Quick Lit
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

Billed as a perfect choice for fans of Unbroken, this bestselling story about an American crew team seeking Olympic gold during the Depression has garnered nearly 2000 5-star reviews on Amazon. I fully expect this to be as compelling as any novel I read this summer.

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

The Nightingale

$9.99$1.99Audiobook: 12.99 (Whispersync)

This book disappointed me, not because it was bad, but because it had the potential to be outstanding. While Hannah does a wonderful job portraying the state of occupied France in World War II, the characters felt like types. Many reviewers praise the sheer originality of the book for its portrayal of French women in WWII, but I kept thinking of Jojo Moyes's stronger novel The Girl You Left Behind. Release date: February 3.

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The Circle

The Circle

A chilling cautionary tale about the internet, social media, and connectedness with echoes of Animal Farm. At 503 pages, the book felt a bit long-winded to me, but it nevertheless raises important and timely questions about connectedness, transparency, and the dark side of the internet. Published in October 2013, and I wonder what I would have thought if I had read it then.

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The Bookseller

The Bookseller

It's Denver, 1962, and Kitty Miller is happily living the single life, co-running a struggling bookstore. But then she begins having dreams that show her an alternate reality: the life she would have had if one single moment had unfolded differently. (Think Sliding Doors.) If you thought The Life Intended's plot was farfetched, you aren't going to like this one. This felt a little gimmicky to me (and the autism thread felt especially heavy-handed), but I did appreciate the numerous literary references. Release date: March 3.

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Case Histories

Case Histories

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.

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The Precious One

The Precious One

$12.99$1.99Audiobook: 12.99 (Whispersync)

Taisy Cleary hasn't seen her father in 17 years. After he survives a heart attack, he summons her to write his biography (The Thirteenth Tale, anyone?), and Taisy is plunged back into her past, giving her the opportunity to write past (and current) crucial mistakes. Not my favorite de los Santos work, but the gorgeous writing and Middlemarch references keep it on my "worthwhile" list.

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Happiness for Beginners

Happiness for Beginners

$9.99$2.99Audiobook: 7.49 (Whispersync)

A year after getting divorced, Helen Carpenter needs a do-over, so she signs up for a notoriously tough wilderness survival course to prove that she can make it on her own. But then she finds out her kid brother’s best friend is joining her on the trip, wrecking her plans before she even gets to the mountains. Once there, Helen confronts a summer blizzard, a group of sorority girls, rutting season for the elk, and spin-the-bottle—yet she also discovers what it really means to be brave. A fun and light read that still manages to tackle some serious topics. If you love this, go back and read The Lost Husband.

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Savor: Living Abundantly Where You Are, as You Are

Savor: Living Abundantly Where You Are, as You Are

I love Shauna's writing, and each of her three books has been better than the one before. Niequist calls this collection her attempt at paying attention to the things that really matter, and to encourage you to do the same, with 365 daily devotions. Also included are 21 recipes (poppy seed cake, green chile strata, Thai beef salad) as a fun and tangible reminder to savor your life, where you are, as you are.

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The Miniaturist

The Miniaturist

This 2014 release got a ton of end-of-year buzz. The writing was solid but I ultimately found the story—an exploration of love, affluence, and greed—unsatisfying, because the author left some of the most compelling parts of the story unexplored. I wouldn't bother with this one if I had it to do over. I listened to this as an audiobook, and Davina Porter's narration was pitch-perfect.

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The Day the Angels Fell

The Day the Angels Fell

5.95 (AUDIBLE)

Neil Gaiman meets Madeleine L'Engle. Shawn Smucker's excellent YA novel, and I just found out another podcast guest Adam Verner read the audiobook! Listen to Shawn on Episode 84 of What Should I Read Next, and Adam Verner on Episode 31. I'm a longtime fan of Smucker's nonfiction. Read my mini-review here. The ebook is not on sale, but you do not have to be an Audible member to get this price.

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The Rosie Effect

The Rosie Effect

$11.99$1.99Audiobook: 10.99 (Whispersync)

I wanted to love this follow-up to the surprising and delightful The Rosie Project. I'm not the first reviewer to note it's twice as long and half as good as the original. Heads up: Simsion's third novel, The Best of Adam Sharp, is due out May 2, 2017.

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Greenglass House

Greenglass House

It's Christmas vacation at the smuggler's inn Greenglass House, and Milo finds himself with a mystery to unravel. While I couldn't help but wonder if the author was tipping her hat to The Phantom Tollbooth, the story reminded me of The Mysterious Benedict Society. An engaging read for kids and adults alike, and a perfect choice for cozy winter evenings.

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The Life Intended

The Life Intended

The publisher calls this Sliding Doors meets P.S. I Love You: the premise is far-fetched, but it's supposed to be. Early in their marriage, Kate’s husband dies in a tragic accident. Twelve years later, Kate promises to marry a man who’s good on paper—but the night of their engagement, Kate vividly dreams about the life she would have had if her first husband had lived. The dreams keep returning, night after night. Harmel uses her strange jumping-off point to explore how suffering shapes our lives in surprising and even hopeful ways. Don't worry: it's not at all depressing, and Harmel's a great storyteller. Warmhearted and richly told.

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Quiet: the Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

Quiet: the Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

Cain hooks you with a great story on page 1 and doesn’t let up till the elegant ending. By sharing personal stories and fascinating research, Cain showcases introverts’ unique strengths--and how those strengths are often squelched in a culture that’s embraced the Extrovert Ideal. Quiet is smart, eye-opening, and utterly enjoyable, for introverts and extroverts alike.

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When We Were the Kennedys: A Memoir from Mexico, Maine

When We Were the Kennedys: A Memoir from Mexico, Maine

Author:
Series: Quick Lit 7/16
Tag: Quick Lit

I just bumped this way up my TBR list because I loved the author's latest novel, out April 5. I may do it on audio because the price is right for a Whispersync deal. From Ken Burns: "This is an extraordinarily moving book, so carefully and artfully realized, about loss and life and love. Monica Wood displays all her superb novelistic skills in this breathtaking, evocative new memoir. Wow."

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Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

This isn't a productivity book, exactly: McKeown's point is that instead of trying to get more done, we need to focus on getting only the right things done. Ironically, this book about ignoring the inessential felt a little padded to me. My favorite takeaway was the "monk mode" strategy McKeown relied on to write this book: he shut out the world from 5:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. every day to focus on his "essential" project for that season.

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Touching the Void: The True Story of One Man’s Miraculous Survival

Touching the Void: The True Story of One Man’s Miraculous Survival

Author:
Series: Quick Lit 2/16
Genre: Memoir
Tag: Quick Lit

I've been meaning to read this modern adventure classic for years, largely because I'm obsessed with Into Thin Air. I expected the two books to be similar but—aside from the fact that they both deal with life and death in the icy mountains—the books didn't feel at all the same. Krakauer's is reflective and journalistic; in Touching the Void, Simpson and his climbing partner alternately tell the tale of their disastrous ascent of a remote peak in the Peruvian Andes.

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Miller’s Valley: A Novel

Miller’s Valley: A Novel

This story of a young girl growing up in a rural community during a time when the community itself is facing a tremendous change. This was wise, reflective, and easy to read, and strongly reminiscent of Barbara Kingsolver's Flight Behavior.

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Dead Wake: The Last Crossing Of The Lusitania
Good Cheap Eats: Dinner in 30 Minutes or Less
Out of Sorts: Making Peace with an Evolving Faith

Out of Sorts: Making Peace with an Evolving Faith

$11.99$1.99Audiobook: 7.49 (Audible)

I'm not sure the concept of this book would have made sense to me in my early twenties, but nearly 15 years later, I understand what it means to be "out of sorts"—it's that disoriented feeling that comes with personal growth and change. In a spiritual sense, it's that time when you're having to figure out everything you thought you once knew "for sure" all over again. Those who feel that they're still sorting through their faith, or sorting through it again, will relate to Bessey's personal journey. My favorite line: "If our faith doesn’t change and evolve as we go through our lives, then we simply aren’t paying attention."

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City on Fire

City on Fire

I had heard good things about this one from a few readers I trust (which surprised me, given the book's solid 3-star rating on Amazon) but was hesitant to invest 944 pages of my reading life in it. But then I interviewed Seth Haines for What Should I Read Next? and he convinced me to give it a try. The novel revolves around a punk-rock band, a wealthy, dysfunctional NYC family, a pyrotechnics expert and his daughter, and the invisible threads that bind them all together in 1976 Manhattan. If you're deciding if this one's for you, you should know that it's being compared to Wallace, Wolfe, Franzen, and DeLillo, and is full of sex, drugs, and rock and roll.

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Homegoing

Homegoing

I keep hearing this new debut novel mentioned in the same breath as "best of the year" and now I understand why. For the first hundred pages I didn't quite grasp what the author was up to, but when it hit me it was powerful. By exploring the stories of two sisters, who met different fates in Ghana more than 200 years ago, Gyasi traces subtle lines of cause and effect through the centuries, illuminating how the deeds of ages past still haunt all of us today. A brilliant concept, beautifully executed. Read it.

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So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed

So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed

Public shaming used to be a common punishment, but it was stopped long ago: not because it was ineffective, but because it was deemed far too cruel. But with the dawn of social media, public shaming is back in a big way, and it's being carried out by ordinary people. Ronson walks the reader through some recent examples of lives ruined over one public mistake: a fabricated quote in a book, one ill-considered tweet, one Facebook photo that went viral. This is one of the scariest books I've read in a long time, and I'm not saying that lightly. An important but uncomfortable read for anyone on social media, and that's most of us.

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Edenbrooke
Money Making Mom: How Every Woman Can Earn More and Make a Difference

Money Making Mom: How Every Woman Can Earn More and Make a Difference

$10.99$0.99Audiobook: 11.49 (Whispersync)

This topic won't be new to readers of Crystal's popular blog Money Saving Mom, but much of the content is. Crystal calls this a hands-on manual to help you discover your passions and talents and turn those into a profitable business. I most appreciated the behind-the-scenes looks at Crystal's own business: what's made her successful, and what mistakes she's made along the way.

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Stars Over Sunset Boulevard

Stars Over Sunset Boulevard

$9.99$1.99Audiobook: 3.99 (Whispersync)

When I got together with a bunch of writers recently we all talked about how much we loved Susan Meissner. Her most recent novel, published November 2015, begins in modern-day times when a distinctive green velvet hat is mistakenly dropped off for resale at a vintage clothing shop. The hat is instantly recognizable as one that Scarlett O'Hara wore in Gone with the Wind; it disappeared during filming and hasn't been seen since. Of course the hat has a long, strange history, and Meissner takes us back in time to 1938 Hollywood, where two young friends are trying to make it in Tinseltown, each in their own way. This isn't my favorite Meissner novel, but it's a solid one, and Gone with the Wind fans won't want to miss it.

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Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World

Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World

High praise: I owe the library a week's worth fines because I took this to the beach despite the fact that it was due while I was 600 miles away and it was totally worth it. It deserves its own blog post: I'll figure out a way to dive a little deeper into the concepts here soon. I appreciated the concepts in Cal Newport's previous book So Good They Can't Ignore You; in this one he shares excellent ideas while seriously upping his writing game. This is an excellent read for anyone who wants to thoughtfully examine their priorities, their working habits, or their relationship with social media.

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Deep Down Dark: The Untold Stories of 33 Men Buried in a Chilean Mine, and the Miracle That Set Them Free

Deep Down Dark: The Untold Stories of 33 Men Buried in a Chilean Mine, and the Miracle That Set Them Free

$9.99$3.99Audiobook: 12.99 (Whispersync)
Author:
Series: Father's Day
Genre: Nonfiction
Tag: Quick Lit

Ann Patchett called this the best book she read in 2014, a fabulous book club pick, and a moving true story. That's enough for me. When Chile's San Jose mine collapsed in August 2010, thirty-three miners were trapped beneath thousands of feet of rock for 69 days—longer than anyone thought they could survive. While they were still trapped in the mine, the men agreed that if they told their story, they would only do it together. On their release, they entrusted Pulitzer Prize-winning author Tobar with its telling.

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