20 Books of Summer – 2021

20 Books of Summer, hosted by Cathy at 746 Books, is a very simple idea: make a list of twenty books (there are also ten and fifteen book options) and read them during the summer months. However, itโ€™s more difficult than it sounds, and although this will be my fifth year of taking part, I have still never managed to read all twenty books on my list!

This yearโ€™s 20 Books of Summer starts on Tuesday 1st June and finishes on Wednesday 1st September. I have listed below the books I would like to read, but I don’t expect to have time for all of them and will probably end up reading lots of books that aren’t on the list instead! These are a mixture of review copies, books from my Classics Club list and books that have been waiting on my TBR for a long time. I will also have three books to read for an Agatha Christie challenge I’m participating in, but I don’t know what they will be yet.


1. Still Life by Sarah Winman
2. Death in Zanzibar by MM Kaye
3. A Corruption of Blood by Ambrose Parry
4. The Green Gauntlet by RF Delderfield
5. The Women of Troy by Pat Barker
6. Jane and Prudence by Barbara Pym
7. The Lily and the Lion by Maurice Druon
8. Fool’s Assassin by Robin Hobb
9. The Ionian Mission by Patrick O’Brian
10. The Last Daughter by Nicola Cornick
11. These Old Shades by Georgette Heyer
12. The Echo Chamber by John Boyne
13. The Reckoning by Sharon Penman
14. The Infernal Riddle of Thomas Peach by Jas Treadwell
15. High Rising by Angela Thirkell
16. Confusion by Elizabeth Jane Howard
17. Red Adam’s Lady by Grace Ingram
18. St Martin’s Summer by Rafael Sabatini
19. Goodbye, Mr Chips by James Hilton
20. The Sussex Downs Murder by John Bude


Have you read any of these? Which one should I read first? And will you be joining in with 20 Books of Summer this year?

34 thoughts on “20 Books of Summer – 2021

  1. Pam Thomas says:

    That’s an interesting selection! It includes three books I’ve really enjoyed. I love Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey/Maturin seies, so I’d recommend The Ionian Mission: ditto Elizabeth Jane Howard’s Cazalet Chronicles. But the most interesting is Red Adam’s Lady, by ‘Grace Ingram’. On the face of it, it’s just another romance novel about mediaeval England, but it’s very much more than that, there’s a very convincing picture of castle life, the characters are well and sharply drawn, there’s humour and danger and excitement. Elizabeth Chadwick, whose mediaeval research is second to none, really rates it. ‘Grace Ingram’ wrote another book under that name, Gilded Spurs, but in the 60s she also wrote four wonderful novels in the same vein, as Doris Sutcliffe Adams, and I only realised it because one of them, Power of Darkness, is linked to Gilded Spurs. If you only manage to read one of your list this summer, read Red Adam’s Lady.

    • Helen says:

      I’ve enjoyed all of the previous books in the Aubrey/Maturin series and Cazalet Chronicles, so I’m looking forward to continuing with both of those. Red Adam’s Lady sounds wonderful and I’ve been wanting to read it for ages, so I’m determined to get round to it this summer.

  2. Elizabeth Bailey says:

    I have just read Jane and Prudence by Barbara Pim. I liked the subtle dry humour and it was reminiscent of an era I grew up in, so an enjoyable read. But I found her transitions abrupt and often had to work out where and when we had got to. It’s a light read, her characters are flawed and questions don’t get answered. Overall partially satisfying. I don’t think I will read another.

    • Helen says:

      I’ve read a few of Barbara Pym’s other books and although I don’t think she’ll ever be a favourite author, I did like them and I need a few light books on my list this summer!

  3. GoAnnelies - In Another Era says:

    Great list! I haven’t yet read any of these books but I am tempted to start with Maurice Druon’s accursed kings series. But somehow reading reviews about it, put me off. (they also aren’t available at the libary). I might reconsider some time ๐Ÿ˜…

  4. FictionFan says:

    As you know, I’ve just read The Sussex Downs Murders and quite enjoyed it though it’s a bit too procedural for my taste. I’ve probably read These Old Shades since I snaffled every Heyer I could get from my library during my teens and twenties, but they’ve all merged into one in my mind now, so I can’t specifically remember one from another. I’ll be interested to hear what you think of The Green Gauntlet – I’ve read and enjoyed some Delderfield, but not that one. Have a great summer of reading!

    • Helen says:

      Yes, a lot of Heyer’s books can be very similar! I actually had both These Old Shades and The Green Gauntlet by Delderfield on last year’s 20 Books of Summer list but didn’t get round to them, so I’ll have to prioritise them this time!

    • Helen says:

      Thanks! I enjoyed Sarah Winman’s first book, When God Was a Rabbit, but never got round to reading any of her others, so I’m looking forward to Still Life.

  5. Lory says:

    I’ve read Pym, Heyer and Thirkell and think any of them would make fine summer reading. Red Adam’s Lady sounds splendid too!

    • Helen says:

      Red Adamโ€™s Lady does sound good! I’ve enjoyed other books by Pym and Heyer, but haven’t read anything by Angela Thirkell yet.

  6. Cleo @ Classical Carousel says:

    Oh, fun! Love your list. I was enthralled with Death in Zanzibar when I read it decades ago. I also really enjoyed These Old Shades; Heyer is always a good read. Best of luck and I wish you a summer full of reading, reading and more reading!

    • Helen says:

      Thank you, Cleo! I’ve read some of the other Death In mysteries and enjoyed them, particularly Death in Kashmir, so I have high hopes for the Zanzibar one!

  7. piningforthewest says:

    I’ve read numbers 4, 6, 11, 15, 16 and 20. I liked all of those ones but I think I would begin with High Rising.

  8. Ellie Warren says:

    I’m looking forward to The Women of Troy. I didn’t put it on my list as I it ordered on audiobook and thought it might be a bit tight to listen to it by September, but it’s high on my post-20 books of summer TBR!

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