#20BooksofSummer starts again!

Didn’t we just finish the 20 Books of Summer? I don’t know about you, but between September 2016 and June 2017 a lot of big events happened, so it feels like I just finished last year’s challenge. However, Cathy at 746 Books is up to it again! She explains:

For anyone who hasn’t taken part before, 20 Books of Summer is a reading challenge I do each year from 1 June to 3 September where I read 20 books from my TBR in three months.

Last summer I counted all the pages I needed to read, divided it by the number of days in the challenge, panicked when I remembered that writing the reviews themselves take a while, and then added sticky notes for my daily reading goal. Remember this?


I finished the challenge and only changed books a couple of times (I forgot things like book club picks and that including The Brothers Karamazov was just silly). I did clean up my collection of review copies! I only have two books left that were sent to me by publishers or authors, and I’m adding those to my 2017 #20BooksofSummer challenge.

This summer, though, will be a bit different for me. I have to do training in August for the new location — a correctional facility — where I will teach. The reading challenge also runs into the school year, so I may have to stop and focus on what I’m doing professionally. Thus, this year I’m going in less prepared and more forgiving.

Here are my 20 Books of Summer:

An Untamed State by Roxane Gay

I bought this book right when it came out, but like so many others, it hasn’t been read. Gay’s novel is also part of my general 2017 goal to read books by women of color that I already own.

an untamed state

In An Untamed State, Roxane Gay delivers an assured debut about a woman kidnapped for ransom, her captivity as her father refuses to pay and her husband fights for her release over thirteen days, and her struggle to come to terms with the ordeal in its aftermath.

Watchfires by Hilary Plum

I bought this book recently at the author’s reading. She was so smart and yet shy that I wanted to get this non-fiction collection about her struggles with anorexia, which she juxtaposes with terror.


Hilary Plum’s Watchfires is an intimate account of public and private life during the long years of the “war on terror.” This remarkable essay begins in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing and illuminates the relationships among cancer, autoimmune disease, the Iraq War, the Arab Spring, Occupy, veteran suicide, the American epidemic of gun violence, and Plum’s family history.

A Girl’s Guide to Vampires by Katie MacAlister

Thanks to all the support I received in my post about my #poser dinosaur and being ashamed of my past self and what she read, I’m adding two sexy vampires books to the list. These are audio books, which I’ve enjoyed more and more lately.

girls guide
This one is a re-re-read for me, but it’s been 14 years, so I need a refresher.

All Joy Randall wants is a little old-fashioned romance, but when she participates in a “Goddess evoking” ceremony with her friend, Roxy, Joy finds out her future true love is a man with the potential to put her immortal soul in danger.

Sex and the Single Vampire by Katie MacAlister

Book #2 of the vampire series. They’re all stand-alone novels, but I’m reading them in order.

single vampire

If Allie doesn’t find a ghost soon, her short career as a “Summoner” with United Psychical Research Association will be a thing of the past, so naturally she is delighted to find what she thinks is the tortured spirit of a gorgeous, naked, wounded man. But the cranky spirit, who looks exactly like the dishy man who has been haunting Allie’s dreams…

A Thin Gold Thread by Lisa Rosen

This is a book I promised to review for another book review site ages ago!

a thin gold thread

Disillusioned with academic life, Addy Quick just wants to finish graduate school and get on with Doing Important Things. When she moves back home for the summer to finish her dissertation, she realizes that living with her anxious mother (and her constant refrain of “what will people think”) is not going to be easy.

Kindred by Octavia Butler

A book that’s been on my TBR shelf for a few years. Fits with my goal of read women of color books I already own.


Having just celebrated her 26th birthday in 1976 California, Dana, an African-American woman, is suddenly and inexplicably wrenched through time into antebellum Maryland.

Super Mario Bros. 3 (Boss Fight Books #13) by Alyse Knorr

One of my favorite video games ever. I agreed to review this book a while back for the same blog I mentioned above. This is a non-fiction book about the game.

super mario 3

Alyse Knorr unearths Super Mario Bros 3’s connections to theater and Japanese folklore, investigates her own princess-rescuing impulses, and examines how the game’s animal costumes, themed worlds, tight controls, goofy enemies, and memorable music cohere in a game that solidified Mario’s conquest of the NES era.

Wrestling With the Muse: Dudley Randall and the Broadside Press by Melba Joyce Boyd

In college, I stumbled across a graduate-level history class called Black Detroit. And that’s all we studied: black life in Detroit. It was the best class I’ve ever taken. Dudley Randall started a press on the streets of Detroit. This is his biography.

wrestling with the muse.jpg

Dudley Randall, one of the great success stories of American small-press history, was also poet laureate of Detroit, a civil-rights activist, and a force in the Black Arts Movement. Melba Joyce Boyd was an editor at Broadside, was Randall’s friend and colleague for twenty-eight years, and became his authorized biographer.

Adulthood is a Myth by Sarah Andersen

A collection of cartoons. Adersen is super funny.


Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay

Goes toward both my fat-positive and books by women of color I already own goals.


The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen

Part of my fat-positive reading goals.

the sugar queen

Josey Cirrini is sure of three things: winter is her favorite season, she’s a sorry excuse for a Southern belle, and sweets are best eaten in the privacy of her closet.

Hometown by Michele Feltman Strider


Plump, unattractive, and underachieving, Sharon Mathers isn’t the kind of girl usually found in glossy women’s magazines. She is the kind of girl found reading them, usually while drinking beer in the backroom of her friend’s double-wide trailer/beauty parlor.

This is Just My Face: Try Not to Stare by Gabourey Sidibe

Goes toward my fat-positive and women of color reading goals.

this is just my face

Gabourey Sidibe—“Gabby” to her legion of fans—skyrocketed to international fame in 2009 when she played the leading role in Lee Daniels acclaimed movie Precious. In This is Just My Face, she shares a one-of-a-kind life story.

Losing It by Lindsay Faith Rech

Part of my 2017 fat-positive goals.

losing it

Considering she’s just driven her car into the front window of Davey’s Café, they might be on to something. All Diana wants is to be normal—but life for this thirty-two-year-old waitress is anything but.

Jolie is Somewhere by Alana Cash

Sent to me by the author. I loved her last book, the self-published Saints in the Shadows.


Jolie has a list. There are 4 names on it. How can she take revenge on the cop who put her in jail for something she didn’t do, the roommate who could have saved her and didn’t, the inmate who smashed her face against a jailhouse wall, or the high-priced attorney who did nothing for her?

If the Dress Fits by Carla de Guzman

Fits both my fat-positive and women of color reading goals.

if the dress fits

Martha Aguas kind of has it all–she’s an accountant who loves numbers, an accident-prone puppy that loves her, and the perfect wardrobe.

Yes, she wears a dress size 24, her bras don’t fit and she’s never had a boyfriend, but so what?

Mystery and Mortality: Essays on the Sad, Short Gift of Life by Paula Bomer

An author I’ve read for years and actually met up with a few years ago. Her mother passed away, and so I immediately bought this collection right after.

mystery and mortality

Here, Bomer’s essays bring us back to what we’re supposed to derive from literature: compassion.

Belly Songs: In Celebration of Fat Women by Susan Stinson

Part of my fat-positive reading goals.

belly songs.jpg

‘Belly Songs’ is a collection of poetry, short fiction and personal essays that examine fat oppression and celebrate the beauty, strength and sensuality of ‘fat’ women.

Bird Box by Josh Malerman

We’re reading this one in my book club June meetup. It won’t be reviewed on Grab the Lapels.

bird box

Something is out there, something terrifying that must not be seen. One glimpse of it, and a person is driven to deadly violence. No one knows what it is or where it came from.

Unforgivable Love: A Dangerous Liaisons Re-telling by Sophfronia Scott

Sent to me as a review copy by the author. Also fits my goal to read books by women of color.

unforgivable love

In this vivid reimagining of the French classic Les Liaisons Dangereuses, it’s the summer when Jackie Robinson breaks Major League Baseball’s color barrier and a sweltering stretch has Harlem’s elite fleeing the city for Westchester County’s breezier climes. But there two predators stalk amidst the manicured gardens and fine old homes.

I don’t have an order picked other than to start with Unforgivable Love. Let me know if any of these books sound interesting to you!


  1. I’m so excited for you to read An Untamed State! And I really, really want to read Hunger – I’ve only heard amazing things so far. Same with This Is Just My Face – I don’t know why it surprised me that it was received so well but it did. I flipped through some pages of it recently and was really drawn in. I will never know why I didn’t just BUY the damn thing.

    Good luck with your challenge!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for taking part again this year! I may steal your post it idea to get me through the coming months! There are some great books in your list – Mystery and Morality appeals, as does This is Just My Face.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It does feel like it was just last summer. I remember when you read Anne of Green Gables. What happened to all those months in between? I think giving yourself some leeway is an excellent idea. I always start to stress when I have to meet some kind of reading goal. Good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. As I’ve said to nearly everyone who’s put up a list this year, I’ve read precisely none of your choices, so have no intereresting thoughts to share! So I’ll just hope you enjoy them all, and look forward to reading your reviews… have a great summer of reading! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, L! I chose a variety: memoir, fiction, biography, poetry, comics….so I hope it’s interesting for my readers, too. Now that it’s summer, I should be able to keep up on my blog reading a bit better, too. This past semester, which was utter chaos, slowed me down and made me miss some nice reviews, I’m sure! 😦

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Looking forward to another 20 Books of Summer (though I’ll miss Anne). Re “what we’re supposed to derive from literature: compassion”, in literature I look for new ways of writing/telling stories, and I look for insight.


  6. Good luck on your 20 Books of Summer!! Out of the ones you have listed, I’ve just read The Sugar Queen. I don’t remember much about it, other than I liked it, so I’ll be interested to hear your thoughts and see how it fits into the fat-positive reads.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Were you the one who recommended it to me? I feel like someone did…or maybe you mentioned that you’d read it to me? Many of the books I’ve read so far for the fat-positive challenge have been disappointing. A publisher may tout a book as positive, but the character loses weight, finds a man, and colonizes Mars with her Spanx or something. That’s not what I’m looking for.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I can’t remember if I mentioned it to you already or not! It’s interesting and disappointing that you haven’t had much luck in the fat-positive books. I must admit I’m totally baffled that there haven’t been very many good reads, but if I stop and think about it, I can’t remember any that I’ve read myself! I vaguely remember She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb, but not enough to say if it is fat-positive or what. I just remember the main gal’s size was mentioned in the book. I also can’t remember if The Sugar Queen is fat-positive or not, it’s been so long since I’ve read it!

        Liked by 1 person

  7. It’s ridiculous how much I love reading everyone else’s lists. 🙂
    Watchfire sounds intriguing…
    I bet the story about Dudley Randall will be interesting.
    I think I need Adulthood is a Myth – it sounds like it was created just for me!
    I’m interested to hear how all your fat-positive books turn out. I read The Sugar Queen several years ago, but I can’t remember it well enough to give an opinion. Maybe your review will remind me.
    An Untamed State and Kindred have also been on my list for a while.
    Are congratulations in order on a new job?!


    • Hi, Naomi! I’m not sure if I missed your comment somehow or what! I thought I replied, but I don’t see any reply here now. Watchfires DID sound really interesting when I went to the author’s reading (which is where I heard about and then bought the book). I love that she captured contemporary terror, like the Boston Bombings, and combined it with her personal terror (a sever and long-lasting eating disorder that’s trying to kill her). At least, this is what she discussed at the reading. I haven’t gotten to the book yet. Dudley Randall WAS really interesting–from what I remember. He made poetry on broadsides, a type of pamphlet, and handed it out on street corners. Then, he created Broadside Press. Melba Joyce Boyd, the author, worked with Randall. I read snippets of the biography around 2005, so it’s been a while. And at the time, the book was in my library’s special reading room, meaning we couldn’t check out any of those books, and we could only look at them in that room for a timed session. Serious business, apparently. About work: I didn’t get a “new” job, per se. I’m still teaching for the same college, but instead of being on the home campus all the time, I’ll be teaching two courses out at our correctional facility, where men can earn degrees through my college while incarcerated. In August I will have to go through special training, and I’m not sure how long that will take. There are definitely a lot of rules for going into a correctional facility, more than you might think.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. A lot of those books look great! I have Kindred as well but I’m holding off reading it in favor of finishing some ARCs first. Bird Box is a really great thriller, I read it last year and liked it a lot – so I hope your book club has fun with it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! I bought it when it came out, but I never read it. I think I kept waiting for Halloween, which is a super busy time when you’re a teacher. I just talked my book club into reading this one, lol. I’m always trying to badger them into books I want to read.


  9. I like the variety of your choices! I’ve read The Sugar Queen and Kindred and liked both. (Very different from one another, ha ha!)

    I can’t WAIT to read Hunger. I’ve been anticipating it forever.

    I haven’t yet finalized my list, but I’m going to get it posted soon. I am probably gonna do the wimpier 10 Books version, since I am such a mood reader and don’t like to plan my reading too much!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Wow, sounds like an exciting summer. I think Roxanne Gay is great and I really enjoyed ‘Adulthood is a Myth’. It’s super short though! When I first requested it from the library I thought it would be quite a bit longer, but it ended up taking me about 20 minutes to the read the whole thing. Happy reading! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Ooh, I can’t wait to hear what you think about Hunger–I thought Gay’s writing about food and eating was the strongest component of Bad Feminist, and I’m hoping to pick Hunger up when it comes out in the UK. Kindred has also been on my to-read list for a while, and though I’ve never heard of the Super Mario Bros book, it sounds right up my street, so I will be interested to read your thoughts on it.

    Congratulations on the new job–my mum taught maths in a correctional facility for a few years, and I think it’s one of her favourite jobs that she’s ever had.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s what everyone keeps telling me: they love teaching in prison. I’m not sure why. Maybe because this transformational act of learning means more for the future if prison students than non-prison students. Regular students act like we’re doing something TO them. I’ve pre-ordered Hunger on my Nook, but it still says EXPECTED publication date is in June. She’s pushed it back many times.


  12. You have a really interesting list. I saw Sidibe recently on the Daily Show and her book sounds really good. I’ve been wanting to read Untamed State for a while now but I put Gay’s Difficult Women on my list because it’s at the library. Kindred is really good. Enjoy your summer reading!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I love the diversity of this reading list! There are some books which sound absolutely wonderful on this list. And quite a few I’ve never heard of. Perhaps you’ll, once again, point me towards an amazing new book.

    I’m not participating in 20 Books of Summer. With the @AnneReadAlong2017, plus my book club books, I didn’t feel like adding to the load. I hope to get through quite a few books this summer, but I’ll do it at my own pace. 🙂 I love the idea of working through an ARC list, however. I know that’s an in thing for a lot of reading challenges… perhaps I’ll try something like that to wrap up the year?

    Good luck with your challenge! I look forward to following you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Have you checked to see if Hunger came out yet? I bought it on my Nook, so it will appear on the device when it comes out, but I do know Gay pushed this book back many times.

      p.s. I’m not sure why I didn’t reply to this comment earlier. I thought I did!


  14. I like the way your list is so different to most of those I’ve seen for this challenge and yet it’s bang on with your interests this year. I learned last year that it wasn’t a smart idea to include books on my list that were 500 pages plus – I just can’t read that fast…..

    Liked by 1 person

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