20 Books of Summer 2019!

20 Books of Summer Reading Challenge hosted by Cathy at 746 Books

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 LuminariesWhite 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 49The 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!

23 thoughts on “20 Books of Summer 2019!”

  1. Fates and Furies is a fast read. Three years later, there are a couple sentences that won’t leave me. I can’t wait to discuss March with you. In the Garden of Beasts is fascinating, but similar to what you wrote re: Dead Wake, the pacing is gratuitous. That didn’t stop me though.

    1. To be fair, it has been a while since that happened. I read a lot of chunky fantasy books in high school. These days, I can’t help thinking that many long books would be better if they were more concise. I just listened to The Nix and, as much as I enjoyed it, there were some sections in need of a trim.

  2. Thanks so much for taking part again! Two books on your list nearly made it on to mine – Half Blood Blues and March – so I’m looking forwrad to hearing how you get on with those in particular x

    1. Thank you for hosting!! 🙂

      I’m trying not to get my hopes too high for Half Blood Blues, but I’m really excited to read it.

  3. You have some books on here that I have loved and a couple that I’ve found deeply disappointing. It would be wrong to tell you which are which, but I’m going to be very interested in your reviews!

    1. There are definitely titles I’m more excited about than others. It’s surprisingly tough to come up with a list of 20 books since I never know what I’ll want to read next after finishing one. I tried to go for a range, so we’ll see how it goes. 🙂

  4. Interest list you got there! I’ve only read A Pocket Full of Rye and it’s a good read. I’m most interested with Death with Interruptions by Saramago from your list!

    1. I’ve been reading one Miss Marple story per summer now and have found them to be a lot of fun. I’ve only read one short story by Saramago but really enjoyed how imaginative it was. I’ve heard a lot of praise for Blindness, but it sounds too brutal so I picked Death with Interruptions instead.

      1. I’ve read all the Miss Marple stories.😅
        I liked Blindness and The Gospel According to Jesus Christ. I’m looking forward to read more of Saramago’s works. I hope to know your thoughts after finishing Death and Interruptions.😊

    1. Thanks! I read Three Daughters of Eve and was really impressed by Shafak’s writing style. The end caught me off guard and made me want to read her other books. I look forward to hearing about 10 Minutes. Good luck with your list! 🙂

  5. Great list; I admire your confidence in including longer books. I enjoyed Half of a Yellow Sun; My Brilliant Friend and March are both on my radar to be picked up eventually. The Luminaries was sitting on the shelf I keep for books I really want to read soon. It’s been there for about two years! (Why does that happen so often?) It’s one of several that I decided against this summer because of length. (East of Eden was another.) Next year I’ll be better prepared – longer books in the spring and autumn!

    1. Thank you! I’m glad to hear Half of a Yellow Sun is good. I didn’t actually realize the length of it until I picked it up to read. My print version has very thin pages and, when it was on my shelf, it didn’t look overly long. 🙂 East of Eden has been on my list for so long now. I hear such wonderful things about it and know very little about the plot even though it’s a classic. I like being surprised by books.

  6. Great looking list with lots of titles that tempt me! The Christie is the only one I’ve read of the eighteen and of course I loved it, but then I always love her books. I loved The Luminaries too and if memory serves me right I found it a quicker read than the length suggests it will be. I’m not a fast reader and I think it took me about three weeks, but that would be with reading other books at the same time, so I maybe read it for about an hour a day? All very approximate, but basically what I’m saying is you should definitely read it… 😉

    1. Thank you! The funny thing about The Luminaries is that I always get interrupted when I pick it up. I’ll be a page or paragraph in and my phone will ring, or loud construction will start, or dinner will suddenly start to burn… It’s become a running joke in my house. I feel like I need to double and triple my time estimates for this book, ha.

  7. Great list! I am also going to read “The Underground Railroad” this summer. In fact, I am starting to read it tomorrow. I enjoyed “The Luminaries” too, and I think you will too. My only complaint is that Catton did not “tidy up” all the loose ends in there. I have heard of “The Bastard of Istanbul”, but I am going to read Shafak’s “The Architect’s Apprentice” this summer. Jose Saramago is, of course, a legend.

    1. Thank you! I just finished Underground Railroad so that will be my next review of the summer.

      I’ve bumped Fates and Furies from my summer list, so The Luminaries is in for sure. I’m relieved that everyone seems to have liked it! Working in the long books always takes a little strategizing.

      I look forward to your Shafak review! I read Three Daughters of Eve, but never got my thoughts together for a write-up.

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