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July 23, 2008

What's In Your Summer Reading Pile?

Summer.  The time, and freedom, to read.


Karen Putz mentioned the other day that On Writing was in her summer reading pile.  That got me thinking about the anticipated delight of a summer reading pile, the unread books that are still on mine - and that it might be good to share what we're reading this summer.

(Or winter, for those of you in the southern hemisphere.  Cold days and chilly nights are surely ideal for reading too?)

The holidays are often a time when we turn to fiction reading for some escape.  I know I do, but it's so long since I've read any fiction I was worried I'd got out of the habit.  Fortunately Alina Popescu's reading challenge got me into the fiction reading frame of mind again, and a trip to my local library saw me happily stocked up with a pile of books. 

Part of the problem is the range of options available to us.  If you get out of a reading habit and don't have lists of favourite authors or titles to search for it's hard to know where to start.  To keep it simpler I decided just to choose from one shelf: Scottish fiction.  Found some gems which - to mix my metaphors - rekindled my love of fiction reading.

Anyway that train of thought made me think this might be a good time to share what we're reading, to give each other some ideas and inspiration to add to our own stockpiles for the summer.

Also a good opportunity to experiment with Amazon! I created this whizzy carousel with my reading list - those in stock that had pictures anyway.  They have lots of other widgets you could experiment with too.

The books in my summer reading pile are:

Non-fiction reading

George MacKay Brown: For The Islands I Sing

Susan Jeffers: End The Struggle and Dance With Life

Marian Pallister: Lost Argyll

Fiction reading

Louise Welsh: The Bullet Trick

Louise Welsh: The Cutting Room

Alexander Trocchi: Young Adam

Muriel Spark: The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

Alan Warner: Morvern Callar

I guess we could make this a meme of sorts.  I'm not promising to compile the results but if you'd like to take part please consider yourself invited to share your summer (or winter) reading list, and invite your readers to do the same.  Tag it 'summer reading pile' so we can keep an eye on it and we'll see where it goes.

Happy reading!

Joanna Young, The Confident Writing Coach
Because our words count


Photo Credit: Summer Reading Pile by Joanna Young on Flickr


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I have to confess that I don't yet have a refreshed summer reading list, Joanna.

Your recommendations look interesting and I think I'll jot the titles down and have a browse when I'm in the bookshop next time.

It'll be great to learn of other's summer selections too.

Hi Joanna!

Wow, this Amazon toy sure looks awesome! I could try to compile a similar list and have it posted in my next book review on Monday. Actually I think it would work out great, thanks for the idea.


I've been thinking about doing a post on reading, and in fact have one half written already, so this has given me the nudge to get back to that one!

My summer reading pile is 'in progress'. I have half a dozen books in there, with a few more on the wanted list!

Actually, I don't really differentiate between seasonal reading lists, they're kind of an all-in-one rolling affair. I read a lot.

Oh - and if you like Scottish fiction, have you read the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon? If not, you should!

Funny you should ask, Joanna. I've just committed to re-reading the entire Left Behind series of books (fiction) by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins:

Left Behind
Tribulation Force
Soul Harvest
The Indwelling
The Mark
The Remnant
Glorious Appearing
Kingdom Come

Yep; 13 books! Should keep me occupied for a couple of weeks, at least...

Sometimes I think I'm the only person who doesn't do "summer reading." I mean, I read as much during the summer as I do the rest of the year, but my reading habits don't actually change--or, not on purpose! But then, I don't plan ahead for my reading, either.

Incidentally, I asked a similar question over at Booking Through Thursday in May. See?

I loved your widget of books!

I have a "mini summer reading list," if that makes sense? I plan on reading the following:

"Why Smart Executives Fail" - Sydney Finklestein
"Purple Cow" - Seth Godin
"The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive" - Patrick Lencioni

I can't commit to too many. If I did, I'm afraid I'd read half of all of them, instead of all of all of them. Of course, I could commit to many, and read all of half of them!

Cool image, Joanna! I just dived in to my favorite annual read, "The Year's Best Science Fiction: Twenty-Fifth Annual Collection", edited by Gardner Dozois. I've been reading it for, well, 25 years! His collection of short SF stories runs the gamut in terms of style and theme, and for that reason might be appealing to writers even if they aren't particularly interested in the genre. I love SF because it gets you thinking light years outside the box. And it's just plain fun. (I also enjoy reviewing his collections on Amazon. They're my favorite book reviews to write.)

Reading, yay!
Have you ever tried Shelfari?

I just finished reading Tim Schaffert's "The Phantom Limbs of the Rollow Sisters"- excellent summer read!

Scott, I hope this conversation might prompt you to start stockpiling some fiction... there's nothing quite like it!

Alina, I love it when we inspire each other :-) Amazon has some great ideas for promoting and sharing material and recommendations. I couldn't resist this carousel. Glad it didn't break anything on the site (I don't think...)

Jay, I think our reading lists are probably always works in progress :-) In fact some of mine have arrived by accident as I've shed some books getting ready to move house, and just couldn't resist buying some more when I was in the charity book shop.

I haven't read the Outlander books, in fact I'd never have heard of them if I hadn't heard them mentioned and recommended by several friends in the US. I'll have to give them a try now - can't ignore all these messages!


Robert, that sounds quite a commitment! I hadn't heard of the series - sounds fascinating. Hope you enjoy your reading.

Deb, I see. I love the fact you read all the time. I used to, but am sorely out of the fiction reading habit. Going on holiday, even for a week, tempted me back into it.

Eric, I'm not really into "committing to reading" myself. I won't necessarily read all the books on my pile, but I love the look of them as they sit there and tempt me in... But I'm not going to finish a book if it's not well written or it doesn't hold my attention. Life's too short.

Seth's books are great because they're short, to the point and well written. I don't know the others on your list - I hope you enjoy reading them

Brad, thanks so much for that suggestion! I'm not really into sci fi but maybe it's time for me to stretch out of my comfort zone. Especially with a collection of the 'best of'. Food for thought, definitely. Or should I wait to read your review first? :-)

Anita, I'm glad the post struck a chord! I've signed up for Shelfari but never used it - I think I'll give it a go (was just discussing this with Alina at her site) because I want to keep up with fiction suggestions. Just googled the phantom limbs - sounds very interesting. I like things that are dark. Will add that one to my list too. Cheers!


Joanna, If you're really interested, I thought last year's SF collection (Twenty-Fourth) was one of the best.


Hi Joanna - I haven't chosen what fiction to read yet but two books have just arrived on emigrating to Canada, so I'll definitely be reading them over the next couple of weeks.

As you say, there's too much choice. When I was young and poor, I used to read anything I could get my hands on. But now, because I have so little time, I try to stick to stuff I really really want to read. I do wish Maggie O'Farrell would write a bit faster - she is brilliant.

Joanna - the Outlander books are very good. They're well-written, and she makes few of the mistakes that Americans usually make when writing about Britain - in fact, if it weren't for the fact that she has her heroine flick a lightswitch up for 'on' at one point, I'd never have suspected she wasn't British. Normally, I'm very senstiive to bad research and colloquial speech written by non-Brits, but she's pretty good!

My tastes in reading don't really fluctuate with season although I tend to do more rereading during the summer. But the genres stay pretty much the same: fantasy, historical fiction, science fiction, mystery with a sprinkling of non-fiction. I have around two hundred unread books in my apartment so I can just pick the one that I'd most like to read at the moment.

However, this summer I'm doing one and a half jobs so sadly I don't have much time to read on my free time. Although since one of my jobs is to translate fiction I guess you could say that I read professionally. :)

I am a reader all year round. One of those people who always has a book in my hand. This summer I got the bug to go back and re-read all of the books in the Clan of the Cave Bear series by Jean Aul and The Avalon books by Marion Zimmer Bradley. I also always have whatever latest Nora Roberts book and other top few bestsellers of fiction hanging around. Since I am writing in the Men With Pens Escaping Reality, I also am reading a lot of information on werewolfs and vampires to get up to speed. That has never been a subject of mine before so I have some catching up to do!

I was fortunate enough to discover Inspector Rebus very recently, so I have ordered the first 6 Rebus books from bookmooch.com. It's teaching me Scottish too!

Will also be wading through Dostoevsky's "The Brother's Karamazov", somehow I dread the prospect, yet Dostoevsky always keeps me coming back for more.

Here's another one speaking up for the Gabaldon series! I love historical fiction (well, it's a mixture of fiction and fantasy, actually), and I read them all in German and English. The dialects are a bit heavy to read for me, but I was able to understand most of it.
I've got some books by Elizabeth George as well, still to be read, and look forward to sitting in a green park with a book in my hand. Here's to all lovers of books!

My bookclub meets in two weeks, but I have a wedding that night so I can't go. Our book is The Red Tent.

I have to get myself to the library-- next week the kids are gone to camp and I plan to sit in my backyard swing and read!

Brad, thanks for sharing the recommendation and the review. I'll use that as a guide! Definitely going to give it a try. I see there's a Scottish contribution in there too...

Cath, I'm sure reading about Canada will be very exciting. I'll keep my fingers crossed for you. I've a friend who went there a year ago - she's very happy about the move, though it a was long wait for the visas. I'd forgotten about Maggie O'Farrell - I'm laughing at you telling her to hurry up! - but I've only read one of hers, so I could check what's missing and add it to the pile

Jay, thanks for the follow up reco. I don't think I'd ever have noticed a detail like the light switch!


Mervi, I'm not sure that reading professionally has quite the same effect - or maybe it does? But having over 200 books to chose from is a most appealing thought...

Wendi, I don't know any of those series - yet more goodies to add to the list! Vampires and werewolves sounds fun. How are you enjoying the escaping reality writing?

David, Rebus is great. They do get a bit samey after a while though, so you might want to space them out rather than reading them all in a oner. I've never managed to make any progress with Dostoevsky (I'm ashamed to say). Sounds like you have an interesting relationship with him! Hope you enjoy your reading this summer anyway



Ulla, thanks for chipping in and sharing your selections! I'm definitely going to have to explore Outlander. Meantime I'll picture you in a leafy Berlin park, enjoying a good book in the shade of a tall tree

Karen, reading on a swing - fabulous. That's something I haven't done since I was wee. Should really rectify! Thanks for getting me thinking about this summer pile idea - now my own (virtual) pile is heaving with recommendations!


Oh no, just what I don't need: More books to add to my pile. I'm also trying to add more fiction to my list, but I've been on a binge of Jon Krakauer and Tony Horwitz and Tim Cahill. Something about summer makes me like to read adventure and travel stories.

Thanks for all the additional recommendations.

Sorry Cara! But you know you want to keep adding really :-)

I've remembered that 'into the wild' has got buried under some books - it's waiting to be read. I don't know the other authors but from a quick google they look like rich pickings. Any books you'd recommend in particular?


I just linked to this post. I don't do Technorati tags, so thought I'd pop over and let you know!

Jay, I just found it via a separate route! (Dipping into the blogs of commenters)

Thanks for sharing what's in your pile.


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