This is my first summer jumping on the #20BooksofSummer challenge with Cathy over at 746 Books. I even unknowingly got another blogger friend to join in (welcome, An Anthology of Clouds!). I’ve tried following other bloggers who are doing the challenge, and it’s been a great way to meet new book friends, like BookTalker, Fictionophile, Drunk Off Rhetoric, LouLouReads, and Liz Dexter! I planned my reading very carefully. Cathy suggested we count all the pages in our 20 books and add them together, then divide by the 96 days of the challenge. I ended up with 60 pages per day. That’s about 60-90 minutes per day, right? I even made little markers to show where I should start on each day (I was born to be a secretary, folks).
I’ve also realized that some people are petering out a bit. I didn’t realize how difficult this challenge is until African Book Addict asked her readers: “7 books on my Summer TBR (to-be-read list) – too many books, or nah?” I nearly spit out my whatever I was drinking and wrote:
“Totally ‘nah!’ A bunch of us are doing the #20BooksofSummer challenge! We might be insaaaaane.”
African Book Addict wrote back:
“Thats a LOT of books. Are y’all just going to read the Summer away? No other activities lined up? Sheesh!”
And I paused.
Holy crap, I thought, I haven’t been watching movies or working on writing more of my spoofy romance novel or anything! African Book Addict had a point — and a good one.
Does that mean I’m going to slack off, which, by the way, means exist like a normal human being? No way. Because I am a weirdo who won’t give up (because if I do I will fixate on my failure all year until next summer). I’ll be up all night and day reading these damn 20 books just to finish them and be able to cry out something celebratory.
However, as this is my first #20BooksofSummer challenge, I didn’t realize how carefully I would need to plan my list. I had two goals that I created around Christmas time: read all 8 Anne of Green Gables and The Brothers Karamazov in the summer of 2016. Cathy’s challenge fit right in with those goals! I decided I wanted to get rid of my ARC pile (I haven’t taken review requests in ages and only occasionally request one. The pile is small, but alive). And I joined a book club, so I had to stay in pace with them. Therefore, 8 Anne books + one Dostoyevsky + 2 book club books + 8 ARCs = #20BooksofSummer.
But I forgot a few things: 1) I’m teaching a new comp class in the fall and will have to read books in the process of deciding which ones to teach. 2) Four of my ARCs are by the same author. 3) Dostoyevsky is huge. 4) My husband and I have “bed time” stories. If I keep my original list of 20, I’m going to have to read more than 20 books to accomplish all of my required reading. 5) I forgot August would have a book club book. I was only thinking June/July.
So, the list has changed a bit. Although I read an ARC of Robin Stratton’s book On Air and really enjoyed it, I don’t want to cram three more of her books into one summer, so they were cut from the list. I did add Bobby Blanchard, Lesbian Gym Teacher by Monica Nolan. It’s the second in the Lesbian Career Girl Series, and also one of my and my husband’s “bed time stories” this summer. You may remember Lois Lenz, Lesbian Secretary, a spring “bed time” story my husband and I enjoyed.
We got our August book club pick, Christopher Moore’s Fluke, or, I Know Why the Winged Whale Sings, so that book was added. I chose two likely candidates for my new ENGL 100 course, Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America (which I recommended to Valerie and she reviewed. I haven’t read the book, but have read sections in composition anthologies) and Jonathan Kozol’s Fire in the Ashes: Twenty-Five Years Among the Poorest Children in America (also one I haven’t read except in excerpts from comp anthologies). Neither of these are textbooks; they’re both investigative journalism and appropriate for the #20BooksofSummer. One interesting aspect of these books is that I will include my thoughts as a teacher about the usefulness of these books in the classroom. As a result, Dostoyevsky was axed. Sorry, sir. You will be a winter break book.
Anne of Green Gables stayed. As I mentioned in a comment to Building Diverse Book Shelves in regards to her post about the feminist protagonists from her childhood:
This post made me sad because when I was a girl I tried reading some of the books you mentioned: Anne of Green Gables, The Secret Garden, and also A Little Princess. I think I was around 8 or 9, but I just couldn’t follow the long sentence structures of such well-written books. Whenever people get into the debate about whether or not adults should read YA, I think about some of these older books and how complex the sentences are. YA today is nothing like that, but it adds to the conversation. This summer, for the #20BooksofSummer challenge, I am reading the entire Anne of Green Gables series. I’m kind of scared. What if I hate them? What if I really learn that 8- or 9-year-old me was a dumb kid and I should have read the books back then?
There’s some ridiculous part of me that feels like the Anne series is my own personal mountain. I must climb to the top and find the proverbial monk sitting there drinking tea, telling me it’s all gravy. Perhaps in my heart I will do my dead great-granny, who originally gave me the box set of Anne of Green Gables back in the 90s, a solid.
Here’s the final list for #20BooksofSummer, and I’d be surprised if it changed again:
Harley and Me by Bernadette Murphy On Air by Robin Stratton Single Stroke Seven by Lavinia Ludlow Girls of Usually by Lori Horvitz Retelling by Tsipi Keller The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick
- Wondering if you missed this review in your reader feed? You didn’t. There are no reviews of works written by men on Grab the Lapels. Zero. You will find the link takes you to my review on my Goodreads account! Jonathan Kozol and Christopher Moore will get the same treatment.
- Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
- Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich (*I am here).
- Twenty-Five Years Among the Poorest Children in America by Jonathan Kozol
- Terror in Taffetaby Marla Cooper
- Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery
- Anne of Avonlea by Lucy Maud Montgomery
- Anne of the Island by Lucy Maud Montgomery
- Anne of Windy Poplars by Lucy Maud Montgomery
- Anne’s House of Dreams by Lucy Maud Montgomery
- Anne of Ingleside by Lucy Maud Montgomery
- Rainbow Valley by Lucy Maud Montgomery
- Rilla of Ingleside by Lucy Maud Montgomery
- Bobby Blanchard, Lesbian Gym Teacher by Monica Nolan
- Fluke, or, I Know Why the Winged Whale Sings by Christopher Moore