I think I better start of with a disclaimer.
Yes, there are 20 books listed in this post but of that 20, I really only intend to read and review 15, mainly because I know that I have a really busy summer ahead (with a two-week holiday in Crete in the middle) so reviewing time is going to be greatly reduced.
With that in mind, I’ve chosen 15 physical books from the 746 that I plan to read and review and another 5 newer books that I may get round to reading, but won’t devote a review to. You know the way I always say this challenge has the slackest rules? Well, this year I’m taking advantage!
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 non-ficiton, some short stories and a nice little short novella in there, all to help move the challenge along.
So, to start, here are the 15 books from the 746 that I plan to read and review:
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson
I’ve heard only great things about this story of one day in the life of Miss Pettigrew, a middle-aged governess whose life changes forever thanks to a series of amusing misunderstandings.
Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned by Wells Tower
I genuinely can’t remember why I bought this collection of short stories from American writer Wells Tower, but he has been compared to George Saunders and Denis Johnson so he must have something good going on!
The Hours by Michael Cunningham
I am a sucker for books with several timelines and have yet to see the acclaimed movie version of The Hours so am very drawn to this linked story of Virginia Woolf, a 1940s housewife reading Mrs Dalloway and a wealthy woman planning a party in the 1990s.
The Tie That Binds by Kent Haruf
I’ve read all of Kent Haruf’s books apart from this, his debut. His work has a beautiful, quiet majesty so I am very much looking forward to this tale of the life of eighty-year old Edith Goodnough, again based in his fictional Holt County, Colorado.
The Missing by Andrew O’Hagan
Andrew O’Hagan’s first book is a work of non-fiction which merges reportage, social history and memoir in a style not unlike Gordon Burn, to explore the nature of being a missing person, from his own grandfather, to the victims of Fred and Rosemary West.
In A Strange Room by Damon Galgut
I’ve read two of Galgut’s books – The Good Doctor and The Promise – and loved them both. I like the sound of this novel which follows a young man on three journeys, through Greece, India and Africa.
The Trick is to Keep Breathing by Janice Galloway
Now regarded as a Scottish contemporary classic, Janice Galloway’s 1990 debut novel is the story of a woman’s mental breakdown following the death of her lover.
American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld
Yes, it’s big, but I’ve been assured by many of you that I will race through this fictionalised account of the life of Laura Bush. Here Bush is depicted as Alice Blackwell, looking back on the life path that has brought her to the White House, as First Lady.
Veronica by Mary Gaitskill
My interest in reading Veronica rests mainly on the fact that it is set in New York in the 80s. Catnip to me. I’ve read a few other novels by Gaitskill so I have high hopes.
Address Unknown by Kathrine Kressman Taylor
I had hoped to read Address Unknown for Novellas in November but didn’t get round to it, however Kim’s recent review nudged me to include in my 20 books. Written on the eve of the Holocaust as a series of letters between an American Jew and his German friend, Address Unknown is a has become a modern classic
Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry
Epic western Lonesome Dove was one of my Dad’s favourite books (this is his beloved copy) and Liz’s Larry McMurty 2022 Readalong was just the nudge I needed to put this on the list. Yes, it’s a chunkster, but I plan to take it on holiday where I’ll have lots of time to immerse myself in this epic tale.
Party Monster by James St. James
Originally published under the title Disco Bloodbath, Party Monster is the true crime tale set in the hedonistic world of New York city club kids in the ’90s. Author James St. James was friends with Michael Alig until Alig was convicted of killing a drug dealer known as Angel. The book explores the world they inhabited and how it led to murder.
The Cold Eye of Heaven by Christine Dwyer Hickey
Christine Dwyer Hickey is a lovely writer and this 2011 novel follows Farley, a frail elderly Irishman who looks back on his life in Dublin over seventy-five years. A celebration of a city I love? Sounds good to me.
Breaking and Entering by Joy Williams
I’ve been meaning to read Joy Williams for a long time and the press around her new book Harrow made me hunt out this earlier book, which follows two drifters who break into holiday homes in Florida and live in them for a while before moving on.
Faces in the Crowd by Valeria Luiselli, translated by Christina McSweeney
I’ve added this to the list as it will fit in nicely with Spanish Literature Month and Women in Translation Month. I haven’t read anything else by Mexican writer Luiselli but like the sound of this novel about a woman looking back on her publishing career and her relationship with an obscure poet.
And here are the five more recent acquisitions that will hopefully get read but may not get reviewed:
Marzhan, Mon Amour by Katja Oskamp
This book was a gift from my good pal Raging Fluff and lots of you have recommended it. A woman approaching the ‘invisible years’ of middle age abandons her failing writing career to retrain as a chiropodist in the East Berlin suburb of Marzahn, once the GDR’s largest prefabricated housing estate. From her intimate vantage point at the foot of the clinic chair, she observes her clients and co-workers, listening to their stories with empathy and curiosity.
Elena Knows by Claudia Piñeiro
I haven’t read a bad book from Charco Press yet and I like the sound of this novel about a woman trying to find the truth surrounding her daughter’s murder, blending crime fiction and social commentary.
They by Kay Dick
Kay Dick’s dystopian novella set in a world where books and art are being systematically destroyed in an attempt to control the populace, was first published in 1977 but has now been reissued and sounds as timely as ever.
Devil House by John Darnielle
I bought this solely based on the cover and on the fact that it is written by the lead singer of the rather brilliant band The Mountain Goats. It’s got horror, a haunted house and 80s references so I am in.
Case Study by Graeme Macrae Burnet
I adored His Bloody Project when I read it a few years back and got his new book for Christmas. It follows a woman who seeks out a captivating psychotherapist whom she believes to be responsible for her sister’s suicide.
So, any thoughts on my choices?
Have you read any of my 15/ 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 Reading Challenge The 746 #20booksofsummer22 20booksofsummer andrew o'hagan christine dwyer hickey claudia pinero curtis sittenfeld damon galgut graeme macrae burnet james st. james janice galloway john darnielle joy williams kay dick kent haruf kressman taylor larry mcmurtry mary gaitskill michael cunningham valerie luiselli wells tower winifred watson
I am a 40 something book buying addict trying to reduce the backlog one book at a time!