My 20 Books of Summer ’21!

Can I keep up my winning streak and complete my 20 Books of Summer challenge this year?

This year, I’m reading 15 physical books and 5 e-books, with 13 from the 746 and 7 newer books. I have 5,021 pages to read altogether, which works out at 54 pages a day!

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 some autobiography, some short stories and a nice little short play in there, all to help move the challenge along.

I’m also doubling up on challenges and have included my three Brian Moore’s for these three months, along with some translated fiction by women for Women in Translation Month, an Anne Tyler for Liz’s Anne Tyler Reread Project and a book translated from Spanish for Stu’s Spanish Literature Month if it is going ahead this year (better to be prepared!).

So, without further ado, here are my 20 books!

Brief Lives by Anita Brookner

In my teens I nabbed quite a few of my late Mum’s Anita Brookner novels when I was just starting to read adult literary fiction. I’m pretty sure this is one of Mum’s copies and am looking forward to revisiting Brookner after so many years.

Peel Me A Lotus by Charmain Clift

Last year, as part of my 20 Books of Summer, I read Polly Samson’s A Theatre for Dreamers, a fictional account of Leonard Cohen’s time on Hydra. However, rather than becoming more interested in Cohen, I became really interested in Charmain Clift, the Australian writer who gave Cohen a room on Hydra and introduced him to the bohemian scene there. Clift’s work has been out of print here in the UK, but thanks to the success of A Theatre for Dreamers, her two memoirs have been republished by Muswell Press.

A Kiss Before Dying by Ira Levin

This is the last Ira Levin I have in my 746, following on from The Stepford Wives and Rosemary’s Baby, both of which I really enjoyed. A Kiss Before Dying, Levin’s first novel, is about a young woman whose fiancéhas targeted her for her inheritance, but a pregnancy gets in the way of his best laid plans.

Little by Edward Carey

I have started and stopped Edward Carey’s gorgeously illlustrated Little several times for reasons I can’t explain, but I am determined to finally give it a good go. I adore a fictionalised account of a real life, so this dramatic retelling of the life of the woman who would become Madame Tussaud, should be right up my street.

Consent by Nina Raine

I always include a play in my 20 Books of Summer list, and yes, that’s probably because I can usually read a play in a day! Consent follows two lawyers who take opposing briefs in a rape case and come to question the very nature of truth. The play was originally staged at the National Theatre and starred Anna Maxwell Martin and Ben Chaplin.

People in the Room by Norah Lange, translated by Charlotte Whittle

I’ve chosen People in the Room to read for Women in Translation Month in August. Norah Lange was an Argentine poet and novelist, and a member of the Florida Group which included Oliverio Girondo (whom she married) and Jorge Luis Borges. People in the Room was originally published in 1950 and features a teenage girl who becomes obsessed with spying on the three women who live across the street from her house.

The Cutting Room by Louise Welsh

I read Welsh’s novella Tamburlaine Must Die for Novellas in November at the end of last year and although I wasn’t blown away, I was intrigued enough by her writing to add this, her first novel, to the pile.

Tender is the Flesh by Agustina Bazterria, translated by Sarah Moses

I’ve included this one so that I can participate in Spanish Literature Month in July but I also couldn’t resist a dark and twisted novel about cannibalism! Originally written in Spanish, Tender is the Flesh portrays a society in which a virus has contaminated all animal meat meaning that the eating of human flesh has become legal. Marcos, a human meat supplier, is conflicted by this new society, and tortured by his own personal losses.  Sounds intriguing!

The Temptation of Eileen Hughes by Brian Moore

My Brian Moore Readalong stops for no other challenge, so I’m incorporating my June, July and August choices into my 20 Books of Summer List. The Temptation of Eileen Hughes features another of Moore’s unforgettable female haracters. Written in 1983, it portrays the relationship between a quiet young shop assistant and her wealthy employers and how their lives change forever on a trip to London.

No Other Life by Brian Moore

No Other Life is one of Moore’s later novels, published in 1993 and explores the lives of a Cathlic missionary priest on an island in the Caribbean and his protegee who rises from abject poverty to despotic power.

Cold Heaven by Brian Moore

This is a reread for me and I’m interested to see how much I like it as I was pretty much obsessed with Cold Heaven when I was about 17 and read it 4 or 5 times! The story of a woman with no faith who believes she has witnessed a miracle is a surreal and dark look at the nature of belief.

The Best of Everything by Rona Jaffe

I forgot to include The Best of Everything in my New York State of Mind round up of books set in the Big Apple. Billed as everything from the original Sex & the City to the inspiration for Mad Men, Rona Jaffe’s 1958 novel is a timeless tale of five young women looking for love and rewarding work in the world of New York publishing.

Speedbumps: Flooring It Through Hollywood by Teri Garr

I have always enjoyed watching Teri Garr on screen and have found her to be an engaging and often underrated comic actor. I’m most interested in reading this biography though as she charts not just her career in Hollywood, but her battle with MS, which I also suffer from.

The Queue by Aziz Basma Abdel, translated by Elisabeth Jaquette

Again, I’ve chosen The Queue for Women in Translation Month and because it has been languishing on my shelves since the early days of this blog. Set in an unnamed Middle Eastern City, The Queue is a dystopian exploration of the nature of authoritarianism, written by an Egyptian journalist and psychiatrist.

Like Life by Lorrie Moore

I’ve yet to be disappointed by Moore, who I find to be a consistent and thoughtful writer. Like Life is her second collection of short stories and they explore the experiences of characters who have stumbled through life and are trying to make sense of the gap between where they want to be and where they have ended up.

Hype: How Scammers, Grifters And Con-Artists Are Taking Over The Internet – And Why We Are Following by Gabrielle Bluestone

I was intrigued by this title after reading a review on Renée’s great blog What’s Non-fiction? and also because anyting featuring con-artists and grifters is catnip to me. Covering the Fyre Festival scandal, the ongoing Theranos saga and the Juiceroo scam, it sounds like an entertaining treat.

The Thief by Fuminori Nakamura, translated by Satoko Izumo & Stephen Coates

The Thief is described as a atmospheric Japanese crime novel following the story of Nishimura, a seasoned pickpocket, who weaves through the crowded Tokyo streets, stealing wallets from strangers with ease. He has no family, no friends and no connections, but he does have a past, which finally catches up with him when his old partner-in-crime reappears and offers him a job he can’t refuse.

Saint Maybe by Anne Tyler

I’m delighted to join in again with Liz’s Anne Tyler Re-read Project after reading Earthly Possessions back in April. Saint Maybe chronicles the life and times of the Bedloe family, after unexpected tragedy strikes them in the late ’60s. 

The Wedding by Dorothy West

Dorothy West, a member of the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s, published The Wedding, her last novel in 1953. The story of the middle-class Cole family preparing for the wedding of their daughter Shelby is billed as ‘an intimate glimpse into African American middle class’.

Cold Water by Gwendoline Riley

I was lucky to get a proof of My Phantoms by Gwendoline Riley at the end of last year and I really loved it. I was delighted to find this, her first novel, lurking forgotten on my Kindle. It is a snapshot in the life of barmaid Carmel McKisco, who is trying to find purpose and meaning in her day-to-day existence.

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 am really enjoying all the lists that have been posted so far this month.

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!

55 Comments Leave a comment

  1. What a wonderful list — you have so many great things there it’s hard to single out any particular novel! (I could very happily read from it for the next few months) And what a wonderful idea to include a play — I may start doing something similar, as it’s probably the only way I’ll read one (I used to read plays pretty frequently and always enjoyed it). I’ve recently re-read my first Anita Brookner in many years, as a result of Jacquiwine’s great review; she’s a bit interior but always worthwhile. I’d like to try the Ira Levin thriller myself; ditto for Louise Welsch (been dodging her for a few years); always love any Anne Tyler and just recently acquired my own copy of Dorothy West’s The Wedding. So you see, I’ll be reading your reviews with great interest!
    P.S. I hope to read Moore’s No Other Life myself this summer.
    P.S.S. I have great faith that your streak will remain unbroken!


    • Thanks so much! lays are great for this challenge, I read them a lot, and can read one in a day so it helps the numbers along! Ira Levin is great, I’ve loved what I’ve read so far and I’m keen to see what I make of Brookner since it’s been so long

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve read the Rona Jaffe–it was pretty fun. All the rest are new to me. Of the Moores I’m particularly interested in No Other Life–the description suggests The Color of Blood, which I so enjoyed. Happy reading!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. 54 pages a day sounds very doable. I saw Anne Tyler’s Saint Maybe on there. I do believe I own a copy. I always forget about it but it’s been on my list for so long.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I see a few on that lovely list I’d add to my TBR and the Carey is already there. Lorrie Moore is one of my favorite short story writers, and I look forward to hearing what you think of the Dorothy West and of course the Brookner.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I haven’t read any of these. I am intrigued by the Ronna Jaffe. Can’t wait to see how you like it. My list will be ready by the end of the week.


  6. I read A Kiss Before Dying. I thought it was very good but very tense. The film released in 1956 was very good also. I read The Thief, which I liked a lot. It was confusing though. I look forward to hearing about your Brian Moore reads.


  7. Looks like a good list, Cathy! I’ve read something by Lorrie Moore – I think it was a short story – I’m going to have to look it up. You’re all set for a great reading summer!


  8. I’ll also be reading Saint Maybe this summer. Tender is the Flesh I think I’ll save for R.I.P. The Best of Everything I tried from the library a few years ago and didn’t get very far with, but I’d like to give it another go. Your review will no doubt whet my appetite. I hope Little captivates you this time around!


  9. A really great list! How I wish I could read A Kiss Before Dying as though for the first time! One of the best thrillers I’ve ever read or ever will read, I am sure. I also watched the film of 1957, but it is not half as good as the book. And also how I wish I could displace from my memory ever reading Tender is the Flesh! If only I could “un-read” it, I totally would. Traumatic!


  10. Nice pile, and it will be lovely to have you along for Saint Maybe, which I remember as being a favourite. I’ve read The Wedding, a long time ago. And you’ve seen my ridiculous plans – who knows what will happen with mine!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I’ve only read the Anne Tyler from your list, and it’s a good one. I have enjoyed Anita Brookner in the past but haven’t read that one. Nice list! I just posted my list today. Excited to read some of my own books!


  12. Haven’t read any of these but will look forward to your thoughts on the Riley and the Brookner (I binged Brookner for a while there, and have taken a break from all the angst, but I do love her stories).

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I’ll be curious to hear what you think of the Clift. A good friend LOVES her stuff and is thrilled some seem to be coming back into print. I also have The Wedding on my TBR pile, but had forgotten about it. It may have to sneak in as a surprise visitor to my 20 books list 😀
    Good luck with the 54 pgs a day!


  14. I haven’t read any of these Cathy, but I have wanted to read the Dorothy West for some time, so I look forward to hearing your thoughts. I’ve just now posted my own list; I hope I haven’t been over-ambitious, but doing this last year really spurred me on, so I have high hopes (one of my books is 500 densely packed pages long, but at least three others are children’s books, so I hope they will balance out!)

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Nice list! I haven’t read any, but I plan on reading The Thief, so that would be my #1 for you!
    I love stats, but I didn’t even think of counting what number of pages that would be for my list. So thanks to you, I added that to my chart. My daily average needs to be 70. Maybe tough, as I’m FINALLY going to take a week of vacation this summer. Vacation means hiking and birding for me, so I usually don’t do much reading those days. We’ll see

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Having not read or heard of any of these, I can’t really help you decide where to start or if you’ll regret putting any of them on your list 😅, however I do hope you will enjoy your reading and that this will be another successful year for you. 🤞🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Tender is the Flesh…the title alone makes me squeamish–then the description triples that. That’d either be one of the best books of the year or something to put me off food & sleep for a week (quite possibly both).
    Look forward to what you have to say about it.

    Liked by 1 person

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