Here’s my summer reading list, now I’m all set up to take part again in Cathy’s annual 20 books of summer challenge.
My first five selections were inspired by reading The Shelf, a 2014 book by Phyllis Rose subtitled Adventures in Extreme Reading. I’ve been much-derided for enjoying this book by my children – reading is hardly bass-jumping – but the premise really appeals to me. Rose went to the New York state library, and picked a shelf (almost) at random, pledging to read her way through it. The book was a fascinating exploration of the results of this exercise, and took her away from reading directed by reviews, hype and the canon.
So, off I went to Dulwich Library in South London, and picked up 5 random books off the very first shelf, comprising authors from ABB to ALL.
I know next to nothing about these books, and have previously read only one of the authors (Megan Abbott’s Dare Me).
- 1, A Bookshop in Algiers by Kaouther Adimi
- 2, The Turnout by Megan Abbott
- 3, Black Wolf by G. D. Abson
- 4, Things that Fall from the Sky by Selja Ahava
- 5, The Blue Between Sky and Water by Susan Abulhawa
The following five books have effectively been selected in the opposite fashion and by diktat, from books on my TBR that are included on the unofficial canon, the 1001 books to read before you die list. So we have:
- 6, London Fields by Martin Amis (I read and loved the hilariously repugnant Money)
- 7, The Year of the Hare by Arto Paasilinna
- 8, Novel with Cocaine by M. Ageyev
- 9, Fictions by Jorge Luis Borges
- 10, The Life of Death of Harriett Frean by May Sinclair
Then five hardbacks, mostly recent, to help clear my teetering piles of over-sized books:
- 11, Soldier Sailor by Claire Kilroy
- 12, French Braid by Anne Tyler
- 13, All the Beauty in the World by Patrick Bringley
- 14, On Beauty by Zadie Smith
- 15, A House for Alice by Diana Evans
Then five random books from my TBR (with possible alternatives for some):
- 16, The Electric Kool Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe
- 17, Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (or alternatively one of the two reads to be selected by my book club)
- 18, The Trick is to Keep Breathing by Janice Galloway or Before Night Falls by Reinaldo Arenas if I’m feeling in need of some more non-fiction
- 19, Memento Mori by Muriel Spark (or alternatively the second of the two reads to be selected by my book club)
- 20, Purge by Sofi Oksanen (bought on Kindle in 2011!)
Total: roughly 5,643 pages, which means reading 60 pages a day throughout June, July and August and posting every four days(ish), allowing for trips away. No mean feat, as the summer months are gruelling workwise. Eight books here are from the library, one on Kindle (so missing from the pic!) and the remainder are books I’ve bought or been given.
Here’s the stack of books, glowering at the end of the bed: