Hooray – it’s almost 20 Books of Summer time, and this is one challenge I try to do every year. It’s hosted by Cathy over at 746 Books and here’s her launch page for this year.

I have a page on here for the challenge which lists all the books I’ve done for each year since I started joining in (here) and I will link to each review there as I publish it.

I also include All Virago/All August within this challenge, so this year my pile includes seven Virago (and friends) titles to read specifically in August.

My theme this year is Get Rid of 2018. I keep my TBR in order of acquisition, and have been reading books I bought a year ago for ages and ages. Since I started allowing myself to alternate between the oldest and newest books on my shelf, I have slipped way more than a year back with the oldest ones, and I am getting tired of seeing the same old books on the start of the shelf. So the non-Virago books will take us through 2018 and up to May 2019 (I can’t have bought much between my birthday and May that year!) and the Virago etc. ones take out the rest of the Christmas and birthday piles. The only ones that should remain that were acquired in 2018 are two Angela Thirkells (Christmas gifts) and those are waiting for the new editions from Virago that come before them in the sequence to come out, right at the end of August, so I haven’t included them.

Also not included in the pile are books in my current challenge (this is reading a Paul Magrs every month, whose books tend to be shorter than Irish Murdoch’s, who hampered my last two years!) and e-books, so a huge slew on Kindle from NetGalley and other sources. I like to make a physical pile and have one book per author, but rest assured, these will continue to be read, too (I’m reading more than 10 per month at the moment and the 20 Books project takes up 7, 6 and 7 book slots of each month).

I want to address one more thing right away. This pile is not very Diverse. Most writers on it appear to be white females (13) and males (7), some may be LGBTQ, I’m not sure right now.  Most of them (except travel ones, one biography and a US and an Australian novel) are set in the UK, even. This is weird, as I tend to read quite a diverse range of authors and about a range of places and people. In fact, the three books that come directly after this set of books on the shelf are the diary of an Indian man’s travels in Russia, a book about the role immigrants have to play in the life of my city and the autobiography of Tan France of Queer Eye, about being a gay Muslim! And I did think of making a Diverse Pile instead, but that seemed forced and a bit pi. So let me just reassure you that a) I must have just been going through a phase of buying in these particular areas, b) Virago and Persephone tend to sit there anyway, and c) I have plenty of books on all sorts of diverse topics by a lovely set of different kinds of people in my Kindle from NetGalley, etc., as well as in the rest of the TBR and coming up sooner if I clear these, and I will make the effort to read only books by diverse authors alongside this pile in June-September and seeking to learn about others’ experiences as usual.

The pile

Here it all is!

So June and July’s set is here:

George Eggleston – Tahiti – Man from the 1950s travels to Tahiti. Bought in a charity shop in Stratford-upon-Avon.

Nancy Marie Brown – The Far Traveller: Voygages of a Viking Woman – reconstructs the life and travels of the Icelander Gudrid and her context.

Alex Horne – Birdwatchingwatching – the comedian from Taskmaster and his dad spend a year doing competitive birdwatching with each other.

Philip Marsden – Rising Ground – a book about West Penwith, spirit of place and the historians who came before him, bought in Penzance.

Laura Thompson – The Last Landlady – the history of the British pub, through the lens of the author’s grandmother’s life as a pub landlady.

N.D. Isaacs and Rose Zimbardo – Tolkien and the critics – critical essays on Tolkien from 1970

Simon Winchester – Outposts – in 1985 he travelled to the outposts of the British Empire and this is a 2003 new edition with some additional material.

Ammon Shea – The Phone Book – known for doing a quest or two (like reading the dictionary) here he turns his attention to the history of the phone book.

Jeanette Winterson/Emmeline Pankhurst – Courage Calls to Courage Everywhere – Winterson’s call to arms from 100 years after women partially won the right to vote, plus Pankhurst’s landmark speech, Freedom or Death.

John Sutherland – Literary Landscapes – familiar literary worlds with illustrations, maps and archive material.

Anne George – Murder Runs in the Family – fun cosy mystery set in Birmingham, Alabama

Kim Gordon – Girl in a Band – autobiography covering her time in the band Sonic Youth

Tim Parks – Where I’m reading From – essays about books and reading

… and then the All Virago / All August section – I’m including Persephone and Dean Street Press as also publishing lost women’s fiction and because I don’t have seven Viragoes on the TBR if you don’t include the Thirkells I can’t read yet.

Dorothy Whipple – Young Anne – the last of her books Persephone has published and her coming of age novel

Edith Ayrton Zangwill – The Call – a scientist becomes steadily more involved with the suffragette movement

Elizabeth Eliot – Henry – the narrator’s unreliable brother joins the circus and does other shocking things

Catherine Carswell – The Camomile – portrait of a woman living in Scotland at the turn of the 19th/20th century

Ada Cambridge – The Three Miss Kings – three sisters in 1880s Melbourne. I was going to use this for AusLitMonth in November but I have so few Viragoes!

Margaret Kennedy – The Ladies of Lyndon – set around a great house in Edwardian times

Joan Aiken – The Serial Garden: The Complete Armitage Family Stories – wonderful stories all republished together and a lovely treat to finish up with.

What do you think of my Pile? Have you read any of these books? Are you doing 20 Books of Summer this year? I feel it’s a nice little bit of normality in These Circumstances.