What I’ve been reading lately: the new and the notable

What I’ve been reading lately: the new and the notable

Welcome to Quick Lit, where we share short and sweet reviews of what we’ve been reading lately.

I’m in serious Summer Reading prep mode, which means I’m reading lots of books hitting shelves between April and July. But I’m making time to read the old (and by “old” I mean “not brand-new”) stuff, especially the books you all recommended to me in Episode 62 of What Should I Read Next aka What Should ANNE read next?

Here’s what the last month has looked like:

Series: Quick Lit February 2017
A Mother’s Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy

A Mother’s Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy

Author:
This book has been sitting on my shelves for many months, thanks to Book of the Month. After we discussed Columbine on What Should I Read Next, many of you recommended Sue Klebold's powerful memoir, and assured me my HSP self could take it. It was very well done, and Klebold shed so much light on not only the actual violence, but also on larger issues such as news coverage and brain health. After reading it I completely see why she felt compelled to share her story. More info →
The Whole Town’s Talking

The Whole Town’s Talking

Author:
After a listener recommended Fannie Flagg on episode 62 of What Should I Read Next, I rushed out and got her latest. This was my first Fannie Flagg novel, and when I started talking about it, you all were quick to tell me that this one wasn't representative of her work and I should read something else! I currently have Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café in progress and Can't Wait to Get to Heaven checked out from the library. More info →
Picnic at Hanging Rock

Picnic at Hanging Rock

Author:
Another recommendation from Episode 62 of What Should I Read Next; I couldn't believe I hadn't heard of this Australian classic before and put it on my list immediately! As I was reading this short novel, it strongly reminded me of something I'd read before, but I couldn't figure out WHAT. I finally realized it wasn't a book at all—it was the TV show Lost! (If that's not a recommendation, I don't know what is.) More info →
$2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America

$2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America

I'm reading this because one of the authors, Luke Shaefer, is coming to town later this month to discuss the issues he addresses here and I wanted to be ready. (Heads up, Louisville: more info here.) This was a quick read, and while it's not exactly the kind of book you read for the scintillating prose (you know what I mean, right?) it was an interesting look into a topic I knew very little about. Recommended. More info →
Hamilton: The Revolution

Hamilton: The Revolution

I picked this audiobook up when it was on the MMD deals page a couple of months ago and listened to it in ONE DAY while I was packing and unpacking boxes over the weekend. It was perfect for that—such good fun. I was clueless about most of the Hamilton backstory and hearing about the musical's long history was fascinating. More info →

What have YOU been reading lately?

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70 comments

  1. You’ll have to let me know if Picnic at Hanging Rock now publishes with its final chapter. When it first came out, the mystery isn’t resolved. It’s eerie and wonderful that way (I first saw the movie as an exchange student in Australia and immediately read the book).

    Evidently, when the book sold, the publisher decided to hold off publishing the final chapter — the solution — until the author died. Or maybe it was her idea? Anyhow, I was back in Australia a few years later, and one of the first things I did was find out if that last chapter had been published. It had, as a separate booklet.

    I won’t say anymore, but I’m curious if newer versions now include it!

  2. Lynn says:

    I have never read Fannie Flag, but several of her books are on my to read list. I can’t wait to hear more of what you think of them. My daughter is reading Hamilton and has really enjoyed it. It is on my to read list, but I might end up trying the audio version instead.

  3. Debbie Snyder says:

    Unrelated, but I wanted to tell my fellow readaholics that I was able to buy six very interesting books at the Dollar General this past weekend for $11! I have never even thought to look for books there, but I stopped in to kill time waiting for a dinner reservation and stumbled upon them. All hardbound books too!!

  4. Susan says:

    $2.00 a day sounds heart-wrenching and interesting. Does it encourage humanitarianism? Promote a spirit of giving or compassion for the needy? Or is it a book that slams the establishment?

    • Anne says:

      I didn’t know the angle before I began, and it wasn’t what I expected. It’s very much about governmental policy. It’s a data-driven book, based on a particular study, that gives a short overview of the history of welfare in America (going back to the Johnson administration), and advocates for changes to current policy. The $2 a day refers to actual cash-in-hand of the poorest poor in America, and why actual cash matters.

  5. Teresa says:

    Recent reads: The Wonder, Lily and the Octopus, The Dollhouse, The Forgetting Time, Everything I Never told You, The Sun is also a Star, Behind her Eyes, A Man Called Ove. Currently reading Code Name Verity and Love Unending. Up next: This is How it always is.

  6. I finished A Mother’s Reckoning about a month ago and really enjoyed it. I listened to the audiobook, which Susan Klebold narrates, and found so much to think about as I thought about her experience and perspective surrounding Columbine. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Sarah R says:

    I’m an unabashed Fannie Flagg fan (say that 3 times fast!) but wow, I was so disappointed with The Whole Town’s Talking. I loved Fried Green Tomatoes, Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man, and Welcome to the World Baby Girl.

    I’m in the middle of Tools of the Titans and I’m hooked.

    • Allison says:

      I love Fannie Flagg’s earlier stuff, but I’m not planning to read The Whole Town’s Talking because my mom (also a Fannie Flagg fan) couldn’t even finish it.

    • Siobhan says:

      Came to sing the praises of Fanny Flagg, and I figured someone else would have already said so…

      Daisy Fay was my favorite book for many years, and Welcome to the World, Baby Girl is the book I re-read when I’m having a bad day. That being said, some of her books are better than others.

  8. Bryanna says:

    Recently I’ve read What She Knew, Brooklyn, and The Happiness Project and enjoyed them all. Right now I’m reading Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty and next on my list is Still Life by Louise Penny.

  9. Leslie says:

    I’ve been on a kid lit binge since last summer. These are 100 page books. Most are 300-400 pages. Some interesting ones..
    The Books of Bayern (Goose Girl) by Shannon Hale,
    The Penderwick Series by Jeanne Birdsall,
    The Reading Promise by Alice Osma (not kid lit)
    The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place Series by Maryrose Wood
    There are some great books out there. And I guess I need to borrow some of my moms Fannie Flagg!

  10. Amanda says:

    Currently reading: Cress (Lunar Chronicles), so worried this series would feel gimmicky, but I adore it. Reimagined fairytales is one of my favorite categories of books! Love Warrior (eh, not sure how I feel about this one).
    Currently listening: The Twelve (not light reading!), Ballad of the Whiskey Robber (with husband, crazy tale), and The Greenglass House (with daughter, fun).

  11. I read The Whole Town’s Talking recently, and I loved it! The writing just sucked me. It was such a sweeping tale, and not as much of a mystery as I was hoping, but yet I couldn’t seem to stop reading. I should read more of her work as well.

  12. Grace says:

    I recommend checking out the print copy of the Hamilton book when you get a chance. So many beautiful images and graphics that you miss out on with the audio copy.

  13. Mary says:

    I don’t have a blog to share what I am reading, but I hope comments are okay. I just read “Tell Me Three Things,” and I enjoyed it. What do you think about recommending it to my teenager? There is some discussion of sex, but maybe she needs some discussion. I just thought it had a great story.

    • Jennifer N. says:

      I say go for it – sex is such a confusing topic as a teenager, and many don’t feel comfortable talking about it (especially girls) so reading about it might provide a safe space for her to develop her own ideas. Additionally, I think recommending a novel for your daughter that discusses sex will signal to her that you are a safe place to go with questions if she has any.

    • Anne says:

      I thought it was a great story, too. I think that depends on the age and maturity of your particular teenager. I think it’s a plus that you’ve read it, too—fiction can be such a good way to talk about big topics in a non-threatening way.

  14. Jennifer N. says:

    I’ve just wrapped up the Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury and On the Edge of Gone by Corinne Duyvis, both of which are for the 2017 reading challenge (A Book Published Before I Was Born -and- #OwnVoices, respectively.) I loved them both!

    The Martian Chronicles was lovely – so much more a societal commentary than science fiction. The stories were varied and highly intriguing, and though most stories involve completely different characters it really does read more like a novel than a collection of short stories.

    On the Edge of Gone could easily be read for the “unputdownable” category, as well. The author, being autistic herself, writes her protagonist (a highly functioning autistic black girl in Amsterdam) beautifully – you find yourself the character’s biggest champion through the whole book. The events are fast-paced – there’s no dawdling in this book – I remember being blown away by all that happened in the story in just a few days’ time.

    Currently I’m reading Perfect Little World, my first ever Book of the Month pick and I am really enjoying it. I don’t think I’ve hit the meat of the story yet, but so far so good!

  15. Tifffany says:

    I didn’t realize there was a new Fannie Flagg out! I’m treating myself to that one 🙂 Fried Green Tomatoes is my all time favorite book. I can’t wait to hear your thoughts.

  16. Veronica says:

    Recently finished Dark Matter, The Bear and the Nightingale, and Silver Bay. Both Dark Matter and The Bear and the Nightingale were wonderful. Silver Bay was ok, but not one of Jo Jo Moyes best.

  17. Kinsey O. says:

    I enjoyed the Hamilton: The Revolution audiobook as well, but ended up getting a hard copy for all the pictures! My husband and I are both obsessed with the musical, so it seemed like a good coffee table book purchase. 🙂

  18. Janet says:

    After the Fall, Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, A Man Called Ove, and the new Fannie Flagg for book club. Gotta say didn’t care for that one (The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion). Interesting idea, not good writing at all. Also liked The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto and The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper, which came coincidentally after Ove. Similar in content and both fun/worthwhile reads.

  19. Pingback: January Reads
  20. Kathleen says:

    Just finished Grandma Gatewoods Walk (absolutely loved it) and What Alice Forgot. Currently reading The Hidden Life of Trees, My Life in France, and 84 Charing Cross Road, as well as listening to The Golem and the Jinni. The One in a Million Boy is waiting in the wings. What a joy it is to be surrounded by such good books!

  21. Cheralaine Cole-Johnson says:

    I was reading Sue Klebold”s book and had to walk away from it about halfway through. I am raising two grandsons after raising five daughters and it frankly was scaring me to death. She raised her boys in a very similar way to what I am doing (no guns ever in the house, no weapons as toys) and I had to put it down. I will go back and finish it but I have to be in the right frame of mind to handle it. My heart absolutely aches for her.

  22. Donna says:

    Thanks for sharing, Anne! I plan on reading A Mother’s Reckoning in the spring. I am currently reading Columbine and I hope to finish it by the end of the week. I am happy I decided to read it.

    I am also reading and enjoying Ordinary Light by Tracy K. Smith. In this memoir, she reflects on race, faith, family, her childhood in Northern California, her relationship with her mother, and her journey to becoming a writer. Beautifully written, thoughtful, and engaging.

    Last night I started The Lonely Hearts Hotel by Heather O’Neill. She writes the most gorgeous sentences and the story hooked me from page one. An incredible historical novel.

  23. Kimi says:

    I was so inspired by many of the choices others gave to you. I LOVED the first of the Darling Dahlias series. I love mysteries and sometimes you just need a ‘cozy’ version that isn’t too brutal that just makes you happy. It was absolutely charming and I am so looking forward to getting to know those characters better.
    I also completed the Carey Elwes memoir about the Princess Bride. Also a very quick, sweet read.
    In the Bleak Midwinter was also another great suggestion. I am enjoying the characters and content. It was another great choice for those of us who enjoy Louise Penny.
    Now to search out some of the other choices that my library didn’t have….

  24. Carol says:

    I’m just finishing up Britt-Marie Was Here and it’s wonderful. I recently finished One in a Million Boy based on hearing about it on your podcast and have recommended it to several friends since.
    Next up is The Wangs vs the World and the Secret Scripture for book club.

  25. Emmy Alice says:

    I recently finished Little Women, Jane Eyre, and The Secret Garden. Little Women has been an all time favorite of mine! I recommend The Secret Garden to anyone who enjoys historical fiction. Jane Eyre had some interesting twists and turns! It took me a long time to finish this book but I still liked it. I am currently reading Wuthering Heights and I can’t seem to put it down! It’s not what I expected it to be, it’s not a typical love story. It’s dark and full of surprises. Next on my list are The Scarlet Letter and The Great Gatsby. I’m a Jane Austen fan and I also plan to read some of her other books that I haven’t got to yet.

  26. Nanci says:

    I just finished a trilogy of books I never would have guessed I would read by Justin Cronin. The Passage, The Twelve, and City of Mirrors. You could relate it to Margaret Atwood’s trilogy starting with Oryx and Crake (The Year of the Flood, and Maddaddam).
    Cronin is a lot of suspense – which I usually do not like, but his character development, language, and imagination really hooked me in.

  27. Lisa Gelber says:

    I recently finished State of Wonder by Ann Patchett and Dark Matter by Blake Crouch. I am almost done with A Wrinkle in Time. I did not plan to read two time travel books back to back, it just worked out that way! I have BIG feelings about a couple of things that happened near the end of State of Wonder! I justvstarted Ready Player One on audio and will be started Americanah very soon. It’s a very good reading life…..

  28. Erin says:

    I’m currently reading To Kill a Mockingbird, because my son is about it start it for school and I haven’t read it since before he was born. Also reading Fierce Convictions, a biography of Hannah More, who was a really remarkable woman who lived during and after the time of the American Revolution; Walden (this is my pre-bedtime reading– I can’t read anything very plot-driven before bed or I can’t sleep); and Pray, Write, Grow. This month I’ve finished The Count of Monte Cristo (on audio) and and Animal Farm for an online book club. Coming up soon is a book called The Book of Unholy Mischief and Agatha Christie’s The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. 🙂

  29. Karen says:

    We watched Picnic at Hanging Rock at school (I’m Australian). After your audiobook hacks I am now listening to Anna Karenina. I wasn’t sure I’d have the stamina for reading the physical book. I have just recently finished The Course of Love, The Fiery Cross and Happier at Home. I am also reading the next Outlander book, The Last Days of Night and Walking with God through Pain and Suffering. I only want to spend time reading books I like and find useful so I appreciate the recommendations!

  30. Megan says:

    I’m surprised this is your first Fannie Flagg! Standing in the Rainbow is my favorite of hers and I’m waiting impatiently on her latest from the library.

  31. Here are my favorites from the last several weeks.
    Heartless by Marissa Meyer – I think it is on par with her Lunar Chronicles series without the happy ending.
    Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan – This series is so much fun!
    Girl Who Waits With Gun by Amy Stewart – The biographical fiction is so well done. Stewart made me want to become a detective. I was ready to read book 2 as soon as I finished it.

  32. Sarah says:

    Thank you so much for your blog! Reading is an important self-care practice for me, but I don’t always have time to sort through all of the new books out there to figure out what’s going to be for me. I rely heavily on your blog to discover my next read, and MMD has been a huge help for me!

  33. Jamie says:

    You did it! You read Klebold’s book!!! I did too and LOVED it. So heartbreaking but so necessary. I’ve recommended it to many other parents since then and am so thankful I’ve read it.

  34. Lindsey Back says:

    Just love the movie Fried Green Tomatoes….. have never read the book, time to remedy this I think. Picnic at Hanging Rock is also a movie (Australian), also excellent with beautiful scenery and suitably haunting.

  35. Heidi says:

    I’m reading The Whole Town’s Talking, and I’m loving it, because I totally fell in love Elmwood Springs and its inhabitants when I listened to Standing In The Rainbow. Not sure I would like it as much if I didn’t know who everyone was already. But I love Fannie Flagg’s characterizations and her willingness to dive deep in a small town.

  36. Nadean says:

    I’ve added all these books to my Amazon wish list! Haha

    For February I read 20 Something/20 Everything (ok, it’s taken me months, because it requires a lot of writing exercises and deep thinking.) On the same day I finished that book, I also finished One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. I’ve been going on a self-help and classic literature romp lately.

  37. I’m currently reading Born Both by Hida Viloria and Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are? by Frans de Waal. Unfortunately, the latter is a bit of a drag. Animal cognition is such a fascinating topic but the way the book is written makes it seem pretty tedious.

    I also just finished Animals of a Bygone Era by Maja Säfström (which I loved) and started We Were the Lucky Ones.

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