Summer Reading Challenge 2021

Cathy, over at 746 Books, is hosting 20 Books of Summer again this year, or however many books you think you might be able to knock off your To Read pile. The challenge runs from 1 June to 1 September.

I’m going for ten books again this year. I managed my total last year, with only three substitutions. I’ve even managed to finish the three I didn’t get to on my original list over the past 12 months plus one of my potential substitutions. So this year’s list is entirely new.

I’m sorely in need of a holiday, having been unable to get away since our last break in Cornwall back in November 2019. Whenever we go away, we always visit a bookshop or six, and I often buy books written by writers from the place we’re visiting. For this summer’s reading challenge, then, I’ll be reading ten books I’ve bought on holiday. Some of them set in holiday destinations, some of them not.

Here’s my list:

  • Frankenstein Unbound / Brian Aldiss – bought in Falmouth (my review)
  • Lorna Doone / R D Blackmore – bought in Penrith
  • Knucklebone / Nechama Brodie – bought in Wigtown
  • Jamaica Inn / Daphne du Maurier – bought in Falmouth (my review)
  • The Trick is to Keep Breathing / Janice Galloway – bought in Wigtown
  • The Woman in Black / Susan Hill – bought in Penrith
  • Vanity Fair / William Makepeace Thackeray – bought in Penrith
  • Cornish Short Stories / Emma Timpany – bought in Falmouth (my review)
  • Hadji Murat / Leo Tolstoy – bought in Sedbergh
  • Precious Bane / Mary Webb – bought in Wigtown (my review)

Will you take part this year? How many books will you choose? I’m going to need to up my reading rate, having only read 13 books in the first four months of this year.

26 thoughts on “Summer Reading Challenge 2021

  1. I really don’t want the pressure of a Reading Challenge. Life has too many imperatives as it is. And you’ve set yourself some challenge! As Mary says, Vanity Fair – which I did much enjoy – will take some time, Lorna Doone too. Other than those, I’ve only read Jamaica Inn. Good luck!

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    1. I fear I’ve been fooled by the smallness of the secondhand volumes for both those classics! Ah well, if I get to them at all will be a miracle. It’s a good job I don’t take 20 Books of Summer at all as a challenge!

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  2. This is a great list, Jan. I’ve read Jamaica Inn and Precious Bane and you have a couple more that I have on my radar. I won’t try this challenge this year; I know I won’t get the reviews written. But I’ll enjoy making a list of books for the summer regardless. And I’ll look forward to your reviews. Good luck!

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  3. A great list, Jan, and only choosing ten books makes it more likely you’ll get through them all, even the chunksters!

    I read Aldiss’s Frankenstein Unbound in the 1970s and was a little confused because I clearly missed many of the cultural references at the time. It’s definitely a novel I want to reread, having enjoyed a couple of his other fantasies subsequently, but first I want to revisit his The Malacia Tapestry which will fit in with the 1976 Club meme later this year.

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    1. That’s the plan, Chris! I haven’t read anything by Aldiss before, but know he’s highly regarded as a Sci-fi writer. I’m looking forward to my first foray.

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      1. I think he liked to roam through different subgenres, so as well as his Shelley sequel, his Helliconia trilogy is what’s known as a planetary romance and the Malacia title I mentioned is classed as a picaresque novel.

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  4. I enjoyed Jamaica Inn, even though I listened to a fairly old audiobook version where the narrator did squeaky voices for the women. I think I would have much preferred to just read it, but Daphne can always be relied upon for a good, atmospheric read.

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    1. I really enjoyed the tv adaptation a couple of years ago and have been meaning to read the book ever since. I love Frenchman’s Creek, My Cousin Rachel and Rebecca, so I’m looking forward to this one.

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  5. We are in the same boat, I’ve just finished my 14th book of the year, so I will have to step it up to even reach 10 – my goal as well. I haven’t read any of these but I’m interested in The Trick is to Keep Breathing (title of a song by one of my favourite bands as well!)

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    1. I know I’m not reading as frequently as I used to, but I feel like I’m reading more than I actually am, which is weird! I need to put my phone down more. I used to get travel sick scrolling while commuting on the bus, perhaps I should pretend that still happens!

      I think The Trick is to Keep Breathing is going to be a difficult read, but I’m hoping for a female perspective on working class life in the vein of James Kelman. I don’t know many songs by Garbage, just a handful of singles from their first two albums and the James Bond theme. I looked up the lyrics to The Trick is to Keep Breathing and it seems like it might have synergies with the book.

      I hope you read some good books over the summer, Laura!

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  6. That’s a great substitute for a vacation this summer. The Trick is to Keep Breathing is one of the most depressing books I’ve ever read, though.

    I’m hoping to read twenty of my 1001 Children’s Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up.

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  7. This is my first time doing this challenge I have chosen to read 20 books but it is more like 24 as I am not counting box sets as more than one book or my Arc reads.

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