10 Books of Summer Reading Challenge

Photo: 746 Books

I’m already three books behind in my Goodreads Reading Challenge, where I set a goal of reading 35 books in 2016, but hopefully this challenge will help catch me up. After finding a post over at 746 Books, the blog hosting this summer long challenge, I felt compelled to join in at least to make my growing pile of unread books a little bit smaller.

If you’d like to join in it’s simple; read 10, 15, or 20 books between June 1st and September 5th and let your fellow bloggers know how you’re doing along the way. In keeping with my idea that low expectations=success, I’ve aimed for the lowest amount possible. Even so, being a notoriously slow reader, this may be out of my reach but it’s definitely worth the effort. Here’s the pile I’ll be tackling this summer, click their titles for detailed summaries on Goodreads.

1.Euphoria by Lily King

I just bought a used but good as new copy from my beloved Friends of the Library book sale for $1. Euphoria has been on my ‘to read’ list for a while after seeing it on The Millions list of most anticipated books in 2015. I gave myself a head start and started reading this book yesterday evening. The story is about three young anthropologists in the 1930s, caught in a love triangle. I have yet to get to the parts on illicit love, but so far the book is clever, funny, and well written.

2. The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood

I’m finally ready for the Atwood Experience. The Handmaid’s Tale is a classic, but the topic has never drawn me in. I’m a stickler for great first lines and The Blind Assassin has plenty that demand attention; the first line of the book is “Ten days after the war ended, my sister Laura drove a car off a bridge.” so I was hooked to find out more. At over 500 pages The Blind Assassin may be the most challenging of the list to get through, but one can dream, right?

3. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

It’s not often that I read books with murder or mystery as a large portion of the plot, but this book has been collecting dust on my shelf for as long as I can remember, and reading this among more cheerful plots balances out my list. This chilling story is Capote’s reconstruction of the real life murder, investigation, and eventual capture, trial, and execution of the killers while conveying great empathy for them. Writing that makes you care about fictional bad characters are great; writing that makes you care about real life murderers are exceptional.

4. Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi

From the author of acclaimed novel Mr. FoxBoy, Snow, Bird puts a twist on childhood fairy tales. I’ve never read anything of that sort before, but after hearing praise for Oyeyemi’s writing I picked up a discounted copy at Barnes and Nobles. I’m excited to start this one.

5. How to Breathe Underwater by Julie Orringer

This book of short stories was given to me during my creative writing class and apparently is a must read for short story lovers and writers alike. Published in 2003, How to Breathe Underwater features nine stories that speak on the endless tragedies of youth. I have been on a short story binge lately so thought this would be a welcome break from all of the long fiction in this list.

6. Rock Springs by Richard Ford

Another short story collection. This is my cheat book, I started reading Rock Springs a while ago but never got around to finishing so want to pick up where I left off. Don’t take my not finishing to mean I did not enjoy the stories; this book is American literature gold.

7. Spheres of Disturbance by Amy Schutzer

Over a year ago after a tour of Red Hen Press, me and a group I was with were given the opportunity to take any book of our choosing – I picked up Spheres of Disturbance but have yet to read it. This book is published under Red Hen Press’ imprint, Artkoi Books, which publishes fiction by lesbian writers.

8. Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay

After reading Bad Feminist, I was over the moon to find Roxane Gay was writing a memoir. Gay uses her personal struggles with food and body image to explore “our shared anxieties over pleasure, consumption, appearance, and health.” I especially want to find out how her past, and the traumatic events within it, formed the woman whose work we’re reading today. Unfortunately, Hunger will not be in bookstores until June 14th, but I’ve already pre-ordered my copy – a little nonfiction to break up my reading.

9. Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Another book I got overly excited about before realizing it had not been released yet. There is a lot of buzz around this debut novel about two half sisters in eighteenth-century Ghana. Their lives veer off on two very different paths, one sold into slavery while the other marries an Englishman and moves to the Cape Coast. I will be attending the ALOUD Reading series on June 7 where Yaa Ghasi will talk about her book. Here’s hoping I’m able to get my hands on and finish reading the book before then. 

10. Outer Dark by Cormac McCarthy

It has been a while since I’ve indulged myself in some Cormac McCarthy and I think I’m well overdue for my fill. I was tempted to give Blood Meridian another read, but still don’t think I’m ready to stomach decapitations and random removal of entrails. Outer Dark may not be any better since the story follows a woman who bears her brother’s child… but I think I’ll be able to stomach it.

Are any of you participating in 20 Books of Summer? What do you think of the books in my list? Are there any that you’ve read and did/didn’t enjoy? Any books that I should just cross of my list?

27 thoughts on “10 Books of Summer Reading Challenge

  1. I really impressed you’re putting your reading out there. I agree – really great list. Rock Springs is great I think. Better than his novels, although I do feel like I know Frank Bascombe. One of the stories in Rock Springs – Great Falls – has one of my all time favourite first lines. “This is not a happy story. I warn you.” Who couldn’t read on? Really good luck with it all. Not sure I’m brave enough to meet the challenge…I’ll have a think…..gulp…..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha you might be surprised how many you can get through. I agree, Rock Springs is amazing! I wanted to take on one of Ford’s novels, like Canada, but like you said, his short stories are much better. I still might give it a read in the future though.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve not read Canada I must admit. I’ve read the Sportwriter three or four times – Frank Bascombe does my head in at times but I kind of love him as well. Which probably suggests he’s a fully formed character I guess….

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Such a great list! I’m seeing Helen Oyeyemi’s name a lot these days and every time I make a mental note to read her books. I love remixed fairy tales so I can’t wait to hear what you think of this one.

    Outer Dark is… dark. It fits right in with McCarthy’s others to be sure.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I kept hearing Oyeyemi’s name too and finally decided to buy her book when I saw her name in a list of must-read new writers. I’m already pretty biased that I’m going to love it, be we’ll see!
      Oh yes, I can imagine I’m going to have to take some breaks like I did in Blood Meridian. His writing is so great though, usually worth it.


  3. I’m so excited–I had no idea that Roxane Gay had written a memoir! I must go preorder too. You made my day! And as for Boy, Snow, Bird–oh my, I fell so hard for Oyeyemi’s writing when I read that book! Hope you enjoy it, and all the rest of your reads as well!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, I’m getting more and more excited about Boy, Snow, Bird the more I hear about it! And I can’t wait until I get around to Hunger, I’m sure it’s going to be hilarious and sincere. Looking forward to seeing what you think when you’re able to read it. 🙂


  4. These are some great books, the first one looks very interesting and I’ll enjoy looking out for your reviews. I love how #20booksofsummer helps me find new bloggers to follow every year! Good luck with the challenge – I’m doing the 20, but last year I had two Did Not Finishes and one Did Not Start so I’ll see how I go!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, and I agree, I’ve never done a challenge like this before but love that I’ve been able to discover new blogs through it! You seem to be on a roll so I’m sure you’ll do well this year, I’m looking forward to seeing how you like your picks. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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