20 Books of Summer – 2023

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 months of June, July and August. However, it’s not as simple as it sounds and despite taking part for the last six years, I’ve never been able to complete it! I usually do read twenty books during that period, but not necessarily the books on my list – although last year I came very close and managed to read nineteen of them.

This year’s 20 Books of Summer starts on Thursday 1st June and finishes on Friday 1st September. I have listed below the books I would like to read:

NetGalley books
1. The Graces by Siobhan MacGowan
2. The Witching Tide by Margaret Meyer
3. Disobedient by Elizabeth Fremantle
4. Fair Rosaline by Natasha Solomons
5. Learned by Heart by Emma Donoghue
6. A Lady’s Guide to Scandal by Sophie Irwin

Read Christie 2023
7. Death Comes as the End by Agatha Christie

Classics Club
8. Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith
9. Fire from Heaven by Mary Renault
10. The New Magdalen by Wilkie Collins

Reading the Meow at Literary Potpourri
11. The Cat Saw Murder by Dolores Hitchens

‘Summer’ books
12. The Summer Tree by Guy Gavriel Kay
13. A Song for Summer by Eva Ibbotson

14. The House with the Golden Door by Elodie Harper
15. The Ionian Mission by Patrick O’Brian
16. The Embroidered Sunset by Joan Aiken
17. Throne of Jade by Naomi Novik
18. Wonder Cruise by Ursula Bloom
19. The Reckoning by Sharon Penman
20. Atlas: The Story of Pa Salt by Lucinda Riley and Harry Whittaker


Have you read any of these? Which do you think I should read first? And are you taking part in 20 Books of Summer this year?

30 thoughts on “20 Books of Summer – 2023

  1. Lory says:

    We just watched the movie of Strangers on a Train last night! It was interesting to learn how Hitchcock changed the ending. I’d like to read the book as well.

  2. volatilemuse says:

    A fascinating list. I admire everyone who manages to take part in this challenge. I’m probably going for 10 but don’t have my list yet. I haven’t read any of these but Mr. Volatile Rune is currently reading the last Lucinda Riley. He loves her books. So sad she’s gone.

    • Helen says:

      10 is probably a more sensible target. I’ve never managed to read all 20 and probably won’t this year either. Yes, it’s very sad about Lucinda Riley. I’m looking forward to reading the last in the series, but sorry there won’t be any more after that.

  3. margaret21 says:

    I haven’t – yet – read a single one. I’m sure I shall, but this kind of challenge isn’t for me. I’d be sure to meet other books on the way and just get stressed by the whole business.

    • Helen says:

      Yes, I’ve loved all the other Sharon Penman books I’ve read, so I’m looking forward to that one. I hope we both enjoy the Pa Salt book!

  4. whatmeread says:

    I have read Strangers on a Train, Fire from Heaven, and The Summer Tree. I thought The Summer Tree seemed outdated and immature, but the other two are good. Fire from Heaven is the beginning of a trilogy, but you probably know that.

    I long ago read one Sharon Penman novel (back when she was Sharon Kay Penman) that I didn’t care for, but I often think I should try her again.

    I haven’t taken part in this challenge before, and I probably won’t. I am sure I read 20 books each summer, but I’m not sure I want to pick them out ahead of time. Sometimes I feel a little overwhelmed by all the challenges out there.

    • Helen says:

      Yes, I have a copy of the second book in the Mary Renault trilogy ready to read after Fire from Heaven. I’m not sure what I’ll think of The Summer Tree as I’ve loved other Guy Gavriel Kay books but that one was his first book and supposed to be very different. I still want to try it anyway.

      I can never resist taking part in this challenge but never seem to complete it! As soon as I post my list, I start wanting to read different books instead.

      • whatmeread says:

        I thought that whole trilogy seemed juvenile and the ideas dated when I reread it, but that was forty years after it was written. I know I read it way back then and didn’t have those thoughts. It probably seemed cool to me then.

  5. Calmgrove says:

    Oh, a wonderful selection! I temporarily abandoned a library copy of the Highsmith a couple or so weeks ago but intend to get back to it soon; I’ve also a few GGK novels waiting, along with some grown-up Aiken titles (though not this one). I do hope you enjoy your list, and I look forward to what you’ll have to say about them!

    • Helen says:

      Thank you! I’ve enjoyed the other adult novels I’ve read by Aiken so I’m looking forward to The Embroidered Sunset. I still haven’t read The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, but am considering it for the 1962 Club later in the year. Sorry you had to abandon the Highsmith, but sometimes the time just isn’t right!

  6. FictionFan says:

    I’ve only read a couple of these. Strangers on a Train is very good, though personally I think the film improves on the book. Death Comes as the End is a strange Christie, but I remember loving it. It’s on my current CC list for a re-read. Hope you enjoy all your picks!

    • Helen says:

      I’ll have to watch the film of Strangers on a Train after I’ve read the book so I can compare them. I’m glad you loved Death Comes as the End! I’ll be reading it in August for the Read Christie challenge.

  7. conmartin13 says:

    What a list – it’s full of enticing things! I think the Reckoning would be a great start or for a lighter but still enjoyable start, A Song for Summer.

    My mother loves Guy Gavriel Kay so would say to start with that one. I just got the Freemantle about Katherine Parr from the library. I’ve read the Christie and Fire from Heaven (so long ago I don’t remember it).

    • Helen says:

      I’m looking forward to all of the books on my list and still haven’t decided where to start! I’ve wanted to read The Reckoning for years as I loved the first two books in that trilogy, but I’ll probably save it until I have more time later in the summer and read something lighter first. I hope you enjoy the Fremantle book – I remember liking that one.

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