20 Books of Summer 2016 – the Packing Up Version

I was quietly resisting joining the 20 Books of Summer challenge, which I’ve seen recently on the sites of some of my favourite bloggers: Cleopatra, Jose Ignacio, Fiction Fan, Margaret and, of course, Cathy, who started the whole madness. [My heroics are somewhat undermined by the fact that I was barely able to keep up with blog posts over the past three internetless weeks.] The reason I was hesitant was because I’ll be moving over the summer and that would mean ensuring that all the 20 books are in one easily accessible box plus eReader plus charger, preferably to be transported by car rather than removal companies. One additional thing to organise which may be the proverbial straw to break my back!

And yet… the prospect of making a bit of an indent into my TBR pile is too tempting! And, for once, I’ll be cutting down on the ‘official’ reviewing, so won’t be constantly disturbed in my reading selections by ’emergency’ (i.e. quick turnaround) reviews. So, yes, Cathy, I’ve come over to the dark summery side!

For June and July, I’m aiming to read some books which are unsigned by authors, which I’m unsure of whether I will want to keep on my shelves, so that I don’t have to lug them back to the UK and can donate them to local libraries instead. In August, however, it will be the turn of well-loved books which will stay at the very top of any suitcase I pack. Of course, I’ll also use my eReader (so many Netgalley requests making me feel guilty every time I look), but its battery seems to run out every day, so I don’t want more than 1/3 of my books to be ebooks.

I also took the summer theme a little further and have tried to make it run like a thread through my reading – so it’s all about travel, new places, events which happened in summer or sunny climes. I mean, why make life easy if it can be hard?


  1. Christina Stead: The Man Who Loved Children – well, the US is an exotic holiday location for me
  2. Mircea Cărtărescu: Fata de la marginea vieţii (The Girl from the Edge of Life) –  short story collection
  3. Wolf Haas: Komm, süßer Tod (Come, Sweet Death) – Austrian crime fiction
  4. Ariel Gore: Atlas of the Human Heart – searching for self and meaning abroad
  5. Valérie Gilliard: Le Canal (The Canal) – short Swiss Rashomon-style novella set in spa town Yverdon
  6. Chico Buarque: Budapest – the Brazilian singer and songwriter’s novel about being stranded in Hungary
  7. Isabel Costello: Paris Mon Amour – because Paris and because I’ve been following Isabel online for quite some time
  8. Michelle Paver: Thin Air – not very summery, but it sure has become a holiday destination – mountain-climbing in the Himalayas.
  9. Ingrid Desjours: Les Fauves (The Beasts) – OK, the holiday premise stretches thin here, but there are connections to Afghanistan
  10. Milton Hatoum: Ashes of the Amazon – trying to escape one’s heritage, taking in the Amazon, Rio de Janeiro, Berlin and London.
  11.  Laurent Guillaume: White Leopard – running away from a dark past in France to the ‘peacefulness’ of Mali
  12. Sarah Jasmon: The Summer of Secrets
  13. Eleanor Wasserberg: Foxlowe – a closed community celebrating summer solstice ‘properly’
  14. Colin Niel: Ce qui reste en forêt – exciting new series and writer I met in Lyon, the setting is French Guyana
  15. Charlotte Otter: Balthasar’s Gift – set in South Africa and on my TBR list far too long
  16. Tim Lott: Under the Same Stars – an American road trip to find a missing father
  17. Grazya Plebanek: Illegal Liaisons – Polish and other nationalities engaging in politics and much more in Brussels
  18. John Burdett: Bangkok Haunts – because it’s been far too long since my last meeting with Sonchai Jitpleecheep
  19. Gaito Gazdanov: The Flight – summering on the French Riviera
  20. Stav Sherez: The Devil’s Playground – set in Amsterdam and I believe it was Stav’s debut novel

And, by complete chance, a perfect 50/50 split of men and women, translated/foreign and English-language fiction. The hardest thing, of course, will be sticking to the list and not allowing distractions to lead me astray… is that a butterfly I see in my garden?

Papillon at Lucenay, Rhone-Alpes, from trekearth.com
Papillon at Lucenay, Rhone-Alpes, from trekearth.com


25 thoughts on “20 Books of Summer 2016 – the Packing Up Version”

  1. Marina, I’m delighted that you are taking part, particularly given your extenuating circumstances! I love that you’ve themed your 20 Books, so cool. I look forward to hearing about the new Michelle Paver as I loved Dark Matter. Let’s do this!

  2. You’ve got some fine choices, Marina Sofia! I really like the variety in your selections, and they look interesting. I don’t envy you making a major move. No matter what time of year, or how close/far, moving is a major hassle! I hope it goes smoothly for you.

  3. An intriguing list! And at the rate you read, you’ll have these dome by mid-June – better start working on the next list now. Personally, I’ll be lucky if I can fit in any house-cleaning, much less house-moving! 😉

  4. I’m delighted you’ve decided to join in and I like how you have decided such a complicated method of choosing your books! I’m also honoured to be amongst your favourite bloggers joining in this summer challenge. Good luck to you – no mean feat at all with your busy summer ahead.

  5. Wishing you the best of everything … with the challenge and the move. Not a challenge for me even though my TBR needs all the help it can get. Edinburgh Book Festival (August – can you make time?) dominates my summer reading and as the programme is published on 9th June, I have no idea what I’ll be reading June-August this year.

  6. At least you won’t get caught without anything to read while getting ready to move and moving. I thought about joining in on this challenge because I know at least a month ahead of time what I want to read, but I usually regret trying to stick to a list once I have it. Coming up with the list would be great fun, though.

    1. I already know there will be some other books waiting to be reviewed, which I have not put on this list, but I hope I’ll get around to all of them. I may be wildly overestimating my ability to concentrate and read when all is moving around and with me, but I also find reading helps take my mind off administrative niggles!

  7. Wishing you all the best with your reading and the house move – I hope all goes smoothly. As others have commented, a very intriguing selection of books. The only author I’m even vaguely familiar with is Gazdanov. I haven’t read this one yet, but I’ve heard very good things. Looking forward to seeing what you make of it – if it’s anything like The Spectre of Alexander Wolf, you’re in for a treat, albeit a very thought-provoking one.

  8. Wow- what an eclectic list! I don’t think I’ve read any of those writers… Problem is, I’ve got as many unread books as Cathy if not more… So must get through those first. Btw, maybe this will come too soon after the move, but have you thought about the Writers Festival at York? I went the last two years and it’s very good, particularly the one on one meetings with agents. Not sure about being able to make it this year, though.

    1. Sadly, I don’t think I’ll be able to attend any events this summer – Edinburgh, York, Bloody Scotland all sound tempting, but I have to be realistic about time constraints. Also, they are all rather expensive (compared to the free events around here). Still, I hope to be able to attend some of these in 2017 and maybe see you there?

  9. The only writer I know from your list is Michelle Paver – I loved her Dark Matter and imagine that Thin Air will be equally thrilling. I’m looking forward to your quick turnaround reviews – I didn’t manage many reviews at all when we last moved house. I hope your move will be as pain free as possible.

    1. I may be a little overoptimistic, as from past experience I know it can take several weeks to be back online again. So the reviews may not be quick turnaround at all!

  10. Looking forward to reading your reviews.
    I loved the two Gazdanovs I’ve read and I really enjoyed Colin Niel.
    I’ll discover the others as you review them.
    Good luck with the packing and all the administrative chores around moving out (and in another country)

    1. Thanks for introducing me to Colin Niel. Some of the others may be a bit random, less sure of quality, but at least I will have lightened some of my book load.

  11. Moving! Ugh! And not just moving suburbs either by the sounds of things!

    Good luck – having some good books at this time might help to keep you sane 🙂

  12. House-cleaning should be the last on a list of things to do, certainly lower down than reading. And, yes, reading good books is a diversion from many things. I don’t know how non-readers get through life’s hassles.

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