15 Books of Summer

866EF277-F633-4E0D-B702-F64B2F15428COver the past few summers I’ve been aware of fellow bloggers taking part in Cathy746books seasonal challenge to read and review twenty books from their tbr lists. I’ve always thought it was a good idea, but somehow I’ve never caught the beginning of it.  Typically, this year, when I have become aware of people posting their lists of intended reads, I no longer have a mountains of unread books piling up all over the place. When I moved this time last year I had to get rid of around eighty percent of my collection and the tbr list was decimated.  (Actually, it was far more than decimated, which means that only one in ten went.  For me it was more like one in ten remained but I don’t think there is a term for that!). However, nothing daunted, I have drawn up a list of books that over the years I have somehow missed out on; books that I always meant to read but failed to find time for when they were current in my mind.  They may not be part of a physical tbr pile, but they are definitely mentally part of my tbr intentions.

You will have noticed, however, that I am not going for the full twenty.  Cathy allows participants to opt for a lower number, fifteen or ten, and when I look at my other reading commitments for the period between the 3rd of June and the 3rd of September, I think that twenty would be over optimistic.  I have five book group reads and three novels for the Summer School to get through during those months, as well as a list of thirteen new publications due which I will also want to read.  That alone is twenty-one books before I start to add anything else to the list.  I would like to think that I might manage three books a week, but as the Summer School books will have to be read before the week begins, and I won’t want to be reading anything else during the week itself, an additional fifteen sounds more reasonable.

So, my initial list, in no particular order, is:

  • Cloud Atlas ~ David Mitchell
  • Notes on a Scandal ~ Zoë Heller
  • The Honorary Consul ~ Graham Greene
  • A Dark-Adapted Eye ~ Barbara Vine
  • Quartet in Autumn ~ Barbara Pym
  • The Blue Flower ~ Penelope Fitzgerald
  • Mr Pip ~ Lloyd Jones
  • Amy and Isabelle ~ Elizabeth Stroud
  • An Officer and a Spy ~ Robert Harris
  • The Noise of Time ~ Julian Barnes
  • English Passengers ~ Matthew Kneale
  • To the Lighthouse ~ Virginia Woolf
  • The Fountain Overflows ~ Rebecca West
  • Behind the Scenes at the Museum ~ Kate Atkinson 
  • My Lover’s Lover ~ Maggie O’Farrell

I only possess two of these books at present, so I am going to be dependent on the library to get me copies of the others, but I’ve checked and I don’t think that should be too much trouble.  However, it does mean that I can’t predict the order in which I am going to read them.  I’ll hang on to the two that are on my shelves so that if the library fails at any point I will have something to be going on with.

My other reason for wanting to take part in this challenge is that I hope it will get me back reviewing again.  I haven’t been doing enough of this lately and I am aware that I am not getting as much out of my reading as a result.  When you have to bring your thoughts about a book together so that you can write coherently about it I am sure the quality of your reading is of a different order.

I am very much looking forward to sharing this with everyone else taking part. This past year has been very disrupted in many ways, and I would love to think that (ongoing dental treatment apart) I could look forward to a peaceful three months concentrating on reading, writing and drinking tea and very little else.  Wishful thinking, probably, but we can all dream.


37 thoughts on “15 Books of Summer

  1. BookerTalk May 20, 2019 / 5:11 pm

    This is an interesting mix of genres and styles which I think is one of the keys to success with this kind of reading plan (I find I need plenty of variety to suit different moods). The Kate Atkinson is going to be far better than her last offering, Transcription which I found pointless…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Café Society May 20, 2019 / 5:28 pm

      As you know, Karen, I thought Transcription didn’t really know what kind of book it wanted to be. If it had been my first Atkinson I’m not sure I would have picked up another.


      • BookerTalk May 21, 2019 / 4:05 pm

        I probably wouldn’t have gone searching for more by her either. It was a good idea for a novel but she just threw it away and like you I couldn’t really see the point of it


  2. A Life in Books May 20, 2019 / 5:12 pm

    Three on your list that I’ve read and enjoyed very much: Amy and Isabelle, Behind the Scenes at the Museum and My Lover’s Lover. Good luck with the fifteen!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Café Society May 20, 2019 / 5:29 pm

      They are all backlist titles from authors I discovered later in their careers, Susan. This is a really good opportunity to catch up with their earlier work.


  3. Cathy746books May 20, 2019 / 5:12 pm

    Thanks so much for taking part! Two of my favourites on there – Cloud Atlas and Behind the Scenes at the Museum. Enjoy and good luck x

    Liked by 1 person

  4. kaggsysbookishramblings May 20, 2019 / 5:42 pm

    Oh, what a nice list! And very sensible to choose a manageable amount. The Woolf is of course magnificent, and the Barnes is one of my favourite recent novels. Look forward to following your progress! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Café Society May 20, 2019 / 5:44 pm

      How I have managed not to read some of these before, Karen, especially the Woolf, is a mystery but sometimes there is just so much else that you want to devour that books get away from you. I’m sure I could have come up with a much longer list without any problems at all

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Helen May 20, 2019 / 8:02 pm

    That looks like a nice, varied selection. I’ve read and enjoyed a few of them, particularly An Officer and a Spy and Behind the Scenes at the Museum. I think my summer is going to be busier than usual, but I’m planning to put a list together anyway and will see how far I get with it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Café Society May 20, 2019 / 8:26 pm

      Thank you, Helen. The nice thing about this particular project is that there is no shame in not completing it. I’m looking forward to seeing what you have on your list.


  6. stargazer May 20, 2019 / 8:56 pm

    I haven’t read the Virginia Woolf either, but I want to. Good luck with the challenge, I am impressed how many people are joining in.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Café Society May 20, 2019 / 8:59 pm

      I’ve read very little of Woolf’s fiction, but I love her letters and journals. I’m very aware that I haven’t read enough modernist work. This is my attempt to begin to put that right.


  7. Liz May 20, 2019 / 9:16 pm

    What a lovely summer of reading ahead of you, with all those combined projects. I agree with you that recording one’s thoughts about a book helps complete the reading process. I haven’t been doing that very thoroughly in recent times, meaning that I have had plenty of those ‘this seems familiar, have I already read it’ moments lol!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Kat May 20, 2019 / 9:46 pm

    I love your list, and you’re the only one who could make me take this challenge seriously. Wait, if Cafe Society is doing it, I think… I have read about half on your list, but the one I should commit to is Cloud Atlas. Everyone loves this book!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Café Society May 21, 2019 / 8:18 am

      What a wonderful complement, Kat, thank you. During the past year (aware of the years catching up with me!) I’ve been thinking a lot about books that I am aware of not having read and regretting that being the case. I know you can’t read everything, but there are some books or authors that I definitely want to catch up with, to be blunt, before it’s too late. I thought this was a very good way of putting some of that to rights. Whether or not I’ll be successful, is another matter.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Margaret May 21, 2019 / 5:08 am

    I hope your dream comes true – three peaceful months of reading etc would be wonderful. I’ve read three of these books – To the Lighthouse, A Dark-Adapted Eye and Cloud Atlas. I loved the first two as soon as I began reading, whereas Cloud Atlas was a real struggle at first. After three attempts I was on the point of giving up – and then I watched the film and loved it and I went back to the book for a fourth time – eventually enjoyed most of it. The book and the film differ in their structure, but I found they complement each other. I hope you’ll enjoy it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Café Society May 21, 2019 / 8:20 am

      Snap! I got halfway through Cloud Atlas when it first came out and then put it down because it was taking more energy than I had at the time. I’m hoping now, when I’ve read a lot more of Mitchell’s work and appreciate his style more readily, that I will have better success. I didn’t know there was a film. I might look that out.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. heavenali May 21, 2019 / 6:36 am

    A great list, very varied. I absolutely love To the Lighthouse, and Quartet in Autumn is my favourite Pym and The Fountain Overflows is brilliant too. I remember reading and enjoying Behind the scenes at the museum. Hope you enjoy your summer reading.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Café Society May 21, 2019 / 8:21 am

      A friend has just read The Fountain Overflows and spoke very highly of it. He was wondering whether or not it was autobiographical and I told him that you would know and that I would ask you. Is it?


  11. Annabel (AnnaBookBel) May 21, 2019 / 6:46 am

    I’m going for the full 20, and will post my list soon.Amazingly, I’ve actually read and enjoyed four on your list, Zoe Heller, Lloyd Jones, Graham Greene and Barbara Pym. I’d happily try all the rest you’ve picked too, so shall be keen to see how you get on.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Café Society May 21, 2019 / 8:22 am

      I look forward to your list as well, Annabel. I’ve seen the Lloyd Jones on a number of lists. A lot of us must be regretting not reading it when it was first published.


  12. Calmgrove May 21, 2019 / 9:24 am

    I’ve only read a couple of these authors (including Atkinson, whose Transcription I actually enjoyed) but recognise many of the names and titles — so much still to read! As many have commented above, a goodly mix though, unlike you, I’ve only chosen one library book to read with the rest from my already groaning shelves.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Café Society May 21, 2019 / 10:07 am

      I wish I still had my groaning shelves, Calmgrove, but they all went when I downsized exactly a year ago today. Ironically I have just managed to reorganise my flat in such a way as I now have about twenty foot of empty bookshelf space; would that I could get some of those books back.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. FictionFan May 23, 2019 / 7:41 am

    I loved An Officer and a Spy – it was my introduction to Harris and led to me becoming a firm fan. And I remember loving Behind the Scenes at the Museum when I read it many years ago, although I can’t remember the story of it now. Mr Pip is on my list too, so hopefully we’ll both enjoy that one. Hope you have a great summer of reading!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Café Society May 24, 2019 / 8:46 am

      I haven’t read any Harris for years, not since I got bogged down in the Cicero trilogy. But this is a part of history that I have always wanted to know more about and I’m really looking forward to reading it.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Jeanne May 23, 2019 / 12:21 pm

    I also like the film of Cloud Atlas and think it adds to enjoyment of the book. And I recommend reading To the Lighthouse at the pool or somewhere fun with a lot of sunshine, if at all possible.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Jeanne May 25, 2019 / 12:46 pm

        I didn’t mean that it’s depressing, exactly, just that I needed light and movement around me in order to penetrate the way it’s told.


  15. priscilla May 28, 2019 / 6:21 am

    I can confirm that Cloud Atlas, Notes on a Scandal, and Amy and Isabelle are all very good picks! Good luck with the challenge!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Michael May 29, 2019 / 2:10 pm

    Lots of interesting choices! To the Lighthouse is my favorite Woolf, and summer’s the perfect time to read it for the first time. Hope you enjoy these!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Café Society May 29, 2019 / 2:18 pm

      I am actually very ashamed of the fact that I have reached retirement from a job involving English Literature and have never so far read it, Michael. It just goes to show the wealth and depth of what is available to us.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Café Society June 4, 2019 / 9:00 am

      I’ve enjoyed several of the books that Mitchell wrote after this, Jules, but the earlier one I’ve read, not so much. It will be interesting to see which way I jump over this.

      Liked by 1 person

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