Home > Challenges, Personal Posts > 20 Books of Summer 2021 : It’s a wrap!

20 Books of Summer 2021 : It’s a wrap!

September 4, 2021 Leave a comment Go to comments

I’m late with the wrap-up of my 20 Books of Summer challenge. Life got in the way of blogging lately, mostly for good reasons. Holidays. Getaway weekends. Driving our daughter back to her campus. This summer, I’ve read 20 books, abandoned one, and wrote only 13 billets. *sheepish* I read seven books out of the original list.

I don’t think I’ll be able to catch up with all the billets as I’m drowning in work and I keep reading and adding to the billets pile.

I’m happy with my armchair travelling as my books took me to Egypt, Pennsylvania, Montana, Australia, Mississippi, Romania, Iran, Scotland, France, Denmark, Tennessee, New York, Colombia, Texas and Massachusetts.

As I began to compile the list of books, I noticed several recurring themes, all unintentional.

Uprooted, colonized and ostracized people

L’Arche de Noé by Khaled Al Khamissi. From story to story, the reader discovers all the reasons why people want to leave Egypt and how to emigrate to a Western country.

A Most Peculiar Act by Marie Munkara. Set in the Northern Territory in Australia, this satire explores the absurdity of the Aboriginal ordinances Act of 1918. You need to read it to believe the way Aborigines were treated by the Australian government.

The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Matthis. Mini billet upcoming. I expected to like this one better than I did.

The Man Who Saw the Flood and Down by the River Side by Richard Wright who comes back to the devastating 1921 flood in Mississippi.

Terre des affranchis by Liliana Lazar. Mini billet upcoming. Liliana Lazar is a French writer of Romanian origin. She writes in French but the story is set in her native corner of Romania. It’s not available in English.

Space Between Us by Zoyâ Pirzâd. Mini billet upcoming. I wish I had had the time and energy to write about this one for WIT Month. She’s an Iranian writer and Space Between Us is a lovely book that deserves to be read. It is set among the Armenian community in Iran.

In Search of One’s Self

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. I wasn’t completely fine with this one, too many irritating clichés for my tastes.

Rosa Candida by Auđur Ava Ólafsdóttir. A coming-of-age novel and thoughts about fatherhood, filiation, parenting and gardening.

Keep the Change by Thomas McGuane. The story of an outsider from Montana who feels like a fraud as painter but cannot run the ranch he inherited either.

Art related books

Sundborn ou les jours de lumière by Philippe Delerm. Sundborn is about a group of Scandinavian painters and incidentally, there’s an exhibition about one of them, Kroyer at the Musée Marmottan-Monet in Paris. You enjoyed the paintings I included in my billet. Here’s one of them

Monsieur Proust’s Library by Anka MuhlsteinThis is a perfect companion read for In Search of Lost Time. It focuses on reading in Proust’s masterpiece and on his literary influences.

Vers la beauté by David Foenkinos. Antoine, an art history teacher, becomes a museum attendant at the Musée d’Orsay after his life is turned upside down. Will staring at his favorite Modigliani painting heal his wounds?

The crime fest was bigger than expected.

Vintage by Grégoire Hervier. This one took me in search of a mysterious guitar and to the origins of rock music. I ended up with a new blues and rock playlist. Plus I had fun looking up all the guitars he talks about.

The Lonely Witness by William Boyle. An excellent neo-noir book set in the atmospheric Brooklyn.

Perdre est une question de méthode by Santiago Gamboa. I enjoyed my visit to Bogota in company of Victor Silanpa, journalist extraordinaire and amateur sleuth.

Black Water Rising by Attica Locke. I loved this multilayered book as it explores the early 80s in booming Houston, its oil industry, the years after the civil rights movement and the main character’s personal struggles.

Lesser Evils by Joe Flanagan. Upcoming billet. A book I’m ready to buy to all my friends and another great find by Gallmeister.

Money Shot by Christa Faust. Upcoming billet. This is the first book with Angel Dare, former porn star. It’s a hell of a ride in the world of crime and porn industry.

Dark Island by Susanna Crossman. No billet. I bought this one at Quais du Polar and read it right away. It’s the dark tale of a group of people who are invited by Josh on an isolated island in Brittany. Josh’s personality makes people uneasy and the tensions in the group are a recipe for drama. I haven’t been able to figure out whether it’s available in English or not. The author is British, the book has been written in English and yet it seems to be only available in French translation.

Colin-Maillard à Ouessant by Françoise Le Mer. No billet. A thriller set in Ouessant, Britanny. The plot was well drawn, the duo of inspectors was an odd pair but the writing wasn’t as fine as like it in my crime books now. It’s the first of a series, it may be a bit clumsy before the series improves.

Abandoned book

Call Mr Fortune by H.C. Bailey. It’s cozy crime from the 1920s, a collection of short stories with Dr Fortune as the amateur sleuth. The plots have the complexity of a Scooby Doo episode. The humor is fun but the stories weren’t catchy enough to keep my attention. And since reading hours are a rare commodity, on the Abandoned Books pile it went.

Books from the original list that I didn’t read

  • Vigilance by Robert Jackson Bennett
  • Above the Waterfall by Ron Rash
  • Ballad of Dogs’ Beach by José Cardoso Pires
  • The Wild Inside by Jamey Bradbury
  • Tales From the Otherworld by Ji Yun
  • On Monday Last Week and The Shivering by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I’m still interested in reading them, of course but I read Dark Island, Lesser Evils, Space Between Us right after buying them. When I received Eleanor Oliphant through my Kube subscription, an easy read was what I needed at the time, so I dived into it. I had Black Water Rising on the shelf and a discussion with Buried in Print pushed me to finally read it. I couldn’t resist Open Press’s copy of Monsieur Proust’s Library and I now have two other books by Anka Mulhstein on the TBR. And my visit to the Musée d’Orsay led me to Antoine from Vers la beauté.

I read 14 books from the TBR but new books have joined the pile. Oh well, now I’m all set for the next reading months.

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  1. September 4, 2021 at 10:07 am

    Ooh, what’s the title of the book third from the bottom with a ?fish ?whale on the spine?


    • September 4, 2021 at 10:09 am

      All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren. This came with my Kube subscription and the book is gorgeous.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. September 4, 2021 at 10:18 am

    I can tell you about the Susanna Crossmann book because I wanted to get hold of it too. It was written in English but failed to find a UK publisher so the author translated it into French (she lives in France and is very fluent but am not sure if she translated it herself or had it done). It’s quite expensive buying and shipping it over at the moment so am waiting to see if she might be published here. Actually am wondering if it might be a Corylus possibility? 🧐🤔
    I know all too well what you mean by reading and not reviewing though… but you’re not obliged to write reviews for everything!


    • September 4, 2021 at 9:46 pm

      There’s a translator mentioned on the book maybe only to check the author’s own translation. It’s always strange to think about writers who are not published in their native language and only in translation.
      PS Dark Islamlnd is not as good as Spada, in my opinion.


  3. September 4, 2021 at 10:20 am

    Thanks so much for taking part – if you read 20 books I call that a win 😊


    • September 4, 2021 at 10:55 am

      Any idea if Towards Beauty is going to be available as an English translation, it sounds just my kind of book.


      • September 4, 2021 at 10:19 pm

        I asked the author via Twitter, we’ll see if he answers.

        Liked by 1 person

    • September 4, 2021 at 10:17 pm

      I call it a win too because I usually read four books per month, not more.
      Thanks for organizing this event, it’s a friendly way to share about summer reads.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. September 4, 2021 at 2:57 pm

    “The plots have the complexity of a Scooby Doo episode.” made me laugh Emma! Still, overall a great summer of reading.


    • September 5, 2021 at 7:34 am

      Yes, a great summer of reading.

      I loved Scooby Doo when I was a child. And The Famous Five. And Nancy Drew (Alice, for French readers) And in the Francopone world, we also had Fantomette and Les Six Compagnons. My interest for crime fiction goes as far as my first books.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. September 4, 2021 at 7:22 pm

    Congrats! I’m far from having read 20 books this summer and certainly from having reviewed 20. I’m looking forward to your reviews of Space between us, and also of Terre des affranchis. Good luck with keeping on top of all your work.


    • September 5, 2021 at 7:36 am


      Space Between Us (Un jour avant Pâques, in French) is truly lovely.

      I hope you’ll read Terre des affranchis, I’m interested in your thoughts on this one. I don’t know how to write about it.


      • September 6, 2021 at 9:06 am

        I actually read and reviewed Terre des Affranchis several years ago, which is why I’m interested in YOUR thoughts about it!


        • September 7, 2021 at 10:52 pm

          Ok, I’ll have a look at your review after my billet is done.


  6. September 4, 2021 at 8:49 pm

    Well done! As long as you enjoyed what you read, that’s all that mattered! 😀


  7. September 4, 2021 at 10:43 pm

    Sounds like a fabulous list you read! Monsieur Proust’s Library is on my TBR, but I didn’t know he had written short stories! Neat to see a new Ogawa, so many Japanese titles are first available in French before English. I just finished Le Village aux huit tombes, not yet available in English.
    Here is my Summer list, same thing, I read more books that were not on my original list, and I’m so behind my reviews, as always…: https://wordsandpeace.com/tag/20-books-of-summer/


    • September 5, 2021 at 7:48 am

      I’m happy with the books I read, even if I didn’t read anything challenging.

      I’m currently reading the Ogawa, I like it so far but something’s off between me and this book. We’ll see how it goes.

      Le village aux huit tombes sounds great, I didn’t know Seishi Yokomiso. It’ll be available in English in December.

      I see that Aki Shimazaki is available in English now, it wasn’t when I read it in 2019.


  8. September 28, 2021 at 8:52 pm

    Yay, you finished. And double yay, you have new books on your stack! Don’t worry…you will catch up. Words always wait. They are patient.


    • September 28, 2021 at 9:58 pm

      Well, I’m the girl with the TBR tatoo. The TBR will refresh but never decrease, I think.


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