Quick Lit
A Paris Apartment

A Paris Apartment

Booklist says "Vive le Paris apartment!"

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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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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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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 Light Between Oceans: A Novel
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

$12.99$3.99Audiobook: 12.99 (Audible)

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 Bean Trees: A Novel

The Bean Trees: A Novel

$7.99$2.99Audiobook: 8.49 (Whispersync)

I've loved Kingsolver's novels from the past ten years; I've been meaning to revisit her older work for ages and this month I finally did it. This is her 1987 debut, and it was striking to see so many of the same themes she spent the next 30 years (and counting) exploring: her Kentucky roots, immigration, unlikely families, the American southwest, and young girls with lots of growing up to do. The title of this one never appealed to me, and I was surprised to discover the reference at the same time my own backyard wisteria was coming into bloom. (Not a spoiler, I promise.)

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A Curious Beginning: A Veronica Speedwell Mystery

A Curious Beginning: A Veronica Speedwell Mystery

Raybourn writes historical fiction with a twist; she's best known for her Lady Julia Grey mysteries. This is her first novel in a new Victorian series featuring the badass but well-bred Veronica Speedwell. I heard the author speak about her source material for this new series in Raleigh, and I was intrigued: her heroine travels the world hunting beautiful butterfly specimens and the occasional romantic dalliance. When her guardian dies, the orphaned Veronica expects to embark on a grand scientific adventure. But Veronica quickly realizes that with her guardian's death, she is no longer safe—and she begins to unravel the mystery of why she poses a threat to dangerous men. An easy, enjoyable read.

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We Have Always Lived in the Castle

We Have Always Lived in the Castle

I read this as my "book you can finish in a day" for the 2016 Reading Challenge. As expected, it's not exactly scary, but Jackson is sure good at infusing a story with a creepy atmosphere. In this work, her last completed novel before her death, she tells the story of the Blackwood family. Not so long ago there were seven Blackwoods, but four of them dropped dead from arsenic poisoning several years ago and how that happened remains a mystery. Read this during daylight hours: its themes of family secrets, hateful neighbors, and mysterious deaths aren't the stuff of bedtime reading.

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The Unexpected Everything

The Unexpected Everything

$10.99$1.99Audiobook: 4.49 (Whispersync)

I love Morgan Matson books—I've chosen at least one of her books for previous Summer Reading Guides, and others have been strong contenders—and was absolutely delighted to stumble upon this brand-new release (May 3) at my local bookstore. Andie is a politician's daughter who has her life, and her summer, all planned out: she can't wait to flee town (and the ever-watchful eyes of her father's staff) for her perfect summer internship that's going to help her land her spot at the perfect college. But that was before the scandal. Now her summer plans are off ... and a girl who never does anything unexpected faces a whole summer full of just that. This isn't great literature or anything but Matson does what she does really well. Perfect for fans of Jennifer Smith or Jenny Han. Without giving too much away, I'll just say you writerly types have an extra reason to love this one.

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Unsheltered

Unsheltered

Barbara Kingsolver is a must-read author for me. I love her work, especially The Poisonwood Bible. At 466 pages, this is a long book, but I inhaled it. Kingsolver writes that she is explicitly addressing the events of her time, but she does that in part by looking back: her double narrative follows the life-changing decisions and uncertain times experienced by two separate families, one hundred years apart, who both live in the same home in Vineland, New Jersey. Kingsolver found one heck of a subject for the historical element, an American scientist I'd previously never heard of named Mary Treat. I loved the clever linking of the chapter titles—pick up the book and you'll see what I mean.

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Saint Anything
Pretending to Dance: A Novel

Pretending to Dance: A Novel

$18.38
Author:
Series: Quick Lit 10/15
Genre: Mystery
Tag: Quick Lit

Chamberlain is known for writing contemporary Southern fiction featuring strong female characters and not shying away from sensitive subjects. In this novel, her thirtysomething heroine's adoption process forces her to confront secrets she's been keeping for twenty years about her family of origin. Chamberlain uses two narrative voices—that of 14-year-old Molly and 20-years-older Molly, to explore the power of the secrets we keep out of fear and shame and the pretending that can actually make us strong. This is the first book I've read by Diane Chamberlain; The Silent Sister is next on my list.

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Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living

Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living

When Shauna announced this book, she said it was "a spiritual journey from exhaustion to love, comparison to connection .... I’m discovering, inch by inch, a new way of spiritual living–less striving, more receiving. More love, less hustle. This is changing everything. Everything. " I've been looking forward to this one for a long time.

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Along the Infinite Sea

Along the Infinite Sea

This was my first Williams novel about the sprawling Schuyler clan but it won't be my last. The author tracks the same characters through her loosely connected novels, which provides an interesting layer of interest but doesn't require the reader to read them in order. In this novel, Williams hones in on Pepper Schuyler, the spunky iconoclast who delights in rocking the boat and doesn't mind making her own path, which is how she ends up holed up in Palm Beach, restoring a very fancy, very expensive vintage Mercedes. The car brings another strong woman into her life: the mysterious Annabelle, who pays a fortune for the car because it's the one that carried her family to safety when they fled Nazi Germany thirty years prior. The sale is just the beginning of their relationship, and as the story unfolds we find out just what happened to Annabelle during WWII, and how Pepper is going to extricate herself from her own current mess.

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Hallelujah Anyway: Rediscovering Mercy

Hallelujah Anyway: Rediscovering Mercy

Author:
Tag: Quick Lit

From the publisher: "'Mercy is radical kindness,' Anne Lamott writes. It's the permission you give others—and yourself—to forgive a debt, to absolve the unabsolvable, to let go of the judgment and pain that make life so difficult. Lamott ventures to explore where to find meaning in life. We should begin, she suggests, by 'facing a great big mess, especially the great big mess of ourselves.' Full of Lamott's trademark honesty, humor and forthrightness, Hallelujah Anyway is profound and caring, funny and wise—a hopeful book of hands-on spirituality."

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Armada

Armada

Cline's 2012 sci-fi novel Ready Player One was a surprise hit—the kind of story I'm so happy I found but never thought I'd enjoy. I listened to the audio version of this.

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The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right

The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right

$9.99$2.99

I nearly didn't read this book because of the horrible title, and that would have been a shame. I'm so glad I relied on a friend's recommendation, and my own enjoyment of Gawande's latest release Being Mortal, and read it anyway. This brief, engaging book is about how to successfully live and work in a world that's becoming increasingly complex. Gawande draws fascinating examples from medicine, construction, and aviation to explain why systems remain vulnerable to human error, and what we can do about it. Highly recommended.

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Accidental Saints: Finding God in All the Wrong People

Accidental Saints: Finding God in All the Wrong People

$15.58
Author:
Series: Quick lit 1/16
Genre: Memoir
Tag: Quick Lit

Fans of the author's first memoir Pastrix won't want to miss this new one: Bolz-Weber delivers another wildly irreverent, profanity-filled spiritual memoir about how God chooses who he chooses, even if those people seem to us like the most unlikely candidates. Poignant and hilarious stories give life to this concept: in my favorite chapter, Bolz-Weber and her "token" conservative friend fire off rifles at the local shooting range. The second half lags a little but I'm glad I stuck it out.

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Modern Lovers

Modern Lovers

$16.00$1.99Audiobook: 12.99 (Whispersync)

I unsuccessfully tried to get my hands on this one to vet it for the Summer Reading Guide, even though I wasn't wild about her 2014 novel The Vacationers. Her new novel is about what unfolds amongst a tight-knit group of friends from college, now nearing 50, over the course of one hot Brooklyn summer. Publication date May 31 2016.

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Lethal White

Lethal White

This book turned around my sagging reading life in October: I read 400 pages in a day while camping! I enjoyed the mystery aspect, which begins when a mentally ill man bursts into Cormoran's office raving about a murder he witnessed as a child. But my real interest in this fourth novel lay in the personal lives of the detectives, especially after book three's cliffhanger ending. (Sensitive readers will want to know that <em>Lethal White</em> is much less gruesome than books two and three. It's intense, but not gory or graphic.) An altogether satisfying addition to the series. Robert Glenister's narration was fantastic, even though I switched to the hardcover so as to get to the ending faster.

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