Not having blogged since finishing the #AtoZChallenge in April and just over a week in, I’m joining in with the 20 Books Of Summer challenge hosted by Cathy who blogs over at 746 Books. All you need to do is read 20 books (or even 15 or 10, if you’re feeling pressed for time) between 3 June and 3 September.
I spent a good bit of time over the weekend trying to decide if I was going to choose a theme or not. For example, Karen over at BookerTalk is vicariously travelling around the world through her choices, which is a brilliant way to make the challenge fun.
In the end, I decided to go for a mix of review or book group picks with new releases I’m excited about reading.
Here are the books and, as it turns out, I’ve chosen ten hardbacks and ten paperbacks:
Madeline Miller’s novel Circe and Raynor Winn’s non-fiction The Salt Path, jumped to the top of my TBR pile thanks to them being book group picks for July and August. As a companion read to The Salt Path, I’ve also gone for Katherine May’s account of walking the South West Coastal Path, The Electricity of Every Living Thing. And to round out the South West grouping, there’s a collection of Cornish Short Stories edited by Emma Timpany and Felicity Notley to read and review. With contributions by established favourites Katherine Stansfield and Tom Vowler, I’m also excited to discover new writing within its pages.
I’ve been meaning to read Ben Ryan’s rugby book Sevens Heaven ever since it came out in May 2018. Not only did it recently win The Telegraph Rugby Book of the Year but it also won the overall Sports Book of the Year and, as it is Rugby Sevens time of year, it’ll provide me with my fix until the next club rugby season and the Rugby World Cup in Japan begin in September.
I’ve always enjoyed reading Elizabeth Day’s novels but this year I’m turning to her non-fiction title How to Fail. I’m hoping that it’s going to help me see my own mammoth failures of the past year in a whole new light and help me find ways in which to learn from them and perhaps even turn them around.
There are three other non-fiction titles on my list: Johann Hari’s Lost Connections which claims to have a fresh take on depression and anxiety and their underlying causes; I’ve long been a fan of Kerry Hudson’s fiction but this year she’s turned her hand to memoir, writing about growing up in poverty in Britain and revisiting those towns she lived in. It’s a book which has been widely acclaimed already and I can’t wait to read it this summer; and Marc Hamer’s mix of memoir and nature writing How to Catch a Mole, and Find Yourself in Nature promises to be well worth a read. I’ve enjoyed Marc’s poetry and am looking forward to reading this beautifully-produced book very much.
My fiction picks are a mix of new releases out this year and ones that have been out for a while now. Stacey Halls’ The Familiars came out in January, and if I don’t read this tale surrounding the Pendle witch trials soon, either it’ll be out in paperback or the next book will be hot on its heels. (Her publisher’s already announced the title and publication month, so that’s what it feels like at any rate!)
Boy Swallows Universe is by Trent Dalton and is described as a “novel of love, crime, magic, fate and coming of age” which sounds like my kind of mix, so I’m excited to read this from an emerging Australian author.
Having enjoyed Damian Barr’s memoir, I’ve been looking forward to getting my hands on a copy of his debut novel, You Will Be Safe Here. Set in South Africa with a dual timeline of 1901 and 2010 and inspired by real events, it explores our capacity for kindness and cruelty against a backdrop of hidden colonial history and present-day darkness.
The Heart Beats in Secret is the first novel from Canadian writer Katie Munnik, who lives in Cardiff. I was lucky enough to be invited to the launch and I’m excited to read Katie’s debut novel which is set on the east coast of Scotland and in Montreal and covers three generations of the same family.
Kate Hamer, who also lives in Cardiff, is fast becoming a favourite author with her first two novels The Girl in the Red Coat and The Doll Funeral. Her latest is Crushed and explores teenage friendship, passion and obsession.
Another author whose books I adore and really rate is Stephanie Butland. Spending time on my own writing projects and the background reading for those means I’m in danger of falling behind with her books though, so I’m determined to read The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae before her latest book, The Woman in the Photograph, comes out next month.
One of the highlights of my book year is a new novel from Liz Fenwick. The Path to the Sea came out last week, so being a week late to this challenge has the advantage that I’ve been able to add Liz’s eighth novel to my summer reading.
Rounding out the fiction list are four books I’ve been meaning to read for a while now and I’m including them here to bump them up the TBR pile. They are The Cactus by Sarah Haywood, Here and Gone by Haylen Beck, The Life & Death of Sophie Stark by Claire North and The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel.
|Boy Swallows Universe||The Cactus|
|The Familiars||Cornish Short Stories|
|The Heart Beats in Secret||The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae|
|How to Catch a Mole||The Electricity of Every Living Thing|
|How to Fail||Here and Gone|
|Lowborn||The Life & Death of Sophie Stark|
|The Path to the Sea||Lost Connections|
|Sevens Heaven||The Roanoke Girls|
|You Will Be Safe Here||The Salt Path|
Six non-fiction, one collection of short stories and fourteen novels make up my 20 books of summer. I’ll update the table above with links to the reviews as I make my way through them.
What do you think? Has anyone read any of these? Any thoughts on where to start?