Thursday, June 3, 2021

Big Book Summer Challenge 2021

Time for another Big Book Summer Challenge! I was so happy to find Suzan's challenge last year -- I finished ten big fat books, eight of which were from my own shelves. I've been trying to whittle away at the longest books at my TBR shelves. I'm down to about 25, and if all goes as planned I'll have finished half of them by the end of the summer. Here's what I have left to read:

Nonfiction: (11)

The Art of Eating by M. F. K. Fisher (749 pp)
Our Hidden Lives: The Remarkable Diaries of Postwar Britain by Simon Garfield (544 pp)
Long Live Great Bardfield by Tirzah Garwood (495 pp)
Trollope by Victoria Glendinning (551 pp)
Slipstream: A Memoir by Elizabeth Jane Howard (528 pp)
A London Family, 1870-1900 by Molly Hughes (600 pp)
Edith Wharton by Hermione Lee (869 pp)
Decca: The Letters of Jessica Mitford (744 pp)
Millions Like Us: Women's Lives in War and Peace, 1939-1949 by Virginia Nicholson (508 pp)
The Gray Notebook by Josep Pla (638 pp) [library book]
Charles Dickens by Michael Slater (696 pp)

Novels: (8)

We Were Counted by Miklos Banffy (596 pp)
The Complete Claudine by Collette (656 pp)
Painting the Darkness by Robert Goddard (608 pp)
Bella Poldark by Winston Graham (688 pp)
Penmarric by Susan Howatch (735 pp)
The Kellys and the O'Kellys by Anthony Trollope (537 pp)
Ralph the Heir by Anthony Trollope (770 pp)
Marcella by Mrs. Humphrey Ward (560 pp)

Short Story Collections: (7)

Sketches by Boz by Charles Dickens (680 pp)
The World Over: The Collected Stories of W. Somerset Maugham, Vol. II (681 pp)
The Portable Dorothy Parker (626 pp)
The Collected Stories of Katherine Anne Porter (495 pp)
The Complete Stories of Evelyn Waugh (640 pp)
The Collected Stories of Edith Wharton (640 pp)
The Most of P. G. Wodehouse (701 pp)

I'd love to finish at least ten this summer --  I've already started The Art of Eating by M. F. K. Fisher, though it won't count for the challenge since I've been reading it off and on for a couple of months. My goal is to read at least three from each list. Last year I finished ten, but half of them were fiction, which is faster for me than nonfiction. I also ended up reading two books that weren't on my original list. Top of my list this year include Bella Poldark (final novel in the Poldark series), Edith Wharton's biography, the Maugham stories, and the Wodehouse stories.

Bloggers, which of these should I read first? And is there anything I should skip reading and just donate to my local Little Free Library? What big fat books are on your reading list this summer?


  1. I'm so far behind in my challenges (not so much the reading as the "writing up") I don't dare take on anything else! That being said, you've got a wonderful pile to keep you busy. I've read very few of any of these, although I have had the Wharton biography for many, many years, as well as Banffy's We Were Counted (tried it twice, didn't get very far, due to my limited attention span!). I have read Penmarric and The Belton Estate, both of which were good. I've been curious about Porter's short stories, so if you pick that one I'll make sure and check out your review!

    1. The writing up is the hardest part for me too! And I've had the Wharton bio on my to-read list for years, I finally got a copy through Paperback Swap a couple of years ago and it's been making me feel guilty ever since. I definitely want to get to Penmarric this summer, hopefully after finishing the Poldark series I'll be inspired to read more about Cornwall.

  2. The Edith Wharton bio by Hermione Lee I have heard very good things about though I haven't read it myself. I hope you enjoy it. The summer big book challenge is a great idea and the key to reading big books I'm think is pacing. If one commits to 50 pages a day, it can be done.

    1. I've just started the Wharton biography and the first chapter meandered a bit but I've read about 80 pages so far and it's really captured my attention. I agree, sometimes a small goal every day is the key -- my goal is one chapter a day or 50 pages but I often find that I've read more than that!

  3. Welcome back to the Big Book Summer Challenge! I'm so glad you decided to join the fun again and enjoyed it last summer.

    Wow, those are some hefty stacks of hefty books!! And I love your beautiful outdoor photos with your pretty flowers. I haven't read any of those before, so I'm not much help with advice. I do love Dickens, and I didn't realize he'd written a collection of short stories! I always enjoy his sense of humor, so that might be a good lighter read in between some of the weightier nonfiction.

    Enjoy your Big Books this summer!


    2021 Big Book Summer Challenge

    1. I wouldn't miss it! I've been trying to sit outside and read one of my long books every morning, until it gets too hot. The Dickens isn't exactly short stories, it's his earliest writings which started out as observations (sketches) and eventually he moved on to fiction. I just added it to the short stories pile because it seemed to fit there best.

  4. Forgot to mention that I LOVE your graphic at the top! lol


    1. Thanks! I've been looking for a chance to use it!

  5. Wow—this is an impressive selection for the challenge! I'm excited to participate, but I definitely don't read fast enough for 10 of those books! I unfortunately haven't had a chance to read any of these, so I can't recommend anything. But I hope you enjoy these books, and thanks so much for the great post!

    1. I can usually read a long fiction book in a week or less, depending on the writing style -- if it's fairly modern, I can usually finish it in less than a week. Nonfiction is pretty dense and will take longer, maybe a whole month. Short stories can go either way. I usually just set a goal of reading something every day. It also helps that I don't have a job!