20 Books of Summer

20 books logoIn a bid to read more books from my always-growing TBR, I’ve decided to join in this year’s “20 Books of Summer” challenge, which Cathy runs at 746 Books.

The idea is to read 20 books already in your possession between 1 June and 3 September. I’m bending the rules slightly and won’t start until next weekend (I’ve got a couple of other books on the go at the moment that need to be finished first), so plan to finish on or around 11 September.

I’ve had a fun time going through my shelves to select the books I want to read*. They’re all ones I’ve purchased (in other words, they’re not copies sent to me for review) and some have been sitting here for years. They’re all literary fiction and I’ve tried to go for a mix of male and female writers, including some Miles Franklin prize-winners and a couple that feature in Peter Boxall’s 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die.

The books I hope to read are as follows and have been arranged in alphabetical order by author’s surname:

  • ‘Mr Bridge’ by Evan S. Connell
  • ‘The Trick is to Keep Breathing’ by Janice Galloway
  • ‘Lilian’s Story’ by Kate Grenville
  • ‘Provocation’ by Charlotte Grimshaw
  • ‘Hangover Square’ by Patrick Hamilton
  • ‘Power Without Glory’ by Frank Hardy
  • ‘The Long Prospect’ by Elizabeth Harrower
  • ‘Our Souls at Night’ by Kent Haruf
  • ‘The Dead Lake’ by Hamid Ismailov
  • ‘Grace and Truth’ by Jennifer Johnston
  • ‘Snow Country by Yasunari Kawabata
  • The Other Side of the Bridge’ by Mary Lawson
  • ‘If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things’ by Jon McGregor
  • ‘The Glorious Heresies’ by Lisa McInerney
  • ‘Journey to the Stone Country’ by Alex Miller
  • ‘Ancient Tillage’ by Raduan Nassar
  • ‘The Essex Serpent’ by Sarah Perry
  • ‘The Hungry Grass’ by Richard Power
  • ‘Stoner’ by John Williams
  • ‘Shallows’ by Tim Winton

20 books of summer pile

You can find out more about 20 Books of Summer at Cathy’s blog and see who else is participating on this linky page.

Have you read any of the books I’ve chosen? Any suggestions on which one to start with first?

* Note, I reserve the right to swap out any of these books with my existing TBR pile if I find any of these ones don’t work for me or don’t suit my mood at the time.

58 thoughts on “20 Books of Summer

  1. I’ve read a few – Our Souls at Night is a gem of a book – gentle, loving, beautiful. The Glorious Heresies was great but brutal – I’m quite looking foreward to reading the sequel. The Dead Lake was okay. I found Stoner boring despite many others loving it. I’ve read the first few pages of Lilian’s Story – it didn’t grab me at the time but I suspect it was more mood than the book so I’ll look forward to your review of that one. Good luck with your challenge – I did the tbr triple dare every year which is where you read from your tbr from January to March (our summer).


      • I’m particularly looking forward to Our Souls given that Haruf is one of my favourite authors. I bought The Glorious Heresies in Dublin last year and have heard lots of good things about it. I picked The Dead Lake at random from my entire collection of Peirene books (yes, I have them all) so I reserve the right to swap it with another if I don’t get on with it 😜. I’ve owned Lilian’s Story for about 10 years and don’t know anything about it really, so be interesting to see if it grabs me from the start or not…


  2. I’d probably start with Shallows, Winton is always easy reading, but from memory the Frank Hardy is long and clumsily written – don’t leave it till last. Harrower’s probably the only other one I’ve read and her writing and characterisation is always perfect.


    • I’m fascinated by the Hardy, only because the mini-series (remember that?) was filmed two minutes from my grandmother’s house and whenever we walked past the shopfront for the next 10+ years we were always told “that’s where they filmed Power Without Glory”!! It’s a hefty time, so it may well be one of those novels I will need to have on the go for a month or so with something else. I’m looking forward to the Winton and the Harrower.


    • I’ve been saving up Our Souls at Night because I’m such a Haruf fan; am yet to hear anything negative about it. Not read any McGregor but have had this one in my shelf (a charity shop purchase) for at least 5 years. And I bought Hangover Square at least a decade ago but have just never gotten around to it…

      Liked by 1 person

    • I bought The Essex Serpent as a Christmas present to myself. I don’t normally buy hardcovers but this one was so pretty I couldn’t resist. Not sure how we could buddy up, but perhaps we could link to each other’s reviews?


      • We could also do some kind of joint review, maybe like Q&A thing? Or a transcript of a text chat?? Trying to be a bit creative here. Let me know if I’m failing though!


  3. Love the Aussie choices on your list of course. I’ve read other books by them all, but not the ones you’ve actually listed.

    And I think that you will find that Our Souls is a real treat.


  4. Put me in the ‘I loved Stoner’ camp, almost the best American fiction I’ve read…
    I recently tried reading Power without Glory, but the font in my copy is much too small for old eyes, so I’ve put it aside and am hoping to find a more readable copy one day. But I’m not surprised to see Bill’s thoughts about it, Australian political novels of that era are often, alas, less than great…
    I have The Long Prospect on my TBR too…

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m looking forward to Stoner. I remember in very early days of blogging it became a really popular book to review but it was hard to get: I bought my copy from the US! Of course, it’s since been reprinted in the U.K. and is very easy to find now. I think it’s an early example of how the power of blogging can bring old forgotten books back into the public eye.


  5. ‘Journey to the Stone Country’ was the first of Alex Miller’s books I read, and is still hands down my favourite – a wonderful wonderful book. ‘If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things’ is a real favourite of mine too. I’ve also read the Haruf (superb), the Johnston (can’t remember a thing about it) and the Mary Lawson – Mary Lawson’s books all take place amongst the same community so there are some links between them, though they each very much stand alone (having said that, you probably get more out of her third one ‘Road Ends’ if you’ve already read ‘Crow Lake’ and ‘The Other Side of the Bridge’).

    The 20 books from the tbr pile idea sounds great. I might have a go at that myself – I’ve read so little over the past two years (been ridiculously busy with work) and really miss it. But from the end of next week it looks like I’m back to a normal workload, so (fingers crossed!) should have time to get stuck into a few books.


    • Hello David, had wondered why you have been so quiet recently! Thanks for all your thoughts on these books. I’m particularly excited to read Journey to the Stone Country now; for some reason I’ve been putting it off. I’ve only read one Mary Lawson and that was Road Ends. I loved it. I’m not sure how I came to be in the possession of The Other Side of the Bridge, because it’s quite a battered copy (I must have bought it from a charity shop at some point or “mooched” it when I was an active member of Book Mooch).


      • Nice to know my absence had been noted 🙂 I have been reading, but it has largely been work-related – I did twenty Michael Morpurgo covers for Egmont last year so had all those to read, plus I’ve discovered the joy of audiobooks (Agatha Chrsitie – who I’d never read before – is brilliant to listen to whilst painting).


        • Wow, 20 covers, you have been busy! And yes, I can imagine audio books would be great to listen to while painting. I find I can’t listen to them because my mind wanders and I want to be doing stuff with my hands (which is usually typing/writing)


  6. Great list, Kim. Five standout reads for me: Haruf (no surprises there!), McGregor, Williams, Galloway and Perry. I also have a copy of Mr Bridge waiting on my shelves having enjoyed Mrs Bridge very much. Happy reading!


  7. You are in for a good summer! I have read quite a few on your list and have a few on the TBR pile but I particularly loved Our Souls at Night, Stoner, If nobody Speaks of Remarkable things and The Essex Serpent. I have read Mrs Bridge which I really enjoyed but not the companion Mr Bridge and Alex Miller is usually a safe bet. Enjoy!


  8. The only one I’ve read is Our Souls at Night, but there are many on here I would like to read! The John McGregor, the Richard Power, and the Sarah Perry to name a few…


    • Lots of people seem to have read Our Souls at Night, so I’m really looking forward to that one. Am a big Kent Haruf fan so this will be a bittersweet experience, I think, knowing there’ll be no more Kent Haruf books to look forward to once this one is read. (Mind you, I do still have one of his earlier novels to read.)

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I’ve read the Jon McGregor (didn’t love) and others by a few of the authors, but that’s a nice pile. In my case, I’m not sure it’s helped the TBR as for some reason I’ve acquired almost 20 more books since I made my pile!!! Happy reading and joining in!


    • Interesting you didn’t love the McGregor… I’ve heard a lot of good things about it, so will be interesting to see how I feel about it when I eventually get around to reading it. Funny how looking at other people’s TBRs (and blogs) only makes your own TBR get bigger! 🤣

      Liked by 1 person

  10. “The Essex Serpent” is on my list too. I want to read some Patrick Hamilton soon, and look forward to seeing what you think of “Hangover Square!”


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  13. Sorry to chime in so late but I enjoyed your review of the Grimshaw – we read one of hers a year ago for our (ANZLitLovers) book club and it was good! I LOVED Stoner – I put it up there with Walter Stegner (“why I read” category) although others in our book club really, really didn’t like it……. Tim Winton cannot write a wrong word as far as I’m concerned, I actually disliked Lillian’s Story although I’m a big fan of Grenville (it was a long time ago I read it so perhaps my tastes have changed??), McGregor I always enjoy, Haruf is particularly sublime with this one, I really liked The Glorious Heresies but enjoyed this year’s sequel even more. I would love to do the 3 months of my own TBR – what an achievement it would be!! Looking forward to more of your thoughts as you get through your books!


    • Never too late to comment, Kate! Thanks for your insights into some of these books… I’m not sure how many of them I will actually read now as I’ve gone a bit off piste and bought myself a new Kindle and discovered I’ve got about 80 books on my electronic TBR which need to be read at some point.


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