20 Books of Summer 2019

Cathy of 746 Books has been running the 20 Books of Summer challenge since 2014, and after watching the first five rounds from afar, I’m jumping in.

The idea is to read *and review* 20 books over the summer (June 3 – September 3). Cathy is quite reasonable about swapping out books if needed, adjusting targets etc. That said, I shall try to stick to the list below, which was created with a random number generator and a list of my physical TBR (currently sitting at 80 books), and some executive decision making – I stacked the deck in favour of Women in Translation month in August. I may substitute library ebooks or audiobooks for the paper copies, but will try to stick to the list and read in order, too.

Here’s where I landed, with a brief note about how each book came into my house in the first place and how long ago that was (and reviews linked as they become available):

  1. Winter Journal by Paul Auster: Nabbed off the clearance shelf at Chapters last year, after reading & loving 4321
  2. The Watch that Ends the Night by Hugh McClelland: From the publisher, 6 years ago (sorry!)
  3. Little Reunions by Eileen Chang: Bought in Toronto a year ago
  4. Refuse: CanLit in Ruins by Various: bought at the book launch this year
  5. The Fishermen by Chigozi Obioma: Bought it on a whim 3 or so years ago – his new novel is making the rounds now!
  6. Norma by Sofi Okansen: bought during Women in Translation month last year, and strangely, found a signed copy here in Edmonton (Okansen is Finnish)
  7. The Road by Cormac McCarthy: bought at a library sale, maybe 5 years ago. Was not aware of it’s “bro lit” status at that time…
  8. The Prison Book Club by Anne Walmsley: bought at a literary festival 4 years ago
  9. Arlington Park by Rachel Cusk: library sale, 4 years ago?
  10. The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo: no idea!
  11. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl: book swap 3 or 4 years ago. I happen to know this was Rick’s copy, and he hated it so much, I need to see what the fuss is about.
  12. Quicksilver by Neal Stephenson: might have been my mom’s?? This book may have been with me for 15+ years if that’s the case!
  13. Near to the Wild Heart by Clarice Lispector: Can’t remember!
  14. The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey: Library sale 4-5 years ago
  15. Eugene Onegin by Alexander Pushkin: Bought in a Folio Society sale after seeing this wonderful adaptation last year
  16. My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrente: Bought 3ish years ago, has the hyped died down enough yet?
  17. Meditations by Marcus Aurelius: It’s the summer pick for The Happy Reader, so this works out. Bought this year.
  18. Portrait in Sepia by Isabel Allende: Bought last year at the Fairmont Lake Louise bookstore, which has jacked up prices, FYI!
  19. Twin Studies by Keith Maillard: gift from The 49th Shelf crew, earlier this year. He was delightful on a recent episode of Can’t Lit.
  20. Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner: bough soon after my year of reading women, when I decided to give some dude authors a chance…
This is fine *hyperventilates*

If I’m doing this, I’m probably not doing my usual summer read-along. But, if I actually write a review for all twenty of these books, you’ll see more of me around here than usual!

What kind of summer reading are you looking forward to? Many thanks to Cathy for continuing to host 20 Books of Summer, and since I’m back on Twitter, I’ll see you at #20booksofsummer!



  1. Café Society

    I have so much other reading already scheduled for the summer months that I have opted for just fifteen books; in my case not books that I physically own, but books that I am aware I missed out on when they first came out. Your list reminds me that I meant to read Arlington Park and never got round to it. Perhaps I should use it to start a putative list for Summer 2020.

  2. Emma

    Best of luck with the reading list – and reviewing them all. The only one from your list that I’ve read is The Road which pretty much tells you everything you need to know about my limited reading scope. It was fine enough but studying it as part of a post-apocalyptic lit class pretty much killed off my enjoyment – hope you have a better experience with it!

  3. BookerTalk

    I enjoyed The Fisherman – didn’t know he had another book out so must look into that. I have The Ghost Bride on my shelves as a result of a Coursera module on historical fiction some years ago but the other books on the reading list proved so disappointing I was reluctant to actually read this one just in case it was similarly disappointing. Shall watch with interest what you make of it.

  4. Rachel

    I have read exactly zero of these but I see so many from my own shelves so I’m excited to read your reviews! I think I’ll join this challenge but I need to narrow down my 20, I’m so bad at TBRs…

  5. The Paperback Princess

    Oh I maybe need to do this. A reading project for the summer will keep me accountable and focused on the books that I have rather than all the ones I want to buy but can’t because I’m technically jobless until September.
    I don’t think the My Brilliant Friend hype has died down! It’s revved back up because the series just started. A series that was honestly MAGNIFICENT. I didn’t love the first book but I loved the whole series so maybe I need to re-read the first and give it another chance…
    I loved The Ghost Bride!

  6. Naomi

    The only ones I’ve read from your stack are The Road (which is so depressing, but I liked it) and The Watch that Ends the Night (which I read in high school so can’t remember it at all).
    I’m curious about Refuse, but not curious enough to read it. Yet.
    Happy Reading! 🙂

  7. annelogan17

    Fuuunn! I read Norma ages ago, I’m pretty sure I reviewed it but I can’t remember a thing about it. A quick search of my blog will tell me…LOL

    I was delightfully surprised by Twin Studies-such a lovely read. I was really interested in how you acquired these books, I find that fascinating.

  8. FictionFan

    Great looking list! I love Yangsze Choo’s new one, Night Tiger, and would really like to read Ghost Bride sometime. As for The Road, well, I’m not a bro but I still thought it was great – once I’d got used to his maddening writing style, that is. It’s one of those books that still lingers in my mind several years on. Hope you enjoy it, and all your other reading! 😀

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  10. priscilla

    Good idea to wait for the Ferrante hype to die before picking up My Brilliant Friend. I thought the first one was the strongest of the series. Good luck with the challenge!

  11. whisperinggums

    I never do this cos I just can’t commit, and anyhow it’s not summer here (haha). But I love watching others do it. I think I’ve only read two from your list…. The road (love its tone) and Crossing to safety (my second Stegner… He’s a dude writer who appeals to women!)

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