Saturday, June 8, 2019


Following Mark@Maphead's fine example, I took my summer books outside into summer for their photo op.

Cathy @ 746Books hosts a challenge/invitation to read twenty (or fifteen or ten) books over the three months of summer vacation, June, July, and August. I've been admiring from afar for while, but decided to this year take the plunge.

It's not that twenty books is especially scary, and, in any case, Cathy's challenge is available at different levels and is very forgiving. That's why I called it half an invitation. But thinking about what I might be reading in August, and sticking to any kind of list is scary, at least for me; one of the (many) reasons I was a bad graduate student was the feeling that I should be reading books only on this subject, only from this list, for four (or more) years. The horror!

Some library books I have checked out, some recent acquisitions, and some unread venerables...

So without further ado:

(Tall stack from top)

School for Love by Olivia Manning - I read her Balkan trilogy and the Levant trilogy a couple of years ago and loved them. This one is set in Jerusalem, as was part of the Levant trilogy.

The Road to Lichfield by Penelope Lively - Her first novel and a finalist for the Booker prize.

The Middle Age of Mrs. Eliot by Angus Wilson - I read Anglo-Saxon Attitudes and then bought this one soon after.

The Glacier by Jeff Wood - Apocalyptic fiction set in Ohio. The first of two books from Two Dollar Radio, a small press operating out of Columbus, Ohio.

Radio Iris by Anne-Marie Kinney - An office novel with a socially awkward dreamer, the blurb tells me. Also from Two Dollar Radio. I've read two other novels from that press (N. J. Campbell's Found Audio and Katya Apekina's The Deeper The Water, The Uglier The Fish) and I've decided they have good taste.

Scenes From A Clerical Life by George Eliot - Finishing up my Eliot binge of last year.

The Death of Virgil by Hermann Broch - Hmm, modernist, German. The one most likely to be punted on? But I intend to read it!

The History of Western Philosophy by Bertrand Russell - A bit of a ringer because I'm 2/3rds through already.

The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton - The Booker of a couple of years ago. A historical novel set in New Zealand's gold rush of the 1800s.

Under the Volcano by Malcolm Lowry - A book about objectionable people who drink too much? How can that not be a masterpiece? Hmm...

Berlin, City of Light, Volume 3 by Jason Lutes - A graphic novel about Berlin in the late 20s and early 30s. I've recently read the first two volumes, and quite liked them. I was notified of it by a review by Jeet Heer, in The New Republic, I think.

The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death by Corinne May Botz - Photos and essays about Frances Glessner Lee's dioramas of death scenes. (Yes, those are a lot like morbid dollhouses.) Lee is pretty much the founder of forensic studies, and she created these to train policeman how to examine a scene where a death, possibly a murder, has occurred. I just brought back this book from Chicago, where I saw the Glessner House Museum.

(Small stack from top)

Dangling Man by Saul Bellow - A second ringer. I've actually finished this, but I did read it entirely in June. Post coming soon!

Deadlock by Sara Paretsky - Before going to Chicago, I read Double Indemnity, which reminded me I really liked the Warshawsky mysteries. The one reread on this list.

Dirty Story by Eric Ambler - Master spy novelist. This one is set in Africa, it seems. Also he's the author of the all-time best title for an novelist's autobiography: Here Lies... Eric Ambler.

Overture to Death by Ngaio Marsh - Will Roderick Alleyn solve the murder? Will he and Br'er Fox have ironic comments about it? You know they will!

The Last Manly Man by Sparkle Hayter - Canadian content! Robin Hudson solves the case and does her nails. You've got to have some summer reading in summer, I figure.

Blinding by Mircea Cartarescu - Contemporary Romanian novelist. This is from 1996 and promises to be a mystical trip. The second likeliest to be substituted for?

Darlington's Fall by Brad Leithauser - A novel in verse. I'm a bit of a sucker for these.

The Footsteps at the Lock by Ronald Knox - Reverend Knox is most famous for his decalogue of rules for mystery writers. This will be the first mystery of his I've read. He's also Penelope Fitzgerald's uncle, and that's very much a mark in his favor. I read her collective biography of her father and uncles a few years ago, The Knox Brothers.

There it is. I'm sure there will be substitutions along the way.

I also realized I received a couple of weeks ago an ARC of David Elias' Elizabeth of Bohemia from ECW Press, which will also likely get read pretty soon, but missed having its picture taken.

What have you read? What looks good to you? Which ones should I be especially sure to read? I know I'm looking forward to seeing what everybody reads.

Thanks to Cathy for hosting!

Plus some books that weren't on the list...

Talk by Linda Rosenkrantz
Hyperion by Dan Simmons
A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit
Philosopher of the Heart by Clare Carlisle
The Story of a Novel by Thomas Mann


  1. Sticking to a set reading list is always a challenge for me, but I don't think you can go wrong with any of the books on your list. They all sound really good. Happy reading! :)

    1. Thanks! I should be able to stick to the list for a few weeks, I think... ;-)

  2. I love the idea for this challenge, and I think I may take it on next year. I did make a list, but I want the freedom to change my mind, if I decide to do so.


    1. And I'm sure I will be changing my mind! And I just finished the first book not on the list, though it was only an old Doonesbury that I picked up in a Little Free Library.

  3. I loved The Luminaries. It's long and involved but it gave me the same happy feelings I get when reading a big, fat Victorian classic. I hope you enjoy it and good luck on the challenge!

    1. Oooh, that does sound promising. I like those big, fat Victorians. I really don't know why I've taken as long to get to it as I have.

  4. Lovely pic! And it does seem as though there is always ONE book which manages to escape the photo op.

    If you haven't already read stuff on the Lowry, there is a really great online support site with all sorts of amazing annotations and details to accompany the serious reader. I was especially grateful for it after the first chapter!

    1. Thanks for the tip on the Lowry online support. I will have to check that out.

      Good thing I didn't try to do my outdoor photo op today...

  5. You've a couple of really big books in there Reese! Thanks so much for taking part. Good luck.

    1. Thanks! They're not *all* big books. The trick will be to not read all the short fun ones first and be left with a bunch of monsters in August...