My 20 Books of Summer

by Sunita

I am once again joining Cathy’s 20 Books of Summer reading challenge, which she hosts at her blog. I’ve sworn off most reading challenges, but this one is a fun way to mark summer reading. There’s no pressure and you can choose whatever you want. Since I read 6-7 books a month anyway, it’s not about the volume for me so much as thinking about what to read in the stretch of the year where I know I have more time for all kinds of fiction.

The Man Booker longlist will come out in late July and that will create a bit of a crunch because I plan to read as much of it as I can, but I’m going to list 20 books anyway and see how far I get.

Translated Fiction

  • In the Night of Time by Antonio Muñoz Molina: Yes, I’ve been reading this for ages. This is the summer, I swear it.
  • Compass by Mathias Énard: Énard’s most highly acclaimed novel and the one which most thoroughly engages with his interest in Orientalism.
  • Fox by Dubravka Ugrešić: This was on a bunch of awards lists and comes highly recommended.
  • Celestial Beauties by Jokha Alharthi: This just won the Man Booker International Prize. I bought it when it was longlisted but haven’t read it yet.
  • Valley of the Fallen by Carlos Rojas: A 1970s novel about Spain during Goya’s and Franco’s times. Recently translated by Edith Grossman and well reviewed but has not been talked about much.
  • Not to Read by Alejandro Zambra: A book of essays about reading, authors, and literature by the always-worthwhile Chilean writer.

UK Fiction

  • Morvern Callar by Alan Warner: I have two of Warner’s books on my TBR shelf. I started Deadman’s Pedal earlier this year but couldn’t get into it, so I’m going back to this early one.
  • A Month in the Country by JL Carr: A modern classic that I’ve been meaning to get around to for ages.
  • GB84 by David Peace: I’ve owned this for years but have put off reading it until I finished the Red Riding Quartet. I still have 1983 to go but this is jumping the queue.
  • Tom Jones by Henry Fielding: An 18thC classic for the summer, another I’ve owned for decades in paperback.
  • Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy: Ditto for the 19thC but on the TBR for years rather than decades, and in the adorable Collector’s Library small hardback edition.
  • Ironopolis by Glen James Brown: Another under-the-radar novel that came out last year to praise but little chatter.

Genre Fiction

  • Bellewether by Susanna Kearsley: A favorite author and I still haven’t read this!
  • One Summer in Paris by Sarah Morgan: Morgan’s latest, which I bought when it came out this spring. I know some readers haven’t enjoyed her women’s fiction releases as much as her categories but I’m still on board.
  • The Honourable Schoolboy by John le Carré: Part of my Smiley reread. I’m on Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy right now, so this will be next up. I don’t think I really read it in the past, just skimmed to get to Smiley’s People. But it’s ranked as one of his best and I want to read it properly.
  • Five selections from the Harlequin TBR: Three for SuperWendy’s TBR Challenge (the months’ categories are Historical, Contemporary, and Random Pick) and two additional to work on the queue.

I’m not wedded to this list and I have books I can substitute for these in all the categories, but I do want to read all of them at some point, so I’m starting here.

The challenge runs from 3 June to 3 September. I’ll review as I go along and keep you all posted!