20 Books of Summer

After taking last summer off, this year I’ll once again be participating in the 20 Books of Summer hosted by Cathy on her blog 746 Books. After a great deal of hemming and hawing I’ve selected 20 books. 

  1. Forgotten Ally: China’s World War II, 1937-1945 by Ratta Mitter (2013)
  2. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson (2008)
  3. The Unexpected Universe by Loren Eiseley (1969)
  4. The Time of the Uprooted by Elie Wiesel (2007)
  5. Becket or The Honor of God by Jean Anouilh (1960)
  6. Frozen in Time: An Epic Story of Survival and a Modern Quest for Lost Heroes of World War II by Mitchell Zuckoff (2014)
  7. God’s Crucible: Islam and the Making of Europe, 570-1215 by David Levering Lewis (2008)
  8. Encounters with the Archdruid: Narratives About a Conservationist and Three of His Natural Enemies by John McPhee (1971)
  9. The Residue Years by Mitchell S. Jackson (2013)
  10. Early Modern Europe: From About 1450 to About 1720 by Sir George Clark (1962)
  11. Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly and the Making of the Modern Middle East by Scott Anderson (2014)
  12. 5 Ideas That Changed the World by Barbara Ward (1959)
  13. A Nation Rising: Untold Tales from America’s Hidden History by Kenneth C. Davis (2011)
  14. The Jews in America: The Roots and Destiny of American Jews by Max Dimont (1978) 
  15. Europe Between Revolutions 1815-1848 by Jacques Droz (1967)
  16. There There by Tommy Orange (2018)
  17. The Fear and the Freedom: How the Second World War Changed Us by Keith Lowe (2017)
  18. The Wealth and Poverty of Nations: Why Some Are So Rich and Some So Poor by David S. Landes (1999)
  19. The Dragon and the Foreign Devils: China and the World, 1100 B.C. to the Present by Harry G. Gelber (2007)
  20. The End of Europe: Dictators, Demagogues, and the Coming Dark Age by James Kirchick (2017)

In 2018 and 2019 I began each summer with high hopes I’d make it through all my books only to come up short. Both summers I deviated substantially from my original list of books, frequently just reading whatever the heck I happened to be in mood for at the time. I also fell short of my target of 20 books. (For instance, in 2019 I read only 16.) Fortunately, Cathy is a kind and flexible host, reminding all of us to simply read as many books as we’d like and freely substitute as we go along.

I’m hoping to use this as an opportunity to also tackle a chunk of my to be read pile (TBR) while at the same time also participating in other reading challenges like the European Reading Challenge, What’s in a Name Challenge, Mount TBR Reading Challenge, and Books in Translation Reading Challenge. With roughly a third of these books published prior to 1978 this is also a great chance to spotlight my Old Books Reading Project.

26 thoughts on “20 Books of Summer

  1. Definitely some fun looking things on your list. I’ve seen Anouilh’s Antigone twice on stage–I’m curious about his Becket. Jews in America, Europe Between Revolutions, & God’s Crucible all sound pretty fascinating. Looking forward to seeing what you read!


    • Thanks! With so many old and obscure titles in this collection I probably won’t attract a wide appeal. But who cares, it’s what I like to read! Always happy to share my thoughts with readers like you. Plus, you have a terrific blog! Keep up the great work!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks! I’ve been wanting to read it for a long time after hearing so many great things. Almost all the other books on my list have been in my personal library unread for far too long. Now is the time I read them!


  2. Like you, I am not convinced that I will get through 20. So, I cheated and did the 15 books of summer. I am also not sure that I will stick to the 15 I chose, but I hope to since they are all sitting on my shelves right now.


  3. Your list reminds me how much I sometimes miss reading non-fiction, which I don’t do much these days. I’m afraid I’ve only read Tommy Orange’s There, There — which was painful, funny and very, very good and Anouilh’s Becket (loved it), many years ago when I was going through a period of reading many of his plays. As for Girl with the Dragon Tattoo — loved the movies (both versions) but didn’t get far with the books!
    Best of luck on the project — I’ll eagerly await your reviews.


    • Excellent! Ironically, with me as I read more and more nonfiction I began missing fiction. As that happened I delved back into fiction and found it refreshing. Glad I picked some good ones. Happy to share my thoughts of what I’ll be reading. Thanks for dropping by and commenting! Thanks also for subscribing!

      Liked by 1 person

      • We’re directly the reverse on the fiction/non-fiction thing. I read non-fiction (mostly history) almost exclusively during college and for many years thereafter, filling in with only the occasional novel or two. Then, presto– reality became too much (this coincided, I think, with entering the real job market) and it’s been fiction pretty much all the way since then, with only an occasional history or two.
        Your blog looks great — I look forward to checking in!


  4. Gosh, that’s an ambitious looking list! I’m so slow at reading non-fiction I can’t imagine getting through all of these in just a few months – I always cop out and go for quick and easy reads. I love that Cathy’s so relaxed about the rules though – I don’t think many of us stick rigidly to our original lists for the whole summer. Whichever books you go for, I hope you enjoy your summer reading! 😀


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