#20 Books Of Summer: The Unlisted Version

I plead guilty to the charges of inconsistency, fickleness and caprice.

But before you pass sentence, I hope you’ll allow me to explain the mitigating circumstances that have led me, against my better judgement, to join this year’s #20booksofsummer.

At the start of the year I made a rule: 2020 would be a year free of reading challenges that involved reading from a list of books. I went on the record to explain that while I love making lists, I’m a lost cause when it comes to actually reading from those lists. The minute the list is done, my interest wanes. And then those books become almost the very last books on earth I want to read….

For five months I have not deviated from my rule. But (there’s always a but isn’t there?) then came the beginning of June and another round of #20booksofsummer.

Now this event, hosted every year by Cathy at 746books.com. is one of the reading highlights of the year. I love it so much I’ve taken part for several years even though I’ve never managed to actually complete the challenge. Last year was the closest I got with 13 books read from my list.

Imagine then the pain over the last few days of seeing the reading plans of many other bloggers, knowing that I wouldn’t be joining them. My resolution began to crumble to the extent I even began making a list. But I gave myself a good talking to and ditched the whole thing.

Yet here I am on day one of #20booksofsummer 2020. How come you wonder?

I blame Lizzy, the blogger behind lizzysiddal.com. When she posted her plans for #20booksofsummer. I saw that she had identified categories of books rather than specific titles, because, like me, she doesn’t do well reading from lists.

love the #20booksofsummer challenge

And that became the moment where I realised there was a way for me to join #20booksofsummer but still keep true to my 2020 ‘no lists’ rule. It means manipulating the rules somewhat. Some unkind people might call that cheating. I like to think of it as being creative!.

So here we have my non-list list for summer 2020. It’s based on categories which I think gives me plenty of freedom about what I choose to read.

I’m aiming to read 15 books within four categories:

  • Wales
  • Review copies
  • World of literature
  • Non Fiction

Wales

At a rough count I have around 30 books written by authors either indigenous to Wales or who have made their home here. That gives me more than enough scope to read four or five books in this category. That could include West, a highly rated novella by Carys Davies,; two novels from the independent women’s press Honno (A Hundred  Tiny Threads by Judith Barrow, and Wild Spinning Girls by Carol Lovekin), or to vary the genre, The Innocent Wife , a debut thriller by Amy Lloyd.

Review Copies

My list of unread books obtained via NetGalley is now at an embarrassing level so I’m going to use #20booksofsummer to make some inroads into the backlog. Options include (but are not limited to): The Vanishing Sky by an award winning German author, L. Annette Binder and a new Virago Classics edition of They Came Like Swallows by William Maxwell which is a portrait of an ordinary American family struck by the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic.

World of Literature

I’m 10 books away from completing my World of Literature project. The idea behind that was to broaden my reading horizons by exploring authors from countries further afield than my usual fare of British/American literature. I have some titles remaining from the Asympote Book Club subscription that I hope to get around to plus some titles by authors from Somalia and Indonesia.

Non Fiction

My final category gives me a chance to dig into the pile of non fiction books I’ve acquired over several years. There are some memoirs like In Order To Live: A North Korean Girl’s Journey to Freedom by Yeonmi Park and Forty Autumns, a history of a German family separated by the Berlin Wall. Will this be the year I finally get around to reading one of the Roman history books by Mary Beard I bought on a whim?

Watch this space and you’ll find out if I have any more success reading categories than I do reading from lists…..

About BookerTalk

What do you need to know about me? 1. I'm from Wales which is one of the countries in the UK and must never be confused with England. 2. My life has always revolved around the written and spoken word. I worked as a journalist for nine years then in international corporate communications 3. My tastes in books are eclectic. I love realism and hate science fiction and science fantasy. 4. I am trying to broaden my reading horizons geographically by reading more books in translation

Posted on June 1, 2020, in 20 books of summer, Reading plans and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 50 Comments.

  1. I think it’s a wonderful idea and I hope you enjoy your 20BooksofSummer20

  2. I like your ‘creativity’ 😉 Happy summer reading! 😎

  3. Sounds like a plan to me! I am not doing any other challenges (except I have) but I always use this one to get rid of books from my physical TBR and it’s already starting to clear 2018. Happy reading!

  4. This is such a great approach. My reading has been painfully slow this year, even before the pandemic hit, but that’s made it worse and I’m not the best person at sticking to a lisr as it is. I read half of the books I chose for last year’s 20BooksOfSummer because once I’d put them on the list, it diminished their appeal. Good luck for the challenge this year and I’m looking forward to seeing what you read.

  5. Sheree @ Keeping Up With The Penguins

    Oooh, I’ve got In Order To Live on my shelves too. Must get to that! Looking forward to hearing what you think of it!

  6. I love your World of Literature Project. I did something similar a few years ago, got to 55+ countries, and it was so fascinating

    • I’ve found it difficult to identify books from some countries – either there is nothing available in English or the cost is prohibitive. How did you get around that issue?

  7. Sounds like a great plan! Enjoy!

  8. I wasn’t intending to join any challenges apart from the two that I already participate in but I am seriously tempted right now after seeing all the posts about it.

  9. I have half and half. I’ve picked 10 but then have 10 wildcards. I’ve very much a mood reader and the 10 I’ve specified will probably change too! Good luck 🙂

  10. Brilliant idea! Good luck!

  11. I am exactly like you with my love of making lists and then going off them completely. Your category idea is brilliant. Even I could manage that. I saw Yeonmi Park a few years ago at the Sydney Writer’s Festival. Her story is more than amazing and there wasn’t a dry eye in the room when she finished. What a wonderful young woman. At the time she was 22 yrs old and working her way through degrees at Colombia University in New York. I have her book and am yet to read it. I think I should pull it off the shelf now.

  12. What I love about this particular challenge is the fine company, but also how individualised the lists are becoming. I hope this approach is the one that finally works for you 🙂

  13. Categories sounds a sensible route to go down, as is not specifying how many in each category: it all allows for greater flexibility as well as giving you the righteous satisfaction at journey’s end!

  14. These challenges and lists tend to make me a bit crazy as I feel guilty if I don’t meet the goals; however, a challenge that isn’t too restrictive can also be an incentive. I am finding that right now, my books are keeping me going as we adjust to the realities of corona and now, especially, as this heartbreaking pain, chaos, and destruction sweep through my country. I especially love your blog because I find recommendations that I would never see in all the publishers’ emails and reviews that I see regularly here. Thank you!

    • So good to hear that you have found reading to be a good distraction right now Angela. It’s awful seeing the film footage from US cities right now, I hope you don’t live near the affected regions.

  15. I felt much the same way you did about reading lists this year! Good for you for coming up with a way to do this challenge that feels right. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it more.

  16. Now come on, this could be the one time I managed to succeed 😉

  17. Love your way of tackling this challenge. I have been convinced by all the posts circulating around the book blogging sphere to also join in this. Best of luck, and whatever happens, I’m sure we will all have fun!

  18. Great approach…and very sensible. This year, I’m going to allow myself to go against my instincts and take advantage of the flexibility available to swap titles from our lists if necessary.

    • That’s a good approach too Cathy. I should have thought about doing that last year – I put my list together forgetting I had some review commitments.

  19. It’s a great idea – good luck! I suspect I’d even have trouble sticking to categories – unless I just chose one, which was “Books”…..

  20. I’m sure you’re cheating but that’s the fun of 20 Books – cheating is allowed! 😉 Happy reading!

  21. We can always find a way to do what we really want to do!

    • What I really, really want to do right now is sit in a coffee shop with a book. But there’s no way around that one in Wales!

      • Oh you and me both, Karen. That and have lunch with friends.

        • You’re at least three weeks ahead of when this will happen in Wales I think. We’re not supposed to travel more than 5 miles to meet one other household. Needless to say lots of people are breaking the rules. I did find out today that one of my favourite coffee shops is doing take aways and you can sit in their courtyard if you take your own chairs!

  22. What a very smart way around the list problem! I admire your and Lizzy’s ingenuity, Karen.

  23. Sentence one. You forgot subversive. Welcome to the club! 😂

    • This could be the one and only time in my life I ever get called that. Rather like the idea ….But I’m not quite ready to go to the next level and lie down in the road in a protest

  24. Nice idea, but #DoomedToFailAnyway I’m still resisting lists!

  25. That’s a great idea to read by category. Should have thought of that myself!

  26. You’ve described me perfectly! I love to make lists but following them is another skill! I love your spin on the challenge! Looks doable to me!

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