To be fair, there was only one in that category that I failed to finish – the others were just either long, or had a tough subject matter, or required a lot of concentration, which in these recent months I’ve lacked (like everyone else). I have started to learn to abandon books I really don’t enjoy or that are poorly written, rather than persevere.

  6. Great choices! I felt the same way about Shadow of the Wind, which I did finish but only with a struggle. Recently I tried a later book from the sequence. It didn’t work for me at all and I stopped very quickly. As it happens, Michele Roberts is also an author that I think of in a similar way to Zafon: I ought to – and want to – enjoy her books but they seem always to feel more like a chore than a pleasure. I’ll watch out for your thoughts on Negative Capability when you get to it 😊

  7. I love the six books to avoid politics category! The Nick Bradley book has been calling my name too – such a lovely cover 🙂

  8. Hey MarinaSofia 👋 Just stopping by from Jo’s Six in Six round up post! I loved Mary Stewart’s Airs Above Ground and I have a copy of Philip Pullman’s Book of Dust, which I am excited to read. I love how you included a category to escape politics from, as we so need to escape the world at the moment! 😃

    Here’s my Six in Six post for this year, if you fancy taking a gander: 🙂

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