#20books of summer

Celebrating #20booksofsummer

I’m in the mood for a celebration.

This is the first year I’ve completed the #20booksofsummer reading project! Actually in my case it was the 15 books of summer.

Books of Summer

I had dithered and wavered about whether to join the event this year having said at the start of 2020 that I would avoid any projects/challenges that involved reading from a list. But at the eleventh hour I came up with a cunning plan that would enable to take part yet avoid having to make a reading list.

I chose, instead of a list of specific books, to read 15 books from four categories of books all on my TBR shelves.

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

And it worked. I read 15 books – more than I’ve managed in any other year.

Categories of books in the #20booksofsummer reading project

Here’s what I read with links to my reviews where I’ve managed to do them (still a few to be written)

  • Wales
    • Rather To Be Pitied by Jan Newton : a crime novel set in rural Wales, giving me the perfect excuse to indulge in memories of visiting the places mentioned.
    • The Innocent Wife by Amy Lloyd: a strange tale of a woman who forms such a strong attachment to a man on death row she believes is innocent.  
    • West by Carys Davies: beautifully crafted novella of a widower on a quest to find the huge creatures whose gigantic bones had been discovered in Kentucky.
  • Review copies
    • The Waiting Rooms by Eve Smith: a chilling novel based on a premise that antibiotics have failed to work.
    • They Came Like Swallows  by William Maxwell: a new edition of a slim novel focused on a middle-class family in a small town in Illinois, at the end of the First World War.
    • The Midnight Library by Matt Haig: Welcome to a library where every book is a version of your life. Each version shows what would have happened if you’d only taken a different decision.
    • The Covenant by Thorne Moore : a family saga where a determination to hold on to a birthright has tragic consequences.
    • Dear Reader by Cathy : a moving account of how books changed the course of her life,  giving her confidence in herself and helping to deal with the trauma of her brother’s young death. Will be published by Picador on September 17.
  • World of Literature
    • In Order To Live by Yeonmi Park: A memoir from a young North Korean girl about her dangerous journey to escapes from a brutal regime.
    • Love by Hanne Ørstavik: for such a small book, this has a huge emotional pull.
    • Maigret And The Headless Corpse by Georges Simenon: Another outing for the French detective who is more interested in why someone commits a crime, than how.
  • Non Fiction
    • Slatehead by Peter Goulding: the abandoned slate quarries of North Wales are a magnet for climbers. Goulding shares his love of the caverns and fissures and the physical and mental challenges they present.
    • My Name Is Why by Lemn Sissay: a memoir that is a damning indictment of a social care system that went disastrously wrong and left a young boy feeling alone and unloved.

Off Piste

I allowed myself to indulge in a few books that didn’t fit any of these categories.

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness: a gloriously illustrated book of a child who has to cope with a personal loss

The Small House at Allington  by Anthony Trollope: book number 5 in Trollope’s Chronicles of Barsetshire. Over long unfortunately and lacking the wit and satire I’ve experienced with the previous titles in this series.

20#booksof summer is always a fun experience but I’ve enjoyed this year more than ever. I’ve travelled far and wide and read some excellent books. My 3 favourites are West by Carys Davies, My Name is Why by Lemn Sissay and They Came Like Swallows by William Maxwell.

Thanks as always are to Cathy at 746books who hosts the event. Here’s to next year….


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

24 thoughts on “Celebrating #20booksofsummer

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  • Hooray, it worked! I can only make it work by clinging grimly to only using the first 14 or so books off my TBR then the rest the first Viragoes and Persephones on there. It worked well this year and I got it done!

  • So glad you enjoyed it this year – thanks for taking part 😘

  • Well done. I think it’s a good strategy to give the list some focus.
    It was the first year that I did not complete the challenge – I foolishly picked some very long books, plus motivation/ attention span hasn’t been great in Melbourne’s very extended lockdown.

    • Your lack of motivation/attention is completely understandable considering what Melbourne is going through. Particularly galling when you thought you were over the worst of the virus, to have to go back into lockdown

  • Good work! And some really interesting sounding titles.
    As an aside, is there any reason why your blog posts don’t appear in full on the Word Press App reader? I read and comment on all WP blogs via the app on my phone, but yours only shows an excerpt which means I have to go to your blog which is difficult to read on a phone… hence I don’t comment / read as often as I’d like.

    • Thanks for alerting me to this issue Kim. I have a feeling the issue relates to the AMP settings (Accelerated Mobile Pages) which I changed recently to make the site more mobile-friendly. None of the instructions said it would result in readers only getting an extract. I shall need to fiddle around to solve this.

      • I’d noticed you’d made the blog more mobile friendly, thanks. I used to be directed to an intermediate version which was the full page but which I couldn’t enlarge to read on my phone, then an online version which I could enlarge but which also gave me the option to read in a simplified version.

        That four stage process is now easier (rather as Kimbofo describes) but ideally it would be great to have it in WP Reader in just one stage — though I’d still have to use the online version if you included a video or a slideshow.

        • Thanks Chris for the additional insight on the user experience. I’ve gone through all the settings for AMP (the mobile version) and can’t find anything to indicate people get only a snippet. so frustrating.

        • No worries, Karen, it’s good the process for reading on the mobile version is now simplified.

  • Having categories sounds a good approach and I’m glad it obviously worked for you. I think either categories OR numbers OR meme works for me because being fairly flighty in my reading I don’t seem to be able to manage more than one permutation at a time! But I did enjoy your reviews of these, a surprising number of which I’ve retained strong impressions of…

    • I shall join you in the “fairly flighty reader” corner. I’ve said for years that I must have been a butterfly in another incarnation because I’m always flitting between things that catch my eye and never seem to stay in one place for any length of time

  • I love how you made this work for you! 🎉🙌

    • I don’t think I would have managed it without the flexibility of the categories


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