#20BooksOfSummer: The Planning Stage

It’s that time of year when Cathy announces her #20BooksOfSummer challenge. It’s quite simply the chance to get 20 books off your TBR list and/or shelves over the months of June/July/August. I have participated in the past but not quite succeeded, because I got sidetracked with other reading projects or shiny new things coming in. However, this year I have a double incentive: I need to get some of my bulkier, heavier books off the shelves as I start thinking about moving abroad in 2024/25 and the task of packing endless boxes of books. Read them and then decide whether to keep or donate.

However, I’m going to be busy with the Bristol Translates Summer School in early July and travelling to Japan at the end of August, so I have to take that in consideration and not get overly ambitious. I also want to take part in #WomenInTranslation month in August, but it may be a bridge too far to try and take part in the Spanish and Portuguese Language Challenge.

So, after an enjoyable rummage through my bookshelves, here are the things I’m proposing (slightly more than 20, so that I can choose according to mood).

American authors

This is a country I tend to ignore on the whole, but each one of these books was acquired in a sudden fit of greed following a recommendation on Twitter or on a blog or podcast.

  1. M.L.Rio: If We Were Villains – theatre, friendships, murder
  2. Mona Awad: Bunny – MFA, rivalry, horror
  3. Katya Apekina: The Deeper the Water the Uglier the Fish – dysfunctional families
  4. Robert Jackson Bennett: City of Stairs – murder in a sci-fi world
  5. Ling Ma: Severance – immigration, apocalyptic, zombies
  6. Stephanie Gayle: Idyll Hands – murder in small-town America
  7. Hilma Wolitzer: An Available Man – a widower starts dating again
  8. Lidia Yuknavitch: The Book of Joan – a dystopian Joan of Arc
  9. Chandler Baker: The Husbands – the Stepford husbands?

Books Lingering for Far Too Long on My Shelves

Once again, all of these have been recommended by people on Twitter or else I’ve been following the authors on Twitter – this is why it’s such a shame that bookish community is being destroyed by the current owner, who couldn’t give a monkeys about books (other than so-called business improvement ones, I bet).

  1. Luke Brown: Theft – Brexit Britain and class differences
  2. Ali Thurm: One Scheme of Happiness – love triangle and beaches
  3. Helon Habila: Travellers – a mosaic of migrant experiences across Europe
  4. Tom Cox: 21st-Century Yokel – mix of nature writing, memoir, humour and social history

Older Books

All of the previous books are older books too, but these ones were recommended to me not as ‘newly published’, but as ‘modern classics’, while two I acquired a while back in preparation for my Japan trip.

  1. Margaret Grant: Three Eleven – how 5 women experienced the 2011 tsunami in Japan
  2. Michael Booth: Super Sushi Ramen Express – a family journey through Japanese cuisine
  3. Mal Peet: The Murdstone Trilogy – has-been writer makes a Faustian pact
  4. Charles Palliser: Rustication – faux Victorian Gothic and murder mystery
  5. Maggie O’Farrell: Instructions for a Heatwave – many people assure me this is her best novel

On Kindle

For travelling ease, and because I don’t have any books in the lists above for #WomeninTranslation, I’ve also selected a few of my Netgalley/e-book reads, which have really been lurking for far too long on my Kindle.

  1. Yana Vagner: To the Lake, transl. Maria Wiltshire – I actually have the French edition of this in print, but it will be quicker and easier to read it in English on Kindle – a Russian post-apocalyptic novel
  2. Shion Miura: Kamusari Tales Told at Night, transl. Juliet Winters Carpenter – collection of (ghost?) stories, perfect for my Japan trip
  3. Asa Larsson: The Sins of Our Fathers, transl. Laurie Thompson – a Swedish crime novel set in the Arctic circle
  4. Cheon Myeong-kwan: Whale, transl. Chi-Young Kim – Korean novel shortlisted for the International Booker Prize
  5. Ines Pedrosa: In Your Hands, transl. Andrea Rosenberg – Portuguese family saga from the perspective of three women
  6. Marie NDiaye: The Cheffe, trans. Jordan Stump – a culinary life story
  7. Arwa Salih: The Stillborn, transl. Samah Selim – notebooks of a woman from the student-movement in Egypt

25 books to choose from, plus any pitches for Corylus which might come my way, so I think I’ll be pretty busy!

Are you planning to take part, however loosely, in the #20Books challenge and lighten your TBR piles?

22 thoughts on “#20BooksOfSummer: The Planning Stage”

  1. I’m taking part, but quietly. I will do a closing post, if that makes sense, if I manage it. Only read 16 book so far this year so not that optimistic

  2. That’s an ambitious lot of reading, I’m so impressed! The only one I’ve read is Maggie O’Farrell so I’m sure you’ll be adding to my TBR over the summer 🙂 Happy reading!

  3. Great list Marina, I like the look of some of those American choices, particularly Bunny. I read Yuknavitch’s memoir, The Chronicle of Water and really enjoyed it. Thanks so much for taking part!

  4. You have so many great choices there, Marina Sofia! And how exciting that you’ll be going to Japan. I hope it’s fantastic trip. In the meantime, it looks as though you’ve got plenty to get started with, and I hope you enjoy your reads.

  5. Great idea Marina. Thanks fo rthe prompt. I am going to have to start mine asap

  6. You’re tempting me to take part as I’m eager to delve into my more dusty TBR pile after months of mostly new publications. I see you have a Tom Cox there, an author I’d like to read.

  7. I will definitely be taking part but still need to put my list together. I haven’t read any of those books, but I did love The Quincunx by Charles Palliser, so I would be interested to hear more about Rustication.

  8. Sorry to be an annoying Canadian but Mona Awad is Canadian 😉 This is a great list, apart from her, I haven’t heard about most of these books and authors. The Whale will probably be on my list too, I think I’m going to do a combination 1001 Books list/International Booker (including last year’s winner, which has been sitting on my shelf for almost a year)

  9. Great list! I struggled with both Instructions for a Heatwave (am normally an O’Farrell fan) and The Book of Joan but I know others have loved them. I’m keen to read If We Were Villains.

  10. These lists always look really ambitious when they’re laid out at the beginning of the summer. And yet loads of us, including me, routinely read more than 20 books in a three month period, so I’m really not sure why it always feels quite so daunting! Hope you enjoy your selections!

  11. I, personally, did not like If We Were Villains, but I think that was because someone (foolishly) compared it to The Secret History.

    However, I do so drool at the thought of you going to Japan! Take me with you! 🥰

  12. I think I might make it the 10 books of summer because I am such a slow reader. I copied out sixteen pages’ worth of direct quotes from The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born. I’m going to swim as much as possible too, as the outdoor pool here opened on Saturday!

  13. What an amazing list! Always wise to have a few extras in case your mood needs something a bit different. I’m sure you’ll manage them. Have a wonderful trip to Japan. Janet 😊💚📚

  14. I have made a list, after failing miserably the one time I tried 20 Books … I hope I’ll do better this time, by loading up the list with books I really want to read. I’ve included two foreign-language books (in German and French) to try to keep up with my Summer in Other Languages challenge. Hopefully I’ll make it through!

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