20 Books of Summer

How to pick a summer read?

Something light, fluffy, perfect for a lazy summer afternoon?

That thick doorstop you’ve been meaning to get to and now might finally have time for when it’s too hot to do anything else?

Off the top of the tottering tower of to-be-reads threatening to topple over?

The library book you STILL haven’t read even though the library’s been digital-only for over two months? (Uh…is that just me?)

A children’s classic full of its own lazy summer afternoons?

The possibilities–and interpretations–are endless. And it can be impossible to predict: what seems like a “good summer read” in June may be the last thing you want to read come August. But this is one of the joys of summer – more relaxation and fewer rules.

Even since I saw the first posts popping up for 20 Books of Summer hosted by Cathy at 746 Books, I’ve been thinking about what I hope–or expect to read–this summer. Twenty books in a three month period is, unfortunately, a bit of a stretch for me. Well, maybe if I switched to all kid’s lit or Golden Age Detective Fiction. But then I saw Cleo’s clever twist: select a list of 20 books, from which to read 10. Well, I can do that! Um…maybe? (Reference: unread library books.)

So I started going through my shelves. First, I pulled the library books. Because, well…(I have no excuses, really.) Then the books I already wanted to read. Throw in a couple children’s classics that I’ve been hankering to reread. Add a readalong title, a few books that are family loans that have been around longer than the library books (I’m the worst at reading borrowed books, apparently), and leave a space for an Agatha Christie that will have to come from the library, and we have a book stack.

From the bottom:

  1. The Wind in the Willows – after Cleo posted recently, I decided I needed to reread, probably in August
  2. 67 Shots – (Non-fiction). I had intended to read this in time to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Kent State shootings, but didn’t even open it.
  3. Beowulf – possible reread; I’m in a bit of Medieval mode at the moment (current read: The Nibelungenlied)
  4. The Trumpet of the Swan – another possible August reread. And I need to go birding; there’s area wetlands that have Trumpeter Swans (and Bald Eagles – so exciting to see!)
  5. The Sound and the Fury – I keep pulling it off the shelves to read and getting distracted. This year, really! (Even if not this summer.)
  6. Call Down the Hawk – I pre-ordered this when it came out, so of course I haven’t touched it. At least that means I’m not anxiously awaiting the sequel…
  7. Britt-Marie Was Here
  8. My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry
  9. Loving Frank – These last three are books that one of my aunts loaned to me thinking I’d like them. I couldn’t say as they’ve been gathering dust ever since. Ahem. At least one of the three better get read this summer!
  10. wheesht – A collection of essays on creativity and making. I’ve read a few, but want to start over and really give them their proper due.
  11. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer – this feels like it should be a summer read. Anyone want to whitewash a fence?
  12. The Mysteries of Udolpho – A readalong with Cleo and Jean, it starts June 1. I broke my book-buying ban (see: tottering tower of tomes) since – gasp – the library doesn’t have a copy, even if they were open! Of course, I’ll probably want to reread Northanger Abbey afterwards, and it didn’t make the list…
  13. One Hundred Years of Solitude – I was supposed to reread this for a readalong with Silvia and Ruth but the timing ended up right when I hit a reading slump. But I think I’m ready to pick it up now.
  14. The Odyssey – Yep, another library book, another reread. I still intend to read it.
  15. The Fellowship of the Ring
  16. The Two Towers
  17. The Return of the King
  18. The Hobbit – This is the big plan for the summer – with everything going on, it feels like the right time to reread these. And they go well with The Nibelungenlied. Maybe less violent…
  19. Seaward – I’m not sure my brother actually knows I have this…time to get it read and return
  20. Unpictured: The Secret of Chimneys – next in my Agatha Christie chronological reading. It may end up a digital read, depending on the library.

So, you might notice the problem: while I may not have time to read 20 books, it would appear that I’m planning to do so. And then there’s the books that didn’t make the cut but that might sneak in anyways. Good thing we can change our list! And that there’s a summer staycation coming up…

21 thoughts on “20 Books of Summer”

    1. Claire, that would be a good plan too! I usually pick a summer chunkster too; this year I think that will be The Mysteries of Udolpho. I never remember to plan for the women in translation month, and unfortunately don’t have anything qualifying on this summer’s list. Hmm…might have to think about that.

  1. Woo hoo! I’m so excited about your post but it’s put me in conundrum. You’ve reminded me that I used to read The Lord of the Rings every summer and I would really like to do it again. Unfortunately my month of summer vacation when I used to read it no longer exists so I probably won’t be able to manage it. Boo hoo! I’d love to read The Odyssey with you but …. I still have The Iliad to finish off so, again, I’m not certain it will work. AND I absolutely LOVE Beowulf and it’s short so I might just manage to read along with you. Please let me know when/if you plan to start.

    So many books, so little time! I hope you’re able to read all 20 this summer!

    1. Cleo, clearly you need to invent more time! 🙂 I’m actually wondering if I’ll be able to manage both the LOTR trilogy AND Udolpho, but we’ll try. I’ve read Beowulf once before, but I’m itching to read the Tolkien translation. Not sure yet when I’ll pick that up…but I’ll keep you in mind if I decide!

    1. Thanks, Cathy! One Hundred Years of Solitude is one of my favorites, too. I’ve not read much Faulkner, but I loved As I Lay Dying, so I have high hopes for The Sound and the Fury.

  2. You have a great list, so you cannot go wrong. Beowulf is brief but worthy. Tom Sawyer is a fun, adventurous read. Of course, 100 Years is essential; however, it is a commitment due to its length and context. Good luck choosing.

    1. Ruth, I can’t believe I’ve never read Tom Sawyer, it seems like such an essential American childhood adventure story…but that’s what this summer is for! I loved 100 Years the first time I read it, so I can’t believe I failed at the readalong, but hopefully I’ll get it read, if not this summer, in the early fall. So many delightful options…

  3. Always love seeing Tolkien on people’s reading lists. I came to the party late, only reading the books in my adulthood because of loving Peter Jackson’s film adaptations, but late was good because I love those stories. Like you I feel like a reread is in order.

    My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry is such an engaging, lovely book with such great characters. I need to read the “sequel”, Britt-Marie was here.

    For me summer reads are really just any book, because most of my recollection of reading as a kid/teen was during the summer. I know I read year round, but in those days when summer meant a true break there was just so much free time and I just read whatever struck my fancy when I was at the library, bookstore or borrowing books from my uncle.

    1. Carl, I actually debated including a reread of Silmarillion on this list, too, but that seemed going a bit too far, especially with all the other doorstoppers I want to get read. But better late than never to Tolkien!

      That’s good to hear about the Backman; I don’t really know anything about them expect my aunt thinks I’ll like them, so I really do need to get to them.

      I’m with you on the summer reads – that was always the best part of summer. I know I always had a book with me, even in school (I would even sneak reading in during other classes, sometimes), but the freedom of summer meant so much more reading time – 20 books would have been no problem then!

    1. Thanks! I’m anxious to start The Hobbit, but I really need to finish the library books first… The Sound and the Fury has been on my TBR for a while too, and I even started it once, loved what I read, but got distracted. So many book, so little time!

  4. Firstly The Mysteries of Udolpho is fantastic and secondly I’m so glad you said that 20 books over three months was a lot, it always stops me from joining in, ten? maybe? Happy Reading!

  5. The really fun part of 20booksofsummer is putting the list together. Oh the ‘agonies’ of making those choices. I’m cheating this year by not making a list of titles, just a list of categories !

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