20 Books of Summer – coming to a blog near you soon!

Oh I’m a glutton for punishment….

The temperature is rising, the kids will be getting out of school soon and the annual trip to Donegal is booked so it must be nearly summer time, which means another attempt at completing my 20 Books of Summer Challenge.

20 books

I have to admit, I don’t have the greatest track record with this one.

2014 – 16.5 books

2015 – 18 books

2016 – 20 books

2017 – 12 books

I’ve only managed to complete my own challenge ONCE! And even then I didn’t manage to review all 20, which is always the stumbling block for me.

I wasn’t going to bother with it this year, but you have all been so supportive and telling me to go for it, so why not? This could be my year. I could finally manage to do my own challenge after five years!

From 1 June to 3 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, as always, 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’ll see there is a collection of poetry, a play, some short stories and a sneaky little novella in there, all to help move the challenge along.

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I’m still doing my 2018 In Translation Challenge too, so there are three translated works in there along with a Muriel Spark for Heaven Ali’s #ReadingMuriel18

You can click on the titles to get through to their description on Goodreads.

The Red Parts by Maggie Nelson

Maggie Nelson’s The Red Parts documents how the murder case of the author’s aunt was reopened more than three decades later upon the discovery of new DNA findings and explores the effect this had on herself and her family.

The Cold Cold Ground by Adrian McKinty

This is the first in Adrian McKinty’s critically acclaimed Sean Duffy series – a taut thriller set in Northern Ireland in the 1980s, with an outsider detective investigating a possible serial killer at the height of the Troubles

Inside the Dream Palace by Sheryl Tippins

Sheryl Tippins tells the story and history of the iconic Chelsea Hotel in New York, a home for artists and musicians that has entered into entertainment folklore.

Life: A User Manual by Georges Perec

Continuing my 2018 In Translation Challenge, I’ve included Georges Perec’s classic work of postmodern fiction which creates an entire microcosm in a Paris apartment block.

Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury

My husband has been urging me to read Dandelion Wine, a 1957 novel by Ray Bradbury, for years now. Set in the summer of 1928 in the fictional town of Green Town, Illinois, the novel is based upon Bradbury’s childhood home of Waukegan, Illinois.

The Girls of Slender Means by Muriel Spark

I hoped to participate a lot more that I have in Heaven Ali’s Muriel Spark challenge so I’m including another of her novels which I’m very much looking forward to reading.

The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri

I adored The Interpreter of Maladies when I read it a few years back, so I’m looking forward to this novel set in India and America.

The Search by Geoff Dyer

This is my first experience with Geoff Dyer and I don’t think I can go wrong with a short novel that is described as a cross between Raymond Chandler and Italo Calvino!

A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit

As I’m a big fan of her journalism, I’ve been meaning to read Rebecca Solnit for a while now and I have heard great things about this meditation on walking, wandering and venturing into the unknown.

A Thousand Mornings by Mary Oliver

Is a poetry collection a cop-out? Or maybe just a little cheat?

Bad Behaviour by Mary Gaitskill

This is the third year that Bad Behaviour has appeared in my 20 Books of Summer list and I’ve yet to read it. My plan this year is to read it early….

Midwinter Break by Bernard MacLaverty

I’ve heard such great things about Midwinter Break and am a massive MacLaverty fan so this should be a no brainer for me.

Seeing Red by Lina Meruane

The second of my novels in translation for the summer is Seeing Red, a fascinating account of what happens when a woman’s eye haemorrhages and she has to adjust to a very different kind of life.

People Who Eat Darkness by Richard Lloyd Parry

I’m a big fan of true crime and was intrigued by the Lucie Blackman case. I’m also interested in this as I think it will be an interesting dissection of the Japanese justice system.

Clybourne Park by Bruce Norris

Including a play might seem like another cheat, but I was drawn to this Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winning play due to its timely themes of racism and community.

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

This is another collection that was on last year’s list but didn’t get read. I’ve yet to read Munro’s short stories but have heard great things about this collection.

Don’t Skip Out On Me by Willie Vlautin

What is not to love about a book that comes with its own soundtrack CD? Willie Vlautin, lead singer with Richmond Fontaine writes a moving tale of ranch hand who wants to become a professional boxer. I’ve been warned to bring tissues….

The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman by Denis Thériault

My final novel in translation is The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman which sees a postman steaming open the letters of a woman writing haikus to a master poet.

Narcopolis by Jeet Thayil

I had the pleasure of meeting Jeet Thayil and hearing him read when I was at the Jaipur Literature Festival in India earlier in the year and am intrigued by this novel about the opium dens of Bombay.

When I Hit You or Portrait of the Writer as a Young Wife by Meena Kandasamy

You know when everyone whose opinion you rate is talking about how amazing a book is? That.

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 from 1 June so I know that you are taking part.  I’d love your support and as anyone who has taken part before will know, I am wonderfully slack with my rules!

Want to swap a book? Go for it.

Fancy changing your list half way through? No problem.

Deciding to drop your goal from 20 to 15? I’m fine with that.

I’m sure I’ll be using one or two of those tricks myself to try and read all 20.

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 and I can’t wait to see your lists.

20 Books of Summer novels in translation Reading Challenge The 746

Cathy746books View All →

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

178 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Hurrah! Count me in. I always use this challenge as a way of attacking the TBR stack – a few months focused on books I own rather than new releases is always a good thing. Will post my list soon.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Good luck with your challenge this year! The last couple of years I participated I didn’t do very well either haha. Maybe this year will be the turning point 🙂 Looks like today I will be thinking of my summer TBR! I’ll be interested to read your thoughts on Dandelion Wine. I feel like I’ve been seeing that book around a lot lately.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I absolutely loved The Red Parts, it’s such a great, unusual book (and also not so long, so perfect for your challenge 🙂 Bad Behavior is one of my favorite short story collections, it’s intense but her writing is excellent. I’m so curious about People Who Eat Darkness and A Field Guide to Getting Lost. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts! And good luck with your challenge 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Yay! So glad you are doing this again! I love taking part as it’s such a good thing to give me the kick up the bum I need to pick up a lot of forgotten books over the summer! Looking forward to sorting my list out already!! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I don’t doubt you’ll have a great summer of reading, no matter what ends up on the agenda! You’ve come up with a nicely varied and appealing stack here. Of the ones on your list, I’ve read MacLaverty, Nelson, Oliver and Spark. (I also tried the Solnit but couldn’t get through it.) I’m reading a different Richard Lloyd Parry book now, Ghosts of the Tsunami, about the 2011 tsunami in Japan, and it is excellent so far.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Yay! I’m definitely participating, although I also have trouble completing the list! 🙂 I think what I may do is leave five “free spaces” for whatever books strike my fancy at the time, so I don’t feel confined by the list. (Yes, it’s a list of my own making but I still feel confined! I’m so weird!)

    I’ve actually not read any of your picks but they look great! The Spark is on my TBR list as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Yay, I am so pleased you have brought this back again this year, Cathy 🙂 Good luck with your list and I love Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury, so I hope you will enjoy it too. I am going to go make my lost now, although a more modest list of just 10 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Looks like a good list – I always go down in reading in the summer time in North Dakota- from maybe 16 books a month in April down to 6 in July or so. But this year I’ll only be there for a month so maybe I’d do better all summer (with 6 in the month I’m there).

    Of your list I’ve read:
    The Girls of Slender Means by Muriel Spark (quite good)
    The Cold Cold Ground by Adrian McKinty (standard Sean Duffy, he’s such a kick)
    The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri – very nice
    Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage by Alice Munro (excellent, Munro of course)
    Narcopolis by Jeet Thayil – different but good

    And also from your list I’m planning on (they’re already on my wish/tbr list:
    People Who Eat Darkness by Richard Lloyd Parry (already have it – )

    And these look interesting:
    The Red Parts by Maggie Nelson (in wish list)
    Inside the Dream Palace by Sheryl Tippins (in wish list)
    Life: A User Manual by Georges Perec (should have read a long time ago and I still probably won’t get to it)

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Yay, I am so happy you are doing 20 Books this year, Cathy! I never completed the challenge, but I love to follow a summer TBR – so, as always, count me in 🙂
    You have some promising titles on your list – I only read The Lowland, and loved! I’ve been meaning to pick up Dandelion Wine, many friends have recommended this to me. And I may read When I Hit You…, by Meena Kandasamy, fairly soon, since it is on the Women’s Prize shortlist.
    Now I will assemble my 20 books, too! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Best of luck with your challenge, Cathy. It looks like you’ve got some great reading ahead of you, which is nice to see. The Girls of Slender means is excellent, and the opening paragraph sets the scene perfectly – I really hope you like it too.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I like that you’ve included Mary Oliver, I’ve read a few of her poems on their own but never a collection, and I think those I’ve read are thought provoking and beautiful.
    I stumbled over Rebecca Snit when I bought Wanderlust for a friend and kept meaning to read her myself, I eventually did beginning with The Faraway Nearby which shortly after reading I had the good fortune to hear her speak about in London. It’s a fabulous book and she’s a powerful engaging speaker. Great choice!
    Also really admired Meena Kandasamy ‘s book and I hope it wins the prize, such a talented writer and an artist.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Good luck, Cathy! I’ll be cheering from the sidelines, although possibly intermittently as I’m away for much of June. I read the Perec many years ago and loved it plus the wonderful Peculiar Life of the Lonely Postman.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I’m glad you’ve decided to do this again, Cathy! I managed 16 out of 20 last year, but am looking forward to trying again. Good luck with your list – I haven’t read any of those books but would like to read Dandelion Wine.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Oh, I was thinking about this on the weekend and wondering if you were going to do it again. So pleased you are 👏🏻👏🏻 I will definitely be taking part. I did 15 out of 20 last year; this year I hope to do the full 20!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Good luck Cathy! I think you’ll do it – The Peculiar Life… and Girls of Slender Means are both great reads and both short, so you’ll whizz through them 🙂 Life A Users Manual has been on my TBR forever and I’m determined this is the year, so I’ll take my inspiration from you & read it over the summer!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Hooray! I love doing this and feeling all the support of the other people doing it and seeing what they read. I will leave off my own Iris Murdoch challenge books, I think, but include my All August / All Virago and Persephone as usual. Exciting!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. What a fascinating list! When I Hit You or Portrait of the Writer as a Young Wife is one I’m going to investigate. I’ll probably get 20 books done because of audios on my long commute, but will push to read more print/kindle books in support of this challenge!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. I participated last summer and just barely got my last one finished on time. I have the habit of making a list, then not sticking to it, but I really want to do this again. i will post my list shortly.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. “Dandelion Wine” is such a magic read for summer. I hope you’ll enjoy it. There is a sequel but it’s not half as good, imho. The Clyburne Play is great although that’s also a sequel as well (for Raisin in the Sun”). Not sure if you’ll need to read Raisin to fully get Clyburne, but I bet you can if you research it a bit to get the story. Happy reading!

    Liked by 1 person

  20. I managed 11 out of my 20 last year, but I started late. Count me in again! You have some great choices in your pile – I really enjoyed the Vlautin.

    Liked by 1 person

      • I saw him at the Faber Spring Do – and he played a song for us – lovely chap. Unfortunately, I’m unlikely to make it to a cinema to see Lean on Pete, based on his previous book, before it leaves the big screen – Grr!

        Liked by 1 person

  21. I was just wondering a few days ago if you would do this challenge again. I always like it. I am putting The Cold Cold Ground by Adrian McKinty on my list, I am glad you reminded me of it.. Have had a copy for years. This is TracyK at Bitter Tea and Mystery.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. You’ve got a fantastic line up there Cathy and will be interested to hear what you think! I’m experiencing extreme crime fatigue at the moment so am toying with a list of 15 fiction/poetry books. Will keep you posted 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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