Hooray, it’s that time of year when we all put our 20BooksOfSummer TBR piles together – I like to know where I am before I start taking the front of my TBR into it, so always save it up until the last minute to plan. First of all, though, here’s the current state of the TBR.

Of course, its magnificence is due to my book token spending spree the other week, and is absolutely FINE.

I’m currently reading Paul Theroux’s “Deep South”. After not enjoying many of the essays in his later book, I was approaching this with concern, but you know what? It’s BRILLIANT. It’s so good. He goes back to places, something he’s not really done before (OK, he did his “Ghost Train to the Eastern Star” trip, which retraced “Riding the Iron Rooster”, but this time it’s over the course of a year) and is humane, concerned and warm. It’s the only book I’m reading at the moment, but coming up next will be Iris Murdoch’s “The Italian Girl” for my #IMReadalong and the first book in my 20BooksOf Summer. Here’s the traditional start of my TBR, what’s coming next pic. Oh, and this is important, see how absolutely TINY the next Iris Murdoch is.

20 Books of Summer 2018

Run by the lovely Cathy at 746 Books every year (here‘s her introductory post), 20BooksOfSummer sees a whole load of us reading, well, 20 books from 1 June to 3 September every year. I’ve been taking part since 2015 (not always successfully) and you can see my master page, where I pull together my reviews and round-up here.

I’m being really quite ambitious this year. My PILE is drawn solely from my TBR and doesn’t include Kindle books (I know I have at least three or four to read for NetGalley) or the three Iris Murdoch books I’ll read for #IMreadalong. I am including eight books for August which will also participate in All Virago (and Persephone) / All August, which I do with the LibraryThing Virago Group every year. And I reckon I can do it, especially as I’m trying hard to address my work/life balance, so HAVING to read is a good thing.

So, here’s the pile, I’ll be reading it from bottom up, so it’s lucky it lives sensibly on my shelves, not lounging around on the duvet, as here …

William Sitwell – “Eggs or Anarchy” – The story of how Lord Woolton, Minister for Food, fed Britain during WWII

Amit Katwala – “The Athletic Brain” – About how neuroscience is revolutionising sports science and can apparently even help amateur sportspeople at all levels.

Vikas Swarup – “The Accidental Apprentice” – His more famous novel is Q&A, filmed as Slumdog Millionaire. In this one, an ordinary sales assistant is swept up to become a CEO by a billionaire, but why and will she pass his seven tests?

George Eliot – “Scenes of Clerical Life” – One of the few Eliots I haven’t read now, her earliest stories of religion, power and love.

David Weir – “Weirwolf” – The autobiography of the amazing athlete who’s won everything from the London marathon multiple times to Paralympics medals at different distances.

Robert McFarlane – “The Old Ways” – I think everyone in the world except for me has read this, where he follows the old tracks, hollow ways, drovers’ paths etc. of Britain.

Clare Balding – “Walking Home” – Not a second volume of autobiography but more walking, this time around modern Britain, meeting people. This will either go really well with / contrast with the McFarlane or I’ll get heartily sick of all the walking and have to swap the order!

Gillian Tindall – “The Tunnel Through Time” – Looks at the archaeological and sociological evidence uncovered by the building of Crossrail in London as well as historical sources to show who walked those routes and when.

Christopher McDougall – “Born to Run” – I think all runners who read have probably read this seminal text on barefoot and ultrarunning (and barefoot ultrarunning), something I really don’t want to do but find fascinating.

Peter Ginna (ed.) – “What Editors Do” – Includes a chapter by my friend Katharine O’Moore-Klopf and loads of detail about the work of the editor.

Prajwal Parajuly – “Land Where I Flee” – Phew, another bit of fiction at last! Three expats fly back to Sikkim for their grandmother’s birthday. Will they gain her blessing and retain their sanity and escape again?

Becky Wade – “Run the World” – Reports on running cultures from around the world, some of which I’ve already read about, some of which will be new to me. I see that I skipped over another expat fiction work in the TBR to read yet another running book …

And the Viragoes and Persephones for August. First some Viragoes:

Ellen Glasgow – “Barren Ground” – A 1925 novel detailing the life of a Virginia woman who survives an early disappointment to build her own life.

Ann Bridge – “Peking Picnic” – Her first novel, a diplomat’s wife realises the contrast between China and England, along with a cast of fellow English people. She’s such a witty writer and conveys place so well.

Angela Thirkell – “Summer Half” – New teacher Colin Keith encounters the terrifying Tony Morland and comedy in the school and village ensues.

Angela Thirkell – “The Brandons” – More Barsetshire comedy, with widow Lavinia Brandon batting away suitors while trying to matchmake for the vicar.

Then three Persephones

Tirzah Garwood – “Long Live Great Bardfield” – Wood engraver Garwood wrote this in 1942 as German planes circled overhead, telling of her art and her marriage to Eric Ravilious and the circle of artists around them. I hope this is good because it’s really thick! I’ve just realised this might just fill another year in my poor old Century of Books!

Joanna Cannan – “Princes in the Land” – The mother of the Pullein-Thompson pony-book sisters on a woman whose life is centred around her children, who gradually move away from her. Ali reviewed this back in 2016 and was very enthusiastic.

Diana Tutton – “Guard Your Daughters” – The One Simon from Stuck-in-a-Book is always pressing onto people (rather successfully!) so I had to get it when Persephone published it. A young girl in a family of sisters narrates their odd life – hard to resist anyway!

Enid Bagnold – “The Loved and Envied” – Set in France, Lady MacLean is a fading beauty, still with her courtiers. A slim Virago, received just the other week.

What do you think of my choices? Do you think I’ll get through them all? Are you doing 20BooksOfSummer, too?