Summer sizzlers

Courtesy of blogger Cathy Brown of I’m planning to join in the meme of Twenty Books of Summer. All this requires is for me to draw up a list of books to read between the start of June and early September, but with the option of changing titles, the number of books read or, indeed, the period of reading: my kind of challenge in fact, infinitely malleable!

Here now is my chance to tackle and reduce my list of Classics Club titles, to read the Roddy Doyle novel I won in Cathy’s Begorrathon this year, and to finish The Deptford Trilogy for Lory’s Robertson Davies Reading Week.

The theory is that, having completed over thirty titles in the first four months of this year I can at least manage twenty in this coming three-month period, but that would require judicious choices: books that aren’t too long, for example.

So herewith is my initial pick of twenty titles to complete by summer’s end.

1. Joan Aiken: Midnight is a Place (read) is set in the same world as the Wolves Chronicles.
2. ‘BB’ [D J Watkins-Pitchford]: The Little Grey Men (read) is an intriguing literary fairytale.
3. J M Barrie: Peter Pan, yet another children’s book, this one a reread.
4. Charlotte Bronte: Shirley, still to complete from a previous Classics Spin (read).
5. Frances Hodgson Burnett: The Secret Garden (read), because I have still to read it.

6. Edgar Rice Burroughs: The Return of Tarzan will be a reread, my ancient copy from the early 20th century having disintegrated long ago.
7. Edmund Crispin: The Case of the Gilded Fly is a reread for review.
8. Robertson Davies: The Manticore (read) which, along with no. 9,
9. Robertson Davies: World of Wonders (read), are the remaining two books in The Deptford Trilogy.
10. Roddy Doyle: Charlie Savage, a signed copy of which was kindly gifted by Cathy Brown.

11. Hermann Hesse: Steppenwolf, a Hesse I meant to read eons ago (read).
12. Eva Ibbotson: The Secret of Platform 13 (read) was, as far as I can tell, definitely not ripped off by J K Rowling.
13. Niccolò Machiavelli: The Prince I once dipped into but never completed.
14. Daphne du Maurier: Rebecca, and, no, I still haven’t read it.
15. L M Montgomery: Anne of Green Gables, because … just because.

16. Mervyn Peake: Gormenghast, the next in the trilogy after Titus Groan.
17. Vita Sackville-West: No Signposts in the Sea (read), her final novel.
18. Andrzej Sapkowski: Blood of the Elves, which recently fell into my hands at a bookshop selling remaindered titles, by an author recommended by Piotrek and Ola.
19. Mark Twain: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer: another reread from childhood.
20. Rosemary Craddock: Avalon Castle (read) this last a library book.

You’ll notice that, apart from a couple of chunky classics, I’ve largely gone for light-ish reading (many of them children’s classics): this is partly to tackle my TBR mountain, partly to make my reading manageable and partly because, well, it’ll be summer! But of course May is not over yet, and I have my Wyrd & Wonder fantasy reading list still to complete…

Is this something that appeals to you too? If so, Cathy’s post has all the details!

51 thoughts on “Summer sizzlers

  1. Sounds like a perfect summer reading list! I’m not making a list but I hope to get around to do plenty of reading this summer, I have only read 25 books so far this year which is way below my normal. Not that I have any specific target in mind, but I miss focusing on reading…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m pleased you approve! The last two or three ‘events’ have kept me focused on genres and/or themes but I may be missing the opportunity for some some frothy reading coupled with less pressure to read ‘worthy’ stuff. Perhaps for you this could be a retrospective ‘challenge’? Just tot up what you’ve read come the end of September and, if the 25 you’ve already read in four and a half months is any guide, you’ll probably find you’ve easily completed that score of books! But I suppose that wouldn’t be a challenge… 😁

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Good luck! That looks like a nice varied list. Anne of Green Gables and The Secret Garden were childhood favourites of mine and I love both Rebecca and Gormenghast too. I will probably be participating in this, but haven’t finished putting my list together yet.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. piotrek

    Great list, with a few of my favourites on it 🙂 and a few books I hope to read one day… fair warning about Sapkowski though, Sword of Destiny and The Last Wish are two short story collections that precede novels… Blood of the Elves is the first of the novels, and while it’s great, starting with the short stories will be a better introduction into the world of Witcher – and the story of main protagonists.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the advice, Piotrek. Yours and Ola’s conversation for Witch Week, along with Lizzie’s review of The Last Wish, I felt gave me enough insight into the Witcher world to start with Blood of the Elves, but the main reason I picked this one out was because neither of the short story collections were available in the bookshop I got this from.

      Maybe I’ll order the collections locally or online before I get round to Sapkowski…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I much preferred Tom Sawyer… 😀
        Anne of Green Gables is of course wonderful – will this be a first read for you or a re-read? I love Rebecca too, and it’s always a great excuse to rewatch the film. Enjoy your reading!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Thanks very much! Anne of Green Gables will be a first read for me—it’s taken me several decades to get to the likes of Austen, the Brontës, du Maurier etc and I’m hoping it implies ‘older means wiser’ where ‘women’s literature’ is concerned. 🙂

          Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, and for that I feel bad. I might have included some writers from outside the North Atlantic bubble if (a) I wasn’t trying to reduce my stack of unread books, especially classics, and (b) the small bookshops I tend to visit didn’t have selections largely limited to authors within that bubble. However, I’ve review notes on a small selection of Chinua Achebe essays which I intend to write up and post sometime—I suppose that’s a start.

      Liked by 1 person

            1. No, you’re absolutely right, Daphne, and I’ve been aware of that lack of breadth in my reading for a long time, I’ve just not got around to addressing it properly.

              Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Gert, though as Daphne above justly points out not varied enough, and something to remedy sooner rather than later. I too am looking forward to what I have to say on the Robertson Davies books, but first I need to read them!


  4. I like the look of your list, Chris. I’ve plans to join in, though I’m not confident enough to plan for 20, so I’m going for half-way. I shall follow your lead, and aim for a mix of styles and lengths.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Seems a sensible way to go, Cath, to aim for a mix, but we shall see. Anyway, even though I’m confident I can manage twenty books in thirteen weeks I can always change the rules if it doesn’t go according to plan!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. You have some great titles to look forward to there! I’m seriously thinking of joining in too but it’s always the reviews that get me *sigh* That said, it’s the reading that matters – plus the enormous fun I’m having putting together a list. I started with what I’d planned to read anyway, now tweaking mercilessly to include some shorter, lighter reads, then changing back again….

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m a little hamstrung by my determination to review every book I read, Sandra, but you don’t have to be! It’s been suggested more than once writing mini-reviews could help me keep up to date but I never find it satisfying enough. But, as you say, it’s the reading that matters, and for the summer that will mean for me, as for you, swapping endlessly from light to slightly more demanding works. That’s the theory, anyway! 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  6. I remember reading Midnight is a Place when it was first published and finding it very dark indeed, far more so than the other books from the same setting. My personal favourites are the ones with Dido Twite. Everyone should know a Dido.


    1. “Everyone should know a Dido.” Absolutely, what an appealing person—brave, compassionate, sharp-witted, sensitive, resourceful and a whole lot more—and one that I’m sure had more than a hint of the author herself. Midnight is a Place is indeed dark, but my memory is that it has much in common with Is, which covered similar ground, literally (being set in Blastburn) and figuratively (child exploitation etc).


  7. Love lists, and this one makes me happy, and intrigues me.

    I hope Secret Garden and Rebecca both delight you in a different sense. Rebecca, to me, it’s an icon more than a classic. Or a classic in the sense of the story and the whole archetype of the second wife and the first wife mystery.

    I’ve enjoyed many in your list, (Peter Pan, Anne of Green Gables. And like you, I’ve never completed The Prince. I have not read Hesse yet.

    Happy summer reads! (I am at work, waiting for school to be over this Thursday, yay, and I probably rethink of my summer reads, and make a list of sorts, why not? LOL

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m sure I’m going to enjoy to two titles you mention, Silvia, as you say they’re iconic and I’m just a mix of sad and happy that it’ll have taken me so long but also that I’ve no doubt that the experience of reading them will be an unalloyed delight!

      I have read other Hesse before, The Journey to the East, The Glass Bead Game, a collection of short stories and Siddhartha. Some of these I wouldn’t mind to reread as I read them last in the 1970s; The Journey to the East is quite short and, I think, enjoyable if you’ve not read him before.

      Good luck with your list, I hope you’ll post it when you’ve decided on your titles!


  8. Children’s classics make for perfect summer reading! I even first read Rebecca when I was 12 or so, although I’m pretty sure that’s not meant to count as a children’s book! (And 12-year-olds aren’t really children anymore, are they?) Good luck with the challenge!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Many kids can be voracious readers, which is why I think they should be allowed to read widely — they’ll take what they can from an adult book and, if they return to it in later life, will usually find they have a different perspective on it. At least that’s what I believe!

      And the same applies to children’s classics, Priscilla, I think: I know that what I may once have accepted as a simple or straightforward narrative becomes more nuanced when I read it now, through having more knowledge, experience, insights and so on. So, yes, perfect summer reading but also enriching!

      Thanks for reading and commenting, and good luck with your challenge too! I’ll go back and comment on your choices presently, I saw a few interesting titles included there. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  9. My two immediate thoughts: gosh yes, I need to draw up my list and – THE LITTLE GREY MEN!

    I loved that book so much as a kid, and I barely remember it now. However, I still have it on my shelf, so you may lead me astray into a reread…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hah! It’s payback for all those times bloggers have led me astray! My copy of The Little Grey Men is a recent-ish reprint, not one lovingly saved for just such an prompt, but it’ll do…


    1. Thanks, Jules, bar one these were all books already on my shelves — some for two decades and more, I’m ashamed to say — and many chosen because they were, well, short! Thought I’d give myself a good chance of reading and reviewing most if not all of them.

      Your list looks pretty good too, and I’d previously added the odd title to my list (like the Denise Mina) but The Priory of the Orange Tree looks very scrummy too. Looks like you’ve a great summer of reading ahead of you!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I’m just happy to get a book read in one month! But that’s with kids around. 🙂 Now that summer school is ending (SOBS) they’ll be home all day every day. The teachers recommended that I create a schedule for their home days so they don’t regress before the school year starts. I’m hoping that the reading time I set aside for them can be used for myself, too! I’ve got a couple novels and one craft book I’d like to finally finish.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Here’s your solution, Jean: when it comes to their bedtime reading (assuming you still read to them at bedtime) read them your novels and your craft book — it may even send them to sleep sooner! Job done. 😁

      Liked by 1 person

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