20 Books for Summer List

Twenty Books for Summer

Nosed around my stacks, haunted GoodReads, and browsed at the library and finally made up my Summer of 2017 TBR.

The Brontës Went to Woolworths by Rachel Ferguson

The Observations by Jane Harris

Let Me Tell You by Shirley Jackson

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

The Bookman’s Tale by Charlie Lovett

The Distant Hours by Kate Morton

The Unicorn by Iris Murdoch

Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi

The Prestige by Christopher Priest

Crampton Hodnet by Barbara Pym

My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier

Hunger by Roxane Gay

Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith

The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The Mothers by Brit Bennett

The Pure Gold Baby by Margaret Drabble

The Dark Circle by Linda Grant

The Solitary House by Lynn Shepherd

Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien


I’m a Restless Reader

Twenty Books for SummerThe kids are out of school for the summer and my husband is staying home with them while I work. I’m working and doing the graduate school thing, but I find that my schedule is much more relaxed. I don’t have to go into work so stinking early and that means staying up slightly later at night and reading. I’m wrapping up Great Expectations tonight or tomorrow. Up next I have an interlibrary loaned copy of Emma Donoghue’s The Wonder and an e-book about introverts.

But what’s up after that? 

My chief problem is that EVERYTHING looks divine. I want to read so many books right now from my own stacks, the library, and there are some newer books I’m eyeing as well. Whenever I’m overwhelmed with reading choices I tend to shut down.

I think I’ve determined that the best course of action would be to make a TBR list for the summer. I remember a few years ago that some dear blogger had a Twenty Books of Summer challenge (let me know if you remember who it was! I’m drawing a blank). EDIT: CATHY OF 746 BOOKS IS THE ORIGINAL 20 BOOKS OF SUMMER GAL! My goal for this week is to draw up my own list of 20 books to read between June 1st and September 1st. The list will contain 10 from my stacks at home and 10 from the library or new purchases.

Friends, throw your recommendations at me. I’m wanting something slightly dark and slim. Shades of Shirley Jackson or Helen Oyeymei. Some classics. I need new to me authors. Perhaps a reread or two. Fling your book recommendations at me with wild abandon. I’m going to do some online book drooling, stare at my stacks, and wander the library. Let’s see what I can dredge up with your help.

My Personal Canon


“Stack of Old Books” by Austin Kirk is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Jillian recently created a list of books that have impacted her life and indicated that she would love to see a similar list from other bloggers. Here is my list:

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath / Ariel by Sylvia Plath / The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath

Bluets by Maggie Nelson

Germinal by Emile Zola

Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter by Simone de Beauvoir

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

Jane Eyre by Jane Brontë

The Waves by Virginia Woolf

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

I think I’d like to write about each of these books individually to really capture what they mean to me and how they’ve shaped me.

I tell you what, let me know in the comments (or via Tweet or email) which book you’d like for me to talk about first. I’ll add it into the blog rotation and write a bit more deeply about each book. I also may think of a few others in the interim.



April Book Haul

I realized today that it is mid-May I haven’t discussed my April book haul! April is my birthday month and I was properly spoiled this year.


I had three book subscription arrivals: Family Lexicon by Natalia Ginzburg from NYRB, Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann from Book of the Month club, and Whereas by Layli Long Soldier from Avid Bookshop.


Sam and I had a big date day to celebrate my birthday and, of course, that entailed book shopping. We bought several gifts and cards from Avid Bookshop and I picked up Before the Feast by Saša Stanišić and A Bestiary by Lily Hoang. I also traded in some books at 2nd and Charles and purchased Just and Ordinary Day by Shirley Jackson, Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill, and When God was a Rabbit by Sarah Winman. No date is complete without a thrifting expedition and at American Thrift I struck gold. I purchased The Optimist’s Daughter by Eudora Welty, The Red Queen by Margaret Drabble, The Distant Hours by Kate Morton, Longbourn by Jo Baker, The Death of the Heart by Elizabeth Bowen, Innocent Traitor by Alison Weir, A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry, and Swamplandia! by Karen Russell.


With some birthday gift cards I purchased A Gentle Madness by Nicholas Basbanes, The Icarus Girl by Helen Oyeyemi, Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, and The Complete Stories of Leonora Carrington


My only whim purchases included a stop at Half Price Books where I picked up Northanger Abbey and Mansfield Park by Jane Austen and A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute and a fortuitous Goodwill visit. At the Goodwill I nabbed Regeneration and The Eye in the Door by Pat Barker, The Hours by Michael Cunningham (NOT a film cover!), and The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao  by Junot Diaz. Persy Jane claims the Diaz is her “favorite book.”


Books are joyful things indeed! May will be a much more subdued book month. Less flinging money around and more reading from my shelves. Although I think at least one or two books will creep into my stacks!


An Oddity of Book Reviews

As a newbie book blogger back in the day, I strove to review every blasted book I read. Inevitably, the un-reviewed books would pile up and I would hit blogger’s block. I’d worry about missing a review or falling behind or decide to hastily write a boring review and then I would quit blogging until I got over myself and my self-invented crisis that is so not a crisis at all.

So, with that preamble, let me offer you some reviews-in-brief of books I’ve read, but haven’t “properly” reviewed. These are not “proper” reviews.

Murder at Mansfield Park by Lynn Shepardmurder

Several years ago I read a Bleak House themed mystery novel by Lynn Shepard called The Solitary House. I absolutely loved that book and I learned that it is the second book in a series of literary mysteries. The first book is Murder at Mansfield Park and I finally got around to reading it.

Have you ever read Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park? Nope? Well, I did about fifteen years ago in an undergraduate course. The “heroine” of Mansfield Park is Fanny Price and she is a saintly, insipid moron. Murder at Mansfield Park takes Austen’s tale and flips it a bit and the result is a darn good mystery. The ending was slightly weak, but that is only because it was poorly attempting an Austen ending. I was hooked by the writing and characters and it was a fun read.

The Go-Between by L.P. Hartleythe-go-between_2048x2048

I have tried to read Ian McEwan’s Atonement several times and I just couldn’t do it. The book has this noticeable build towards A BAD THING and it is unnerving and slow and I didn’t give a shit about the characters and, therefore, couldn’t make it through the book. The Go-Between has a slow build to A BAD THING, but it is unnerving and slow and I cared very much for several of the characters. The plot, pace, and characters are expertly balanced and made me feel almost a participant in the AWFUL THING.

I don’t want to spoil the plot for you, so I’ll only divulge what the book jacket shares. A young man, Leo, spends the summer with a much wealthier schoolmate. Leo ends up ferrying notes between his friend’s sister and her lover. It doesn’t end well. I really loved this book and I couldn’t read it fast enough.

The Gustav Sonata by Rose Tremaingus

Holy Jeez, why have I never read Rose Tremain until now?! This book is beautiful, bleak, and is also about how, unfortunately, adults are human and flawed and eff up on the reg. Gustav is a lower-class, kind-hearted boy who befriends a wealthy Jewish boy, Anton, in post-WWII Switzerland. Gustav’s mother is an emotional wreck who has some secrets and harbors anti-Jew sentiments. This book traces Anton and Gustav’s friendship and relationships with their respective families. I was really sucked into this book and would emerge after several hours of reading blinking in wonder that I was not in Switzerland and watching Gustav and Anton first hand. Rose Tremain is certainly on my list of authors to read again.

Now, onto more books and (maybe) more reviews in the future!

*Cardigan Mafia: Library Life

“You work in a library? How wonderful! You get to read all day and enjoy the quiet!”

“You’re going to GRADUATE school to be a librarian? Why?!”
The above quotations I hear regularly and it can be difficult to explain to someone in 15 seconds what library science embodies. I’m going to try to use this space to explain library work as best I can.

I have worked in an academic library for almost 13 years and over a week ago I finished my first semester of study for my Master in Library and Information Science. Throughout my time in library land, I’ve realized that stereotypes work against those of us in libraries; no one knows what the hellfire we do. The public imagines lots of shushing and shelving and I’m sure people realize the big picture things like literacy, access to books, programming, etc…. But what do we actually DO all day?


I thought I’d periodically share what’s going on at my workplace and what I’m working on and talk about my studies. Keep in mind that there are many different types of libraries and even more variety in job descriptions. I’m describing my work and studies focusing primarily on academic (that means in a university) libraries.


At work: This week is all about catching up from last week. Last week we had several big meetings about strategic planning, scheduling, and other library issues and I hosted a pop-up library at faculty retreat. I loaded the mini-van up with 75 books from our new books area and toted them to the location of our faculty retreat. I handed out door prizes, recommended books, and distributed surveys to gauge faculty information and service needs.


While doing pop-up library I got backlogged on everything else. This week I am handling all of our interlibrary requests for research, brainstorming new classroom space, drafting a new job description, filling out reference forms for former student employees, participating in a university-wide training, and reviewing some policy documents for our state library association.


At school: Over the spring semester I took two courses, Foundations of Library and Information Science and Management of Libraries and Information Centers. In addition to gobs of readings and discussion posts, I worked on several lengthy projects. In Foundations I completed a job ad analysis project, a group project on library ethics, and a literature review on using Twitter to promote library services in an academic library. In my management class I wrote several case studies, worked on a group strategic plan for an academic library, and did a management consultancy project working with the county public library on outreach to Latinx immigrants.


My new courses start tomorrow. I’m taking Information Sources and Services, which will focus on reference and research. This class will last 11 weeks and runs from tomorrow until the end of July. My other course, Rare Book Librarianship, begins in early June and will end in late July. Both summer courses have 16 weeks worth of material compressed into shorter class lengths. To say I’m nervous about getting everything done is an understatement!
*the term “cardigan mafia” is shamelessly stolen from Thomas at Hogglestock.

Readerly Rambles: 5/7/2017

4What I Read: Last week we had a fair amount of rain. I took some time after work and before kid pick-up to drink a large coffee, listen to the rain, and inhale Rose Tremain’s The Gustav Sonata. It was beautiful with richly drawn characters and quite bleak. I seem to be hitting on books this year with the theme of Adults are Often Not Much More Mature Than Children and Eff Up on the Regular. A proper review is still percolating.

What I’m Reading: I’ve been hankering for a large, but not too large, Victorian re-read. I haven’t spent time with Charles Dickens in a bit and I decided it was time to revisit Great Expectations.

What’s up Next: My first summer course begins on Thursday and I know it will slow my reading down. Dang. If I am able to pick up another book towards the end of the week, then it will probably be Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. This novel is a favorite and it will be another re-read. I find that the mood to re-read hits me in the spring and summer months. We’ll see how quickly I’m able to read through that chunkster!

Happy Reading!