It’s 20 Books of Summer time! This is organised by Cathy at 746 Books and I’ve decided to join in this year and am really looking forward to making a start on my summer 2017 reading. I don’t normally make TBRs as the minute I make a list of books to read I almost immediately then want to read anything but those choices so this will be a real challenge for me! I’ve decided to just put books from my own TBR on this list and I will read review books in between these books.
So, here are my 20 Book of Summer for 2017!
The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon
My husband bought me this for my birthday last year and I was so excited to read it and yet somehow it’s still on my TBR so this book is one I definitely want to make the time to read this summer.
Mrs Creasy is missing and The Avenue is alive with whispers. As the summer shimmers endlessly on, ten-year-olds Grace and Tilly decide to take matters into their own hands.
And as the cul-de-sac starts giving up its secrets, the amateur detectives will find much more than they imagined…
The Green Road by Anne Enright
I love Anne Enright’s novels so I bought this one when it was published and then I’ve been saving it for the right time. I really do want to read this so I’m not saving it anymore, I’m determined to read it this summer.
Hanna, Dan, Constance and Emmet return to the west coast of Ireland for a final family Christmas in the home their mother is about to sell. As the feast turns to near painful comedy, a last, desperate act from Rosaleen – a woman who doesn’t quite know how to love her children – forces them to confront the weight of family ties and the road that brought them home.
The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D by Nichole Bernier
I so badly wanted to read this book when I first heard about it that I bought an American copy and had to wait three weeks for it to arrive. Then it got put on my bookcase and has stayed there ever since. As soon as I started making my books for the summer TBR I knew this book had to be on my list.
Summer vacation on Great Rock Island was supposed to be a restorative time for Kate, who d lost her close friend Elizabeth in a sudden accident. But when she inherits a trunk of Elizabeth’s journals, they reveal a woman far different than the cheerful wife and mother Kate thought she knew.
The complicated portrait of Elizabeth her troubled upbringing, and her route to marriage and motherhood makes Kate question not just their friendship, but her own deepest beliefs about loyalty and honesty at a period of uncertainty in her own marriage.When an unfamiliar man s name appears in the pages, Kate realizes the extent of what she didn t know about her friend, including where she was really going on the day she died.
The more Kate reads, the more she learns the complicated truth of who Elizabeth really was, and rethinks her own choices as a wife, mother, and professional, and the legacy she herself would want to leave behind.
Christodora by Tim Murphy
This book only came out this year and I’m determined not to leave it on my TBR for ages as I’m so keen to read it. It’s one of those books that I want to make time to read in big chunks and the summer seems the perfect time for doing that.
In this vivid and compelling novel, Tim Murphy follows a diverse set of characters whose fates intertwine in an iconic building in Manhattan’s East Village, the Christodora. The Christodora is home to Milly and Jared, a privileged young couple with artistic ambitions. Their neighbour, Hector, a Puerto Rican gay man who was once a celebrated AIDS activist but is now a lonely addict, becomes connected to Milly’s and Jared’s lives in ways none of them can anticipate. Meanwhile, the couple’s adopted son, Mateo, grows to appreciate the opportunities for both self-realization and oblivion that New York offers.
As the junkies and protestors of the 1980s give way to the hipsters of the 2000s and they, in turn, to the wealthy residents of the crowded, glass-towered city of the 2020s, enormous changes rock the personal lives of Milly and Jared and the constellation of people around them. Moving kaleidoscopically from the Tompkins Square Riots and attempts by activists to galvanize a response to the AIDS epidemic, to the New York City of the future, Christodora recounts the heartbreak wrought by AIDS, illustrates the allure and destructive power of hard drugs, and brings to life the ever-changing city itself.
The Hidden Legacy by G.J. Minnett
This is another book that I bought when it was first released and never got around to reading it. I still really want to read it so it had to be on my summer reading pile.
1966. A horrifying crime at a secondary school, with devastating consequences for all involved.
2008. A life-changing gift, if only the recipient can work out why . . .
Recently divorced and with two young children, Ellen Sutherland is up to her elbows in professional and personal stress. When she’s invited to travel all the way to Cheltenham to hear the content of an old woman’s will, she’s far from convinced the journey will be worthwhile.
But when she arrives, the news is astounding. Eudora Nash has left Ellen a beautiful cottage worth an amount of money that could turn her life around. There’s just one problem – Ellen has never even heard of Eudora Nash.
Her curiosity piqued, Ellen and her friend Kate travel to the West Country in search of answers. But they are not the only ones interested in the cottage, and Ellen little imagines how much she has to learn about her past . . .
The Life of Hunger by Amelie Nothomb
This is a book that has been on my wish list for over a decade and I finally got around to buying a copy in the edition I wanted a couple of months ago so I’m definitely going to make time to read this very soon.
In a wistful, funny, clever, and eccentric fictional memoir, Amélie Nothomb casts herself as hunger – in all its many guises. Recounting the formative journeys of her youth, from Tokyo to Peking to Paris to New York, The Life of Hunger is a brilliant and moving examination of the self.
Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld
I’m starting to feel a little embarrassed now at how many books are on my summer list that I’ve owned since they were first out… but this is another one. I’m really keen to read this one as the premise intrigues me.
The Bennet sisters have been summoned from New York City.
Liz and Jane are good daughters. They’ve come home to suburban Cincinnati to get their mother to stop feeding their father steak as he recovers from heart surgery, to tidy up the crumbling Tudor-style family home, and to wrench their three sisters from their various states of arrested development.
Once they are under the same roof, old patterns return fast. Soon enough they are being berated for their single status, their only respite the early morning runs they escape on together. For two successful women in their late thirties, it really is too much to bear. That is, until the Lucas family’s BBQ throws them in the way of some eligible single men…
Chip Bingley is not only a charming doctor, he’s a reality TV star too. But Chip’s friend, haughty neurosurgeon Fitzwilliam Darcy, can barely stomach Cincinnati or its inhabitants. Jane is entranced by Chip; Liz, sceptical of Darcy. As Liz is consumed by her father’s mounting medical bills, her wayward sisters and Cousin Willie trying to stick his tongue down her throat, it isn’t only the local chilli that will leave a bad aftertaste.
But where there are hearts that beat and mothers that push, the mysterious course of love will resolve itself in the most entertaining and unlikely of ways. And from the hand of Curtis Sittenfeld, Pride & Prejudice is catapulted into our modern world singing out with hilarity and truth.
Nutshell by Ian McEwan
I’m a fan of Ian McEwan’s writing, although he can be a bit hit or miss. The premise for this book sounds fascinating so it’s another one that I had to put on my summer reading pile.
Trudy has betrayed her husband, John. She’s still in the marital home – a dilapidated, priceless London townhouse – but not with John. Instead, she’s with his brother, the profoundly banal Claude, and the two of them have a plan. But there is a witness to their plot: the inquisitive, nine-month-old resident of Trudy’s womb.
The Summer of Secrets by Sarah Jasmon
I’ve had this book on my TBR for a while too and have been keen to read it but it has felt like a book I should save for the summer so this absolutely had to make my summer reading plan.
The summer the Dovers move in next door, sixteen-year-old Helen’s lonely world is at once a more thrilling place. She is infatuated with the bohemian family, especially the petulant and charming daughter Victoria.
As the long, hot days stretch out in front of them, Helen and Victoria grow inseparable. But when a stranger appears, Helen begins to question whether the secretive Dover family are really what they seem.
It’s the kind of summer when anything seems possible . . .
Until something goes wrong.
New World Fairy Tales by Cassandra Parkin
I only bought this book fairly recently but I’m so looking forward to reading this short story collection so have added it to my summer reading.
In contemporary America, an un-named college student sets out on an obsessive journey of discovery to collect and record the life-stories of total strangers. The interviews that follow have echoes of another, far more famous literary journey, undertaken long ago and in another world.Drawing on the original, unexpurgated tales collected by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, six of their most famous works are re-imagined in the rich and endlessly varied landscapes of contemporary America.From the glass towers of Manhattan to the remoteness of the Blue Ridge mountains; from the swamps of Louisiana to the jaded glamour of Hollywood, New World Fairy Tales reclaims the fairy tale for the modern adult audience. A haunting blend of romance and realism, these stripped-back narratives of human experience are the perfect read for anyone who has read their child a bedtime fairy story, and wondered who ever said these were stories meant for children.
The Past by Tessa Hadley
I’m a huge Tessa Hadley fan so have been very much looking forward to this novel. It’s one I’ve been saving for the warmer weather as it feels like summer is the right time for this book.
These three weeks may be their last time in their family home; the upkeep is prohibitive, and they may be forced to sell this beloved house filled with memories of their shared past (their mother took them there to live when she left their father). Yet beneath the idyllic pastoral surface, hidden passions, devastating secrets, and dangerous hostilities threaten to consume them.
Sophisticated and sleek, Roland’s new wife (his third) arouses his sisters’ jealousies and insecurities. Kasim, the twenty-year-old son of Alice’s ex-boyfriend, becomes enchanted with Molly, Roland’s sixteen-year-old daughter. Fran’s young children make an unsettling discovery in a dilapidated cottage in the woods that shatters their innocence. Passion erupts where it’s least expected, leveling the quiet self-possession of Harriet, the eldest sister.
Over the course of this summer holiday, the family’s stories and silences intertwine, small disturbances build into familial crises, and a way of life–bourgeois, literate, ritualized, Anglican–winds down to its inevitable end.
Almost Famous Women by Megan Mayhew Bergman
I’ve had this book for a while and have been keeping it to read as a treat but now feels like the time. I’m really excited to read this book.
From a prizewinning, beloved young author, a provocative collection that explores the lives of colorful, intrepid women in history. “These stories linger in one’s memory long after reading them” (Star Tribune, Minneapolis).
The fascinating characters in Megan Mayhew Bergman’s “collection of stories as beautiful and strange as the women who inspired them” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review) are defined by their creative impulses, fierce independence, and sometimes reckless decisions. In “The Siege at Whale Cay,” cross-dressing Standard Oil heiress Joe Carstairs seduces Marlene Dietrich. In “A High-Grade Bitch Sits Down for Lunch,” aviator and writer Beryl Markham lives alone in Nairobi and engages in a battle of wills with a stallion. In “Hell-Diving Women,” the first integrated, all-girl swing band sparks a violent reaction in North Carolina.
Other heroines, born in proximity to the spotlight, struggle to distinguish themselves: Lord Byron’s illegitimate daughter, Allegra; Oscar Wilde’s wild niece, Dolly; Edna St. Vincent Millay’s talented sister, Norma; James Joyce’s daughter, Lucia. Almost Famous Women offers an elegant and intimate look at artists who desired recognition. “By assiduously depicting their intimacy and power struggles, Bergman allows for a close examination of the multiplicity of women’s experiences” (The New York Times Book Review).
The world wasn’t always kind to the women who star in these stories, but through Mayhew Bergman’s stunning imagination, they receive the attention they deserve.
Upstairs at the Party by Linda Grant
Oh dear, this is another book that I’ve owned since it was published but haven’t managed to read it as yet. It sounds like such a great read so I’m putting it on my summer list and really hope to get to it.
‘If you go back and look at your life there are certain scenes, acts, or maybe just incidents on which everything that follows seems to depend. If only you could narrate them, then you might be understood. I mean the part of yourself that you don’t know how to explain.’
In the early seventies, a glamorous and androgynous couple known as Evie/Stevie appear out of nowhere on the isolated concrete campus of a new university. To a group of teenagers experimenting with radical ideas, they seem blown back from the future, unsettling everything and uncovering covert desires. But their mesmerising flamboyant self-expression hides deep anxieties and hidden histories.
For Adele, who also has something to conceal, Evie becomes an obsession – an obsession which becomes lifelong after the night of Adele’s twentieth birthday party. What happened that evening and who was complicit are questions that have haunted Adele ever since. A set of school exercise books might reveal everything, but they have been missing for the past forty years.
From summers in 1970s Cornwall to London in the twenty-first century, long after she has disappeared, Evie will go on challenging everyone’s ideas of how their lives should turn out.
One True Thing by Anna Quindlen
I’ve been wanting to read this book for such a long time but I keep putting it off because it’s such an emotive subject matter. It caught my eye in amongst my books when I was deciding on this TBR so I’m adding it and hope I’ll be okay to read it this summer.
Ellen Gulden is a successful, young New York journalist. But when her mother, Kate, is diagnosed with cancer, she leaves her life in the city to return home and care for her. In the short time they have left, the relationship between mother and daughter – tender, awkward and revealing – deepens, and Ellen is forced to confront painful truths about her adored father.
But in the weeks that follow Kate’s death, events take a shocking and unexpected turn. Family emotions are laid bare as a new drama is played out, and overnight Ellen goes from devoted daughter to prime suspect, accused of the mercy killing of her ‘one true thing’.
One True Thing is the devastating story of a mother and daughter, of love and loss, and of shattering choices.
In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume
My husband surprised me with this lovely signed hardback of Judy Blume’s latest novel Christmas 2015 and I was so excited to read it as I’m a huge fan. It’s another book that I’ve been saving for the right time, which now seems silly so I’m going to enjoy it over the summer.
In 1987, Miri Ammerman returns to her hometown of Elizabeth, New Jersey, to attend a commemoration of the worst year of her life.
Thirty-five years earlier, when Miri was fifteen and in love for the first time, three planes fell from the sky within three months, leaving a community reeling. Against this backdrop of actual events in the early 1950s, when airline travel was new and exciting and everyone dreamed of going somewhere, Judy Blume weaves a haunting story of three generations of families, friends, and strangers, whose lives are for ever changed in the aftermath.
The plane crashes bring some people closer together and tear others apart; they create myths and unlock secrets. As Miri experiences the ordinary joys and pains of growing up in extraordinary circumstances, a young journalist makes his name reporting tragedy. And through it all, one generation reminds another that life goes on.
Take Courage: Anne Bronte and the Art of Life by Samantha Ellis
I treated myself to this book a few months ago and it’s been calling to me recently so I’m adding it to my summer TBR. Anne Bronte is my favourite writer of the Bronte sisters so I’m really looking forward to sitting down with this book. I hope it lives up to my expectations.
Anne Brontë is the forgotten Brontë sister, overshadowed by her older siblings — virtuous, successful Charlotte, free-spirited Emily and dissolute Branwell. Tragic, virginal, sweet, stoic, selfless, Anne. The less talented Brontë, the other Brontë.
Or that’s what Samantha Ellis, a life-long Emily and Wuthering Heights devotee, had always thought. Until, that is, she started questioning that devotion and, in looking more closely at Emily and Charlotte, found herself confronted by Anne instead.
Take Courage is Samantha’s personal, poignant and surprising journey into the life and work of a woman sidelined by history. A brave, strongly feminist writer well ahead of her time — and her more celebrated siblings — and who has much to teach us today about how to find our way in the world.
Significance by Jo Mazelis
I’ve had this book for quite a while too but recently I’ve seen a couple of reviews of it and it sounds like such a brilliant read that I simply had to add it to my TBR for the next couple of months.
Lucy Swann is trying on a new life. She s cut and dyed her hair and bought new clothes, but she s only got as far as a small town in northern France when her flight is violently cut short. When Inspector Vivier and his handsome assistant Sabine Pelat begin their investigation the chance encounters of her last days take on a new significance. Lucy s death, like a stone thrown into a pool, sends out far-reaching ripples, altering the lives of people who never knew her as well as those of her loved ones back home.”
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
I can’t believe that I’ve not read this book before now. I’ve had it on my wish list for such a long time and only treated myself to a copy recently. This is a book that feels right for a long summer evening when I can just sit and read.
In an unnamed South American country, a world-renowned soprano sings at a birthday party in honor of a visiting Japanese industrial titan. His hosts hope that Mr. Hosokawa can be persuaded to build a factory in their Third World backwater. Alas, in the opening sequence, just as the accompanist kisses the soprano, a ragtag band of 18 terrorists enters the vice-presidential mansion through the air conditioning ducts. Their quarry is the president, who has unfortunately stayed home to watch a favorite soap opera. And thus, from the beginning, things go awry.
Among the hostages are not only Hosokawa and Roxane Coss, the American soprano, but an assortment of Russian, Italian, and French diplomatic types. Reuben Iglesias, the diminutive and gracious vice president, quickly gets sideways of the kidnappers, who have no interest in him whatsoever. Meanwhile, a Swiss Red Cross negotiator named Joachim Messner is roped into service while vacationing. He comes and goes, wrangling over terms and demands, and the days stretch into weeks, the weeks into months.
With the omniscience of magic realism, Ann Patchett flits in and out of the hearts and psyches of hostage and terrorist alike, and in doing so reveals a profound, shared humanity.
Girls on Fire by Robin Wasserman
I originally had a review copy of this from NetGalley but it was right before life got on top of me last year and I didn’t managed to read it. I knew it would be a book I’d enjoy so I bought myself a copy and really want to read it soon.
Girls on Fire tells the story of Hannah and Lacey and their obsessive teenage female friendship so passionately violent it bloodies the very sunset its protagonists insist on riding into, together, at any cost. Opening with a suicide whose aftermath brings good girl Hannah together with the town’s bad girl, Lacey, the two bring their combined wills to bear on the community in which they live; unconcerned by the mounting discomfort that their lust for chaos and rebellion causes the inhabitants of their parochial small town, they think they are invulnerable.
But Lacey has a secret, about life before her better half, and it’s a secret that will change everything…
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
I feel like this book is a bit of a cheat because I only bought it very recently but I really want to read it as soon as I can so wanted to add it to this list.
Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.
Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.
But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.
I’ve also picked three extra books just in case I don’t get on with any of the books above…
The Long, Hot Summer by Kathleen MacMahon
I’ve had this book on my bookshelf for quite a long while but it never seems to get to the top of my TBR during the summer months. I’m adding it as an extra in case one of my other books doesn’t end up grabbing me, but hopefully I will get a chance to read it this summer regardless.
Nine Lives. Four Generations. One Family. The MacEntees are no ordinary family.
Determined to be different from other people, they have carved out a place for themselves in Irish life by the sheer force of their personalities. But when a series of misfortunes befall them over the course of one long hot summer, even the MacEntees will struggle to make sense of who they are.
As media storms rage about them and secrets rise to the surface, Deirdre plans a family party for her 80th birthday-and with it one final, shocking surprise.
The Law of Similars by Chris Bohjalian
Initially this book was in my 20 books of summer but I’ve already read a book by this author this year so it seems only fair to read some of my other books first. I really want to read this book soon though so if I have a good summer of reading and get through all of my other choices I will read this one too.
From the number one bestselling author of Midwives comes this riveting medical thriller about a lawyer, a homeopath, and a tragic death.
When one of homeopath Carissa Lake’s patients falls into an allergy-induced coma, possibly due to her prescribed remedy, Leland Fowler’s office starts investigating the case. But Leland is also one of Carissa’s patients, and he is beginning to realize that he has fallen in love with her. As love and legal obligations collide, Leland comes face-to-face with an ethical dilemma of enormous proportions.
Graceful, intelligent, and suspenseful, The Law of Similars is a powerful examination of the links between hope and hubris, love and deception.
The Longings of Wayward Girls by Karen Brown
This was also in my initial 20 books but I decided it might be a bit similar to another book on my list so I’m adding it here as an extra option. I love the sound of the book though so it’s another one that I will try to get to as well as all of my other selections.
It’s an idyllic New England summer, and Sadie is a precocious only child on the edge of adolescence. It seems like July and August will pass lazily by, just as they have every year before. But one day, Sadie and her best friend play a seemingly harmless prank on a neighborhood girl. Soon after, that same little girl disappears from a backyard barbecue; and she is never seen again. Twenty years pass, and Sadie is still living in the same quiet suburb. She’s married to a good man, has two beautiful children, and seems to have put her past behind her. But when a boy from her old neighborhood returns to town, the nightmares of that summer will begin to resurface, and its unsolved mysteries will finally become clear.
Anyone is welcome to join in with this challenge – just pick your 20 books (or 10, or 5) for over the summer and write a post about them. Then sign up to the page on 746 Books on 1st June! The challenge will run from 1st June to 3rd September 2017. You can share your lists and your progress on twitter using #20BooksofSummer
Will you be joining in with #20BooksofSummer this year? What are you planning to read over the coming months?