My #20BooksOfSummer 2020

Books By Jun 04, 2020 9 Comments

I’m taking part in my second 20 Books of Summer reading challenge this year. Cathy over at 746Books runs it and only asks that you choose 10, 15 or 20 books to read between the beginning of June and the beginning of September, and post a review of each one.

I didn’t do so well on that last part in 2019 and even if I did manage to read 20+ books over the summer, a mere 10 of those were on the original list.

So I’ve decided to be a little smarter with my list-making this year, and choose book group choices, friends’ books I’ve been meaning to read since they were published and books I’ve been sent for review or won.

Cardiff Waterstones Book Group

We’re continuing to meet during lockdown, albeit via Zoom, and our July and August book group choices are:

The Dutch House by Ann Patchett I have adored Ann Patchett’s writing ever since I got chatting to a woman, who happened to be reading Bel Canto while sitting next to me on a flight to California. She gave me her finished copy when we landed & I only wish I could thank her for the introduction.

Dignity by Alys Conran is the second book from this Wales Book of the Year prize winner and one I’m looking forward to reading immensely.

Friends’ books

In the Sweep of the Bay by Cath Barton Cath’s second novella is a much anticipated arrival, after enjoying her first The Plankton Collector. This one’s published by a small indie press Louise Walters Books and is one of four books sent out as part of my annual subscription.

The Woods by Vanessa Savage Vanessa’s debut novel The Woman in the Dark was one of the best and most chilling thrillers I’ve read, so I’m keen to read this second offering.

Finding Clara by Anika Scott Anika’s had a long road to publication with this novel and with the book’s German setting of Essen only an hour away from where I was born in Wegberg, I’m interested in reading this post-war story of a woman who has to hide who she is while facing up to her past.

Books for review

The Ninth Child by Sally Magnusson (19 March) I won this together with a copy of Sally’s previous novel The Sealwoman’s Gift in a Mother’s Day competition run by the publisher and feel like reviewing it as a thank you.

This Little Dark Place by A S Hatch (2 April) The author offered to send out copies of this to bookbloggers on Twitter. I’ll be running a #giveaway of the spare copy I bought when I post my review.

The Liar’s Dictionary by Eley Williams (16 July) I was lucky enough to meet Eley and snag a proof of this at a Cornerstone event in Bristol in January and will be posting my review on publication day.

Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart (6 August) is the story of a lonely young boy living in Glasgow in the 1980s with his alcoholic mother and is also a rare portrayal of a working class family. One of my anticipated reads of 2020 which was very kindly sent to me by the wonderful Camilla Elworthy.

The Intoxicating Mr Lavelle by Neil Blackmore (13 August) is another title snagged at the Cornerstone event I attended, and sounds like a wonderful Grand Tour of Europe with a seductive Ripley-esque character thrown in for good measure.

I also have some ebooks to review for upcoming blog tours:

To Tell You The Truth by Gilly Macmillan (for a blog tour stop on 19 June) An author I’ve been meaning to read for a while now; when I was offered the chance to take part in the blog tour for her latest book, I jumped at it.

Cow Girl by Kirsty Eyre won the inaugural Comedy Women in Print Prize last year and, not least because I’m working on the prize this year, kicking off the blog tour on 21 June and helping with the launch of Kirsty’s book on 25 June, I need to read this.

All Adults Here by Emma Straub (for a blog tour stop on 9 July) Billed as ‘a warm, funny, and keenly perceptive novel about the life cycle of one family–as the kids become parents, grandchildren become teenagers, and a matriarch confronts the legacy of her mistakes’ I could not resist its lure.

Lost Souls by Jonathan & Jesse Kellerman (for a blog tour stop on 25 July) ‘features a deputy coroner and a seemingly impossible case set against an atmospheric Californian backdrop’ I’m a sucker for the seemingly impossible and books set in this location. Resistance was futile.

Comedy Women in Print

Kirsty Eyre’s debut novel isn’t going to be the only Comedy Women in Print title I’ll be reading this summer. The shortlists are announced on Monday 8 June and I’d like to read all three but am going to commit to read the Published Novel category for this challenge. I don’t know which books will be on that shortlist but they’re going to be 6 from these 14 longlisted titles:

Updated to add: These are the seven books shortlisted for the Comedy Women in Print Published Comic Novel Prize 2020, six of which are unread:

  • Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams (Trapeze)
  • Big Girl, Small Town by Michelle Gallen (John Murray)
  • The Blessed Girl by Angela Makholwa (Bloomsbury)
  • The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary (Quercus)
  • Reasons to be Cheerful by Nina Stibbe (Penguin Books UK)
  • The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman (Headline) (read)
  • Frankissstein by Jeanette Winterson (Jonathan Cape)

And those are my 20 Books of Summer picks for this year.

Will I stick to them? Who knows? But I’ve got a better chance of doing so than I did with last year’s choices because many of these have a book group meeting or a blog tour date looming.

What do you think? Have you read any of them?



  1. Susan Holder says:

    Great reading list! The only one I’ve read is Ann Patchett’s The Dutch House, which I loved, and which had personal connotations for me. It felt dense with layers that resonated for ages afterwards.
    Happy Summer reading with the rest! I will look out for some of then. Looking forward to reading your reviews! Xx

    1. kath says:

      Well, I have to read The Dutch House now so that we can have a conversation about it. I want to know more about how it resonated with you.

      Thanks so much, Susan. You’ve had an incredible reading lockdown so far. I can’t wait to see what this summer brings for you. xx

  2. Great list Kath, thanks for taking part! I’ve only read The Dutch House – you are in for a treat there. Happy reading!

    1. kath says:

      Thanks Cathy, and I do keep hearing that about The Dutch House, so I am very much looking forward to finally getting to it. Hope you have a great summer of reading, as well.

  3. Finding Clara (USA Title The German Heiress) was good. I reviewed it a while back. Happy reading!

    1. kath says:

      Thank you! I’m going to hop on over and check out your review.

  4. BookerTalk says:

    Bel Canto was my introduction to Patchett too. I’m hoping The Dutch House will be as good.

    1. kath says:

      I hope so, too, Karen, although that first heady encounter might be a hard one to beat.

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