20 Books of Summer Challenge: My Reading List

I don’t usually join challenges. I usually have to schedule my life in order to get all the work I need to get done, so I like to give myself a free pass when it comes to leisure reading. But, Cathy Brown has invited me to join her 20 Books of Summer Challenge and I couldn’t say no. The real reason why I am joining is to return to the blogging community – as I have been a bit off of lately – and try to be more active over here.

Because Cathy is a very wise blogger, she offers three modalities to join the challenge: 20, 15 or 10 books of summer. Since I will be working on my PhD next July, and probably next August too, I am joining the 10 Books of Summer modality. All of them will be leisure reading and I hope they help me to relax and disconnect a bit from all the thesis reading and writing I will be doing.

In recent months I have discovered that in order to relax I need to read a bit of non-crime fiction in my leisure time. This has been hard, because I really, really love crime fiction, but as someone told me once: there is no clear line between your job and your leisure time. Sometimes this is good, sometimes it is a terrible idea that ends up with me binge-watching TV shows for 8 hours straight – I watched season 4 and 5 of Girls last Saturday – rather than picking up a book. So, in the spirit of taking things easier this summer, I have created an eclectic reading list that has one thing in common: all books have been written by women. I am also indicating where the books come from, as I find it very important to find a balance between review copies (mostly requested, but some offered by publicists), borrowed books from the library, and books I have bought or my beloved ones have gifted me.


1. After You Die by Eva Dolan (Zigic and Ferreira #3) [Review Copy] .- This is a bit of a cheat, since I started this book the last week of May. But I have wanted to read the third installment in the Ziggic and Ferreira series for a long, long time.


2. My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem [Bought/Gifted].– As a feminist, I can’t quite believe I have never read anything by queen of 20th century feminism Gloria Steinem. My Life on the Road is a memoir that starts with this wonderful and inspiring idea:

When people ask me why I still have hope and energy after all these years, I always say: Because I travel.


3. Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty [Review Copy] .- I love Liane Moriarty’s books, and I even wrote an academic paper on her previous novel Little Lies. I will probably end up writing something about this one too, but for now I just want to enjoy it.


4. Asking for It by Louise O’Neill [Bought/Gifted].- You couldn’t have paid me enough to read a YA novel until I discovered Irish writer Louise O’Neill’s Only Ever Yours. In her second novel, she writes about rape culture and how a young victim of rape reacts the morning after within the Catholic Irish context.


5. Wilde Lake by Laura Lippman [Review Copy].- More crime fiction, this time from a great American author whose work I have never read, but comes highly recommended by fellow author Megan Abbott. The only thing I know about this novel is that the past comes to haunt the main female character in a small town.


6. The Light of Paris by Eleanor Brown [Review Copy].- I read Eleanor Brown’s first novel The Weird Sisters years ago, and she was the first author I got to interview for the blog. When her publicist contacted and offered a review copy of her new novel inspired by her grandmother’s live I couldn’t refuse.


7. All the Rage by Courtney Summers [Bought/Gifted].- More on rape culture, this novel explores the psychological development of a rape victim in Canada. Quite a different context from O’Neill’s book if it not were for the generalisation of rape culture.


8. Charlotte Brontë: A Life by Claire Harman [Review Copy].- I was reminded of my love for Charlotte Brontë after reviewing Reader, I Married Him, a collection of short stories inspired by Jane Eyre. I realised then that I would love to know more about Charlotte, and this biography came highly recommended.


9. The Awakening by Kate Chopin [Bought/Gifted].- It’s been 6 years since I first read Chopin’s tale of feminist awakening and I still think of Edna Pontellier a lot. Maybe it is time for a re-reading.


10. Three Guineas by Virginia Wolf [Bought/Gifted].- I read and fell in love with A Room of One’s Own a few years ago, and I didn’t get to read her other famous essay Thee Guineas. I think an essay will be perfect to read more than fiction this summer.


Disclaimer! Because rules are meant to be broken, here are some alternative readings that I am also really looking forward to:

EXTRA 11: The Age of Innocence/ The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton [Library].- I have wanted to read a 19th century novel for a while now, and I can’t believe I haven’t read anything by Wharton yet.


EXTRA 12: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood [Library].- Margaret Atwood and Kate Atkinson are my go-tos for comfort reading. I know I will love their works, and they will inspire me to keep writing and reading.


EXTRA 13: A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson [Review Copy].- Everyone has loved Atkinson’s last novel so much that I haven’t brought myself to read it yet. But I know I should.


EXTRA 14: Negotiating with the Dead: A Writer on Writing by Margaret Atwood [Library].- Just in case I need some writing inspiration, I can’t think of a better person to help me than Atwood.


For more information on all these books, you can check my 10 Books of Summer Challenge reading list at Goodreads here.


30 thoughts on “20 Books of Summer Challenge: My Reading List

  1. Fab little list you have put together – I’ve either got these on my TBR pile or have read and loved them, so I can really relate to nearly every one of them. Good luck with your Ph.D. and don’t let the reading every become a chore…

  2. What a great list Elena – there’s an excellent mix there. Look forward to hearing what you think of the Gloria Steinheim and I’m reading The Age of Innocence too!

    1. Thanks, Cathy. How wonderful you’re reading it too. Maybe we could keep each other posted and read it at the same time?

  3. Wow, I’ve never heard of that Atwood book before, the one on writing! Also, I read Only Ever Yours. I definitely can’t do more of that lady’s with for a while.

        1. I think it’s hard, yet necessary, to read those tales of struggle, because they may not be so different from some other woman’s struggle out there. Having said that, I can’t stand Thomas Hardy’s pessimism, so…

  4. I am also taking part in this challenge at the 10 level. I wish you all the best and hope you’re able to enjoy some relaxing leisure reading with these books – I like the sound of Charlotte Brontë: A Life by Claire Harman and I would like to read The Awakening by Kate Chopin. Happy reading!

    1. Thanks, Cleo! Feel free to send a link to this post with your list if you feel like it. The more we share our list, the more and the better books we can find!

        1. Thanks, Cleo. I had never heard of any of the books you’re reading, so I’m super excited to learn about them and their authors.

  5. Best of luck with the challenge & your PhD! I think your list is filled with good picks. I’m a big Wharton fan, and I liked The Weird Sisters too. I look forward to following your posts.

    1. Thank you, Rebecca. Which of Wharton’s novels you think I should read first? I still haven’t picked up one yet…

  6. Wharton is fantastic! I do hope you enjoy her. Lily Bart from The House of Mirth is one of my favourite characters in literature – she’s so complex. Hope you enjoy your summer reading, Elena.

    1. I’m so happy you all agree on Wharton, Jacqui.

      Good luck to you too with everything, and I hope you have a great summer as well xxx

  7. I am definitely in for this challenge,starting with the 15th of June 🙂 My post will be up one of these days…

    1. Thank you, Anne. I haven’t heard of most of your books, and as a crime fiction fan I’m embarrassed to say I had never read And Then There Were None, although I really, really want to.

  8. Great choices! Can’t wait to see what you think of them. And I recently bought My Life on the Road too! And I’m SHOCKED you haven’t read The Handmaid’s Tale yet; I think you’re in for a real treat!

    1. Sadie, I’m both suprised and very excited that you still read the blog. We definitely have to discuss My Life on the Road. And everyone is shocked I still haven’t read The Handmaid’s Tale – I am too.

  9. I hadn’t really planned on joining in on this one, but it was your post that tipped me in favor of going for it. I really haven’t been reading as much this year as I would like, but I’m hoping to change that. It sounds like you have a great list – I hope you have fun reading from it. Good luck!

  10. I will definitely be taking part, and am currently trying to get a list together, although Wilde Lake will be one of them. I’m afraid I rather lost my reading mojo in the last 2-3 weeks, and hasn’t been intending taking part, but all the wonderful lists have made me change my mind and given me some inspiration. I may in fact start tonight, as my lamp bulb’s blown, and all the shops are shut, so I think I’ll try something that’s been hanging about Kindle. I’m not entirely up on the rules so DO please correct me if I go astray – I think this might be what I need to jolt me out of my ennui…thank you Cathy!

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