20 Books of Summer 2021

Or, let’s be realistic, 10 books of summer if I’m lucky. Last year I made a stack of twenty books, read ten (eventually), and reviewed four (the last review appearing in December). Let’s see how my late pandemic brain does compared to my early pandemic brain, I guess?

If you’re not familiar with this event, Cathy of 746 Books is our host and it’s as simple as it sounds. You have from June 1 through September 1 to read and review your books, but there’s lots of flexibility in terms of quantity, substitutions, and the definition of “summer” (good thing, we have snow in the forecast!)

This year, I am doing a bit of a theme. I am just ten books away from reaching a milestone in my long-running 1,001 Books You Must Read Before You Die project. My pace has slowed considerably over the last couple of years, and I need a boost. So, my list of ten books is made up of the nine “list” books I happen to have in the house, plus an open space. Perhaps you have a recommendation? You can review the list, and see which ones I’ve already read, here.

Here’s what I have on deck:

  1. The Fox by D.H. Lawrence (included in “Four Short Novels”)
  2. Quartet by Jean Rhys
  3. Wise Children by Angela Carter
  4. Zorba the Greek by Nikos Kazantzakis
  5. The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon
  6. The Life And Opinions Of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman by Laurence Sterne
  7. Independent People by Halldór Laxness
  8. Hard Times by Charles Dickens
  9. The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood
  10. I’ve got a blank space, baby (TBA, recs welcome!)
Sorry for the mood lighting

With expectations duly lowered, let’s go!


  1. Reese

    Snow! It’s (finally) starting to feel pretty summery in Toronto.

    I’ve got Independent People on my list, too. It would be tempting to read Tristram Shandy–it would be a reread for me.

  2. Cleo @ Classical Carousel

    Oh, I’m so tempted to join you for The Life and Opinions but I have alot on my plate. I’ll have to think about it. The Crying of Lot 49 would scare me but the rest look great! For your last choice, you could read The Summer Book by Tove Jansson, which would be very appropriate. 😉 The Diary of a Nobody is lots of fun too. In any case, I hope you have a wonderful reading summer!

  3. louloureads

    Great list! I haven’t read that many of the books on the 1001 books list, but I do recommend The Heart of the Matter and The Spy Who Came In From The Cold – both favourites. And I also loved Wild Swans as a teenager, though if memory serves it’s huge, so I don’t know if it’s the best book to recommend for this challenge!

    • lauratfrey

      Ooo I just saw Wild Swans mentioned somewhere, I think it was in a review of a Xiaolu Guo book (as in, her memoir was “the modern Wild Swans” or something) and those does appeal!

  4. Cathy746books

    This is a great list and entirely doable I think. If you leave the reviewing out of the question that is! From your list I would suggest Black Water by Joyce Carol Oates. It’s really atmospheric and more importantly, short. Good luck!

  5. JacquiWine

    Quartet is a really interesting novel. It’s not Rhys’ best, but you can see her laying the groundwork for the masterpieces that were to follow. I really hope you enjoy it!

    • lauratfrey

      Thanks, I have read most of her well known stuff (Good Morning Midnight, Wide Sargasso Sea, all the short stories) so I just have the lesser know stuff left. It’ll be a quick read, anyway!

    • lauratfrey

      Haha I’m kind of happy to see there *isn’t* a ton of interest, because running a read-along is a lot of work and I don’t know if I’m up for it! I’m still in a covid-induced brain fog over hear. There is a group read on Twitter I can join up with to keep me going.

  6. Laura

    I remember finding Independent People quite a slog. It’s a brave 20 Books of Summer choice! But maybe you’ll enjoy it lots more than me 🙂

    • lauratfrey

      Well, I’m hyped up after listening to a Blacklisted episode, it wasn’t about this book in particular but it made me think I need to read this guy.

  7. N@ncy

    I know the feeling when a reading project looses its pace. I”m still trying to read all the Nobel Prize Winners Literature!
    Suggestion: very entertaining Australian writer T. Winton “Cloudstreet” – quirky family held together with love (great #Audiobook)
    If there is a classic you need then how about C.S. Forester ” African Queen”…love the movie as well!
    Unexpected fun play “Noises Off” M. Frayan – on #29 of list best 50 plays – laugh out loud experience!

  8. Rebecca Foster

    Wise Children is a terrific read! I saw a stage production of it a few years ago, and the book was just as fun. Have you read The Blind Assassin before? It’s my favourite Atwood.

    • lauratfrey

      No I haven’t read The Blind Assassin, I haven’t read most of her 90s stuff (I know this one was 2000, but you know. Written in the 90s probably!) I have a lovely signed hardcover, possibly even first edition since there’s no awards swag on it.

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  10. annelogan17

    I’m always a fan of lowered expectations-it’s how I live my life! Not sure if you are an outdoorsy/hiking person, but I read Ridgerunner by Gil Adamson last May and it got me really excited to get out and explore the mountains in the summer, because it takes place in our Rocky Mountains around Banff, etc. It’s a good read too, surprisingly plot-driven so I worked my way through it pretty quick.

  11. Deb Nance at Readerbuzz

    I read Independent People twenty years ago, and I still think it is one of the best books I have ever read.

    Good luck!

    I’m hoping to read twenty of my 1001 Children’s Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up.

  12. volatilemuse

    Hah. Your first paragraph made me smile. I’ve got 10 books on my list too. The Blind Assassin I loved. Might join you for the Tristram Shandy readalong. Can’t believe I’ve never read it.

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