I’m in! Cathy 746’s #20booksofsummer

Okay, I’ve been hemming and hawing over Cathy’s post over at 746 Books, “20 Books of Summer.” I’ve never done a challenge or read-a-long or anything like that at Grab the Lapels because I wanted my site to be strictly business. But I’ve discovered over the last year that one way to share business is by partaking in group reading activities. Based on what I see, many bloggers are devoted to one another because they did a challenge or read-a-long together.

“But 20 books?” I thought. That’s so many. And how will I keep on track with reviewing? There were two big reads I knew way back during winter that I wanted to get through this summer: the entire Anne of Green Gables (that’s 8 books) and The Brothers Karamazov (a Russian doorstop). Okay, so that’s 9 books total. What would the other 11 be?

It turns out I have 9 books left that have been sent to me from publishers/authors. Just 9. It feels like relief is just around the corner, if only I can finish these 9 books! There was a time when my ARC list was backlogged by a year — when GTL opened its doors, a lot of people wanted in. But when I’m done with these 9 books, I can get to some of the books I’ve been wanting to read that I purchased for myself (yes, I keep it to a minimum, and all the books are located on one small shelf). Most of the books I purchase are from used shops and by authors that will help me keep up in my field. When I teach literature, it’s usually Black Lit of America or Contemporary Domestic Fiction, so having books about or by authors in the field is useful to teaching. The other time I tend to buy books is at author readings — and I want to hurry up and read more of them.

Recently, I joined a book club to make friends. We read one novel per month, so there are the other 2 books, totalling 20 novels for the summer of 2016. So, Cathy, here I come*!


These are my 20 books of summer:

  1. Harley and Me by Bernadette Murphy
  2. On Air by Robin Stratton
  3. Girls of Usually by Lori Horvitz
  4. The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick (*might change ranking due to when book club meets)
  5. Single Stroke Seven by Lavinia Ludlow
  6. Of Zen and Men by Robin Stratton
  7. Retelling by Tsipi Keller
  8. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
  9. The Thirteenth Earl by Evelyn Pryce
  10. Coming of Age in Mississippi by Anne Moody
  11. Terror in Taffeta by Marla Cooper (*might change ranking due to when book club meets)
  12. Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery
  13. Anne of Avonlea
  14. Anne of the Island
  15. Anne of Windy Poplars
  16. Anne’s House of Dreams
  17. Anne of Ingleside
  18. Rainbow Valley
  19. Rilla of Ingleside
  20. The Brothers Karamzov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

*Not all of these books will be reviewed on Grab the Lapels, as I have a strict “no dudes allowed” book review policy. For books by men, I will write the review on Goodreads and share on Twitter with Cathy’s #20booksofsummer hashtag.

*Update: I changed #9 and #11 because I realized I had four Robin Stratton ARCs on this list. I’m going to spread out my reviews of Robin’s books a little more and save In His Genes and Blue or Blue Skies for fall.


  1. The stars have aligned and it’s meant to be! I’ve only read the Anne series of those on your list and, of course, loved them. I have toyed with he idea of re-reading them but decided to wait until my daughter was old enough to read them, so that we could enjoy them together.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s a good idea. I received the complete set as a gift from my great-grandmother when I was a girl, but found them impossible to read. The language is quite difficult due to the time period! I sold that set when I was in college — so sad! — but bought a new one this past winter, determined to read them all. Re-watching the movie helped my determination, of course!


  2. Oh, I’m so happy that you’re going to be reading the Anne books! Have you read them before, or is this your first time? Right now I’m reading a book called Before Green Gables – all about Anne before being adopted by the Cuthberts.
    I’m working on my post for this same event right now (I’ve been distracted by other people’s posts, but hopefully will have it ready for tomorrow)!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It will be my first time. My great-grandma bought me the whole set when I was a girl, but when I tried to read them, it was like some foreign language beyond my grasp. Apparently, people wrote harder material for young adults at the turn if the 20th century! I figured you would be happy about my choice of Montgomery — you lovely Canadian.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I didn’t start reading her books until I was about 12, because they *can* be wordy for a child. I think they are even better now, so it’s just as well that you waited. There are so many things about her books that you just don’t get or appreciate as a child.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Ooh, looking forward to hear what you think of the Anne books! I absolutely adored them as a child, and actually credit them for my love of fiction. It was an inspired and inspiring teacher who took me to one side and gave me the first one – she reckoned Anne and I would be kindred spirits, and she was right! Just don’t be falling in love with Gilbert though – bear in mind, he’s mine!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve obsessively loved the movie starring Megan Follows since I was a kid. I love her. Like many, I think of her as a kindred spirit! But, when I was a little girl and go the book set as a gift, it was much too difficult for me to read, so I sold the books when I was in college. Just last winter I bought a new set, determined as ever to make my great-granny, who bought me the original set, proud!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. 20 books in one summer is totally doable. I’m sure you’ll complete the challenge in no time.

    The only book I’ve read that’s on your list is Rebecca. That one’s a keeper. You’ll definitely love it.
    Happy reading!

    Liked by 1 person

        • I review them immediately. First, I make a list of all the pages I marked and what the general reason I marked it was. Did this make me laugh? Holy my breath? Think? Then, I make an outline to organize that information. Then, I write the review. Then I rewrite it for clarity and tightness. Most of my reviews are about 2,000 words the first draft. I know that’s too long, so I try to ask myself what summary can go. If the reader really wants more summary, he/she can look elsewhere. After that, I have to ask myself if I’m trying to review all the things I liked or didn’t like, or if I’m keeping it to about 3 big criteria, like was it funny, organized, meaningful (the criteria I’m currently using to review a collection of essays that are meant to be funny/feminist). Next, I ask myself if I have too many examples of the book being funny, organized, etc (my criteria) and narrow down to the best 2 examples for each. I decide if I should quote or if it’s better that I paraphrase. Finally, I proofread. Sound like a lot? It is, but this is also how I teach review writing to my ENG 101 students, too, so I better follow my own teachings!


            • Thanks, Naz. That’s very kind of you. We definitely need people like you to help us with community building. Blogging all on your own and hoping someone reads it isn’t as effective, and thanks to you, I’ve been trying to join groups and discussions more often.

              Liked by 1 person

  5. That’s an interesting and varied list, and I love the Anne books so you’ve got a treat coming there (I can’t remember a time I hadn’t read them, myself – I definitely have to re-instigate my Months of Re-Reading in order to make some room for them again!). I am interested in your identifying-as-women only policy and quickly checked my list / privileges – phew, 10 by women, 9 by men and one anthology. Lovely to “meet” you and I look foward to catching up with how you’re getting on.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Jamaica Inn isn’t quite as sharp as Rebecca, but it was still a great book to curl up with last winter.

        I didn’t realize people were so hard on duMaurier! I’ve never heard a bad word about Rebecca. In HS, I picked it for our group book/presentation and the guys in the group sulked about it being a chick book (the cover doesn’t do it any favors), but they loved it as much as anyone by the end. The presentation ended up being pretty hilarious as they drew on their previous skepticism to sell the book. 🙂


  6. This sounds like a fun book challenge! Look forward to hearing how it goes (like you, I haven’t taken part in one before). And what a great list of books! I still have such fond memories of my year five teacher reading our class Anne of Green Gables. Will this be the first time you’ve read Rebecca? It’s one of my all-time favourite books (I must have read it three or four times)! I can’t wait to hear what you think of it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve never read any of the books on the list. I’m already one day behind on my reading, which is giving me anxiety! I’ve seen Rebecca many, many times (I’m a bot obsessed). It’s interesting that your 5th grade teacher read Anne of Green Gables to your class. That makes me happy. I know that when I tried reading it as a girl, I couldn’t. The sentences/language were too hard.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think a lot of ‘classic’ children’s books are difficult for their intended readership. Have reading levels dropped, or were they always difficult? Most of my favourite stories as a kid (Peter Pan, Treasure Island, The Secret Garden, Little Women, Seven Little Australians) weren’t stories I read myself. I listened to them as audiobooks or my parents read them to me. I remember reading The Magic Faraway Tree by myself for the first time when I was 6 or 7 and it feeling like a huge achievement.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Well, reading levels in the U.S. are abysmal for people of all ages. I’ve read about it in several places, but according to a 2013 article from the Huffington Post, “According to a study conducted in late April by the U.S. Department of Education and the National Institute of Literacy, 32 million adults in the U.S. can’t read. That’s 14 percent of the population. 21 percent of adults in the U.S. read below a 5th grade level, and 19 percent of high school graduates can’t read.”


          • We have problems down under too. I just found an article published in The Australian in 2013 that states that according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, approximately 7.3 million Australians ‘have problems with literacy’. Although, the article doesn’t expand on what those problems are, specifically. Still a frightening number though (almost 1/3 our population).

            Liked by 1 person

            • In the U.S., many studies I’ve read talk about a 4th or 5th grade reading level being what most people have. It’s sad, and I forget about such problems because I went to school for so long and am so steeped in academia.


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