Thursday, May 31, 2018

Fifteen Books of Summer



There's a meme going around for 20 books of summer, but when I started compiling this list I realized some of mine are real whoppers, so I'm cutting it back to fifteen. I'm not usually good at finishing specific lists, unless it's for a challenge, but I wrote a post a couple of months ago of the Top Ten Books on my Spring TBR List, and I'm happy to say that I've finished eight of them so far and started the ninth. Who knows, maybe I'll actually succeed with this list as well.

A detailed list:

1. Heat Lightning by Helen Hull. A Persephone I received as a Mother's Day gift a few years ago, it's on my TBR Pile Challenge List; also, there's a mini Persephone Readathon this weekend so I really want to finish it in time.

2. The Magician's Assistant by Ann Patchett. I bought this at a library sale about 10 years ago, it is probably one of the books I've had owned and unread the longest. I downloaded the audio from the San Antonio Public Library and I need to finish it before my library card expires! (It's not pictured because I can't actually find my print copy -- could I have donated it to the library before we moved two years ago?)

3. My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout. For my book group that meets next week before we break for the summer. Luckily  it's quite short, under 200 pages (which is why we chose it.) Highly recommended by Simon from Stuck in a Book.

4. London War Notes by Mollie Panter-Downes. Already started, but it's 450 pages of biweekly essays written for the New Yorker magazine. Not like I can zip through it. It's on my TBR Pile Challenge list, I'm making good progress this year.

5. Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain. Also on my TBR Pile Challenge list -- it's almost 700 pages long! But I've heard it's amazing and there's a readlong that starts June 1.

4. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky. One of my daughter's favorites, I've been putting it off forever because I am afraid of Dostoevsky. There's a new translation which I will try to get from the library. I can also use this for the Back to the Classics Challenge.

5. Pomfret Towers by Angela Thirkell. Book #6 in the Barsetshire series (I've actually skipped #3, The Demon in the House, but I'm told you can skip around the series).

6. In Confidence by Irene Nemirovsky. I thought her short story collection Dimanche and Other Stories was absolutely brilliant, so when I saw this new collection on a blog, I ordered it immediately. More than a year ago! It's quite short so I should be able to finish it quickly.

7. The New Moon with the Old by Dodie Smith. Published in 1963, it's by the author of I Capture the Castle, one of my favorites. I love mid-century fiction and I was actually able to get it from the library!

8. Tom Tiddler's Ground by Ursula Orange. This was a birthday gift -- a year ago, and I still haven't read it. It's a Furrowed Middlebrow reprint by Dean Street Press, highly recommended by Simon and Rachel in the Tea or Books? podcast.

11. An Old Man's Love by Anthony Trollope. Also available on audio from the library. Trollope is tough to find on audio, especially the standalone novels, so I was delighted to find this on OneClick Digital for download.

12. Barmy in Wonderland by P. G. Wodehouse. Because Wodehouse is the perfect summer read.

13. Bond Street Story by Norman Collins -- because I loved London Belongs to Me (and also recommend by Rachel from Booksnob. It's another doorstopper, almost 500 pages and also oddly oversized.

14. The Day of the Scorpion by Paul Scott. (Not pictured). Second in the Raj Quartet series, it's only on audio download from the library -- but, luckily, the library card that isn't expiring! I have a year left if I want to finish the series before we move back to the U. S. (though of course I can find in a library when I return).

15. Troy Chimneys by Margaret Kennedy. Bought last year in a secondhand shop in Charing Cross Road on a trip to London.

Let's see if I can finish all of these by Labor Day which is September 3. Bloggers, which are your favorites? And what's on your summer reading list?

21 comments:

  1. Oh, I love I Capture the Castle, and went through a phase last year of looking out all Dodie Smith's other books. They're really good, but have a very different feeling to them.

    Asha @ acatabookandacupoftea.wordpress.com

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    1. I've only read I Capture the Castle, and 101 Dalmatians -- but that was MANY years ago! I'm interested to see what her other books are like.

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  2. You'll do fine w/ C&P. It is readable and enjoyable. Of course, I don't know what the new translation is, but it should still be fine. Look for heavy themes while reading. Dostoevsky is a deep man.

    And I'll be reading along w/ you on Testament of Youth. (I was equally intimidated by its size, too).

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    1. Someone on Twitter estimated Testament can be completed in 22 pages per day. That's not bad. C&P will definitely be after that, though! Maybe even after Bond Street Story, I'll definitely need some light reads to break it up.

      Glad you're joining us for the Readalong!

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  3. I can second Rachel's excellent opinion of Bond Street Story! And you made me laugh when you mentioned ordering a book immediately...a year ago. It's all too familiar....

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    1. I always fail to remember exactly how long books really take to read -- it doesn't help that I'm a polyreader. And then there are movies, TV (curse you, SkyBox!) and I suppose I have to actually interact with PEOPLE once in awhile. Hmpf.

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  4. Hi Karen, this is a very fine list. I have read Crime and Punishment and agree its a readable book and also a book that will stay with you. i read it in my 20's and have never forgotten it.

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    1. Thanks! I'm a little nervous but I keep hearing great things. I was terrified of Steinbeck and Hardy and ended up loving both of them, so there's hope.

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  5. I agree with Kathy and Ruth that you should have no problem with Crime and Punishment. It is a book that provides quite a bit of food for thought but I didn't find it difficult to read personally.

    I loved Lucy Barton. I hope you enjoy it too! It is also a good book for a group discussion I think.

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    1. I've hardly read any Russians except Tolstoy which I mostly liked and Turgenev, not so much. Others in the book group have already said how much they liked Lucy Barton -- and it's really short which is great because I still haven't started it! I tried to mix up the lengths of the books this summer.

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  6. Lovely list, Karen! I really enjoyed Pomfret Towers, and can't wait to read London War Notes. I'm also very interested in Tom Tiddler's Ground and The New Moon with the Old, so I look forward to hearing what you think of them. Hope you're enjoying Heat Lightning!

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    1. I've already started London War Notes, it's very interesting but I'm pretty sure it will take all summer. It's the sort of book you read just a little at a time. I do enjoy the Thirkell novels but I don't want to rush through them!

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  7. I keep on putting Testament of Youth on a reading list, and I keep on blithely ignoring it. It is a daunting book. I would definitely read the Ann Patchett as she is currently one of my favorite authors, and you can't go wrong with a Trollope...or two. Happy reading.

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    1. I can't believe I've had The Magician's Assistant on the TBR shelves since 2008! I've loved everything by Ann Patchett so far, I'm hoping to read Commonwealth with my book group next year.

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  8. What a great selection! I adore London War Notes and Pomfret Towers. Testament of Youth is very powerful (though it could have used some editing - all 700 pages are not needed) and Troy Chimneys is a bit odd, quite upsetting, and definitely memorable. Those are my favourites of your list and all ones I'd highly recommend!

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    1. I've been reading both London War Notes and Testament of Youth simultaneously, it has occurred to me that this might be a bad idea -- two war stories at once might be a bit much. At the moment the narrative of Testament has taken over my interest and I'm pretty sure I'll rush through it before the readalong finishes.

      And I am intrigued by any book that is a bit odd and memorable -- hopefully it won't be too upsetting!

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  9. For me, C&P is okay, but Brothers Karamazov is my favorite Dostoyevsky. Haven't read all the others.

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    1. Someone commented recently that Crime & Punishment was like an appetizer but Brothers K is a whole entree. A ringing endorsement!

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  10. I've read London War Notes, Testament of Youth, Crime and Punishment, Pomfret Towers, The New Moon with the Old and Troy Chimneys. I really liked them all but read some of them about 30 years ago. You'll love London War Notes I'm sure.

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    1. I think I saw The New Moon with the Old on your blog! I checked my library catalog and they actually have a copy from the 1963. I've checked it out but still haven't started it yet, hopefully this weekend.

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  11. I'll be interested in your thoughts on the Trollope - not read that one yet and I'm not in a good phase with Trollope at present, I need to get back to him. Loved most of what I've read bar the last 3 novels I read which has put me off :)

    I've also got Testament of Youth on my pile - will read it but not started yet :)

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