20 Books of Summer 20

Yay, on June 1st, 20 Books of Summer as hosted for several years by Cathy at 746 Books, is back for 2020. I’ve signed up for this challenge for four years now, but never reaching the full twenty books, my best has been 15/20. However, it does help clear some books from the TBR.

Yes, you can opt to aim for a lesser number – but what’s the point? OK, you’re thinking I’m as bad as Matt Hancock, setting an unachievable target for coronavirus testing!

But I have a ‘cunning plan’…

During the school holidays, my reading always goes up significantly from my average of about 10-12 books a month to over 15 anyway. However, I have a pile of review copies to get though, and there’ll be those times where I have to read the newest book to come through the letterbox, and to fit in book group books etc – but 20 TBR books should be doable?

My problem is that when I choose my 20 books – I then really struggle to pick which of them to read – which is why I always fail at this challenge. Substitutions are fine, but that feels like cheating. It’s all about the psychology of choosing your next read, and I struggle with having this limited pile of books to choose from. So I’ve come up with the ultimate cheat which I hope will encourage me to aim for the full 20.

My bedside bookcase has four shelves of increasing depth – the top one has stacks of review copies on, stickered with publication dates. The next three shelves contain paperbacks, larger paperbacks and small hardbacks, and standard hardbacks respectively. These three shelves contain 85 books! (I didn’t think there were that many, so I counted them). All these books were acquired before 2020 and there’s a heady mix of fiction and non-fiction, thrillers and classics, prize-winners and poetry, chunksters and novellas, plenty of translated books too.

Cathy says she’ll ‘bend the rules to help anyone reach their goal’ so I will try to read 20 books from the 85 in my bedside bookcase TBR shelves. Hopefully, the extra choice will eliminate that ‘but I don’t want to read any of this pile now’ feeling! Because of furniture in the way, I’ve had to collage 6 photos into one – but here are the shelves in question.

My next problem is choosing where to start!

Your recommendations?

32 thoughts on “20 Books of Summer 20

  1. A Life in Books says:

    I’ve enjoyed The Ice Storm, The Long Room and My Sister the Serial Killer but abandoned Lincoln in the Bardo. I’d be keen to see what you make of To Calais in Ordinary Time which is on my TBR list. Good luck, Annabel!

    • AnnaBookBel says:

      I heard James Meek speaking about it on R4 a few weeks ago and he totally won me over. (Mind you I’m a fan anyway, having read two previous ones).

    • AnnaBookBel says:

      Actually, that’s the only one that ‘isn’t’ pre-2020, but my daughter gave it to me for my birthday, but I really want to read it.

  2. Dark Puss says:

    No idea why you might want to do this but it’s your life etc. 🙂 I’d read the Bainbridge and the O’Brien, then I’d shut my eyes and chose 18 at random. One day I might understand why people want to make a game/challenge out of reading for pleasure. Anyway, best of luck!

    • AnnaBookBel says:

      The only reason is, that I keep on buying/acquiring books and only read the latest ones otherwise – I’m that fickle. This forces me back to consider the book I already own. I will play any game to help me remember those I already have. 😀

  3. lizzysiddal says:

    That’s not cheating. 20 books is 20 books no matter where they come from.

    Last year my strategy was 10 from the TBR and 10 for the Edinburgh Book Festival. With no list. I read 28! I’m still hoping for the announcement of a digital EIBF (as per the Hay Festival). If there isn’t one, I shall somehow have to finesse ….

    • lizzysiddal says:

      Recommendations from your shelf: This Little Art, The Garden of Evening Mists, Sand, Revolutionary Road and Vanish in An Instant.

      I will be reading Writer in Residence And To Calais myself over the summer, though not until Seagull Books Fortnight is over.

  4. Calmgrove says:

    Some selection you’ve got there, Annabel, and I wouldn’t dare suggest any title! But you remind me… I got a signed copy of Early Riser from Jasper Fforde at Crickhowell’s Lit Fest in 2018 though, to my chagrin, two winters have since passed and it’s still waiting forlornly by my bedside. As I’m enjoying The Eyre Affair at the mo, I think ER may have to wait till this winter…

  5. kimbofo says:

    I think this is a great plan, Annabel! I might actually do something similar 🤔 I don’t think I’ve read any on your shelves apart from the Max Porter which I felt ambivalent about and the Ecleptic which I enjoyed. I abandoned My Sister the Serial Killer… the voice/tone didn’t work for me.

    • AnnaBookBel says:

      It’s shocking, this book case is by my bedside, but with the exception of adding the book my daughter gave me for my birthday to it – I lie in bed and look at these books, and am shockingly bad at pulling them out to read. I have to turn some TBR books around!

  6. Jonathan says:

    I’d recommend Powell’s Dance to the Music of Time. As it’s a collection, could you count it as three books?

    • AnnaBookBel says:

      Yes, it would count as 3! I’ve actually read the first four in the sequence, so 2 to go in this 2nd volume! really ought to finish it, but I got stuck after the sublime Widmerpool comedy of #4

      • JacquiWine says:

        I’m seconding Jonathan’s vote for A Dance to the Music of Time. I read the whole lot early last year, mostly while I was laid up for three months recovering from a fractured pelvis. (Not dissimilar to lockdown, really, although moving around the house was fairly problematic, especially for first few weeks.) Anyway, back to the Powell. I think the trick is to maintain some kind of momentum with it; one instalment every 2-3 weeks worked for me, but you’ll need to find the rhythm that works for you.

        Lanny is excellent too. Plus it’s short, so an easy one to whip through.

        Good luck!

  7. Laura says:

    Random thoughts – I loved Lincoln in the Bardo! Built was actually on my 20 Book of Summer list a couple years back and I didn’t get on with it that well – fascinating subject-matter but the writing was a bit pedestrian. The Library of Ice is wonderful.

  8. Mystica says:

    I hope you succeed with the challenge. I do not like challenges because I feel then that I am pressurized to somehow complete it! illogical but true.

  9. Rebecca Foster says:

    Wowee, that’s an enormous bedside bookcase! Mine would probably only hold half that, and that’s a combination of books right way up and on their side. I think your plan is perfectly sensible — it allows for plenty of latitude and picking by whimsy, but is also a manageable supply to select from. Enjoy! I’ve recently read that Ronson and it was a cracking read as well as very quick. The Daisy Johnson is also wonderful. Which Patrick Melrose book(s) do you have there? I have Mother’s Milk on my pile of 30 summer possibles, so let me know if you end up choosing it and we can do a buddy read.

    • AnnaBookBel says:

      It’s shocking but I only pick a couple of books to read from these three shelves each year. The idea was these were the ones to read first originally! Re Melrose: It’s an omnibus of the first four I think, but not the fifth! So yes, we could buddy read.

  10. curlygeek04 says:

    You have a lot of choices! I hear Milkman is wonderful. I know I’d like to read something by Edna O’Brien and Nick Harkaway. My Sister the Serial Killer was a great read. Enjoy your summer reading!

  11. Brona says:

    Let me insist you get to Girl Woman Other and Lincoln in the Bardo sooner rather than later. Use My Sister the Serial Killer as a palate cleanser. Three pretty incredible books right there!

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