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 I share short and sweet reviews of what I’ve been reading lately, and invite you to do the same.

I’ve been balancing my reading time between new releases and books I’ve been meaning to read for a while now. Here are 6 recent noteworthy titles.

Lost Lake

Lost Lake

I've been catching up on old Allen titles (and summer is a great time to do that—there's a reason I included Garden Spells in this year's Summer Reading Guide). This novel, her fifth, is set at a quirky Southern resort, and Allen's trademark magic is woven through the lake, the town, and the people. It's essentially a story about finding home. At the time I read this, I didn't realize it was only just published in 2014; it didn't feel as well-crafted to me as some of her older work, when I expected the opposite. Not bad, but not her best. More info →
A Paris Apartment

A Paris Apartment

Author:
This novel is based on an amazing true story: when a 91-year-old woman died in 2010, her family discovered she owned a Parisian apartment that hadn't been touched in 72 years, and was packed to the ceiling with priceless treasures. Antiques dealers said it was like stumbling into Sleeping Beauty's castle. Among the finds was a long-lost Boldini portrait of Marthe de Florian; Gable's novel provides a fictionalized account of her life. She switches back and forth in time from Marthe's story to the present day, when a modern day arts dealer is called in to assist with cataloging the finds, and finds inspiration in Marthe's story to deal with her own personal crises. This is a great concept, but I found it disappointingly uneven—although the glimpse into the world of high-end auction houses and estate sales was riveting. More info →
Case Histories

Case Histories

Author:
In this first installment in Atkinson's detective series, Brodie investigates three cold cases that seem to be strangely related. This was an excellent detective novel, with good writing and strong characterization, and reminded me very much of Tana French. But like Tana French, some of the content was seriously disturbing. Recommended, with caution. More info →
Lessons from Madame Chic: 20 Stylish Secrets I Learned While Living in Paris

Lessons from Madame Chic: 20 Stylish Secrets I Learned While Living in Paris

This was one of my airplane reads en route to NYC. When the author moved from California to Paris, she was surprised at how many French characteristics were jarring to her American sensibilities. Here, she shares what the French do differently (and sometimes better) than their American counterparts, in categories such as diet and exercise, style and beauty, and living well. This is a quick, easy read, and I expect you'll have a half-dozen or more Aha! moments that will prompt you to change your own routines. (I shared some of my favorite tips from the style and beauty section in this post about the ten item wardrobe.) More info →
The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics

The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics

This one has been on my reading list for ages. I'm thrilled to cross it off the list but wish I'd read it sooner. This is the true story of the University of Washington men's crew team that won the Olympic gold medal in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. I was fascinated by the personal stories of the dirt-poor boys who comprised the squad, the details of the Depression era in America, the history of crew in America and abroad, and the hard look at Hitler's well-orchestrated plan to fool the West into thinking all was well in Germany in '36. Don't worry if you don't know anything about rowing: I didn't, and I thoroughly enjoyed this. (The audio version is great.) More info →
The Little Paris Bookshop

The Little Paris Bookshop

Author:
This German novel was first published in 2013, and the English translation is forthcoming on June 23. I loved the concept: Frenchman Jean Perdu owns a floating bookstore, on a barge in the Seine, and from there he prescribes exactly the right book for every customer. But an earthshaking discovery launches Perdu on a quest with his friends: a bestselling author with writer's block and a lovesick Italian chef. The plot reminded me of the Jack Nicholson movie As Good as It Gets, but the story dragged and it felt like much was lost in translation. I decided to include this in Quick Lit not because I loved it, but because I mentioned in a recent "what's on my nightstand" post that I was reading this, and many of you expressed interest. I didn't want you to remember this as a title I recommended. More info →

What have YOU been reading lately?

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54 comments

  1. Liesl says:

    I found Case Histories at the used bookstore a month ago, and started reading this weekend – so far, it’s good! I love love loved Life After Life so I’m curious to see how this compares!

  2. Lindsay Lea says:

    I LOVED Boys in the Boat! Although it probably helped that I went to UW and loved reading the local history. But my husband tore through it as well and now we’ve recommended it to all of our family and friends.

  3. Pingback: Weekend Reads
  4. Alisa says:

    Thought Boys in the Boat was brilliant and so moving. I read on a friend’s recommendation, so glad I did because I might never have picked up a book about rowing (of course it was so much more).
    Loved Case Histories, and I’ve read the entire series. Kate Atkinson is a genius. I’ve got her latest, God in Ruins, on deck. Just finished the newest Elin Hildebrand, The Rumor. So-so. And Dark Places by Gillian Flynn which was just that…very dark and disturbing.

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