June Miscellany & #20booksofsummer catch up!

 

December Miscellany __1_1_1

Things have been a little quiet here over the last few weeks and apologies to everyone taking part in 20 Books of Summer, upon whose posts I have been silent.

The reason being that I was off on a family holiday to Crete! Crete is a very special place for Mr 746 and myself, we have visited the quieter south coast of the island four times now, but this was the first time away as a family and it was really wonderful.

Coming back to reality has been tough and the break from social media has shown me that I probably spend far too much time on Twitter and Instagram, so I am planning to try to find a better balance.

It is hard to believe that we are a month in to 20 Books of Summer!

So, how are you all doing? Way ahead of schedule? Falling hopelessly behind? Wishing you had never started?!

I am doing…OK. My reading is going well – I have read nine of my 20 books, which is ahead of plan but as always I’m falling behind with my reviews.

Just four of my nine have been reviewed, so I have a little bit of catching up to do there and I am really trying not to be tempted to do mini-reviews this year.

Maybe if I spent less time reading books that are not on my summer reading list I’d get more reviews done. Here are a few other books I have read in June.

 

Less by Andrew Sean Greer

less

Oh how I loved Less. I really loved this funny, moving, insightful and farcical book. Arthur Less is a middling author approaching 50. He is well known for a successful debut, his relationship with a famous older poet and the fact that he has not really written anything of note in the last decade. As his younger lover prepares to marry another man, Less plans a round the world trip courtesy of speaking engagements, awards ceremonies and teaching jobs, which will allow him to avoid news of the impending marriage and give him time to rewrite his latest book which has just been turned down by his publisher.

I am not usually one for comic novels, but Less is a rare thing – a genuinely funny, laugh-out-loud book that has lots of heart. As Arthur fumbles and trips from Paris to India, Mexico to Germany, trying in vain to work out where he has gone wrong in life, he becomes that archetypal underdog that you can’t help but root for.

The writing is impeccable, the book beautifully structured and the ending is a sucker punch right to the heart. Highly recommended.

 

Lie With Me by Sabine Durrant

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I came to Sabine Durrant through a recommendation by the brilliant Kim at Reading Matters who praised her page turning thrillers. In pre-holiday mood, I was drawn to Lie With Me as it is, in part, set in Greece. Featuring another failing writer, although this one is not quite as endearing as Arthur Less, Lie With Me explores what happens when you try to live within a lie.

Paul was once the potential next big literary star, but is now in his 40s with no book deal, housesitting for friends and juggling a series of inappropriate younger girlfriends. His life has not gone to plan and reality is starting to close in on him.

A chance meeting with an old acquaintance from University brings him into contact with friends he hasn’t seen for years and as he inveigles his way back into their group he imagines he can use them to better his own situation. The question is though, just who is being used?

Lie With Me is the kind of book that the phrase ‘page-turner’ was made for. It is well written with a horribly conflicting main character, a great sense of place and a spiralling plot that is sufficiently clever to keep the reader in the dark right until the end.

I will definitely be checking for more of these in the library when I’m in the mood for a taut, entertaining thriller.

 

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara

dark

This was an airport purchase on the way out to Greece, despite the fact that I had packed four of my 20 Books of Summer for reading on holiday. It was perfect though for travelling and I can see why it has become such a bestseller.

Journalist and screenwriter Michelle McNamara’s book is an in depth investigation into the notorious East Side Rapist/ Golden State Killer, who terrorised California in the 1970s and ‘80s but is also an incredibly insightful exploration of the nature of journalistic obsession and dogged determination to shed light on a case that had been wallowing in darkness. McNamara is a clear-eyed, subtle writer – never allowing the reader to become bogged down in the factual side of the investigation and inserting herself into the narrative just enough to not overshadow the focus.

McNamara died before she could finish the book and although an eminent investigative journalist finished it, the final chapters do suffer due to the lack of her singular voice. There also seems to be a lingering need to link Michelle’s work with the eventual capture of the Golden State Killer (a term she coined), which doesn’t feel justified, although it is understandable given how she raised the profile of the case.

Having said that, I have no doubt that I’ll Be Gone in the Dark is destined to become a true crime classic.


My Post

I know it seems like I am wasting valuable 20 Books of Summer time by reading other books, but last year I found that if I read books outside of my list, I was more likely to spend time reading and that in turn meant that I was more likely to read all 20 books.

It’s an odd anomaly, but it’s working for me, so I’m sticking with it!

Do let me know how you are all getting on, now that we are a third of the way through our challenge and I promise, I’ll be back to commenting on your blogs and twitter posts again very soon – once the holiday hangover has been cured!

20 Books of Summer Monthly Miscellany

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Cathy746books View All →

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

51 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Crete, when we visited sometime towards the end of the 20th century, was wonderful then, and even though we mostly visited the big three towns in the north of the island, the southern coast was particularly delightful even out of season. It’s probably changed hugely since then, though.
    20 Books of Summer: I’ve read six so far on the list, at least a couple not from it, and am part way through another two officially included there. So not too bad, especially since I’m up to date with reviews! However we off for a few days soon so progress may be intermittent…

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    • We’ve been going to the same spot on the south coast for about 15 years now and despite a few more tavernas and the odd fancy gift shop, it remains relatively quiet and wonderfully laid back. It’s my favourite spot. Oh how I envy you being up to date with reviews!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. How lovely to go to Crete! I’m glad you had such a good time. I finished book #9 last night, so I feel like I’m doing okay, but there are some big ones on that pile. And here is a dumb question: besides posting on Twitter with the tag, how do I ‘turn in’ the links? I haven’t found the right place here on the blog.

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  3. What a wonderful vacation, and a very good reason to be behind. 🙂 I’m so glad you liked Less; some people can’t believe it won the Pulitzer, but I thought it was excellent, for all the reasons you give.

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  4. Gorgeous photos, Cathy. Holidays help put things in to perspective, don’t they. I’ve come back from my break determined to avoid the 24-hour news cycle which has been making me both miserable and furious for far too much of the time. I had the same reaction as you to Less. A throughly enjoyable, rather heartwarming distraction.

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  5. Not doing brilliantly with my 20Books – I’ve just started number 4. Oops. But I’ll get there. I have my ultramarathon this coming weekend which will involve lots of early nights and then big rest days afterwards.

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  6. I started reading books for a summer reading BINGO program at the library where I now work, and my goal is to check off every single box (each one has a specific requirement). I must say, if I complete BINGO, I will finish 25 books in two months, which is more break-neck than 20 Books of Summer! Ack! I chose to read comic books for all of my “read anything” squares, so I’ll read 19 novels (3 as audio books), 1 book of poetry, and 5 comics.

    And Cathy…..I can’t believe you bought another book, lol.

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  7. So glad you had fun in Crete! Your photos are absolutely gorgeous. I’ve never been to Greece but I’d love to go at some point. Your review of Less makes me want to pick it up soon! I’ll Be Gone in the Dark was devastating and brilliant, fully deserving of its hype.

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  8. Hi Cathy! Yes summer can be so busy, but it’s always good to take a break, especially to a place like Crete! My summer reading is going OK. Not great, but I’m not stressing about it. I’m in a summer reading program at the library and the theme is a little different this year. So I’m just moving along at my own pace.

    I have been looking forward to reading Less for a long time. It’s great to see your review here!

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  9. Lovely photos, I’m glad you’ve had a good break. This is the first year that I’ve attempted your challenge and I’m rather behind schedule; the end of term workload is leaving me too exhausted to read at my usual rate! Hopefully will catch up a bit once term ends! Really enjoying reading everyone’s blog posts, lots of new titles to add to my tbr list!

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  10. Your holiday sounds fab! I’m really keen to read I’ll Be Gone In The Dark. I’ve also been reading outside my 20 Books of Summer, as otherwise it feels like I have no choice in what I’m reading (I don’t own most of my 20 Books, so have to wait to get hold of them) but have managed to read 7 so far so am on track 🙂

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  11. Welcome back Cathy – Crete looks gorgeous!

    I’m not a big reader of comic novels either but I keep hearing such good things about Less, I’ll have to give it a try. Also I’m trying to read lighter things to cope with the world right now…

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  12. I don’t do reading goals, although I did just pack up two boxes of TBR in preparation for my upcoming move. I think I have 10 books set aside so I guess I should start reading. Crete looks amazing. What a beautiful location.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Crete looks beautiful, I’m glad you had a great time! I’ve been reading a lot this summer but not many of the books on my list. I’m trying to stick with it more in July. I think the problem is my list is full of books that I feel I should read more than I want to read. Argh. I’m glad you loved Less, I did too!

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  14. Cathy, I’ve never been to Crete but it looks beautiful and I’ve heard things about it from other people too. I’m glad you had a lovely break. Sadly, I have only finished one book off of my 10 Books of Summer… about to finish a second, but still not a great start!

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  15. You’re charging ahead with this challenge – great work! I just read Less myself, and LOVED it! How rare to find such a genuine literary comedy, and I’m so pleased that it garnered so much attention. I think we lavish too much praise on misery books (war, death, destruction), so it’s nice to see one that evokes a chuckle get a look-in. I’ll Be Gone In The Dark is high on my TBR, but I’ve heard a lot of people say the same thing, that there’s a dramatic inconsistency between the voices. Still, given what happened, that seems understandable. Happy reading!

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  16. I’m so glad you blogged about Less! It was fantastic! It was genuinely poignant throughout, and gently humorous, and I did laugh out loud a lot during the Germany part. I thought the ending was a bit contrived though. I’m not sure going back is a good idea in real life.

    Liked by 1 person

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