20 Books of Summer ’20

This sounded like a fun challenge, hosted by Cathy746books, and since my social life has shrunk so much recently due to COVID-19 it seems feasible!

Basically, I need to select 20 books to read between 1 June and 1 September 2020.

My list was a mixture of “improving” classics that I keep meaning to read, literature in translation/by foreign writers (to me! I’m in the UK) and a few works of non-fiction and contemporary British/US fiction that I’ve had on my TBR shelf for a while.

I’ve swapped a few as I’ve gone on and recycled books I’ve realised I’m just never going to read.

  1. Thirteen Months of Sunrise – published by Comma Press, this is a short (70 pages), recently translated collection of work by Sudanese author Rania Mamoun (completed 01/06/2020 – it’s short!).
  2. Another Country by Anjali Joseph – swapped for Ocean Vuong’s On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous (completed 7/7/20)
  3. Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis – supposedly “preposterously funny”, this book has been recommended to me many times. I work with academics, and often wish I’d gone into academia, so this story about a scatty, love-crossed academic seems like a suitable distraction for these “strange times” (as everyone seems to be calling them).
  4. Pale Rider by Laura Spinney – a non-fiction account of the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918. Could be grim, could even be dull, but I’m hoping for informative and enlightening. (Finished reading 20.06.20.)
  5. Paradise by Abdulrazak Gurnah – shortlisted for the 1994 Booker Prize, a coming of age tale by a Tanzanian author.
  6. Les AnnĂ©es by Annie Ernaux – trying to keep up my French with this acclaimed autobiographical novel by the well-regarded French author.
  7. Gorsky by Vesna Goldsworthy – this looks like a fun, escapist novel about the opulent life of oligarch-types in London, by this Serbian-born author.
  8. Good Morning, Midnight by Jean Rhys – nice and short, I’ve been meaning to read this for a long time – about a young woman seeking to escape a personal tragedy and seek independence in hard-drinking 1930s Paris.
  9. The Western Wind by Samantha Harvey – an oft-recommended mystery novel set in the 15th century, which is also “a profound meditation on faith and existence”.
  10. Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett – I’ve never read any Beckett and I feel I should. This is a dual language French/English version of the play. (Finished 02/07/20.)
  11. Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata – a short Japanese novel which is often recommended as a quirky, funny, very modern read and as one of the best works of fiction by a Japanese woman writer in translation. (Finished 04/06/20.)
  12. The Past by Tessa Hadley – from the back cover “four siblings meet up in their grandparents’ old house for three long, hot summer weeks. But under the idyllic surface lie simmering tensions.” I love a country house, summery novel. One for chilling in the garden with.
  13. The Collected Stories by Katherine Mansfield – I’ve dipped into Katherine Mansfield on several occasions, but I want to take the opportunity to immerse myself in her stories.
  14. My Katherine Mansfield Project by Kirsty Gunn – a memoir by someone who returned to her native Wellington in New Zealand, which discusses the influence of Katherine Mansfield on her own work.
  15. Whistle in the Dark by Emma Healey – swapped for Tove Jansson’s “The Summer Book”, completed 13/07/20.
  16. Lost Art by Jennifer Mundy – a work of non-fiction about various works of lost art, which appeared in the Tate’s Gallery of Lost Art project.
  17. Golden Child by Claire Adam – a prize-winning novel by a Trinidadian writer who has been compared with V. S. Naipaul. (Finished reading 11/06/2020.)
  18. Harald Sohlberg: Infinite Landscapes – a richly illustrated catalogue that accompanied a recent exhibition at the Dulwich Picture Gallery that I attended (twice!) last year. (Finished reading 06/07/20.)
  19. The Wandering by Intan Paramaditha – billed as an Indonesian ‘choose your own adventure’ novel, I have been meaning to read this for a couple of months now.
  20. Outside Looking In by T. C. Boyle – a fun (I hope) novel based around experiments by Dr Timothy Leary with transcendence-seeking PhD students.

Have you read any of these? Anyone reading any of the same titles over the next few months?

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