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.