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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Essays of E. B. White
Girl Waits with Gun

Girl Waits with Gun

Stewart is best known for her science writing: she's written six nonfiction books with unusual takes on the natural world. (See: The Drunken Botanist.) This book is a departure for her, and a successful one: readers buzzed about it all fall and it hit many best-of-2015 round-ups. This novel is based on the true story of Constance Kopp, one of the first female sheriffs in America. I tend to shy away from biographical fiction because the narrators often ring false to me, but I loved the way Stewart brought her leading lady's story to life.

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My Mrs Brown

My Mrs Brown

If you've heard this little book described as a modern-day fairy tale, remember this: those traditional non-Disney fairy tales are often very sad. Mrs Brown is a staid, respectable woman: she's not prone to excess, she's not the sort to have a bucket list, she has the non-glamorous job of cleaning a beauty parlor. But the few who see past her plain exterior adore her. When a local great lady dies, Mrs. Brown is hired to help inventory her things before the estate sale, and it's there she encounters The Dress. It's a very specific Oscar de la Renta dress, in a very specific color, and Mrs. Brown immediately turns her life upside down so she can save the money to buy one. Mrs. Brown's dress isn't just a dress to her, and we don't find out why she needs it until the very end of the novel. I wasn't sure what to make of this one when I read it, but as my thoughts have circled back to it over the past couple of months I've found it increasingly satisfying.

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The Underground Railroad

The Underground Railroad

From the publisher: "Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Life is hell for all the slaves, but especially bad for Cora; an outcast even among her fellow Africans, she is coming into womanhood-where even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they decide to take a terrifying risk and escape. Matters do not go as planned-Cora kills a young white boy who tries to capture her. Though they manage to find a station and head north, they are being hunted."

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A Paris Apartment

A Paris Apartment

Booklist says "Vive le Paris apartment!"

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Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption

Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption

Leigh Kramer says: "I read this earlier this year and if I could make the entire world read it, I would. It's eye opening and important and powerful. Stevenson has done incredible work through the Equal Justice Initiative, a nonprofit legal practice he started, dedicated to serving the poor, the marginalized, the downtrodden. The book is part memoir, part treatise on the state of the legal system. We follow the story of Walter, a man on Alabama's Death Row who proclaims his innocence, and meet Stevenson's other clients as he built his practice in the 1980s and the subsequent areas of injustice they've battled to this day, including death penalty sentences for children and the treatment of the mentally ill. There's also a surprising appearance by To Kill A Mockingbird—the irony and ignorance will knock you flat."

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Roots and Sky: A Journey Home in Four Seasons

Roots and Sky: A Journey Home in Four Seasons

$7.84$1.99

Several years ago, Purifoy and her family made an intentional move to a big Pennsylvania farmhouse (minus the farm) in search of a community and a home. In these pages Purifoy tells the story of their first year at Maplehurst in beautiful yet unfussy prose. A lovely memoir.

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Every Anxious Wave

Every Anxious Wave

$9.992.95 (AUDIBLE ONLY)
Author:
Series: Quick Lit 5/16
Genre: Science Fiction
Tag: Quick Lit

Imagine 11/22/63, except instead of traveling back in time to right the course of history, Karl Bender is going back to see his favorite bands perform live. Karl's mundane life becomes a lot more interesting when he discovers a portal to the past in his closest. He starts time traveling to see his favorite musicians, and selling others the opportunity to do the same. Of course it doesn't go according to plan. The concept alone makes this worth reading if you love punk rock and time travel. But the center goes all wobbly, and because the characters' visits to the past keep changing the future, the ending will make some of you crazy. (Remember the 8-line edit? Take note.)

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A Great Reckoning (Chief Inspector Gamache Novel)

A Great Reckoning (Chief Inspector Gamache Novel)

$14.99$4.99Audiobook: 12.99 (Whispersync)
Author:
Series: Quick Lit 9/16
Genre: Mystery
Tag: Quick Lit

The Washington Post called this, "Deep and grand and altogether extraordinary....Miraculous."

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The Little Paris Bookshop

The Little Paris Bookshop

$11.99$1.99Audiobook: 12.99 (Whispersync)
Author:
Series: Quick Lit 6/15
Genre: Mystery
Tag: Quick Lit

This German novel was first published in 2013 and reminds me of the Jack Nicholson movie As Good as It Gets. 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. I didn't love this, but I'll give George a try in the future.

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A Man Called Ove

A Man Called Ove

Marybeth Whalen says: "Apart from any surprises the audio version, narrated by George Newbern, is holding out as my favorite read this year. The way Newbern portrays Ove—I literally laughed and cried in the span of two pages. I'm listening to Every Fifteen Minutes narrated by him now. It is possible I've given myself a reading challenge of bingeing on a large number of books he's narrated. #narratorcrush"

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Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up
Keep Me Posted

Keep Me Posted

This epistolary novel centers around two sister who have fallen out of touch, somewhat predictably, as their lives have sharply diverged. Sid is a Luddite living in Singapore because of her husband's high-powered job; Cassie's made a life with her own family in New York City and is addicted to watching her friends' lives unfold on facebook. When Sid issues a challenge that they'll start communicating with real, old-fashioned letters, Cassie reluctantly agrees ... and they're both surprised at the world-rocking revelations they read on the page. This was a sweet and entertaining debut (although not G-rated for sure). If you enjoyed Janice Lee's recent release The Expatriates, definitely add this one to your list.

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Becoming Mrs. Lewis: The Improbable Love Story of Joy Davidman and C. S. Lewis

Becoming Mrs. Lewis: The Improbable Love Story of Joy Davidman and C. S. Lewis

You may know the outlines of this story from <em>Shadowlands</em>: In her new biographical novel, Henry tells the story of poet Joy Davidman, and how she became the wife of C.S. Lewis. Henry has said she was fascinated by how Davidman, a fascinating woman in her own right, completely transformed her life at a time when it was incredibly difficult for a woman to do such a thing. Henry portrays how a robust correspondence turned into friendship, and then something more. I've read this, and while I thought I was familiar with the story, I learned something new on every page.

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The Light Between Oceans: A Novel

The Light Between Oceans: A Novel

Tom and Isabel live alone on Janus Rock, keeping the lighthouse. After two miscarriages and one stillbirth, all on the isolated island, Isabel is despondent. When a boat holding a dead man and a crying baby washes up on shore, Isabel persuades Tom to leave the discovery out of his log and eventually adopts the child as her own. But when they visit the shore and its nearby community two years later ... you can imagine what might happen.

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