Reading Projects and Read-Alongs

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.



  • MarinaSofia

    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…

  • Cathy746books

    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!

  • jessicabookworm

    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!

  • Rebecca

    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.

  • JacquiWine

    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.

    • Elena

      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

    • Elena

      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.

  • Sadie

    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!

    • Elena

      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.

  • amanda

    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!

  • crimeworm

    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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