Oh I’m a glutton for punishment….
The temperature is rising (slightly), the kids will be getting out of school soon and I’ve done my Great Wardrobe Changeover (I’m not the only one who does that, am I?) so it must be nearly summer time, which means another attempt at completing my 20 Books of Summer Challenge.
I have to admit, I don’t have the greatest track record with this one.
2014 – 16.5 books
2015 – 18 books
Improvement? Yes. Completion? No.
This has to be my year. I am DETERMINED to complete this one. The 746 hasn’t been decreasing as much as I’d like – probably due to the fact that I can’t stay away from Netgalley and at the start of the year one of my goals was to get into the 500s – so this challenge is the push I need.
From 1 June to 5 September, I’m going to attempt to read my 20 Books of Summer. That’s 7 books a month, which is pretty daunting, but I think I can do it. This year I’ve decided to go for 20 books by women and I must admit, I had great fun putting this list together, but I’m going to need your help completing it. I’ve tried to go for a broad range of genres, eras and styles so that there is always something I’m going to want to read! You can click on the titles to get through to their description on Goodreads.
- The Lottery And Other Stories by Shirley Jackson
I have adored The Haunting of Hill House and We Have Always Lived at the Castle so I’m looking forward to this highly regarded collection
2 . Small Island by Andrea Levy
I’m trying to keep up with my #ReadDiverse goal this year too, so I’m looking forward to reading this, a mere 12 years after it won the Orange Prize for Fiction
3. Bogeywoman by Jaimy Gordon
This one came to my attention thanks to Melanie’s great review at Grab the Lapels so I was delighted to find it lurking in the 746. Melanie’s subsequent attempts to have it win last month’s reading Roulette meant I couldn’t not include it in the summer list!
4. A Spell of Winter by Helen Dunmore
I love Dunmore’s writing and it’s been a few years since I’ve read any of her novels. A Spell of Winter sounds fantastic, although not very summery!
5. Geek Love by Katherine Dunn
Geek Love was on my 20 Books of Summer list in 2014 and was one of the books I didn’t get round to. I’ve been meaning to read it for so long, and given Dunn’s recent death, I felt it was time to finally read it.
6. My Lover’s Lover by Maggie O’Farrell
One of the major problems with taking on a book-buying ban is the inability to immediately purchase new books by my favourite authors. As I can’t read This Must Be The Place I decided to put this earlier work in my list.
7. The Diving Pool by Yoko Ogawa
This is another book for my Diverse Reads goal and I am a big fan of Ogawa’s quiet, powerful style. Plus it’s three short novellas. Which helps. Believe me.
8. Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty
I always seem to miss the buzz books when the buzz is actually happening! This book was causing a stir when I started blogging a few years back and I’m a sucker for a good psychological thriller
9. Blue Nights by Joan Didion
This could be a tough read, emotionally as Didion explores the death of her daughter Quintana, but I loved The Year of Magical Thinking and think this will be equally moving.
10. The Keep by Jennifer Egan
I don’t know too much about this one, but enjoyed Look At Me and A Visit From the Goon Squad and the promise of a novel within a novel is always tempting for me!
11. I Am No One You Know by Joyce Carol Oates
Anyone who reads my blog regularly will be aware of my love for JCO. Rather than go for one of her big novels, I’ve gone for a collection of short stories at which I think she excels.
12. A Crime in the Neighborhood by Suzanne Berne
This is another Orange Prize shortlisted novel that I missed at the time but the 1970s setting and coming-of-age theme really appeals.
13. The Bottle Factory Outing by Beryl Bainbridge
When I heard about the Beryl Bainbridge Reading Week hosted by Annabel, Ali and Simon in June, I was keen to take part. This is the only Bainbridge I have in the 746 and will be my first experience with her work
14. The Republic of Love by Carol Shields
About 15 years ago I read, and loved, The Stone Diaries and bought quite a few of Shields books because of it. Did I get round to reading them? Of course not. But I will now!
15. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
Why did I let Edith languish on my shelves for so long? I hadn’t read any of her work until a few years ago, but have caught up with Ethan Frome and The House of Mirth. I’m really looking forward to reading this one, Edith hasn’t let me down yet!
16. Hunger Makes Me A Modern Girl by Carrie Brownstein
This is a bit of a cheat. Eagle eyes will spot that this was only published last year. No, I didn’t break my book-buying ban on the sly, I bought it for my husband. And now I’m going to borrow it! It’s not officially one of the 746, I just really want to read it and continue the trend for reading a rock memoir every summer!
17. Sister by Rosamund Lupton
This is another thriller I don’t really remember buying but have seen a lot of praise for. Comparisons to Patricia Highsmith and Ruth Rendell? Can’t really go wrong there!
18. Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl
I adored the skill and verve of Marisha Pessl’s second novel Night Film and Special Topics is billed as a mix of The Secret History and The Virgin Suicides which sounds just weird enough for me!
Now this is where I need your help. I’ve struggled to pick my final 20, and have four other possibilities I can’t decide on. They are:
1. Moon Tiger by Penelope Lively
I had an English teacher once who told us that anyone who loved literature needed to read this book. I was 18. I went out and bought it and…..never got round to reading it!
2. Mr Fox by Helen Oyeyemi
I have read so many amazing reviews of Boy, Snow, Bird that I’m thinking this one could be a great read too.
3. This is How by MJ Hyland
This one is a bit of a mystery to me as I don’t remember buying it at all. It sounds pretty intriguing though. Can anyone enlighten me?
4. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
A quick poll on Twitter over the weekend would suggest that this is amazing. But it’s big. So very big.
Are there any of these four you think I should absolutely put in the summer pile? Any I should avoid? I’ll make my final choices on 1 June, but you guys always seem to guide me towards some excellent reads, so any advice would be greatly appreciated!
I’m going to keep a Master post at the start of the blog so you can follow my progress as books get crossed off the list and if anyone feels their reading needs a bit of oomph then why not join me?
Just take the Books of Summer image, pick your own 10, 15 or 20 books you’d like to read and link back to my Master post so I know you’re taking part. I’d love your support and as anyone who has taken part before will know, I am wonderfully slack with my rules!
I’ll be tweeting my way through the challenge as well using the hashtag #20booksofsummer.
So, any thoughts on my choices? Have you read any of my 20? Any I should start with straight away, or save for later? Any I’m going to regret putting on the list? I’d love to hear what you think.