Quick Lit
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

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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A Trick of the Light (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache Mysteries, No. 7)

A Trick of the Light (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache Mysteries, No. 7)

Author:
Series: Best novels of 2015
Genre: Mystery
Tag: Quick Lit

Penny's mysteries are alternately centered in the cozy village of Three Pines and the wider world. For this excellent follow-up to the game-changing Bury Your Dead, Inspector Gamache returns to Three Pines to solve a murder that's intimately tied to the world of fine art. The story is built around the concept of chiaroscuro—the contrast between dark and light that's significant in some artists' works, and in all our natures. It may sound obtuse, but Penny probes with a light hand. It works.

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A Window Opens: A Novel

A Window Opens: A Novel

$11.99$2.99Audiobook: 12.99 (Whispersync)

I almost abandoned this book, and thought hard about including it in Quick Lit because I found it underwhelming. Its heroine, Alice Pearse, is a sandwich generation wife and mother of three who takes on a new and demanding job when her husband loses his. The book had potential: I found the premise relatable and the characters likable. But instead of thoughtfully addressing the issues Alice faces, Egan fabricates silly problems (such as a big bad corporate employer reminiscent of The Circle) for her characters and simplistic solutions. Alice works in the world of publishing, and I did appreciate the novel's unabashed love for books and readers. If you decide to read this, please read it with your book club: at least you can enjoy tearing apart the ending together.

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A Share in Death

A Share in Death

If you're all caught up on Penny and Galbraith novels, try this engaging series of Scotland Yard police procedurals. This first installment reminds me of Dorothy Sayers: detective Duncan Kincaid happens to be vacationing at his posh cousin's time share when a body is found in the resort pool. The local detectives rule suicide, but Kincaid is certain there's more to the story. As the series progressives, the police work is only half the content: Crombie devotes considerable ink to her detectives' personal dramas and romantic entanglements as well. Get caught up this summer so you're ready for book #17 Garden of Lamentations, though its release date has (sniff) been pushed back to February 17, 2016. Highly recommended for mystery-loving Anglophiles.

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You Will Know Me

You Will Know Me

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

A new nail-biter from Thriller Award winner Abbott is always news. She's best known for The Fever, a book I've been meaning to read for ages. I know her by reputation, though I haven't yet read her work, and was surprised to hear her forthcoming novel is focused on an elite teen gymnast, a tragedy that rocks her training facility, and the subsequent unraveling of everything the characters thought they knew about each other. Add Audible narration for $12.99. Publication date July 26 2016.

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Simply Tuesday: Small-Moment Living in a Fast-Moving World
After You: A Novel

After You: A Novel

Finally! The much-anticipated (and originally unplanned) follow-up to Moyes's word-of-mouth sensation Me Before You. The bad news: the sequel isn't as good as original. The good news: Moyes at least had the guts to take her characters in an altogether different direction, and if it's not perfect, at least it's interesting. Moyes also left the door wide open to a third novel, which I would welcome.

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My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry: A Novel

My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry: A Novel

I began this immediately after finishing the wonderful audio version of the author's previous work. Backman's second novel follows the adventures of a 7-year-old named Elsa, whose grandmother dies and leaves behind a series of letters, sending the young girl on a scavenger hunt with weighty implications. Whimsical and engaging.

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The Girls in the Garden

The Girls in the Garden

The action in this new suspenseful novel centers around a beautiful private communal garden in London. Most of the neighbors have lived there for years and trust each other implicitly; one family felt lucky to find their new flat when they were displaced from their home after a tragic fire. In the prologue, one of these new neighbors, 12-year-old Grace, is found in a corner of this supposedly idyllic garden, injured and unconscious after a neighborhood party. Jewell flashes back in time to introduce us to all the neighbors, and we discover much to mistrust as we try to figure out what happened to Grace. I read this as a Summer Reading Guide contender, and while it held my attention, it wasn't a favorite. Published June 7, 2016.

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We Never Asked for Wings

We Never Asked for Wings

$9.99$1.99Audiobook: 12.99 (Whispersync)

Like many of you, I'd been anxiously awaiting a second novel from The Language of Flowers author Diffenbaugh. This standalone deftly weaves together tricky topics like immigration law, biology, and teen parenthood. Gorgeous prose, heartwarming story, likable characters.

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Write without Crushing Your Soul: Sustainable Publishing and Freelancing

Write without Crushing Your Soul: Sustainable Publishing and Freelancing

$9.99$0.99

Writers of faith will appreciate this straight-talking guide to the ins and outs of the industry, as well as how to save your soul (and your sanity) from the unusual demands of the writing life.

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Take This Bread: A Radical Conversion

Take This Bread: A Radical Conversion

$12.99$1.99Audiobook: 7.49 (Whispersync)
Author:
Series: Quick lit 1/16
Genre: Memoir
Tag: Quick Lit

I've been meaning to read this book for years: it's been highly recommended by readers with great taste. But it wasn't until my family started volunteering at our church's food pantry that it vaulted to the top of my list. I knew our church began the food pantry BECAUSE of Sara Miles's visit to the church a few years ago, and after reading her inspiring story, I understand why her enthusiasm for community food pantries is contagious. A compelling spiritual memoir. Add Audible narration for $3.99.

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Lily and the Octopus

Lily and the Octopus

This debut autobiographical fiction from screenwriter Rowley is at once poignant and kooky. This is the lightly fictionalized tale of the author's last 6 months with his beloved dachshund and the brain tumor ("octopus" that ended her life. This little book provided me with one of my more bizarre reading experiences, because the great similarity between Lily and my own beloved lab were uncanny (even if Harriet and I never played board games or compared the two Ryans, Gosling and Reynolds), so much so that when I described the book to my husband right after finishing it (with tears streaming down my face) we both collapsed in helpless laughter. Definitely a strange book, but a sweet and strangely powerful one for anyone who's loved a dog.

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The Truth According to Us

The Truth According to Us

I loved this historical novel from the bestselling co-author of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. From the publisher: "Annie Barrows once again evokes the charm and eccentricity of a small town filled with extraordinary characters. Her new novel brings to life an inquisitive young girl, her beloved aunt, and the alluring visitor who changes the course of their destiny forever."

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My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes That Saved My Life

My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes That Saved My Life

I'd forgotten how good Reichl's food writing is: I loved this so much, I can't even tell you. This collection truly is as much memoir as cookbook: there's a story to accompany every single recipe. (I only made one recipe—the marinated london broil—but it was a hit.) I happened to sit down and read this (like a novel) right after we got back from New York, and I especially loved the copious number of NYC stories: I kept googling Manhattan shops, neighborhoods, and restaurants while reading. I checked this out of the library and I already miss it: this might be a keeper.

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Among the Ten Thousand Things

Among the Ten Thousand Things

Fun fact: this has been a "love" AND a "hate" on What Should I Read Next. This wrenching debut novel tells the story of a family that falls apart after infidelity comes to light.

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Give Your Child the World: Raising Globally-Minded Kids One Book at a Time

Give Your Child the World: Raising Globally-Minded Kids One Book at a Time

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

I blurbed this title and am thrilled to see it's finally on bookstore shelves! I know I’m not the only one who’s stood in the middle of the children’s section at the library or bookstore knowing I’m surrounded by good books to read but wishing someone would point me toward which ones to choose—and which to pass over. Jamie's done the hard work: is here to help me do just that. She’s done the hard work for you: this is a big list of annotated book recommendations, broken down by region, along with plenty of tips on using literature to foster a love of reading and a global awareness in the kids in your life. Published June 7, 2016.

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