20 Books of Summer 2019

This is one challenge that I’ve joined in for the past two years, hosted by Cathy at 746 Books. I’ve not succeeded in reading the full 20 books either year, but haven’t done too shabbily either getting past half way in my selection from my TBR piles. The challenge runs from June 3 to Sept 3 and I’m ready! Here are my choices for this year:

They’ve all been in the TBR for a year or more and are:

  • Backroom Boys by Francis Spufford – non-fic
  • Bodies of Light by Sarah Moss
  • Cold Skin by Albert Sanchez Pinol – Spanish
  • Death of the Owl by Paul Torday
  • Duffy by Dan Kavanagh
  • Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh – was on my pile last yr too
  • The Gardener from Ochakov by Andrey Kurkov – Russian
  • H(A)PPY by Nicola Barker – meant to read this sooner
  • I Love You Too Much by Alicia Drake – gorgeous yellow woven cloth cover!
  • The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
  • Laurus by Eugene Vodolazkin – another Russian
  • Less by Andrew Sean Greer – Pulitzer winner 2018
  • Marrow Island by Alexis M Smith
  • Melody by Jim Crace – he said Harvest would be his last novel, glad it wasn’t so
  • Mobius Dick by Andrew Crumey – rescued from the cull pile
  • The Only Story by Julian Barnes
  • Red Joan by Jennie Rooney – Spies – film out with Judi Dench
  • The Surface Breaks by Louise O’Neill – YA reimagining of the Little Mermaid
  • The Tie That Binds by Kent Haruf – his debut
  • Ties by Domenico Starnone – Mr Ferrante so I gather

My 20 includes 4 in translation, 1 YA, 1 Pulitzer Prize winner, 1 non-fiction – and I didn’t realise it at first, but two by Julian Barnes (he is Dan Kavanagh which I’d forgotten) but I’ve taken the photo now, so unless I swap one out later, they both stay! Your suggestions for what to read first are welcome… roll on June 3.

31 thoughts on “20 Books of Summer 2019

  1. I’ve not chosen mine yet, as, well, i don’t really know why, I just like to do it nearer the time and put the pile on my State of the TBR post on the first of the month. I’m still havering about whether to include review books and e-books (some of which are NetGalley review books). I’m thinking to keep it “pure” and just have print TBR books on there, though I have to pull out some Viragoes and Persephones for All Virago/All August as well. Decisions, decisions! Your piles look super, though!

    • AnnaBookBel says:

      I’ve kept my strictly to my print TBR – no review copies. We’ll see how I do ha ha! Looking forward to seeing your pile.

  2. Great list! I’m just about to re-read Bodies of Light 🙂 I’ve wanted to read The Surface Breaks for a long time, but will wait until it’s out in paperback.

    • AnnaBookBel says:

      I bought the O’Neill when it came out last year so it fits my criteria. She’s one of the new young Irish authors I adore. I’m so behind on Sarah Moss – looking forward to that one.

    • AnnaBookBel says:

      After my discovery of Haruf’s last novel in last year’s 20 books, I thought what better than to include his first this year.

    • AnnaBookBel says:

      I had a good giggle when I realised what I’d done with Barnes. I haven’t read one of his for ages, so it’s timely.

  3. I have not heard of any of these books so I will be interested in hearing what you have to say about them! Start with Red Joan….only because i love the look of the spine lol. Good luck!

  4. Laurus may be on my own list! I usually don’t like to make my pile until the beginning of June, like Liz, but I’ve seen so many of other peoples’ piles that I’m getting itchy to start planning mine. Interested to see what you make of H(A)PPY; it didn’t make a huge impression on me, but some of her other work has.

    • AnnaBookBel says:

      I’ve a pile of Nicola Barkers to read. I’ve really enjoyed the few I have got around to. I hope you do read Laurus – we can compare and contrast! 🙂

  5. I’ve only just read a review of Less which characterised it as unputdownable, so that sounds promising for you! I had a copy of Mobius Dick on my shelves but haven’t seen it for a while, making me suspect it was culled—I know I was waiting to read Melville first but as yet it hasn’t come to pass… Anyway, some super titles among your list even if you don’t get to complete them all!

    • AnnaBookBel says:

      I’d put Mobius Dick in a pile to cull, but rescued it, because it sounds funny! I hope it was worth the rescue. You should read Melville one day if you can – when I did, so many references in other books etc fell into place. I actually enjoyed a lot of it.

  6. Like Susan, I love looking at these lists – it’s akin to a spot of literary window shopping! The Kurkov sounds rather good. I really enjoyed off-beat nature of his Death and the Penguin, so I’m curious to see how you get on with Ochakov!

    • AnnaBookBel says:

      I think I own most of Kurkov’s books, but haven’t read any of them! This was the first I came across on my shelves, so in the pile it went. I love ‘off-beat’ books, so I have high hopes.

  7. I read The Backroom Boys with one of my book groups and we were very split by it. Some of the group really enjoyed it, but I found I was crawling through it simply because it was on the list so I shall be interested to see how you get on with it. The same is true with Melody. I have friends who have said it’s a shame Harvest wasn’t Crace’s last novel!

  8. The Barnes, Kidd and Moss are all excellent. I bought a Duffy omnibus at Oxfam the other year and keep meaning to give the first novel a try — it will be so interesting to read Barnes in another guise.

  9. Great choices! So many of these are also on my TBR – reading these lists makes me want to bump them up. I haven’t read Ties, but Starnone’s an interesting writer and hope you enjoy the novel.

  10. “Less” is also a novel on my to-read list for this summer. I am impressed by your Russian authors selection. My native language is Russian, but I would not dream picking a Russian author’s book. I should change my ways.

    • AnnaBookBel says:

      I’ve read a lot of the Russians in my day (in translation of course). I should read more in translation in general, so happy to include some here. I can understand you not picking a Russian author’s book in translation though!

      • I actually read many Russian classics in translation because now I live in an English-speaking country and it is difficult to find something in Russian. For example, I read Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment and Brothers Karamazov in English for the first time. When it comes to contemporary Russian authors, that is where I am puzzled and do not read Russian-language books at all. I somewhere read an article that said that the contemporary Russian literature is in ruins – there are no good publishable authors at all. I see that you will be reading Laurus by Eugene Vodolazkin, and I am ashamed to admit that I have not even heard of this author or book before.
        Hmm, I now see that Eugene Vodolazkin and Andrey Kurkov on your list are actually Ukrainian or partly Ukrainian, aren’t they? This may explain quite a lot.

        • AnnaBookBel says:

          Ah – forgive me! I’d really recommend Olga Grushin’s The Concert Ticket, (aka The Line) I’m pretty sure she’s Russian, even if she lives in the US now.

          • You made no fault – they wrote in Russian. I am merely observing that since both of the authors have Ukrainian roots, it will be easy for them (than Russian authors) to be published and get international recognition not least because they have links with Europe, etc. or are funded through international funds.
            I will check out Grushin’s The Concert Ticket, thanks a lot!

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