A few weeks ago, I discovered 746 Book’s “20 Books of Summer” reading challenge. The idea is neatly summed up in the title of the challenge: read 20 books this summer and review each one.
I thought this sounded like great fun so I set about making my list. Right around June 1, I started reading a book off my list.
Only thing: I never shared my list. Or the challenge. But after talking to Becky about it yesterday while we were hiking, I decided it’s never too late to start.
So here it is, my goal list of 20 books to read this summer, with the full and honest acknowledgement that it is highly unlikely I will actually read twenty books before September 1. But that is OK because just making the list itself has helped me be more focused and purposeful in my what-to-read-next choice. I suspended all of my other holds (so my library’s gotta be thanking me!) and am looking forward to just seeing how many I actually get to. I made the list so it would be a sort of reflection of my reading tastes…my idea of beach reads and vacation books, the types of nonfiction I like the best, a few books that aren’t released as of this blog post but that I’ve been looking forward to for MONTHS, some older books I have been intending on reading, fiction that speaks to my personal reading quirks. These are listed alphabetically rather than the order I will read them in, because…I don’t know the order yet!
- American Baby: A Mother, a Child, and the Shadow History of Adoption by Gabrielle Glaser. A memoir/history focusing on the US adoption system during the 1960s.
- Ariadne by Jennifer Saint. Tells the story of the princess of Crete who helped Theseus kill her brother, the Minotaur. Greek retellings are my jam!
- Big Friendship: How We Keep Each Other Close by Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman. I meant to read this memoir about friendship last year but staying close to friends felt like a painful thing to read during the pandemic and shut downs, so maybe this summer!
- Brooklyn was Mine edited by Chris Knutsen and Valerie Steiker. A collection of essays to read in preparation for maybe going to New York this fall.
- The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls by Anissa Gray. A novel about two sisters taking care of their older sister’s teenage daughters after she is arrested. I’ve wanted to read this since it came out in 2019.
- Dearly: New Poems by Margaret Atwood. I bought this right when it came out last fall, read two poems, set it down, and didn’t pick it up again. How can that be true of poetry by my favorite author?
- Gingerbread by Helen Oyeyemi. I listened to a little bit of this on audio and enjoyed it but I think I want to read the physical copy.
- The Great Godden by Meg Rosoff. I don’t like traditional “beach read” novels but am counting this as a summer read, since it’s set at a family beach house. Rosoff is one of my favorite YA authors.
- Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead. A combo historical/contemporary novel, about an Amelia-Earhart-esque character and the actress who plays her in a movie after her death. I don’t generally like books about Hollywood or acting, but I continue to be drawn to this one so I will try it.
- Half Sick of Shadows by Laura Sebastian. A retelling of the Arthurian legend, told from the perspective of The Lady of Shalott; a book that releases this summer.
- Keep Moving: Notes on Loss, Creativity, and Change by Maggie Smith. One of my favorite poets writes a sort-of self-help book, although I think it is more about creativity.
- Libertie by Kaitlyn Greenridge. Reconstruction-era Brooklyn in a novel that “parses what freedom actually means for Black women.”
- Lore by Alexandra Bracken. I’ve actually checked this YA novel out twice but never read it! A contemporary story based on Greek mythology.
- Sharks in the Time of Saviors by Kawai Strong Washburn. Magical realism set in Hawaii and the west coast…another “beach” read. I am reading this one now!
- The Soul of a Woman: On Impatient Love, Long Life, and Good Witches by Isabelle Allende. I’ve loved Allende since I was 15, so I really want to read her memoir. Plus, “good witches” is always going to grab my attention.
- The Stone Sky by N. K. Jemisin. I recently listened to the first two books of this trilogy, because when I read them this third book wasn’t out yet. This will be my trip book, since I read the others while on vacation in 2017. Will the return of the moon destroy or revitalize the world? Can Essun and Nassun ever repair their relationship? Will the citizens of Castrima find a new home? Is Alabaster now a Stone Eater? How did I miss that Essun’s arm turned to stone? I think this series is one of the most brilliant I have ever read, but I’m afraid to be disappointed by the ending.
- The Turnout by Megan Abbott. Abbot is one of those authors who I’ll read no matter what she writes. She does a sort of menacing, subtle literary thriller that just…shiver. Works for me. This one is set at a ballet studio.
- What Comes After by Joanne Tompkins. Every year I try to read a few things outside of my usual favorite tropes, and suspense/thrillers fall into that category. I picked this book because I initially thought it was a thriller, but I don’t think it actually is. More psychological drama, but I can be 100% ok with that, so I’ll try it anyway.
- Whose Story Is This? Old Conflicts, New Chapters by Rebecca Solnit. Because I love her work and haven’t read this one yet.
- The Witch's Heart by Genevieve Gornichec. A fantasy novel based in Norse mythology, about Angrboda, who is mostly known as “Loki’s wife” in the mythology but here her story is told. That’s one of my favorite book tropes…a little-known woman from mythology brought to life.
As I wrote about each of these books, I remembered all over again how much I want to read them. It’s impossibly lofty to set myself the goal of roughly 6,000 pages in three months, but I am going to try it, and let my reading be controlled by only this list (unless, of course, I find something else I can’t resist). And, to make it official, I am guessing I will read EIGHT of these this summer. September will tell!
Have you read any of the books on my list? Any guesses as to what ones I’ll actually read?