This is my second year joining the 20 Books of Summer challenge run by Cathy at 746Books. Last year I (more or less) completed my 20 books, but only managed to write short reviews for most of them. This year I will be extremely surprised if I don’t have to reduce the number to 15 or even 10 because of the size of some of them. On the other hand, several of those thick books are actually trilogies so will count for three if I run out of time. Due to chronic indecision, my longlist consists of 37 books, so not everything on this list will be read this summer. It’s so difficult when you want to read everything on your book pile, now!
2022 themes of summer
Every year, I take part in a challenge with monthly reading themes. This summer the themes are insects and bugs (June), weather and climate (July) and road trip (August). I have split my possibles into 3 piles to match the themes, bar a couple on the wrong pile to even them up for the photo. There are a couple of non-themed library books and even invisible books, i.e. ARCs in ebook form from the newly-discovered Book Sirens. Other challenges I’m trying to include are books from or about different countries and one or two 1001 books. The 20 Books of Summer challenge is a fantastic way of including Books I Never Seem to Get To, though this year I’ve tried to stick to the main three themes.
20 Books of Summer, the longlist
Insects & bugs theme
- De vrouw van de imker (2007) by Amulya Maladi (The Sound of Language, trans. from English to Dutch by Mieke Trouw-Luyckx). TBR since 2015. An Afghan refugee in Denmark.
- The Mosquito Coast (1981) by Paul Theroux. Honduras. TBR since 2014. Half-read. An American man emigrates to Honduras with his family, expecting the locals to accept him as a saviour.
- The Murmur of Bees (2019) by Sofía Segovia (El murmullo de las abejas, trans. from Spanish by Simon Bruni). TBR since 2021. An abandoned baby, protected by a swarm of bees, who can see the future. Set during the 1918 influenza pandemic and the Mexican Revolution.
- Het luizenpaleis (2002) by Elif Shafak (The Flea Palace, trans. from Turkish by Margreet Dorleijn and Hanneke van der Heijden). TBR since 2021 (library book). Stories about the inhabitants of a decaying former palace in Istanbul.
- Melmoth (2018), Sarah Perry. TBR since 2021 (library book). An English translator in Prague learns of the dark presence of the legendary Melmoth the Witness.
Weather & climate theme
- The Hungry Tide (2004) by Amitav Ghosh. TBR since 2012. An American-Indian marine biologist wants to study rare river dolphins in the Sundarban Islands off India, helped by a local fisherman and a translator.
- Wilding (2018) by Isabella Tree. TBR since 2019. NF. Allowing nature to reclaim land spoiled by intensive farming, restoring biodiversity.
- The Song of Wirrun: The Ice is Coming (already read), The Dark Bright Water, Behind the Wind (1984) by Patricia Wrightson. TBR since 2008. An Australian fantasy epic with a young indigenous boy investigating strange climatological events caused by ancient spirits and the forces of fire, ice and water.
- The Windrush Betrayal: Exposing the Hostile Environment (2019) by Amelia Gentleman. TBR since 2021. NF. A change in government policy led to the enforced ‘repatriation’ of Caribbean immigrants, some of whom had lived their entire lives in Britain, all of whom were entitled to stay there. An investigation.
- What If Solving the Climate Crisis Is Simple? (2020) by Tom Bowman. TBR since 2020. NF. An optimistic view of the future.
- Spring (2019) by Ali Smith. TBR since 2020. The third in Ali Smith’s topical seasonal quartet (now with a 5th volume).
- Area X: The Southern Reach Trilogy (Annihilation; Authority; Acceptance) (2014) by Jeff VanDerMeer. TBR since 2022. Expeditions into a mysterious remote ecological anomaly.
- The House of Drought by Dennis Mombauer. Ebook/ARC via Book Sirens. 106pp. Deadline 14 July. Creepy novella about a presence under a house in Sri Lanka that has survived colonisation and climate change.
Road trip theme
- The Return of the Native (1878) by Thomas Hardy. TBR since 2012. 1001 book. Romance and unhappy marriage.
- South Riding (1936) by Winifred Holtby. TBR since 2019. A feminist story of life in a pre-WWII rural community in Yorkshire. Half-read.
- Rabbit-Proof Fence (1996) by Doris Pilkington (real name Nugi Garimara). TBR since 2019. The true story of three mixed race girls who walked across Australia to return home after the government took them away to indoctrinate them into white culture.
- Riddley Walker (1998) by Russell Hoban. TBR since 2017. Post-apocalyptic verbal shenanigans told by a 12-year-old boy.
- The Places in Between (2006) by Rory Stewart. TBR since 2022. NF. A solo walk across remotest Afghanistan in 2002.
- A Time of Gifts (1977) by Patrick Leigh Fermor. TBR since 2021. NF. A memoir of a trip across Europe in 1933 from Hook of Holland to Hungary, first part of a trilogy.
- The Road Home (2007) by Rose Tremain. TBR since 2019. An Eastern European immigrant adapts to life in England.
- Heimwee naar de jungle (The Lost Steps) (1953) by Alejo Carpentier (Los pasos perdidos, trans. from Spanish to Dutch by J.G. Rijkmans). 1001 book. TBR since 2015. A composer travels with his mistress to the remote South American jungle. Half-read.
- Het verschil [The difference] (2000) by Monika van Paemel. TBR since 2010? Three men and a woman travel on horseback from Belgium to Sarajevo.
- The Terrible Privacy of Maxwell Sim (2010) by Jonathan Coe. TBR since ? Satire or silliness about social media and a lonely man who goes on a road trip.
Books I Never Get To
- Pachinko (2017) by Lee Min-jin. TBR since 2017. In 1911 a Christian minister takes a pregnant Korean girl to be his wife in Japan. A family saga.
- The Quincunx (1990) by Charles Palliser. TBR since 2008. A Dickensian tale of a young boy and his mother who become destitute, with a family secret to be discovered. Half-read earlier this year.
- Empireland: How Imperialism Has Shaped Modern Britain (2021) by Sathnam Sanghera. TBR since 2021. How the colonial attitude still affects daily life.
- The Man Who Spoke Snakish (2007) by Andrus Kiviräk (Mees, kes teadis ussisõnu, trans. from Estonian by Christopher Mosely). TBR since 2017. Medieval fantasy dark fairytale set in the Estonian forests.
- The Golem and the Djinni (2013) by Helene Wecker. TBR since 2013. A mix of Yiddish and Middle Eastern folklore meet in New York in 1899.
- Americanah (2013) by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. 1001 book. TBR since 2013. A Nigerian woman in America. Half-read.
Promised to Read / Book club
- Watermelon (1995) by Marian Keyes. TBR since 2012. Family saga, recommended to me by my daughter several years ago.
- Utopia for Realists (2014) by Rutger Bregman. TBR since 2020. NF. Examples of how the world could be improved by implementing innovative ideas. I’ve been promising my son to read this for a couple of years now.
- The White Girl (2019) by Tony Birch. For June’s book club. Deadline 29 June. An indigenous grandmother has to risk everything to save her light-skinned granddaughter from being sent to an Australian government indoctrination centre.
- Some Tame Gazelle (1950) by Barbara Pym. This is really a placeholder for my July book club book, Excellent Women (1952). Deadline 27 July.
- A Caribbean book for our book club in August. Either When We Were Birds by Ayanna Lloyd Banwo (Trinidad and Tobago), How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House by Cherie Jones (Barbados) or These Ghosts Are Family by Maisy Card (Jamaica/New York). Deadline 24 August.
- The Saviour Fish: Life and Death on Africa’s Greatest Lake (2022) by Mark Weston. Ebook/ARC via Book Sirens. 216pp. Deadline 29 June. NF. An account of two years on the Tanzanian shores of Lake Victoria, learning about the human cost of interfering with nature, pollution, overfishing and deforestation.
- Een bizarre bibliotheek [A very peculiar collection] (2012) by Barnard Quiriny (Une collection très particulière, trans. from French to Dutch by Wilma Beun). A library full of magical books with strange characteristics.
- Mijn ex, de dood en ik (2015) by Thees Uhlmann (Sophia, der Tod und ich, trans. from German into Dutch by Herman Vinckers). Death gives the narrator three minutes to live, but then they get into a discussion about life and the things that matter.
Obviously I won’t read all of these books. I’ll pick and choose out of the piles and try to remember to read the ones that have deadlines in time. And somehow I have to find some time to write reviews, too. I’m almost tempted to make a spreadsheet, but that would just be procrastination. Let the mad reading begin!