My 20 Books of Summer and August Reading Wrap-Up

I’m always sad to see summer ending, but it’s nice to see kids going back to school, and we are going on vacation!  I’ve been working hard and need this break. We’re going to Hawaii to celebrate our 20th anniversary.  We seriously considered whether to cancel, in light of COVID, but we are vaccinated, our trip is nearly all outdoors, and we need the time away. It doesn’t make me happy that the governor of Hawaii has asked people not to come (part of me feels like a terrible person for going), but the rooms are paid for and we plan on being respectful, safe tourists. We understand that this trip will be different. 

This month I completed the 18th book of my 20 Books of Summer list, and I’m reading the last two. I have NEVER stuck to a TBR list this well. And while I’ve been avoiding putting reading burdens on myself in the last year and a half, it was nice to have the extra motivation to read some books that have been on the TBR for a while. I enjoyed the feeling of accomplishment AND it also made my reading decision-making easier. So are TBR lists a burden that take the joy out of reading, or a helpful planning tool? No clear answer on that one. But I loved many of the books on my list, and I’m glad I read them. I’m not sure I would have tackled Devil in the Grove, Caste, or Seven Fallen Feathers without my 20 Books of Summer list.

Here’s what I read in August:

  • The Midnight Bargain by C.L. Polk
  • Braving It by James Campbell (audio)
  • She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan
  • The Mother-in-Law by Sally Hepworth (audio)
  • Seven Fallen Feathers by Tanya Talaga (audio)
  • The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy
  • The Moor by Laurie R. King (audio)
  • All the Rage by Courtney Summers
  • Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
  • Rizzio by Denise Mina (novella)

My favorite readsSeven Fallen Feathers was a devastating nonfiction read about racial issues, this time in Ontario, Canada, where seven Indigenous teens drown in the river over a period of 11 years, and the police do nothing about it. Talaga provides a lot of insights about the homes that these teens came from, the challenges they face, and the many ways the education and social services systems failed them. (recommended by Reading Ladies).

Another favorite was Thomas Hardy’s Mayor of Casterbridge.  I’m gradually working my way through Hardy’s major works. I love that he takes fairly basic stories (in this case, the economic rise and fall of one man in a very small town in England), instead focusing on the depth of his characters and their capacity for change. 

Braving It, by James Campbell, is nonfiction about a father who takes his teenage daughter into the Alaskan wilderness, first to build a cabin and then on other adventures.  I love a good nature story, and I always envy people who can really go out and connect with the wilderness, accepting all the risks that come with that. I also appreciated Campbell’s insights about his relationship with his daughter. There’s a ton of detail in this book, which was sometimes a positive and sometimes a negative; I felt a bit lost in the part about kayaking (too much terminology I didn’t know). (recommended by Musings of a Literary Wanderer).

All the Rage was gut-wrenching and dark YA, as was her more recent novel, Sadie.  Her writing is gorgeous and she really takes you into the mind of a teenage girl who’s been raped and then bullied as the whole town side with her rapist.  Very much like Louise O’Neill’s Asking For It, this book is haunting. 

And last but not least, I loved Certain Dark Things by Moreno-Garcia and Rizzio by Denise Mina and will be reviewing both soon. 

Disappointing or DNF: I started, but didn’t finish, House of Stone by Nuvuyo Rosa Tshuma.  It was for my book club, which reads books by women from other countries.  I gave this one a good try but couldn’t get into it, and sadly, that’s been happening a lot with the international books I’ve tried to read lately for my book club. 

Books for challenges:

  • Beat the Backlist: The Mayor of Casterbridge, The Moor, All the Rage
  • Nonfiction: Braving It, Seven Fallen Feathers
  • Modern Mrs. Darcy: The Mayor of Casterbridge
  • 20 Books of Summer: Braving It, She Who Became the Sun, Seven Fallen Feathers, The Mayor of Casterbridge, Certain Dark Things.

What I’m reading now: I’m reading Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro. I’m also reading Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones and Babylon’s Ashes by James S. A. Corey.

What’s next: I’m really exciting to have an advance copy of T.J. Klune’s new book, Under the Whistling Door.

Things I added to my TBR: My sister recommended Life From Scratch: A Memoir of Food, Family and Forgiveness by Sasha Martin.  It looks like my kind of read.

That’s my August reading. I hope you had a good summer and that you and your families are doing well and safe from COVID.

  7 comments for “My 20 Books of Summer and August Reading Wrap-Up

  1. Karen.Bernard
    September 1, 2021 at 8:59 am

    So excited for you to read one of my books! ☺

  2. September 1, 2021 at 10:10 am

    Nice work! Braving it sounds really good.

  3. September 1, 2021 at 8:43 pm

    Excellent post. Happy anniversary–yes, I understand why the governor of HI is discouraging visitors. I hope you have a wonderful time despite the challenges.

    I thought Mayor of Casterbridge was amazing–so thought provoking. I like the one Laurie King book I read, but haven’t read more of hers.

    Congrats on making this challenge work for you! Way to go.

  4. WendyW
    September 1, 2021 at 9:21 pm

    Nice work on your challenge. I agree, with these challenges it’s a fine line between being a burden and being a motivator

  5. September 5, 2021 at 1:35 pm

    Well done! I managed my 20 this year but probably only because I swapped two big non-fiction reads for a memoir and a novel! And congratulations on your anniversary. I’ve been with my husband 20 years in October but not married that long!

  6. September 8, 2021 at 3:24 pm

    Have a wonderful holiday – Hawaii was one of the stops on our honeymoon so I have fond memories of it though I bet I wouldn’t recognise Honolulu now.
    Well done on the challenge, you are one of the very few people I have seen who actually stuck to their original reading list.

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