Quick Lit
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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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This Is What Happy Looks Like

This Is What Happy Looks Like

This is such a fun read for anyone who has a soft spot in their heart for a solid YA novel, and it's a must-read if you loved the movie Notting Hill. When a teenage Hollywood star mistypes an email address, his message ends up in the inbox of a small-town teenage girl in Maine. The two strike up a witty correspondence, even though (or really, because) she doesn't know who he is. When his latest film is shot on location in her town, the relationship moves from online to real life. But the paparazzi make his life miserable, and the girl has secrets of her own.

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The Listening Life

The Listening Life

I loved Adam's previous book Introverts in the Church, so I've been looking forward to this for a long time. I very much enjoyed (and at times felt painfully convicted by) this book, which explores: what listening really is (it's probably not what you think), why it's worth doing, and why it's so terribly important in a culture that never stops talking. Relatable and wise.

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How to Be Here: A Guide to Creating a Life Worth Living

How to Be Here: A Guide to Creating a Life Worth Living

$12.99$1.99Audiobook: 9.99 (Whispersync)
Author:
Series: Quick Lit 4/16
Genre: Personal Growth
Tag: Quick Lit

In short, story-driven chapters, Rob Bell explores presence, mindfulness, and creativity in his newest release (published March 8). Regular listeners of his podcast The Robcast will find many of the concepts familiar. I enjoyed this one, and especially appreciated his insistence that you don't need a fifty-year plan to begin something, you just need to do the next right thing. This would make an excellent companion to Elizabeth Gilbert's Big Magic.

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The Woman in Cabin 10

The Woman in Cabin 10

Author:
Series: Quick Lit August 2016
Genre: Mystery
Tag: Quick Lit

This twisty thriller was an August Book of the Month pick for me. I was intrigued by the premise: a travel writer takes an assignment aboard an exclusive luxury cruise ship. Shortly after arriving, she wakes in the middle of the night to the sound of something heavy being thrown overboard. She's sure it's a body ... and yet no one is missing from the boat. She's compelled to figure out what really happened, which puts more than her own life in danger. Strongly reminiscent of Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None (If you want to give it a try use the code 30TOTE to get 30% off your first three months + a free tote bag.)

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Lost Lake

Lost Lake

Hurray for Sarah Addison Allen--a great summer reading author! This isn't my favorite title of hers, but it's still Sarah Addison Allen. This novel 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.

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Dear Carolina
Coming Clean: A Story of Faith

Coming Clean: A Story of Faith

$8.99$2.99
Author:
Series: Best Nonfiction 2015
Genre: Memoir
Tag: Quick Lit

This was one of my favorite nonfiction books of the year. A new release shouldn't be priced this low, so snatch it up while it lasts.

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What She Knew

What She Knew

$9.99$1.99
Author:
Series: Quick Lit 7/16
Genre: Mystery
Tag: Quick Lit

This psychological thriller was good enough to make the Summer Reading Guide, but I ran out of room! A British single mother gives her 8-year-old son permission to run ahead a little on their evening walk in the park ... and he disappears, without a trace. MacMillan invites the reader to come along on the hunt for the boy, alternately focusing on police procedure and family drama. The tight writing and sharp execution made this hard to put down. I've seen a lot of comparisons to The Girl on the Train, but instead I'd recommend this one for Tana French fans.

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Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis

Author:
Series: Quick Lit 9/16
Genre: Memoir
Tag: Quick Lit

The Wall Street Journal calls this "A riveting book." From the publisher: "From a former marine and Yale Law School graduate, a powerful account of growing up in a poor Rust Belt town that offers a broader, probing look at the struggles of America’s white working class."

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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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