Cathy at 746 Books is hosting her 20 Books of Summer reading challenge again this year. Last year was the first time that I have participated and unfortunately I failed miserably to read the twenty books on my original list. I think I managed nine. However, undeterred, I have decided to have another try! Cathy does, thank goodness, have a very relaxed approach to this “challenge” so I have succumbed. Although I seriously doubt I will manage twenty books between now and 3rd September I thought it may prompt me to tackle my toppling to be read book mountains. According to Cathy I can reduce the number if I wish to and may alter the list if I fancy too. This sounds appealing! I do know of other online book pals who are taking part which I think will encourage me in my attempt.
Due to my various reviewing commitments, chiefly for children’s books, the time available for reading simply for my own pleasure has diminished. Although I greatly enjoy the children’s books I review it will be refreshing to have complete freedom of choice. We all know how vital personal choice is for nurturing reading for pleasure in children so I am going to adopt the same approach for my own reading. I had hoped that the Coronavirus pandemic restrictions would result in my reading more but I flit about from one disturbing news report to another instead. Having a list of titles will, I hope, encourage me to focus. So here goes…my #20BooksofSummer20 list. Perhaps you would like to read some of these too?
1. Can You See Me by Libby Scott and Rebecca Westcott – this book is on this year’s Empathy Collection booklist for children. As Empathy Day takes place on 9th June and we are at present living in a world desperately in need of greater empathy this, I thought, was a good place to start.
2. The Library of Lost and Found by Phaedra Patrick – the idea of a story with a librarian at the heart of it and a plot description that reads, “a librarian’s discovery of a mysterious book sparks the journey of a lifetime” was enough to persuade me to borrow this e-book from my own local library and I am looking forward to a cheerful escape.
3. The Boy Who Dreamed of Dragons by Andy Shepherd
4 . My Name is River by Emma Rea
5. The Ghost Garden by Emma Carroll
These three books are all copies that I have received for review from children’s publishers. Andy Shepherd’s book is the latest in a popular young middle grade series combining a magical introduction to fantasy with a kind and gentle look at family life. Emma Rea’s new book, My Name is River, is an adventure set in the Brazilian rainforest which does sound to have great child appeal. I always enjoy Emma Carroll’s historical fiction for children and am looking forward to her first novella for Barrington Stoke.
6. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr – this was given to me by a friend who said she thought it was “my sort of book.” It has languished on my bookshelf for ages. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2015 I really have no excuses for not getting round to reading it.
7. On the Come Up by Angie Thomas
8. Toffee by Sarah Crossan.
Two teen/YA novels that are shortlisted for awards. Angie Thomas won the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize in 2016 for The Hate U Give and On the Come Up is shortlisted for the Carnegie Award this year. This will be the first of her novels that I have read and I’m fascinated to see what I think of it. From The Weight of Water onwards I have enjoyed Sarah Crossan’s verse novels. Despite the fact that her writing is more suitable for an older audience than the primary school readers with whom I used to work I have always made time to read her books. Toffee is shortlisted for the UKLA Book Award and I am very much looking forward to reading it.
9. Here in the Real World by Sara Pennypacker – several people whose judgement I value have recommended this children’s book on Twitter so I could not resist the temptation to buy a copy.
10. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon – another that has languished on my shelves for far too long. This story within a story holds great appeal and is another that is linked to books and the doors which they open to other lives, places and times.
11. The Old Ways – Robert MacFarlane – This is cheating a little as I have started reading this beautiful book but had to put it to one side due to other commitments. During the lockdown I have spent time walking in our local woods and the idea of history hidden in our footpaths and lanes is, for me, a comforting one.
12. High Rise Mystery by Sharna Jackson
13. Our Castle by the Sea by Lucy Strange
14. Where the River Runs Gold by Sita Brahmachari
These are three children’s books that have been neglected due to being my personal reading choices and having to take second place to those I am reviewing in time for publication dates. Sharna Jackson’s book is published by Knights Of, a small publisher doing big, brilliant things and I have wanted to read this for ages. Lucy Strange’s debut, The Secret of Nightingale Wood, was the sort of book that I loved as a child and still do now. I am looking forward to reading her second title. Corey’s Rock written by Sita Brahmachari and illustrated by Jane Ray prompted me to buy her novel for older children last year and is another I am hoping to make time for.
15. The Phone Box at the End of the World by Laura Imai Messina translated by Lucy Rand – this was an impulse download from NetGalley and it was the descriptions of the hopeful nature of the story that attracted me. It is due to be published this month.
16 The Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool – winner of the Newbery Award in 2011 this novel has parallels with our world at the moment and I approach this one with a little trepidation. Will it reassure? I do hope so.
The following books are all childhood or teen treasures rescued from my parents’ house or second hand book finds from over the years. Each in their own way is important to me and I have added them to my list with a slight anxiety as to what I will make of them now.
17. Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell
18. Little Men by Louisa M Alcott
19. Our Friend Jennings by Anthony Buckeridge
20. Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper
Well, these are my twenty books. Will I change some? Yes, quite possibly but I do intend to try and keep to the original choices if possible. Even if I only manage to read a few books over the period it will be a valuable exercise in focusing on books I already own. The problem is going to be resisting my natural inclination to add to my collection. There are so many fabulous books being recommended to me at the moment I will undoubtedly be tempted but I am aware that this results in some older and just as fabulous books being neglected. Hence these unread beauties. #20BooksofSummer is a lovely idea and I am looking forward to taking part. I hope to post regular updates on my progress.