Summer reading

I’m coming to the end of one reading focus, the Wyrd and Wonder fantasy blogging event (cohosted by Lisa, Imyril and Jorie) and have been pleased with the material I’ve got through. And so the next focus which I fancy subscribing to is Cathy Brown‘s 20 Books of Summer.

Actually, for this event one is free to go with any number of options and so it is that I’ve aimed to be sensible by choosing just ten titles (though, as Cathy says, one can up this number, change titles, or even admit defeat).

Also, next month is Jazz Age June, a new event set up by Laurie @ Relevant Obscurity and Fanda at ClassicLit. This reading event runs from June 1st to 30th, aiming to explore the 1920s through literature and other arts.

So as we approach the cusp between one month and the next here is my catalogue raisonné of books read and to-be-read, which I offer for your possible delectation and deliberation.

What have I enjoyed for Wyrd & Wonder, you may be wondering? Wonder no more, for the current wyrd tally, in order of reviews posted, is:

  • Ransom Riggs’ Tales of the Peculiar, my assessment of which can be summed up in one expressive word: meh.
  • Then Philip K Dick’s Ubik which, I argue, is closer to fantasy than SF (the science is utter baloney) but which I found great fun.
  • Philip Pullman’s illustrated children’s fantasy Spring-Heeled Jack was an enjoyable divertimento but not the main item.
  • L D Lapinski’s debut children’s novel The Strangeworlds Travel Agency was described in the Guardian by Imogen Russell Williams as having ‘“future classic” written through it like Brighton rock,’ and I entirely agree.
  • That was followed by Charles G Finney’s The Magician Out of Manchuria, an almost uncategorisable but ingenious and funny fantasy set in China.
  • I engaged in an online conversation with Nick Swarbrick regarding Jenny Nimmo’s children’s fantasy The Snow Spider before concluding with a review this month.
  • I took the plunge and read Robin Hobb’s Assassin’s Apprentice, wondering why I’d resisted reading her up to now.
  • Finally, I shall be posting a review of Jasper Fforde’s comic fantasy thriller The Eyre Affair which, though I’ve had a copy since 2014 (later signed by the author in 2015), I resisted reading in large part because I’d yet to read Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre. Which I have now.

And now I’ve had a quick shufti through my bookshelves and have found three James Branch Cabell fantasies dating from the 1920s, any one of which would fit in with Jazz Age June, even though they look to have precious little to do with the Roaring Twenties. But needs must…

Book-ish, Crickhowell: graphic

And what of my Ten Books of Summer, to be read during the months of June, July and August? I’ve opted to include a number of titles from my Classics Club list. Theoretically I’m supposed to have completed fifty titles by this year’s end but I think I may have to revise my plans. At any rate, this is what I’ve chosen, in alphabetical order of author (and even though some titles are long I intend to intersperse them with other books):

  • J M Barrie: Peter Pan. A reread, but I shall also be reading around it.
  • Frances Hodgson Burnett: A Little Princess. Supposedly inspired by an incomplete Charlotte Brontë novel, entitled Emma.
  • Edmund Crispin: The Case of the Gilded Fly. A reread, as I didn’t get round to a review when first read.
  • Robertson Davies: Tempest-Tost. The first instalment of The Salterton Trilogy, which I intend to complete by the end of August, around the time when Lory Hess may possibly be celebrating the late Robertson Davies’s birthday on her blog.
  • George Eliot: Middlemarch. I meant to read this last year, during the bicentenary of her birth, but…
  • Hermann Hesse: The Glass Bead Game. Another reread, I first enjoyed this in the 1970s.
  • Herman Melville: Moby-Dick. I’m damn well going to finish this…
  • Niccolò Machiavelli: The Prince. I’m hoping to be enlightened by this Renaissance classic, to see how much pertains five centuries later.
  • Mervyn Peake: Gormenghast. Because who doesn’t like reading about castles?
  • Horace Walpole: The Castle of Otranto. I draw your attention to my previous comment…

With the mention of that final title (another reread, as it happens) I am encouraged to remind you of yet another blogging event, the ever-popular — so it’s claimed — Witch Week which takes place at the end of October. This year’s theme is Gothick and will be hosted on Lizzie’s blog (though I shall daily be flagging up posts and links to there).

28 thoughts on “Summer reading

    1. Weird to have finished discussing a book set at winter at the start of a long hot summer, but I too really gained a lot from our to-and-froing online — I’d be up for a similar conversation again at some stage if you were. 🙂

      As for the Hesse I’m both keen and yet anxious about a revisit: I loved the concepts but was shocked by the ending at the time — hoping that a reread will make that unexpected conclusion more comprehensible.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Great list–lots of interesting reviews to look forward to! I am yet to read The Eyre Affair too, though I’ve been meaning to for a while. I like A Little Princess but of Burnett’s books, prefer Secret Garden. Riggs is another author I am yet to read but want to give Miss Peregrine a try.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Mallika, I’m a little trepidant because even though it’s a relatively short list — I seem to get through nearly double that number over three months these days — there are still some chunksters in there.

      I liked The Secret Garden so am expecting good things of The Little Princess but I think I’ll read Charlotte Brontë’s incomplete Emma first, as I have a copy of that, if it’s indeed correct that this inspired FHB. I’m on the last couple of chapters of the Fforde and have a few ideas to clarify in my mind before I start a review. As for the Riggs, I eagerly anticipate your thoughts on that!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m chuffed you’re running this challenge again, Cathy, gives us all an excuse to dust off those titles that have been waiting! I sometimes feel bad about not including more contemporary fiction, but I know that you and many others are already proving exemplary in that direction so then I don’t feel so negligent! 🙂

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  2. Akylina

    That’s a wonderful list! Looking forward to reading your thoughts on your summer books 😊 (I’ve been eyeing -and postponing- The Eyre Affair as well, thanks for reminding me of it!)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. buriedinprint

    That first in Davies’ trilogy is such fun. Perhaps less demanding than you might be expecting, so it could serve as a bit of relief between two longer/more challenging reads. I’ve yet to finish the trilogy myself but have, since I finished the first one, collected the final two, and might even reread the first because that would be a treat. The rest of your list looks great to me. I reread A LIttle Princess a few years ago and thought I might find it lacking as an adult, but I still enjoyed it (though her colonial gaze does permeate a couple of key plot points). And I would love love love to reread Middlemarch. Maybe when I finish some of the other longer books in my stack just now. Enjoy all your selections and those which unfold alongside this list!

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    1. Thanks for the advice about Tempest-Tost — we’ve got the one-volume editions of all three completed trilogies: as I finished the Deptford series last year I thought this theatre-based sequence would be fun for this year, hoping I might get through all three titles before August ended.

      As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I shall read the completed chapters of Charlotte Brontë’s Emma before A Little Princess as I understand that FHB took the Brontë opening and ran with it. The E

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    1. Good luck with your list, Beth! I read Titus Groan some time ago and the next volume has been glaring at me for the last few years so it’s well overdue a read. Then there’s the third volume and the posthumous instalment completed by the artist Maeve Gilmore, Peake’s wife, so I’d better get a move on!

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  4. Middlemarch is my favourite classic, I think I’ve read it about 6 times now and find something new in it each time.
    The jazz age event sounds good fun 🙂 maybe you should choose some cocktails to accompany each book…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think the love for Middlemarch must outweigh any disregard in the ratio of nine to one, from what’s been said to me here, and so it’s only been a matter of time really. I take heart from your six reads then, Karen! Cocktails? I’m not sure any of the personages in the James Branch Cabell high fantasies were into those, so I may have to search out something else, perhaps my partner has something appropriate…

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  5. Some great books to anticipate, Chris, both for you as a reader and for me to enjoy your thoughts on them. I am tilting on the edge of joining in which almost certainly means that I will!

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  6. I hope you learnt to love Moby-Dick. I read it over 7 mnths last year, using every blogger resource under my belt to get me through, And I loved it – a lot. I even think it’s one of those books I will reread one day. I will never forget it. It has even made me a little evangelical (as you can see 🙂

    One of my colleagues is a Hobbs fan and has been trying to me to read her for ages, but I don’t always prioritise fantasy/sci-fi the way I could/should….so glad to hear you are another fan.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I haven’t read anything from it for a couple or so weeks, but I pick it up now and again and whizz through a few chapters. I only started in November but that seems a very long time ago, but not too long for one of those voyages by sail!

      I’ll definitely go for some more in the Farseer series some time, I think my local bookshop might still have some of the recent UK editions with cover designs by Welsh artist and author Jackie Morris.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Ooooh, now I want Witch Week! 🙂

    Your reading regimen is always a wonder. I went through a slew of Poirot on my trip up North, and Bo put this interesting question to me regarding point of view that I’ve got to somehow work out in words before it leaves me. Regarding your Jazzed-up June: will you be reading any Harlem Renaissance, perchance?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is an idealised reading regime, Jean, in truth after a month I’ve not started any of the books listed for summer or finished even one book from the 1920s — so wonder no more! — but at least the Virginia Woolf I’ve chosen gives me pause for thought. Well done to you for your Poirot binge, and I look forward to your POV post when you’ve worked it out!

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  8. Pingback: Getting over the Don’t-Wants | Lizzie Ross

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