If I’d learned from past years, I’d leave a few slots for Man Booker Prize nominees, ARCs, or books picked up on impulse, but all books sound good after such a long writing break. How can I choose fewer than 20??
This year’s list checks off books from multiple lists by including titles shortlisted for past Bookers, Pulitzer winners, and a few stops on my Reading World Tour. From there, I picked authors whose other books have impressed me. Very few are “quick reads,” but I know I won’t have trouble making time to read each night with this list, so there’s a chance this will be my best year yet. There are a few wild cards as well that I hope will be happy surprises.
Keen observers will note that only 18 books are pictured. There are three titles I’m shuffling around: The Luminaries, White Teeth, and Fates and Furies. They’re fairly long and I’m not familiar enough with the authors to know whether they’ll be slow reads, but I don’t like excluding books based on length alone. I can read a 600-page book in a day if it grabs my imagination even though I’ve spent years trying to get through all 152 pages of The Crying of Lot 49. The Luminaries has been recommended to me by a few people and I’d really like to read it. In fact, I’d like to start it now but know I won’t finish before June 3 when this challenge begins…but I don’t want to bench it until September…but it’s 830 pages…you see the conundrum?
So, here’s the list:
The Bastard of Istanbul by Elif Shafak
Death with Interruptions by José Saramago
Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff
Gentlemen of the Road by Michael Chabon
Half-Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan
Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman
In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson
The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin
The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton
March by Geraldine Brooks
The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton
My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante
Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
A Pocket Full of Rye by Agatha Christie
Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik
The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
The White Boy Shuffle by Paul Beatty
White Teeth by Zadie Smith
Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
You Don’t Love Me Yet by Jonathan Lethem
That’s 21 books, but one of the long ones is going to be crossed off. I just don’t know which. White Teeth and My Brilliant Friend were on the 2017 list, but I didn’t get round to them even though that was my best year with 16 books read and 9 reviewed. The idea was that I’d read My Brilliant Friend at the end of the challenge because (by most accounts) it’s impossible to put down and will immediately prompt me to read the rest of the series. We’ll see how that goes.
Happy Summer, All! If you’d like to join the fun, go sign up here!