20BooksofSummer logoAll summer, since 1 June, I’ve been taking part in Cathy at the 746 Books blog’s 20 Books of Summer challenge. The idea was to nominate and then read 20 books by the end of 5 September (Labor Day in the US and Back to School Day in most of England at least). I attempted this last year and managed 17, with two I didn’t finish (in fact gave up on) and one I didn’t start at all. But that year, I only found out about the challenge half-way through the year!

And this year, I did it! So here are some facts and stats.

I read 19 books in full. Book 20 is a book in Icelandic – a children’s book, admittedly, but there’s still a fair bit of text and while my Icelandic reading is much better than my production, it’s a funny old language with loads of extra letters that come at odd places in the alphabet, and words have a nasty habit of changing their spelling as the grammar changes, making it all super-hard to look up in the dictionary. So the aim there was not to finish the book, but to get into the habit of working on it, and that I have done. Also, one of the books, “Modernity Britain”, was actually two books in one volume, so it all balances out.

From the original 20, I made four swaps (two swaps were Icelandic books, though, as I found the ideal one to start my reading and “translating” project). That’s, then, two DNFs out of 19, both of which I replaced, and read and enjoyed the replacements.

In the time between 1 June and 5 September, I actually read 37 books! The additional ones turned out mainly to be easy books I fitted in when I needed a simple and/or comforting read, books for the #Woolfalong and Dorothy Richardson projects and a big slew of running books I read coming up to my marathon. I never thought I’d “only” read 20 books through the period, it was more nominating a jolly pile (which started off as the front of my TBR but was more spread out on the back shelf) and a pile that’s representative of my reading tastes.

I read 13 works of fiction, 6 works of non-fiction and one children’s book, and that’s fairly representative of my reading this year in general (I’m on 58 fiction and 27 non-fiction this year so far).

Nine books were by men and ten by women, but I don’t keep records on this, so not sure if that’s representative.

I read books on words, on sport, on bookshops, on Iceland, on adventurous travel and on social history; I read only one modern novel, a bit of mid-century fiction, some classics, some Viragoes and two crime novels.

I read books set in the UK (several), Ireland, Iceland (three), the Poles and mountains, America (some), India and Morocco, and that feels representative, too.

While this challenge was going on, I was also doing the Dorothy Richardson “Pilgrimage” readalong and #Woolfalong, which didn’t feature in this list, and All Virago / All Summer, which did.

And I enjoyed it. I “met” some new book bloggers and gained some new followers and commenters, which was great fun. Thank you, Cathy, for marvellous hosting!

Here’s what I read!

20 books of summer 2016

20 books of summer 2016

Charlie Hill – Books – read and reviewed as Book 1 in the project

Michael Rosen – Alphabetical – read and reviewed as Book 2 in the project

Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee – Swim, Bike, Run – read and reviewed as Book 3 in the project

Joanna Biggs – All Day Long – read and reviewed as Book 4 in the project

Arnaldur Indriðason – The Draining Lake  – read and reviewed as Book 5 in the project

Cathy Kelly – The Honey Queen – read and reviewed as Book 6 in the project

Ranulph Fiennes – Cold – read and reviewed as Book 7 in the project

Julia Strachey – Cheerful Weather for the Wedding – read and reviewed as Book 8 in the project

Nilanjan Choudhury – The Case of the Secretive Sister – read and reviewed as Book 9 in the project

George Eliot – The Mill on the Floss – read and reviewed as Book 10 in the project

Salman Rushdie – Two Years, Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights swapped for Robertson Davies – A Mixture of Frailties – read and reviewed as Book 11 in the project

Ann Bridge – A Lighthearted Quest – read and reviewed as Book 12 in the project

Andrew Flintoff – Being Freddie – read and reviewed as Book 13 in the project

David Kynaston – Modernity Britain – read and reviewed as Book 14 in the project

Auður Ava Olafsdottir – Butterflies in November – read and reviewed as Book 15 in the project

Edith Wharton – The Reef – read and reviewed as Book 16 in the project

Jane Smiley – The Greenlandersswapped for Angela Thirkell – August Folly – read and reviewed as Book 17 in the project

Edith Wharton – Hudson River Bracketed – read and reviewed as Book 18 in the project

A.S. Byatt – Ragnarok – read and reviewed as Book 19 in the project

Sogur ur Biblikunniswapped for Af Hjervu Gjosa Fjoll?  then swapped for Blómin á þakinu – got on with nicely as Book 20 – the plan all along