20 Books of Summer – 2019

20 Books of Summer, hosted by Cathy at 746 Books, is a very simple idea: make a list of 20 (or 10 or 15) books and read them during the summer months. However, it’s not as easy as it sounds, as I discovered when I took part in 2017 and 2018. Just reading twenty books in three months is not usually a problem for me, but sticking to a list prepared in advance definitely is! Cathy does allow us to add and remove books from our lists, but I prefer not to do that if possible, which makes it even more challenging.

I did consider the ten or fifteen book option this time because I’m expecting this summer to be much busier than usual (if all goes according to plan I should be moving house in July) but I decided just to list twenty anyway and see how far I get with them. This year all of the books on my list are review copies, either physical ones or books I’ve received through NetGalley. It should be a good way to clear some of the backlog!

I’ll see how many of these I can read between 3rd June and 3rd September:

1. The Canary Keeper by Clare Carson

2. The Horseman by Tim Pears

3. The Devil’s Slave by Tracy Borman

4. A Tapestry of Treason by Anne O’Brien

5. The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter by Hazel Gaynor

6. Those Who Are Loved by Victoria Hislop

7. Wakenhyrst by Michelle Paver

8. Anna of Kleve, Queen of Secrets by Alison Weir

9. Murder in the Crooked House by Soji Shimada

10. The Woman in the Lake by Nicola Cornick

11. The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See

12. The Doll Factory by Elizabeth Macneal

13. The Anarchist’s Club by Alex Reeve

14. Gun Island by Amitav Ghosh

15. Mrs Whistler by Matthew Plampin

16. The Butterfly Room by Lucinda Riley

17. A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes

18. Just One Damned Thing After Another by Jodi Taylor

19. Decoding the Bayeux Tapestry by Arthur C. Wright (non-fiction)

20. Henry VI and Margaret of Anjou by Amy Licence (non-fiction)


Have you read any of these? Will you be taking part in 20 Books of Summer this year?

47 thoughts on “20 Books of Summer – 2019

  1. Lark says:

    Sticking to a reading list is hard! The books I want to read most changes with my mood. But your list of summer reads looks like it’ll cover every mood. You’ve got some great books on it! Good luck…and happy reading! πŸ˜€

  2. Calmgrove says:

    I’ve heard good things about The Doll Factory but I suspect it’ll be some time before I get to it. But what a good starting point, to tackle your review copies — I wish you the very best of luck!

    • Helen says:

      Thank you! Yes, I thought this would be an ideal opportunity to make some progress with the review copies I’ve had mounting up over the last few months. The Doll Factory does sound good.

  3. Jo Shafer says:

    Twenty books this summer? There aren’t that many weeks in three months. Yes, I’ve read The Lightkeeper’s Daughter and most of Alison Weir’s novels, but not this one. All the titles in your list appeal to my reading tastes, but I’m starting with Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life by Marta McDowell. It arrived in today’s post from Amazon Books and is research for my next blog post about literary gardeners. Then I’ll take up your challenge and see how far I get.

    • Helen says:

      I tend to read 8-12 books in a month, so 20 in three months is not usually a problem, but I think I’m going to have less time to read this summer so I might struggle. Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life sounds lovely – I hope you enjoy it! πŸ™‚

      • Jo Shafer says:

        Yes, I am! Thanks.
        Today, the Seattle Times published the Summer Reading Bingo game sponsored by Seattle Arts & Lectures with Seattle Public Library. A total of 25 spaces, one for each book, is offered. We are to record titles we complete between now and September 3rd. The hitch is that each book must fit a specific category, and the goal is to complete a row horizontally or vertically or diagonally. Last year I found this quite challenging, but I’m game to trying again! One of the categories is gardening. So, here goes . . . .

  4. robinandian2013 says:

    Great reading list. I look forward to your feedback on them – and learning which was best of them all.

  5. whatmeread says:

    That looks like an interesting list. I’m not familiar with any of the authors except Alison Weir and Amitav Ghosh. I wasn’t aware that he had a new book out, so I will look for it!

  6. Margaret says:

    I’m not good at sticking to a reading list either! I’ve read some of these (nos. 7, 15 & 16). I’ve also got Those Who Are Loved on my list, and had The Doll Factory on it too, but I couldn’t wait and finished it yesterday – I loved it.

  7. Jo says:

    I am no good sticking to a list. Best of luck. I hope you enjoy the Hazel Gaynor one and I need to get hold of a copy of the Butterfly Room.

    • Helen says:

      I’m looking forward to reading something by Hazel Gaynor at last as I also have The Cottingley Secret on my TBR. I hope you can find a copy of The Butterfly Room!

  8. CafΓ© Society says:

    I am going to be really interested in what you make of the Jodi Taylor, Helen. Her books are definitely not your usual fare but she does have a very definite respect for history so you may find common ground there. The Bears and I love them.

    • Helen says:

      So many people seem to enjoy the Jodi Taylor books that when I saw some of them available on Netgalley I thought it would be a good opportunity to try the first one and see what I think. If The Bears love them I’m sure they must be good. πŸ™‚

    • Helen says:

      Thanks! I don’t expect to actually read everything on my list (I get distracted too easily by other books) but it should at least help me to make some progress with my review pile. πŸ™‚

  9. jessicabookworm says:

    Helen, I love your idea to use this challenge to tackle you towering review copy tower πŸ˜€ The only book I have read off your list is Just One Damned Thing After Another by Jodi Taylor – I thought it was good fun, so I hope you enjoy it too. πŸ™‚

    • Helen says:

      I’ve had a lot of review copies building up over the last few months, especially from NetGalley, and I’m determined to get caught up with some of them before I request any more! I’m looking forward to the Jodi Taylor book. πŸ™‚

  10. Sandra says:

    A delicious list, Helen, good luck! I’m going to try this for the first time this year and shall almost certainly fail but it will be fun anyway. My list will be out in a day or two.

    • Helen says:

      I’ll look forward to seeing your list, Sandra. I’m expecting to fail too – I usually do, although I managed fifteen out of twenty last year which wasn’t too bad!

  11. tbr313 says:

    Most of these are new to me, so I’ll be happy to hear more about them in your reviews.

    I haven’t had good luck with lists, so I’m trying to make a stack of books that I want to read in a particular month – to see if having them front and center works.

    • Helen says:

      I usually have a better variety of old and new books on my summer lists, but this year I wanted to focus on catching up with my review copies. Hopefully some of them will interest you when I get round to posting the reviews! Making a stack rather than a list sounds like a good idea to me. πŸ™‚

  12. Liz Dexter says:

    How funny – I’ve not read any of these and I am doing it but am specifically excluding review books from the pile, so kind of the opposite to you. And I have so many review books and ebooks I’m basically setting myself up to fail!

    • Helen says:

      Good luck with your list. I’ll probably regret only including review copies when there are so many other books I want to read as well!

    • Helen says:

      Gun Island does sound interesting. I enjoyed Amitav Ghosh’s Ibis Trilogy and I’ve been looking forward to reading more of his work.

  13. Jessie says:

    I haven’t read any of these, but am very interested in The Doll Factory, A Thousand Ships, and Wakenhyrst. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on them! I’m finalizing my own 20 Books of Summer list this weekend. Good luck with the challenge and happy summer reading!

    • Helen says:

      Thanks! Happy reading to you too. πŸ™‚ The Alison Weir series is great if you’re interested in Tudor history. I’ve been particularly looking forward to the Anne of Cleves book because of all Henry VIII’s six wives she’s the one I know least about.

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