What an eventful three months it has been! A new city to explore! A new flat to move into! New furniture purchased! A new bike to ride! A new job in a new industry begun! And 15 books from my TBR read!
You may remember that back in June I wrote a post signing up to Cathy’s #20BooksOfSummer challenge. I signed up a week later than most people, because I had just relocated to Australia with nothing more than 40kg of luggage and a lot of nervous excitement.
Between 9 June and 9 September my plan was to try to read the 20 books I packed with me, with the option to switch out ones on my Kindle if I felt so inclined. What actually happened was that I switched out quite a few with books I borrowed from the library that I already owned but were still in my TBR back in London.
All up I read 15 books from my TBR (plus 9 others that were new, so didn’t count). These were as follows (arranged in alphabetical order by author’s surname):
- ‘The Lebs’ by Michael Mohammed Ahmad (novel, Australian)
- ‘No Friend but the Mountains: Writing from Manus Prison’ by Behrouz Boochani (memoir, Iraqi-Kurdish)
- ‘The Good Soldier’ by Ford Madox Ford (novel, British)
- ‘The Imposter’ by Damon Galgut (novel, South African)
- ‘The Night Book’ by Charlotte Grimshaw (novel, New Zealand)
- ‘Where You Once Belonged’ by Kent Haruf (novel, American)
- ‘The Vegetarian’ by Han Kang (novel, Korean)
- ‘Dustfall’ by Michelle Johnson (novel, Australian) REVIEW COMING
- ‘The Debt to Pleasure’ by John Lanchester (novel, British)
- ‘The Railway Man’ by Eric Lomax (autobiography, British)
- ‘The Moon and Sixpence’ by W. Somerset Maugham (novel, British)
- ‘The Château’ by William Maxwell (novel, American)
- ‘Shadowplay’ by Joseph O’Connor (novel, Irish)
- ‘See What I Have Done’ by Sarah Schmidt (novel, Australia)
- ‘Last Stories’ by William Trevor (short stories, Irish)
My favourite book from this lot has to be Joseph O’Connor’s Shadowplay, a wonderful historical romp set in London’s theatreland, which was filled with brilliant characters — Bram Stoker! Henry Irving! Ellen Terry! And cameo appearances from Oscar Wilde! Jack the Ripper! George Bernard Shaw! — densely packed scenes, rich, vivid language and cracking one-liners. Honestly, it was such a treat I eked the book out for as long as possible because I simply didn’t want it to end.
The weirdest book I read has to be The Vegetarian — I mean, WTF, was it even about? — and the most disappointing was See What I Have Done, which didn’t sustain my interest even though I’d been looking forward to reading it for more than a year. The most memorable —and thought-provoking — was, without a doubt, No Friend But The Mountains.
So, that’s it for another year. I didn’t quite achieve what I set out to do, but it was fun trying. Thanks again to Cathy for hosting.
Did you take part in #20BooksOfSummer? How did you do? Care to share your favourite read of the summer (or winter)?
19 thoughts on “20 books of summer 2019 recap”
Thanks so much for taking part Kim, particularly as you had so much else going on! You did really well. I have a copy of Shadowplay but had kind of forgotten about it. Sounds like I should push it to the top of the TBR. Hope the new job is going well x
I think this has been the most eventful three months of my life. Did I mention I also turned 50?! Aaargh!
I’m not too far behond you there Kim 🙂
Glad to find someone else who didn’t like See What I Have Done – I found it unreadable.
I found it very monotonous. And didn’t quite get the point if it.
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The Vegetarian was definitely an odd book but very disturbing, especially towards the end.
Glad to hear you found a new job – I know you were thinking it would be tough
I think I might have struck gold with this job. I just needed someone to recognise that an ex-journalist could bring many skills to the marketing/PR table and they’ve told me, now that I’m in the role, that they were looking for someone from outside the industry to bring a fresh perspective. It all happened very quickly. Applied on a Monday, first interview on the Thursday, second interview the next Monday and a job offer a few hours later 😊
Blimey that was fast recruitment! As an ex journalist myself who moved into PR, then marketing communications and business communications I can’t but agree with your premise. I often found that it was the communictions people who helped the business/marketing folks shape their strategy
Well done on the move and new job and I think you did well with your 20 books given the circs! I managed 10, staying put and in the same job, but I did have a sick pet (OK now) and a mental health crisis (OKish now).
I had a lot of time on my hands. I could have read twice as many books if I was honest but was often too stressed / anxious about job search / interviews etc. that I couldn’t really focus. Sorry to hear about your pet and mental health but hope things are better for you now and in the months to come.
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Well dont, Kim, I think I’d still be trying to find where the light switches were in the new abode, if it were me:)
Ha! Have you seen modern apartments? I swear I live in a box (about three times bigger than my London flat) and the light switches are all by the doors 😂 The big thing I’ve grappled with this week is learning to drive again after 20 years not ever needing to use a car !
Great news about the job! Hope you got to celebrate your big 0 (I had an all weekend 60th at your local, followed by Bob Dylan in the park nearby). You did well to write up 15 books, I’d be too anxious about job interviews to read or write. We only intersected by one book, but what a book! No Friend but the Mountains (Iranian rather than Iraqui, and definitely Australian even if, as appears likely, he never gets refuge here).
Have only been in the job a week, but what a relief to find a good one as I was beginning to lose hope. Celebrated the birthday when T was here…that was the main reason for his visit. And yes, I must change the Iraqi reference… can you tell I wrote this post when I was very tired!
I do a year long TBR challenge where I try to pick at least half of my books from my TBR pile. I hadn’t been checking my progress but I’ve just had a look and I’ve read exactly half so far this year. I’ve only doubled up twice with you – No Friend But The Mountains, which I still haven’t quite finished, and See What I Have Done which also disappointed me. Great to hear about your new job and that you are settling in well. Why did you decide to move away from journalism? Oh, and happy birthday too
I’m doing a year long challenge too… trying to read 40 from my TBR. Think I’m up to 31 so far. I got out of journalism in 2015… industry in serious decline and I’d been made redundant twice in five years…
You are doing really well with your TBR, I’m only up to 24. Redundancy must be really hard – good decision!
I’m so impressed at all the reading you did with everything else you had going on! Congratulations on everything Kim, it all sounds really positive 🙂