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?