It was always 15 Books of Summer that I put on my list this year, right? Right. (Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain). You know, in hindsight, I put some very silly choices on that list. Not silly in the sense that they weren’t worth reading – almost all of them were, with the possible exception of The Magician’s Ward – but taken together, there was a lot of slow literary fiction and nonfiction about the terrible consequences of Communism, plus a giant military history book. What am I, some sort of reading challenge amateur? Still, between those books and the additional reading I did (three Christie audiobooks; Shards of Honour by Lois McMaster Bujold, which I’ll be reviewing shortly; Grounded by Liz Zorab, which I’m also hoping to review) I did read 20 books, so I succeeded in spirit if not in fact.
Between the Strong Sense of Place and Transmongolian sections of my reading list (and even a few of the other books), I have had a genuinely fascinating time visiting all corners of the globe during this challenge. I’ve even kitted out a Google Map to show off my travels! Of the books where location was really important, I visited ten places, in seven countries, across four continents (depending on your definition of continent, of course). This is all to say nothing of the future and outer space. Even then, I’ve only picked the most important place for each book – some of them, like The Big Green Tent, travelled around quite a lot. I could perhaps add another place and country to that list if I were so inclined – Grounded is very much about Monmouthshire in Wales.
There were so many great books that I have had trouble picking out favourites. The House of Mirth, So Big, and Cover Her Face were probably the standouts, with an honourable mention for The Big Green Tent – which was challenging to read and probably won’t ever be a favourite, exactly, but was certainly the most interesting book and the one I’ve thought about the most since. I also enjoyed really my buddy read of Woman on the Edge of Time with Melanie and our discussion, though the book itself isn’t a candidate for favourite book of the year.
Havana Fever, The Magician’s Ward, and The Tea Master and the Detective were all a little disappointing, though for different reasons. Of the books I read that weren’t on the list, Shards of Honour was easily my favourite – I absolutely loved it and have already recommended it to two people in real life, which is always a sign that a book has stayed with me. You can’t like science fiction on the internet for very long without someone telling you to read the Vorkosigan Saga – I’m not sure why I put it off this long.
I’ve also watched a lot of great television and films this summer, and had a (very short) holiday – so I will be writing posts about both of those, before regular bookish service is resumed. It will be the busy season at work again soon, but having the last month or so to enjoy lots of reading, blogging, and lazing about has been lovely.
What was your reading highlight of the summer (or winter)? Have you visited any exciting places, either in books or in real life?
A giant military history book wouldn’t be something many readers would view as summer reading 🙂
You have me intrigued by your comment that much of Grounded is connected with Monmouthshire since that’s very close to where I live. Where is her paddock located – does it give a village or more specific location?
I actually find it easier to read big meaty books like that in the summer, when my brain’s not so occupied with work – though obviously not that much easier, since I haven’t finished it yet!
No, she’s pretty careful to obscure her location within Monmouthshire – I think because she also has a popular YouTube channel and giving a more precise location could cause privacy/security concerns. It sounds lovely, though – I don’t know south Wales at all but I half wanted to move there myself by the end of the book.
I’ll have to look at her videos now to see if I can spot any clues!
The Woman on the Edge of Time has been a stand out for me this summer because I keep thinking about it. That scary feeling of illegal imprisonment in a mental health facility that experiments on patients. How a gender fluid society is possible (and this I keep thinking about as I meet more and more gender fluid people and try to get my composition brain to accept “they” as a singular pronoun).
Seven Days in June by Tia Williams also stands out not only because the audio was so well done, but because the author highlights the complexities of adult relationships in a realistic way. None of this running to the airport to stop someone just before she boards a plane romantic nonsense.
No worries, we shall not look at the man behind the curtain 😉
I’m so glad Woman on the Edge of Time was a standout for you! I do think it was a great book and there is a lot in there to think over. (And yes, I would really like it if “per” were the gender neutral pronoun we were going with as a society – my brain processes it much more easily than singular they).
Shards of Honour reminds me a bit of what you say about Seven Days in June – it’s a love story but the people in it are intelligent and thoughtful and behave like adults, which is one of the things I liked about it.
Well done! I don’t think I even managed to read 20 books in title this summer, even without attempting the challenge.
Thanks! I’m pretty pleased with the results even if I didn’t read the books on my list!
Well done Lou! Thanks again for joining in.x
Thank you! And thanks again for hosting, it’s always so much fun 🙂
Thanks for the prod about Shards of Honour. I used to regularly read the Vorkosigan Saga, but since stopping going to the library, I’d forgotten about them. I didn’t recall reading Shards of Honour, so I have now read it, and Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen. Thoroughly enjoyed both, so now I’m going to reread A Civil Campaign, because I enjoyed reading about the butterbugs. All your fault 🙂
This was my first foray into the Vorkosigsn Saga! I’d been recommended it as a good place to start in the series, even though it’s not the first book. Glad you are enjoying!
It sounds like you’ve had a great summer, for reading and other parts of your life. I’m glad you discovered so many good books with this challenge. Definitely a success in my book 🙂
Yes, it really was a lovely summer, and the whole point of reading challenges is to discover new books – so I agree it counts as a success!
Congrats on your challenge! I did travel a lot this Summer with books as well: https://wordsandpeace.com/tag/20-books-of-summer/