It’s that time again! Cathy at 746 Books is hosting 20 Books of Summer, and I am here with my list. Last year, I did manage to read almost every book on my list and reviewed a good chunk of them. This year, while I’ve finally got my enthusiasm for reading back, I’m finding reviewing a lot harder than normal. I’m therefore not going to put too much pressure on myself to review every book – I’ll aim to review one book for each of the categories below, and if I manage more, so much the better. I’ve got two weeks off in August and one in reservation that I might take late June/early July, and at the moment, it looks like almost the only leisure activity I will be able to engage in will be reading – so I am sure getting through 20 books will not be too challenging in itself! My book buying skyrocketed at the start of lockdown, so I’m trying to read as many of my emergency book purchases as possible this summer to make me feel better about all the money I spent.


I am also introducing a new element for myself this year. Look. It’s 2020. I’m allowed to make it easier for myself. One of the categories I’ve listed below is food writing. I have several cookbooks on my shelves that I’ve browsed, but never cooked from – the equivalent of buying novels and never reading them. I’m planning to cook something from each of these and then write about that process in lieu of a true review.

Crime fiction

  1. Murder Must Advertise by DL Sayers
    I’m reading the Lord Peter books along with the As My Wimsey Takes Me podcast, which adds tremendously to my reading experience. Their next book will be Five Red Herrings, which I am in no rush to reread, but I’ve never read Murder Must Advertise, which comes after that – it’s supposed to be one of the best in the series.
  2. The Nine Tailors by DL Sayers Murder Underground by Mavis Doriel Hay
    I didn’t realise I’d already reviewed The Nine Tailors – so this got replaced with Murder Underground.
  3. Destination Unknown by Agatha Christie
    This time, the podcast I am following is All About Agatha. I’m interested to see what this particular novel is like – for me, Christie’s one-off novels are either exceptionally good or pretty poor, whereas the Poirot/Marple/Tommy and Tuppence books are more consistent.
  4. The Death of Nancy Drew by Anthony Del Sol By the Pricking of my Thumbs by Agatha Christie
    My lack of understanding of how comics work is to blame here. I’ve only received half of The Death of Nancy Drew so far, and reviewing it based on that just seems mean.

    Literary/general fiction

  5. The Edge of Sadness by Edwin O’Connor
    Another reread – I read and loved this a few years ago because Goodreads recommended it to me as a book similar in tone to Gilead, which was an absolutely bang-on recommendation. I’ve been thinking about it regularly ever since.
  6. For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway
    I’ve never read any Hemingway, having dismissed him because of his unpleasant reputation – but I was sold on this book by FictionFan’s excellent review earlier this year, and managed to get it out of the library before it closed.
  7. Utz by Bruce Chatwin
    I’m not going to lie to you – this is on the list because it’s a very short novella.
  8. The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
    I’ve seen so many good reviews of this recently – all of a sudden, it seemed to be everywhere, despite being backlist. I’m not sure why it’s making the rounds, but it sounds amazing and I’m looking forward to reading it.


  9. Bookworm: A Memoir of Childhood Reading by Lucy Mangan
    Last year, I had this delightful idea: I would reread my childhood favourites, blog about it, and then read and review this. Well, I managed a couple of rereads, one post, and no headway on this at all. It’s time to change that.
  10. The Good Mothers by Alex Perry
    How many of my to-read lists has this book been on now? This is at least the third. Anyway, I remain completely fascinated by this true story of three Mafia wives who turned state’s evidence, at huge personal risk, and helped to bring many members of the Calabrian Mafia to justice. Maybe this summer I will even manage to read it.
  11. The Maharaja’s Household: A daughter’s memories of her father by Binodini
    Dressed for a Dance in the Snow: Women’s voices from the gulag by Monika Zgustova
    My copy of The Maharaja’s Household has yet to arrive, which is fair (it’s being shipped from India), so it doesn’t look like I’ll have time to read it before the end of the summer. I’ve replaced it with Dressed for a Dance in the Snow, which is still non-fiction about women’s experiences in the early part of the 20th century.
  12. God and Galileo: What a 400-year-old letter teaches us about faith and science by David Block and Kenneth Freeman
    The supposed conflict between faith and science has always seemed overexaggerated to me, a Christian and researcher, but there are certainly questions to be answered there. A lot of the conflict is supposed to be exemplified in the pope’s treatment of Galileo. Therefore, this exploration of the topic by two Christian astronomers appeals strongly to me.

    Food writing

  13. The Silver Spoon
    Most of the stuff in this book is too fancy for every day, but I quite fancy having a stab at one or two of the recipes when I’m on holiday.
  14. The Constance Spry Cookery Book
    I’ll make it clear from the off: I am not going to make brawn. Nonetheless, there are other things in here that appeal.
  15. A Book of Mediterranean Food by Elizabeth David
    It’s almost the time of year where I have to start dealing with all the tomatoes my pots and planters are producing, so hopefully this should provide me with inspiration.
  16. At My Table by Nigella Lawson
    I love Nigella’s recipes, and in her more recent books she has steered away from “locate this ingredient only available in one very expensive shop in East London” suggestions, so I am looking forward to this.

    Speculative Fiction

  17. Wool by Hugh Howey
    My mum has been encouraging me to read this novel for years, at this point – and when she reminded me most recently, I discovered that it is available as a Kindle Unlimited read.
  18. Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang
    Simply put, this has been on my shelves for a couple of years now.
  19. First Among Sequels by Jasper Fforde
    I’ve been working my way through the Thursday Next series – I love The Eyre Affair, which I’ve read many times, and I’ve also read the first couple of follow-ons, but I’ve never made it to First Among Sequels. I’ve been listening to the audiobooks, and this ridiculous world is precisely where I want to spend time at the moment.
  20. The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E Harrow Galloglass by Scarlett Thomas
    I was completely convinced that I’d put Galloglass on this list, so I merrily read it and reviewed it, and now I am pretending that was my plan all along.