My 20 Books of Summer ’22!

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

Cathy746books View All →

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

94 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Good piles to pick from. American Wife was great. Miss Pettigrew–so fun. I’ve also read The Hours. The guys in my family LOVED Lonesome Dove. Your Kent Haruf selection reminds me that I need to read more of his work.

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  2. That’s one impressive list! I do want to read more books by Damon Galgut since I’ve read only The Impostor. Sadly, I did not get on with Luiselli’s Faces in the Crowd and it was a big disappointment for me, but I am now sure I am simply not the one to appreciate its style and topic.

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  3. Well good for you, Cathy! Yes, I’ve read three – The Hours, Lonesome Dove and In a Strange Room. All good and quite memorable. I read all of them years ago, haven’t reread any and remember them all very clearly. Enjoy!

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  4. Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day is a lovely book! That’s the only one I’ve read from your list, but a lot of the others sound very intriguing. Good luck!

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  5. I’ve read six of your picks. American Wife is one of my all-time favourites! I keep meaning to reread it. It doesn’t feel like a long book; it’s deliciously readable. I read the Galloway as a buddy read with Buried in Print a couple years ago and it was intriguing. And hadn’t even heard of that Haruf. I need to read more by him.

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  6. That is a good mix of reads. I haven’t read any of them but have heard of almost all of them. Enjoy! I am still working on my list for summer.

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  7. American Wife! Such a great book. I’ve read it at least three times and it is a v quick read. I’ve been meaning to read more Gaitskill so I’ll be interested to see what you make of Veronica.

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  8. I preferred The Hours the book to The Hours the film.

    The Trick is to Keep Breathing is wonderful. Hard hitting, but really wonderful.

    Your other choices look really good, especially Miss Pettigrew, Veronica and Lonesome Dove.

    I was at a publishers’ fair at the weekend chatting to someone from Saraband who told me she thinks Case Study is even better than His Bloody Project. I’d already busted my buying limit, so resisted getting a copy. I might have to rethink that decision!

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  9. Wait, The American Wife is about Laura Bush? I had no idea and that’s the most appealing reason to read it I’ve heard (and it has a beautiful cover). Miss Pettigrew is the only one I’ve read on your list and yes, it is a perfect summer read. Enjoy your books and Crete!!

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  10. By coincidence The Hours was one of the titles I was eyeing up too, and for the same reasons, so I might start to firm it up, especially as I remember little of the film bar one or two scenes.

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  11. I really like the sound of your list, Cathy. After reading your descriptions, I am eager to see your reviews, as I might be adding several to my TBR. Good Luck this Summer, and enjoy that holiday.

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  12. Brave move putting the time that is Lonesome Dove on there, but it’s a great book. I just read The Tie That Binds 2 weeks ago, my first by him. Really liked it, and will be reading more by him

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  13. A great selection. I adore Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day. I’ll be interested to see what you make of it. I’ll be joining in once I’ve made my selections, which may take some time!

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  14. Oh wow, Cathy, you are in for some real treats! As well as Address Unknown (thanks for the link), I have read:
    Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day;
    The Tie that Binds;
    In a Strange Room;
    The Trick is to Keep Breathing; &
    The Cold Eye of Heaven.
    ALL of these books are excellent five-star reads and I look forward to seeing whether you share my high opinion of them once you get around to reading them.

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  15. Nice pile! I’ve read Miss Pettigrew and The Hours and highly recommend both. And now I know why I had a few hits on my Larry McMurtry project page! Amusingly, I’m currently reading the book he wrote in three weeks in the middle of LD when he got bored of writing about all these men!

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  16. I haven’t read any of these. The thought of reading 20 books doesn’t intimidate me but I’m only just starting my blog and I’m not sure I’ll be able to do 20 of them justice!

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  17. The Hours was excellent. Several of your 15 sound good — just what I needed was more books on my TBR! Lonesome Dove is on my classics club list and I may try to read it this year since there is a readalong! You have a great list for your summer!

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  18. What a list! I’d love to know what you think of Elena Knows by Claudia Piñeiro as I’ve been thinking of getting it myself, so I hope you get to that one. The Hours is another I want to get sometime. Hope you enjoy all your reading this summer. I’m putting a list together but not sure if I’ll get to 20 this year (it’s not the reading so much as the reviewing, not really sure why 😳). Anyway, I’m sure it’ll be as good as always and you never know everything might just fall into place and not only will I read but put up a post on them all! 😅
    Thanks, Cathy, for hosting this it’s the one challenge I look forward to as it’s such a relaxed one and it’s fascinating to see what everyone else reads. Janet

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  19. I guess I had no idea I was taking Lonesome Dove to Crete – for two weeks – in fact I had never even heard ot it until I read this post. Liz is on a McMurty thing too so I’m joining in; I have to see what all the fuss is about 🙂

    Happy reading and I hope you have a great holiday. Let’s hope the flights take off! BA is busy cancelling everything at the moment. Not enough pilots.

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  20. Good luck with your Books of Summer challenge, Cathy. It’s always interesting to see what physical books are on your shelf. I’ve never read Lonesome Dove – I’ve been reading a lot of long books lately, so I feel like I’m back in form for a “chunkster!” I read The Hours a long time ago and liked it very much. Happy reading!

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  21. Always interesting to see the list of books you have chosen. I’m trying to find a common denominator …..among the books.
    There are so many authors I’ve never read!
    How did you make these selections…were these books just lounging around on the bookshelf?
    My list will be posted tomorrow !

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  22. I’m afraid I haven’t read any of the books off your list, however I did recently get my hands on the same lovely copy of Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson, and I am looking forward to reading it. Happy summer reading! 📚😎💛

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  23. Ditto on Miss Pettigrew and thank you for the reminder to read more Haruf.
    Pre-blogging days (just before the movie came out), I read Mrs. Dalloway, then The Hours, and then went to film. It was a fun literary project! I thought Devil House quite interesting! Not what I expected so I recommend NOT having *any* expectations. LOL

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  24. I don’t think I’ve read one, but several that are on my radar/long-term TBR… The Trick is to Keep Breathing, Lonesome Dove… I would have bought Elena Knows if it won the International Booker, as I now have a tradition of buying the winner, but no, it was a 700+ page chunker 🙂

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