My 20 Books of Summer List is Finalised!



20 books

I have finally managed to come up with my reading list for 20 Books of Summer – always my favourite part of this challenge. I’m excited to read these books now, but you can sure as hell bet that by August I’ll be sick of them!

From 1 June to 3 September, I’m going to attempt, for the fourth year, to read my 20 Books of Summer. That’s 7 books a month, which is pretty daunting, but I think I can do it. I managed it last year, although reviews were shorter than usual!

As always, I had great fun putting this list together, although, this is about the sixth version since I started planning. 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! There are factual books, memoirs, short stories, a very short story and some classic and more contemporary novels.

As with last year, I’ve done a page count, so I have 6128 pages to read over 95 days, meaning I have to read 65 pages a day to complete my challenge. If I could just stop playing Jelly Crush and watching Line of Duty that would be completely do-able…

So, here are my 20 Books for summer 2017, you can click on the titles read their descriptions on Goodreads:

the hunters

1. The Hunters by Claire Messud

I adored The Woman Upstairs when I read it a few years ago, so I’m looking forward to this collection of two novellas. And yes, the phrase ‘novella’ is always attractive when putting together my 20 Books list.

blue tango

2. The Blue Tango by Eoin McNamee

I’m a sucker for true crime and really loved Resurrection Man by Eoin McNamee, which is filled with beautiful writing despite the harrowing subject matter. The Blue Tango is a fictionalised account of a real life murder in Northern Ireland in the 1950s.

yellow wallpaper

3. The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

This one is a little bit of a cheat as it’s a short story rather than a book, but I need to cut myself some slack here! I’ve been meaning to read this feminist classic for some time now, and at 26 pages, this seems like the perfect time to read it!


4. Calf by Andrea Kleine

Calf was a birthday present from my husband, so won’t be one of the 746, however I’m intrigued by the description of it as being a cross between Are You There God It’s Me, Margaret and Taxi Driver. Taking the real life assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan as her inspiration, Kleine fictionalises the story of John Hinckley and Leslie Deveau and tells it through the eyes of a 12 year old girl.


5. No one Belongs Here More Than You by Miranda July

I’m a fan of Miranda July’s movies, particularly You, Me and Everyone We Know so I’m looking forward to this collection of short stories.

sundance kids

6. Sundance Kids: How the Mavericks Took Back Hollywood by James Mottram

This is one choice I may well regret, as it is a BIG book, but I do love a book about the movies. Here James Mottram charts the rise of the indie filmmakers in the 1990s – Spike Jonze, Paul Thomas Anderson, Quentin Tarantino and Stephen Soderbegh – and explores how their work changed the cinematic landscape.

goat's song

7. A Goat’s Song by Dermot Healy

Dermot Healy died in 2014 and remains one of the most underrated Irish writers. His fans included Seamus Heaney, Anne Enright and Roddy Doyle. A Goat’s Song is considered to be his greatest work, as it chars the doomed love affair between an alcoholic playwright and his actress muse.

london train

8. The London Train by Tessa Hadley

I actually know very little about this novel, or Tessa Hadley’s work but imagine I bought this after it was longlisted for the Orange Prize for fiction in 2011.


9. Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage by Alice Munro

I must have about five Alice Munro books in the 746, so I think this is a well overdue choice. A twitter call out suggested this collection of short stories was a good starting point for her work.


10. The Awakening by Kate Chopin

Another classic I’ve been meaning to read for several years, The Awakening shocked readers in 1899 with its depiction of female infidelity.


11. The Surrendered by Chang-Rae Lee

Here’s another novel I don’t remember buying and know very little about! Anyone help me out? All I know is it’s an epic love story played out against the backdrop of the Korean War!

bad behaviour

12. Bad Behaviour by Mary Gaitskill

This collection of short stories seems to be a love it or hate it kind of book, but edgy, creepy short stories are just my thing and any book that contains the story that the movie Secretary is based on gets my vote!


13. Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami

Like Alice Munroe, I’ve bought loads of Murakami books and never got round to reading them. I really hope I like this, as I think I’ve got about five more to get through once I’m finished!


14. Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson

It was a toss-up between Housekeeping and Gilead, but I thought I would go for Robinson’s first book for my first reading of her work. I’ve heard rapturous praise for Housekeeping, and Robinson’s work in general so this should be a good one.

half blood

15. Half Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan

I started Half Blood Blues last year and gave up after a few pages for no good reason, so I’m putting on the list to try and finish it this time round.

dead stars

16. Dead Stars by Bruce Wagner

I have a feeling this is going to be a strange one. A satire on Hollywood, it sounds less La La Land and more Maps to the Stars. Featuring drug addicted American Idol contestants, failed celebrity photographers and Michael Douglas, I could be in for a treat here, or I could want to throw it out the window.


17. Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

Is I just me, or has Elizabeth Strout been everywhere for the last few years? Having read all your glowing reviews for My Name is Lucy Barton and Anything is Possible, I was delighted to find a copy of Olive Kitteridge lurking, forgotten in my iBooks.


18. Theft: A Love Story by Peter Carey

It’s been a long time since I’ve read Peter Carey, but have always enjoyed his books, particularly Oscar and Lucinda. As a former Art gallery manager, I’m always drawn to books about art and artists, so should enjoy this tale of an old famous painter whose life is turned upside down by a mysterious young woman.


19. Duplicate Keys by Jane Smiley

Jane Smiley is another writer I haven’t read for a long time and I like the sound of this character driven thriller.


20. Gig: The Life and Times of a Rock Star Fantasist by Simon Armitage

Anyone who knows me, will know my love for Simon Armitage, so he fills this year’s music memoir slot as he explores the importance music has had on his life and career.

So that’s my 20 books, however this year I’ve allocated two ‘spares’ just in case one of my 20 isn’t working for me and they are:

1. Zone One by Colson Whitehead

The Underground Railroad is getting rave reviews and Zone One has been on my TBR for ages now. I’ve tried to read it quite a few times now, which it why it’s a possible replacement rather than a firm choice. I’m just not sure that it’s for me, although I do love a good zombie story…

2. Human Croquet by Kate Atkinson

Kate Atkinson hasn’t let me down yet, from Life After Life to Behind the Scenes at the Museum. The only reason this isn’t on the main list is because I’ve read a lot of Atkinson’s work over the last couple of years and would like to try some other authors this time round.

So, what do you think of the choices? Any I should start first? Any you think I’m mad to include? Does anyone think my spare reads should be in my main list?

I’ll be keeping a pinned Master post on the blog from 1 June, with a Linky where you can share your lists if you are taking part.

Remember, if 20 seems too daunting, then there are the 15 and 10 options also!




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. Do let me know if you will be joining in and don’t forget to link up your lists on Thursday when it all kicks off!



20 Books of Summer The 746


Cathy746books View All →

I am a 40 something book buying addict trying to reduce the backlog one book at a time!

159 Comments Leave a comment

  1. I’ve read a few of the books on your list –

    The Yellow Wallpaper and The Awakening each deserve more than one reading – they are incredible.

    Housekeeping is also a really wonderful book (read all of Robinson’s books!)

    Half-Blood Blues and Olive Kitteridge are both quite fun.

    Theft is the only one I read and found lacking – it was kind of mean, imo.

    I’ll likely not get much read this summer – as usual. My life gets very busy.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great selection of books, looks like it’s going to be a great reading summer! The Yellow Wallpaper and The Awakening are both intense reads, so whilst they might be short I’m sure they’ll absorb a lot of your attention. Housekeeping is one of my favourite books of all time. Hope you enjoy your reading summer.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love making lists – but am terrible at sticking to them. So not sure if I will take part yet. I loved The Awakening, Olive Kitteridge and The Half Blood Blues. Good luck with your list.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. As I said on twitter amazing list! I’ve read Norwegian Wood (not Murakami’s best book in my opinion) and O. Kitteridge (very good). I want to try to read some of these contemporary books…I must not get too bogged down in classics!

    Liked by 1 person

      • I agree that Norwegian Wood is not one of Murakami’s better novels – it got dated somehow. He writes short stories and when one of those scenarios really grabs him he extends it into a novel. So he has a lot of short story collections on the market. (I liked Blind Woman, Sleeping Willow best.)
        Murakami’s best novel I would say (hands down) is The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle.. It concerns the Japanese in China just prior to WWII as well as some other stuff- a guy in Tokyo and a neighbor. It’s been called a kind of magical realism and so on. It’s really good.
        Kafka on the Shore is very good as is After Dark and IQ84.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Very excited that you’re reading The Awakening; I read it for the first time three years ago and thought it was incredible.

    Also, I love love love Gig. It made me want to write some sort of equivalent version. I’ve used extracts when I’ve been teaching too.

    If you do find yourself wanting to substitute, Human Croquet is my favourite Kate Atkinson after A God in Ruins. I remember feeling completely transported the first time I read it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ooh fab Naomi. The Awakening should have been read years ago but better late than never!
      So looking forward to Gig. I just love anything he writes.
      Good to hear about Human Croquet, one to look forward to.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Brilliant list – I am going to steal some. I like the way there are so many different types of books, all of them that I’ve heard of ones I would like to read.
    I’ve only read one, Norwegian Wood, which I liked – it was naturalistic and an easy read.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. You will love Murakami’s book, and possibly Olive Kitteridge, too. I am intrigued by Carey’s book, I will look it up. As for my list and related post, it will appear next week, I am still working on it 🙂 Great challenge! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I couldn’t wait so my 10 Books of Summer list is already up! 😀 Good luck with your list – in particular I hope you get round to reading The Awakening by Kate Chopin, as it is a book I have been interested in for some time.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. This is a great idea – although I am rubbish at planning ahead with my reading 😩 I am tempted to pick out 10 books though, as this should still mean that I have some freedom to pick something else up if I want to read something different. Good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I’ll be interested to read what you think of Olive Kitteridge, I wasn’t too impressed by it. The only other one I’ve read is Norwegian Wood which I did enjoy, but as I recall – it’s a bit weird.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. First comment on your blog despite following for ages! You have inspired me to join in. I might not make 20 but have a tentative list of 10. Definitely stealing your Simon Armitage suggestion! You might see me hiding out in the Homeplace cafe to get my books finished!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. That looks like a great selection of books! I haven’t read any of them apart from Human Croquet, which I enjoyed, but there are a lot that I would be interested in reading. I’m trying to decide whether to join in this year – I don’t do very well at sticking to lists, but I’m definitely tempted!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Great list, Cathy. I loved Half-blood Blues and championed it to win the Shadow Giller back in the day (was it 2013, can’t quite remember). Theft is also very good: I have a love/hate relationship with Carey but this is one I loved! I hope to put together my own list next weekend as I’m still in Greece soaking up as much sunshine as I can to fix this ongoing Vitamin D deficiency of mine!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Oh crikey, why had I not realised this was coming up so fast?? Eeeps! I have downloaded the 20 image, so that’s a start, right? I think I’ll do my pile and selection when I do my TBR post for 1 June. Hm. Looking forward to it, though. Should I put all my NetGalley stuff on it or just physical books, though … decisions!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I’m determined to have a good stab at this, this year so I’ve spent the last few days surrounded with piles of books trying to predict my reading mood for the next few months. Your list looks great – I look forward to reading your reviews!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I’m not very good at sticking to lists even though I want to read the books – maybe just not at that time! But I shall give your challenge a go anyway.

    The only ones of yours I’ve read are The Yellow Wallpaper and Housekeeping – both good. I hope you enjoy them – and the rest of your books as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Oh, I completely agree, the list-making for a project like this is a whole passle of fun! I’m looking forward to hearing about which you DO begin first, but I don’t have an opinion although several of the ones you’re aiming for are books I’ve enjoyed too. My only comment is that you might like to plan to scatter Munro’s stories in that collection throughout some other book-length reads, as they are long and complicated stories and very satisfying (not a collection – like July’s – where I think there could be an argument for reading them all-in-a-blur). Hope you find some new favourite titles and authors herein: good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Yay for Alice Munro – I think you’ll love it. I’ve also read Olive Kitteridge, Half-Blood Blues, The Yellow Wallpaper, and The Awakening (which I just read for our next Literary Wives post). Enjoy them all!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I think I might have to play along with this one, although I have to read quite a few for special research papers I’m advising students on next school year so I might be boxing myself in a bit with the rest of the picks! Where is the master post to link up on? I’m new around here 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  20. 65 pages a day. Do you have the summer off? 😉 I try to do 50 pages a day on average, which I can usually do. Though I don’t think I make it to 20 books in a single summer. I don’t always finish what I start. You do have a good, fun, summer reading ish list.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. This looks like a great list of interesting books! I haven’t read any of them but I have had Housekeeping on my TBR forever. I just posted my challenge TBR today and am looking forward to getting started on it on Thursday!

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Some intriguing choices Cathy – most of these authors are unknown to me. I loved The Awakening and Norwegian Wood – my first Murakami and like you I read it as a way of getting into his work. I haven’t yet read anything else by him yet though

    Liked by 1 person

  23. I just finished The Awakening, and it’s so good. You’ll fly through that one, and I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. And I think it pairs perfectly with The Yellow Wall-Paper. I enjoyed Half-Blood Blues as well. Happy Reading!

    Liked by 1 person

  24. I’ll be interested for your thoughts on Housekeeping. I was not a fan of Gilead. You have some other grate one’s on here I read in high school and I don’t think you can go wrong with Murakami 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Looks like it will be a great summer.
    I loved Chopin’s classic, and of course the one by Murakami. He’s my favorite Japanese author.
    I also recommend his brand new collection of short stories – Men Without Women, I enjoyed it, even though usually I don’t like short stories! But his style is so good!

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Great looking choices! I’m going to do the 10 Books option again – with my Anne of Green Gables Readalong I don’t think I should get too ambitious! 🙂

    I’ve read The Awakening from your list, and it’s been ages, but I really liked it. I do love Alice Munro but haven’t read that collection. I read the Peter Carey and enjoyed it – read it for my book group. The Kate Atkinson is on my TBR as well – I’ve owned a copy for years now and don’t know why I haven’t read it. I might put it on my list!

    Liked by 1 person

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