The Sunday Salon: Start your Summer Reading!

As far as I’m concerned, June heralds the official arrival of summer in these parts. The weather is mostly warm and sunny, and the school year will soon be over.  And with these changes, my bookish thoughts turn to summer reading.  This week I read a lifehacker article on How to Create an Awesome Summer Reading List.  The first recommendation is to tackle your reading backlog.  I almost fell over laughing, because I have 135 Virago Modern Classics and 75 other books on my physical TBR pile.  That’s about 2.5 years of reading (oh dear, I really didn’t need to know that …)  But then I read the article more carefully, and realized that “tackling” meant something else entirely:

First, tackle your reading backlog: If you have books you’ve been meaning to read for ages but haven’t gotten around to them, sift through your pile to make sure you still want to read each of them; purge the ones you honestly will never read but which may have been weighing heavily on you or preventing you from finding new books. If you still want to read the books in your pile someday, you may just need a broader mix of book genres—keep this in mind when building this year’s reading list.

Hmmm, that sounds a lot like culling, which has already been proven futile.  Even though there’s no hope for my TBR pile, the article also has useful tips like “look for the right types of books based on your available time” and great information on using social book sites and swap sites as inspiration.  But truth be told, I don’t need much help to build my summer reading list.

What will I be reading this summer?

I began the month of June reading the “second movement” of Anthony Powell’s A Dance to the Music of Time.  I loved the first movement (a collection of three novellas set in Britain between the wars).  The second has a similar pace and style, and I’m enjoying reconnecting with characters who feel like old friends.  I’ll also read one or two novels by Iris Murdoch, since I’m trying to read all of her Booker Prize nominated books this year.  And then of course there’s Orange July!  Most of my July reading will be Orange Prize winners & nominees.  I have two sitting on my shelves already, and I’m still waffling over which ones to read from the 2011 shortlist.

Over the course of the summer I’ll continue reading one Virago per month, and I hope to make a tiny dent in my stacks by choosing books that suit my summer reading mood.  Here are some of the books I’m considering for the summer:

  • The Color Purple, by Alice Walker (on my stacks)
  • People of the Book, by Geraldine Brooks (on my stacks)
  • My Antonia, by Willa Cather (I have this in a Virago edition)
  • The Lieutenant, by Kate Grenville (on my stacks)
  • The Black Prince, by Iris Murdoch (on my stacks)
  • 2011 Orange Prize Winner
  • Great House, by Nicole Krauss (Orange nominee)
  • The Memory of Love, by Aminatta Forna (Orange nominee)
  • Molly Fox’s Birthday, by Deirdre Madden (Orange nominee)
  • The White Family, by Maggie Gee (Orange nominee)
  • All Mortal Flesh, by Julia Spencer-Fleming (#5 in a mystery series)
  • When Will There be Good News?, by Kate Atkinson (#3 in a mystery series)

I’ll need to choose a couple more Viragos, which I usually do on the spur of the moment.  But I will happily accept recommendations!  So, two questions for the comments:

What’s your favorite “summery” Virago?

What are you reading this summer?


Read more from The Sunday Salon here.

17 thoughts on “The Sunday Salon: Start your Summer Reading!

  1. I am the same way. Tell me I can’t do something or limit the availability and suddenly that is all I want to do. And those books do sound tempting.

    No specific reading plans for me this summer. Finding time to read will be enough of a goal for me! Have a great week!

  2. I love Kate Atkinson’s books, and When Will There Be Good News? was the first of hers that I read. Afterwards, of course, I had to pick up the rest of the “series.” I think there are new ones out, too.

    I read The Color Purple many years ago and loved it. Time for a reread?

    Thanks for sharing….


    • Laurel-Rain, there is a 4th book in the Atkinson series. I read the second first, not realizing it was part of a series. But then I read the first because I don’t like reading series out of order. Atkinson’s debut novel, Behind the Scenes at the Museum, was also very good.

  3. Sorry, Laura. My phone is acting up and somehow your post and another got mashed together. And commenting via phone is creating its own difficulties…It is times like these I miss my computer. Anyhow, first part of my last comment had to do with wanting books you cannot get because of self-imposed ban. The second half was related to your post. I am going to put the phone down now.

  4. I hope you get to do a lot of good reading over the summer! The lifehacker article made me laugh too! I doubt that will work properly for me. I’m looking forward to Orange July as well!

  5. I read that same Lifehacker article yesterday and agreed with it. It sounds like you have a lot of great books on your summer tbr list. The Color Purple is a book that I’m hoping to get to this summer also. Good luck with your plans and happy reading.

    • Vasilly, The Color Purple is one of those “how come I’ve never read this??” books. And when I found it buried on a shelf at home, I realized I had no excuse !! So onto my tbr it went.

  6. I am fully intending to read Summer this summer, despite writing the same here last year!

    Hm, favourite summery Virago? The Enchanted April is more spring-like… I’d say Valley of the Dolls as it makes the perfect summer read! It or Peyton Place.

    • Claire, you really must read Summer this time !! Thanks for the suggestion, I don’t think I have either … but perhaps I’ll find something similar on my shelves.

  7. Looks like you have some good plans for the summer. I really want to read Molly Fox’s Birthday, but I don’t have a copy, so I should probably stick to my TBR pile. My physical pile is so out of control; I am sure I have more books that I haven’t read than books that I have since those are the ones I can actually purge.

    Here is my Sunday Salon

    • Laura, you’re in good company with your out of control physical pile. I don’t think I’ve ever met a book lover that didn’t struggle with this “affliction” … but all things considered it’s a nice affliction to have!

Comments are closed.