Photo: “The End of Summer” by *Nelleke by anna puiu.
This week marks the unofficial end of summer, what with the Labour Day holiday upon us, and the frenzy of “Back to School” revving up, so a roundup of my summer reading was felt to be in order. I was definitely a reading machine this summer! I read so many excellent books. Only a slight few fell into the dud or disappointing side, but overall, a tremendous summer of reading. And, I stuck fairly close to my Summer Reading Schedule! In total I read 22 books and listened to 2-3 audiobooks (two read by the fabulous Dan Stevens, 1/2 of one that I switched later to hardcopy).
Let’s begin with the books I read to participate in two separate Summer Blog Tours. These blog tours kicked off the summer reading season for me. One was for Simon & Schuster Canada – for their Summer Fiction Blog Tour – which was 5 books in 5 weeks! I read all 5 and the two that were the very best of the bunch for me were The Girls in the Garden and In a dark, dark wood. Those two I widely recommended throughout the summer. The next blog tour was for Dundurn, another Canadian publisher, and was for the Five Roses novel by Alice Zorn. A very good read!
Then I was reading standout after standout! So many books that I completely fell head over heels in love with- a great mixture of books off the reading schedule, sent for review, and books picked up on impulse from the library. These are the ones that made my summer reading so special.
First, it was The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson. Sigh. So in love with this story! So good. My heart still aches for Beatrice and Hugh. Following hot on the heels of The Summer Before the War, was a book picked up from the library. I brought this one to pitch to the book club and it was almost chosen, it became the runner up, and was June by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore. I was on a reading roll with June! Another one I grabbed from the library to bring for book club was Thomas Murphy. It was such a slim little book that I just kept it to myself. Wow, here’s another very special book I strongly recommend! I loved the Murph! I’m pretty sure you would fall in love with him too. Another great and really fun read was Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye. If you’re interested in listening to the audio for it, you can’t go wrong there either. Susie Riddell does a fantastic job with the narration. But Jane Steele is a whole lot of deliciously fun reading!
I continued to stray slightly from my reading schedule and picked up Evergreen by Rebecca Rasmussen. I was on such a great reading roll, and Rasmussen blessed us with The Bird Sisters, so I figured Evergreen would make another wonderful summer read. I was not wrong there. She got me again, and the ending required tissues just like it did for The Bird Sisters. An entirely different story from the two sisters, but still rich and beautiful with family drama and oh so wonderful. Grand Central Publishing then interested me with their e-book for The Long, Hot Summer. I figured with that title it HAD to be part of my summer reading. Stand out story! For sure! It didn’t appear on many of the summer reading lists and it’s a big, fat crying shame because that was one great book to read!
The next three I read that were total standouts: To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey, The Invitation by Lucy Foley and The Unseen World by Liz Moore. All three were excellent. All back-to-back unbelievably great books! I still have to write up reviews on To the Bright Edge of the World and The Unseen World. And I will because they definitely deserve heaps of praise! Then there was the one final fabulous book that I picked up on impulse again from the library, The Underground Railroad. This is a definite must read! Tough to read in many places, but one of those very important reads, and one that was completely unputdownable.
That’s 11 almost back-to-back great reads! All of them are highly, highly recommended. Incredible reading.
I read some other very good books too and a few fairly “meh” books made their way to me this summer as well. Those I didn’t write anything about. They were okay, and a few of them were bigger stinkers than others. The biggest stinkers for me were Foxlowe by Eleanor Wasserberg, A Beauty by Connie Gault (that causes me pain to say) and probably, I would also put The South of The Mountain in this bunch too. (Kind of, sort of I guess.) We read They May Not Mean To, But They Do by Cathleen Schine for the book club, and this was not bad either, but not that great for me. I enjoyed the first half of the book far more than the second half.
Two other perfectly lovely books read this summer were The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach and The Railwayman’s Wife. They were very good reads and were pulled from my Summer Reading Schedule.
Not too shabby eh? I was like a juggernaut of reading!
I’m still not listening to too many audiobooks lately. Actually, I’m not listening to any audiobooks anymore at all. 🙁 That trend continued all throughout this summer. I did listen to, And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie and Frankenstein by Mary Shelley – both narrated by Dan Stevens. Frankenstein wasn’t doing much for me, even with the fabulous Stevens narrating. This was the last audiobook I attempted. I’ve definitely hit a drought in that department, but the many, many number of fantastic books I’ve read this summer more than made up for the drought and I haven’t been left thirsty. 🙂
I hope your summer reading was one filled with many excellent reads as well! Farewell summer and (happily!) bring on the Fall! It’s the most wonderful time of the year!
I have picked up one that did originally appear in my Summer Reading Schedule, and I’m going to settle in with that one before the Fall Reading Schedule kicks in. That book is the massive The Crow Girl (I swear this book is on stilts!). I was looking to shift my reading to something entirely different from what I’ve been reading this summer, and getting back into some bad-ass Scandinavian-noir seemed like just the ticket!
What a fabulous list of books read this summer, Penny! So many of these are on my list, but there’s only one that I’ve also read – A Beauty. I think I liked it better than you, though. 😉
I have been coming and going so much this summer that it’ll still be a while before I can organize my thoughts about the books I’ve read (if I ever do!). But I have read some good ones – Flannery, The Fortunate Brother, Three Years With the Rat, Dogs At the Perimeter, Unless – to name a few. Right now I’m reading The Hidden Keys by Andre Alexis, which I’m loving!
Oh good reads Naomi! I have The Fortunate Brother on my Fall Reading Schedule (to be posted!) 🙂 I want to read Flannery too, and Dogs At the Perimeter. So many books! It’s been a stay-around-home summer this year so it’s allowed me to read way more than I normally would I’m sure.
WOW! What a great summer of reading for you, Penny — definitely cool seeing it all in one spot like this, so thanks for this post! Funnily, I was contemplating my own summer of reading today too. The Underground Railroad has *totally* been a standout read for me in 2016 as well. Such a powerful, memorable character Whitehead has given us in Cora! 😀
Thanks Jennifer! I eagerly await your summer reading list! 🙂 Definitely – Cora is still on my mind!
It’s been a similar summer for me as well. Although, as Naomi said, there isn’t a lot of overlap between our reading, more between your reading and my TBR. Are there other books by the authors whose works have most impressed you this summer, which you are now eager to check out? I’m nearing the end of Riel Nason’s The Town that Drowned, and I am really looking forward to reading her newer novel afterwards. And I’m about halfway through Jonathan Safran Foer’s Here I Am, which reminds me that I really wanted to read Everything is Illuminated. Sometimes reading really great books only makes my TBR grow by leaps and bounds: you too? Like, read one book, add a dozen to the TBR?
I have Hear I Am on the shelf too! It will be my first Safran Foer novel. 🙂 Like you I need to read his others! I noticed Nason’s book when it first came out – glad to hear you liked it and want to read her others – it’s more to add to the TBR! 🙂 🙂 All The Books! I’ve read the first in Lyndsay Faye’s series, Gods of Gotham which was great and I have to get to the rest now. She writes like butter. I had marked originally to read Bittersweet, the June author’s first novel – so after reading June I do want to read Bittersweet for sure now. I’ve read Liz Moore’s and Rebecca Rasmussen’s first novels and they were the reason for seeking out The Unseen World and Evergreen. Both so very good, so happy to have read them this summer! So yeah — HUGE constantly growing TBR is always a problem, but a happy problem. 🙂