Summer Reading: The Game’s Afoot!

For the fourth year running, Maddie and I are participating in the summer reading club sponsored by our local public libary. (Maddie signs up officially and I pledge to match her book for book.) We decided that last year’s goal of 30 books wasn’t realistic now that she reads longer books: I didn’t want her making easier choices just to reach an arbitrary quantitative goal! The real point is just to keep reading. So she’s put down 20 books as her goal, and any over that will just be gravy. That’s about two a week, which seems perfectly feasible for both of us — except that one book I’m committed to finishing before September  is Black Lamb and Grey Falcon. Maybe Maddie will let me count that as five regular books? She’s pretty strict about the rules: I already petitioned to be allowed to count The Once and Future King, but I finished it before the official reading club launch party, and that, apparently, is that!

Though I don’t really believe that it matters how many books you read (just that you read), it’s been a fun project for us to keep track of our reading together, and counting off titles does add a little extra motivation for us both. I’ve been looking back through my archives to see what we read in previous summers. Here are the lists I have–sadly, it seems I only recorded Maddie’s books for one year, so this year I’ll have to make sure to do that again. We count everything, and there’s no pressure to be either highbrow or lowbrow: as far as we’re concerned, summer reading should be as various, self-motivated, and serendipitous as reading at any other time of the year! I wrote up posts on lots but not all of these titles. I’ve linked to some that were real highlights; if you’re curious about any of others, check the index pages (see the tabs at the top of the site) or the category list (at the right). And if you don’t find anything about them there, just ask me!

Summer 2009


  1. Kate Atkinson, When Will There Be Good News?
  2. Arthur Conan Doyle, The Hound of the Baskervilles
  3. Raymond Chandler, The Big Sleep
  4. Lloyd Jones, Mister Pip
  5. Dick (and Felix) Francis, Silks
  6. Robert B. Parker, The Godwulf Manuscript
  7. Nadeem Aslam, The Wasted Vigil
  8. Mary Ann Shaffer, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
  9. Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway
  10. Sarah Dunant, In the Company of the Courtesan
  11. Penelope Lively, Consequences
  12. Stieg Larsson, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
  13. Ian Colford, Evidence
  14. Louise Penny, Dead Cold
  15. David Lodge, Deaf Sentence
  16. K. Anthony Appiah, Cosmopolitanism
  17. Penelope Lively, Cleopatra’s Sister
  18. Daniel Mendelsohn, The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million
  19. Deborah Crombie, Where Memories Lie
  20. Joseph O’Neill, Netherland


    1. Puppy Place: Princess
    2. Princess Power: The Charmingly Clever Cousin
    3. Puppy Place: Pugsly
    4. Alice Finkle’s Rules for Girls: Moving Day
    5. What Every Girl (Except Me) Knows
    6. Happily Every After
    7. Ivy and Bean Break the Fossil Record
    8. Clementine’s Letter
    9. Princess Power: The Awfully Angry Ogre
    10. Junie B. Jones, Boss of Lunch
    11. Judy Moody M.D., The Doctor is In
    12. Junie B. Jones Has a Peep in Her Pocket
    13. Ready Freddie, King of Show and Tell
    14. Mercy Watson: Something Wonky This Way Comes
    15. Ready Freddie: The Pumpkin Elf Mystery
    16. Junie B. Jones, Dumb Bunny
    17. Canadian Flyer Adventures: Pioneer Kids
    18. The Magic Tree House: Night of the New Magicians

Summer 2010

  1. Denise Mina, Field of Blood
  2. Hilary Mantel, The Giant, O’Brien
  3. Azar Nafisi, Things I’ve Been Silent About
  4. Shirin Ebadi, Iran Awakening
  5. John Cotter, Under the Small Lights
  6. Robert B. Parker, Paper Doll
  7. Meg Federico, Welcome to the Departure Lounge
  8. Daphne du Maurier, Frenchman’s Creek
  9. Diane Johnson, Persian Nights
  10. Sara Paretsky, Hardball
  11. Margaret Mitchell, Gone with the Wind
  12. David Small, Eulalie and the Hopping Head
  13. Lisa Genova, Still Alice
  14. David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas
  15. Lynne Sharon Schwartz, Leaving Brooklyn
  16. Laila Lalami, Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits
  17. Sophie Hannah, A Room Swept White
  18. Shirley Hazzard, The Evening of the Holiday
  19. Dear Genius: The Letters of Ursula Nordstrom
  20. Emily Neville, It’s Like This, Cat
  21. Dick Francis, Dead Heat
  22. Sydney Taylor, More All of a Kind Family
  23. Robert B. Parker, Split Image
  24. Anthony Stewart, You Must Be A Basketball Player

Summer 2011

  1. Robert B. Parker, The Judas Goat
  2. Anne Easter Smith, A Rose for the Crown
  3. Jacqueline Winspear, Maisie Dobbs
  4. Marjorie Harris, Thrifty
  5. Jane Gardam, Old Filth
  6. Vera Brittain and Winifred Holtby, Testament of a Generation
  7. Robert Graves, I, Claudius
  8. Rosamond Lehmann, The Weather in the Streets
  9. J. G. Farrell, Troubles
  10. Dorothy L. Sayers, Murder Must Advertise
  11. Jane Smiley, Private Life
  12. Elizabeth Bowen, The Last September
  13. Dick Francis, Enquiry
  14. Walter Mosley, Devil in a Blue Dress
  15. Robert B. Parker, Looking for Rachel Wallace
  16. Robert B. Parker, Mortal Stakes
  17. Vera Brittain, The Dark Tide
  18. Robert B. Parker, A Savage Place
  19. Loretta Chase, Lord of Scoundrels
  20. Colm Toibin, Brooklyn
  21. Ann Patchett, State of Wonder
  22. Edith Wharton, The Age of Innocence

I’ve got several books on the go at the moment. One of the first ones likely to get finished is Julian Barnes’s Flaubert’s Parrot, which my local book group is discussing next week. I’m also about two-thirds through Brittain’s Honourable Estate and will be making that a priority as part of my ‘Summer of Somerville.’ My copy of Bringing Up the Bodies just arrived, so that’s likely to come next, and then we’ll see.


2 thoughts on “Summer Reading: The Game’s Afoot!

  1. Alex July 1, 2012 / 5:54 am

    Well there’s set of lists to keep me going for a good few months.

    I love projects like this. When I was working I used to organise a term long project for the local schools to get both children and parents reading more. I live and worked in a very financially poor area and one where reading is not highly prized, so getting the parents reading as well was very important in order that the children could see that it was something adults valued. If those participating read a certain number of books (graded according to age) then they got a ‘gold’ medal at the end, presented by the local MP who at the time was a member of the Cabinet. One year 170 children and 49 adults got their medals. Perhaps if you and Maddie both make your targets you could have a celebratory gold medal day out – preferably to a local bookshop.


  2. Rohan Maitzen July 1, 2012 / 8:44 pm

    That’s a great idea, Alex! We could go to Woozles, one of our few remaining indie bookstores–and one that has a small but careful selection of adult titles along with its excellent selection of children’s books. I saw on your blog the information about the summer schools you’ve organized — that too sounds like a really nice way to build time for reading into the summer.


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