20 Books of Summer 2021

Books of Summer

One summer.

Three months.

93 Days.

20 books.

Are you in?

Once again Cathy at 746 Books is hosting the 20 Books of Summer event.  If I manage to read 20 books I will eat my hat …. or eat crickets, or something equally wild.  Which means it will be a miracle if I get to 20 Books but at least this event will keep me focussed.

Summer Still Life With Books

So which books?

  1. Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens
  2. Quo Vadis by Henryk Sienkiewicz
  3. The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo
  4. The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot
  5. Revelation of Divine Love by Julian of Norwich
  6. Second Idle Thoughts of An Idle Fellow by Jerome K. Jerome
  7. World War Z by Max Brooks
  8. The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare
  9. Ajax by Sophocles
  10. Giant’s Bread by Mary Westmacott (Agatha Christie)
  11. Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott
  12. We Took To The Woods by Louise Dickinson Rich
  13. Euthyphro by Plato
  14. Moby Dick by Herman Melville
  15. Le Rêve by Émile Zola or Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson
  16. Coot Club by Arthur Ransome
  17. Finn Family Moomintroll by Tove Jansson
  18. Greenmantle by John Buchan
  19. The Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie
  20. Reveries of a Solitary Walker by Jean-Jacques Rousseau

20 Books

of Summer


  • The Gulag Archipelago by Alexsandr Soltzhenitsyn (my last biography for The Well-Educated Mind list)
  • I Capture the Castle by Dodi Smith
  • A book by Elizabeth Goudge

Book Flower

Some of these are books I need to finish for challenges and/or read-alongs, some are ones from my Classics Club List and others just feel like books I would enjoy reading in the summer.

Which ones would you choose from my list??  What are your summer reading plans?



47 thoughts on “20 Books of Summer 2021

  1. That’s quite a list, I will be very impressed if you finish all the chunksters. 🙂 My goal for the summer is to read books in German and French – I’m calling it “Summer in Other Languages” if you want to join. You have Zola, Hugo and Rousseau that would qualify! (Translations are fine too.)

    • Thanks, Lori! I’ll be interested to find out what I’ll be able to finish.

      Yes, I have seen your Summer in Other Languages event and was planning to join but I didn’t know translations counted. That’s wonderful. I’m going to sort through my French and Spanish children’s books in the next few weeks to see what I can manage. Thanks for the invite!

  2. An impressive list! I too want to fit Shakespeare, Walter Scott and Dickens into my summer reading and will see if it is possible. Your mentioning of Rousseau’s Reveries of a Solitary Walker is very tempting for me too.

    • Walter Scott and Dickens are not small tasks to read but I think we can do it! I started Reveries last year and it’s quite fun. I loved Rousseau’s biography, Confessions, so I have high hopes that Reveries will be enjoyable. Happy summer reading to you!

  3. I was just putting together my list–you’re going to be my inspiration to actually finish putting it together–& I was going to put Quo Vadis on mine, too. We can both read it belatedly for the chapter a day readalong…

    Otherwise some nice stuff on there. I really liked Mill on the Floss when I first read it–I should reread it, it’s been so long. Kidnapped is a lot of fun.

    I’ll be very curious if you do read Solitary Walker which interests me.

    • Yes, Quo Vadis for the Chapter A Day Read-along. I never did get to The Divine Comedy but I’ve read it a couple of times already so I wasn’t disappointed.

      I’m looking forward to Kidnapped. I wanted to read The Moonstone again but I decided I wanted to stick to books I hadn’t read yet …. well, mostly (I’ve read Finn Family Moomintroll a number of times).

      I started Solitary Walker months ago and really enjoyed it. I do like Rousseau in spite of his complaining.

      Looking forward to seeing your list!

  4. That’s an ambitious list with a lot of chunksters! It makes me want to run and hide. There’s plenty of fun stuff on there — I liked Quo Vadis a lot. I love Moomin books so much (I wore my Moominmamma necklace to church today), and I’m quite fond of Christie’s Westmacott stories.

    • Some of the chunksters I’ve begun already and it’s a chance to finish them off. Probably not quite the spirit of the event but oh well. Thanks SO much for the Westmacott recommendation. I was a little leery of those books, expecting them not to be as good as the Christie ones. Now I’m looking forward to it!

    • Hey Janakay, thanks for the wishes! I know what you mean ….. my mind is leaning towards less taxing reads and I keep forcing it back to more intricate ones. At least it’s good to have a mix.

    • I started The Mill on the Floss once upon a time. It reminded me of a Thomas Hardy, which I’m not sure is good. I’m looking forward to returning to it though. And Dame Agatha is fun, absolutely! Thanks for stopping by!

  5. my word, Cleo! i don’t think i could finish Moby Dick in one summer, even! Tenacity thy name is Cleo! good luck with all of that is all i can come up with…

    • Well, to ease your mind, Mudpuddle, I had begun Moby Dick and it’s waiting to be finished …. I think I’m a little less than half way through and it was a pretty easy read but I had a lovely illustrated edition and the pictures certainly helped. Yes, I am tenacious but perhaps not as tenacious as you think! Hope you’re doing well!!

    • Sigh! It’s still left over from the read-along. And I was enjoying it so much. So it looks like I will beat your seven months in slowness, lol! Thanks for the wishes!

  6. If you haven’t read it yet, I definitely recommend Murder at the Vicarage. It’s one of my favourite Christies.

    As for the rest of your very impressive list, the first 4 are each bricks, but Nick Nickelby and The Hunchback are very much worth it. (I dislike Dickens immensely but Nick Nickelby was one I actually loved.)

    I’m really intrigued by The Mill on the Floss. I have that sitting on my shelf, too, but haven’t felt inspired to pick it up, yet.

    • I’m really looking forward to Murder At the Vicarage. It’s one of my favourite Miss Marple T.V. productions.

      It’s so funny you’d say that because I’m not that fond of Dickens normally, but I’m really enjoying Nicholas Nickleby (I’m about 1/4 of the way through) I’m so puzzled. I can’t figure out what’s different about it that’s making it so engaging.

      When I had started The Mill on the Floss before, it reminded me of a Thomas Hardy novel. Hardy is not my favourite writer (although I can appreciate aspects of his work) but I usually love Eliot. The fact that I’ve had good feedback on it from many readers has made me less leery about it and excited to read it.

      • I really don’t know either why Nick N. is so different. It just seemed like it was the one book that had all of the Dickens tropes but sort of acknowledged that it did and also got on with the story rather than preach about the sad state of society.

        Oh, and I hear you re Hardy. I still want to read his Jude but I’ll not do that whilst the pandemic is still around. I’ll also need a good supply of chocolate, a comfort blanket, and a furry animal to deal with Hardy’s level of depression-in-book-form.

        I have never tried Eliot before so am rather keen to get to know her.

        • Yes! Less preaching and letting the story speak for itself. If the writing is good, we don’t need the author to beat us over the head with his ideologies.

          You haven’t read Eliot???!!! Oh, you’re in for a treat! My favourite is Middlemarch. I read it in a week and a half one summer and still remember the experience. Daniel Deronda is good as well.

    • Thanks! I’m not feeling overwhelmed by it at least, so that’s good. You have yourself a great summer full of reading and thanks for stopping by!

    • Thanks for the recommendations! I quite love Rousseau, so I’m looking forward to that one. I will keep my eyes open for your list post!

  7. My suggestions to start with woutd be: Merchant of Venice, Le Rêve, Hunchback of Nôtre Dame and Ivanhoe. Shakespeare and Zola are relative quick reads. V. Hugo and Sir Walter Scott are stories that will whisk you away! Gulag? I listened to the unabridged vol 1 (25 hrs audio book)…and I was so depressed….so not a great alternative for a lovely summer! I see you have 2 “ancients” on the list, reminds me I should start a few on those books again! Ajax looks good! Happy summer reading!

    • Great suggestions, Nancy! And thanks for the information about The Gulag. I *suspect* summer will be slower so I might have time to read it. It’s been bugging me that it’s the only biography on the WEM list that I haven’t completed. However, point taken that it wouldn’t be an uplifing summer read.

      Yes, the ancients are wonderful. I haven’t been reading as many as I should either. Thanks for the wishes and you have yourself a great summer as well!

  8. I also have some Dickens on my list, Hard Times. I was going to read The Pickwick Papers, but it didn’t meet my criteria (only reading books from the 1,001 Books You Must Read Before You Die list, I thought all Dickens was on there but I guess not!) I love your list, great list of classics.

    • I read The Pickwick Papers in serial format for a read-along which meant it took me almost 2 years to finish. Yikes! But it was a good way to read it, I must say. That’s great that you’re going through that list. I’m trying to make my way through The Guardian’s 1000 Books list …. lots of classics but others as well. It’s an enormous task so I appreciate your effort. Thanks and I hope you get LOTS of reading done this summer!

      • I LOVED the Pickwick Papers! I listened to in during daily walks #AudioBook. (29 hrs) It was a laugh out loud experience with the British accent voices!

        • Did you laugh while you were walking? Did people look at you strangely, lol? It sounds like a great way to read it!

  9. I’m thinking of joining in with this challenge. I like the idea of finishing some books during that time, too. I’d like to do a Shakespeare, probably Macbeth – I’ve already listened/read it twice but it’s such a great play I’d like to do it again. I’ve been a moody reader during this year so I’d be led by my feelings. 🙂 Will probably read my last Goudge book (that I own) – Gentian Hill.

    • I really hope you join. I’d love to acquire some more great recommendations from you! I read MacBeth sooo long ago and I really do need to read it again. Perhaps I’ll be able to fit it in. I do know what you mean about being a moody reader. I’ve had some challenges to keep me scheduled but I’ve definitely felt more like flying by the seat of my reading pants. I own Gentian Hill too. Can you believe I’ve only read one Goudge? I need to rectify that oversight. Have a great summer of reading!

    • Yes, it’s one of the ones I’m really looking forward to. Hope you have some fun reading plans for summer!

    • Thanks, Deb. I tried to comment on your blog but for some reason my comment didn’t show up. Good luck with your list too. I loved Detective in Togas, and any Arthur Ransome is excellent.

  10. A nice assortment! I am thinking of reading that Louise Rich book because I learned recently that a lovely woman I occasionally buy books from is/was her cousin.

    • Welcome to my blog, Constance! That’s so interesting. It’s funny because one of the other participants is ready a book by someone that I loosely knew (Jane Rule). I love all these connections. You have a great reading summer!

  11. Always the ambitious list, but some light books too! Summer is the perfect time for Finn Family Moomintroll, I think. I debated adding some Christie to my own list, but decided to save her for the fall…maybe. I do like trying to tackle a big thick book over the summer–I haven’t read any of the ones on your list (yet), but hope you enjoy!

    • I can’t wait to read Finn Family Moomintroll again; such a book to take you into another wonderful world inhabited by Moomins! Christie is definitely a good fall read. I really liked your list too. Have fun with your summer reading!

  12. Who doesn’t love a list of books?

    As a fan of Dickens, Nicholas Nickelby is one of my favorites by far. I particularly like Nicholas as a hero since he is impulsive and hot-headed, not really admirable behaviour but it works in the novel and sets it apart from Dickens’ other books I think.

    I’ll be curious to hear what you make of the Mary Westmacott novel. I have a bind up of all her novels inherited from my mother, which I’ve never read. I love Christie, but romance isn’t really my genre. Speaking of Christie, I hope you like The Murder at the Vicarage. Miss Marple is my favorite of her sleuths, though I like Poirot a lot too.

    • I’m glad to hear another good report of Nicholas Nickelby and that it’s a different kind of Dickens. Although I like him, he can wear on me and I don’t believe NN will be that type of book. Yay!

      I’m looking forward to Giant’s Bread. The little romance she’s added to her Christie mysteries so far isn’t badly done so I have high hopes for this one. I love Murder at the Vicarage A&E special so I hope to love the book just as much. Thanks for the comments, Ruthiella!

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