Great reads for your Christmas vacation

We have a winner.

Welcome to Quick Lit, the not-exactly-new place where we share short and sweet reviews of what we’ve been reading lately. 

I’ve been reading lots of good books lately, and many of them are perfect for your Christmas vacation. I’m looking forward to spending lots of time curled up by the first or camped out on the couch with a great read (or ten). Whether you want a fast-paced thriller, a contemplative memoir, or a relatable novel, my hope is that this list will inspire you to pick up a great book (or a dozen of them) for your holiday reading.

The Sweetness of Forgetting

The Sweetness of Forgetting


A fellow reader matched me up with Kristin Harmel's work, and I blew through two of her novels this month. It's not a perfect book—I'll be surprised if you don't guess how the love triangle resolves by page 3—but it's very good. Harmel's writing about love, family, and relationships draws you right in to the story, and then compels you to step back and examine your own life. A whole lot of MMD readers are going to love this one.

More info →
The Accident

The Accident

I enjoyed Pavone’s first novel The Expats (a review of sorts is here) but his second is even better. In this fast-paced thriller where publishing meets true crime, the action begins when a rookie author’s book proposal hits an agent’s desk. For reasons I don’t want to reveal to anyone who hasn’t read it, this would make an excellent book club novel. More info →
On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction

On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction

I've had this one on my reading list for forever, and now that I've read it I'm sorry I waited so long! Not only is it immensely practical and helpful, but it's a lot of fun to read. Recommended reading for anyone who writes, professional or otherwise, and required reading for all grammar geeks. More info →
Home for the Holidays (Mother-Daughter Book Club #5)

Home for the Holidays (Mother-Daughter Book Club #5)

Sarah (age 9) snatched this up from our library's holiday display table, and we just finished reading it together. She loved it, and I loved reading it with her. Now she wants to go back to the beginning and read the whole series. (Don't tell: she's getting the box set for Christmas.) She's writing copycat fiction in the meantime.

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Geography of Memory

Geography of Memory

I ordered this immediately after hearing the author speak last April, and spent the next six months staring at it on my bookshelf, afraid to begin. I worried it would be really depressing, but the preface put my mind at ease. (The first line: "I wrote this book because I believe the news about Alzheimer's is more hopeful than what we hear on the street.")

A book about Alzheimer's, but also about mothers and daughters, understanding your past, and the power of memory. Poignant and powerful.

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The Book with No Pictures

The Book with No Pictures


My kids fell in love with this thanks to B. J. Novak's reading on Youtube. This not-quite-picture book is completely ridiculous in the best possible way. Prepare yourself to read this over and over and over again over holiday break. I don't think you'll mind (too much).

More info →

Whether you want a fast-paced thriller, a contemplative memoir, or a relatable novel, this list has great books to read on your Christmas vacation.

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  1. Megan M. says:

    I bought The Book with No Pictures as part of my nephew’s Christmas present (we don’t have kids of our own yet, so I spoil others). My husband looked at me like I was crazy when it finally arrived. However, we both read it to each other and had one of the best marital bonding moments of our marriage. We never laughed so hard!

  2. Mystie says:

    I have that Zinsser book as well as Writing to Learn, which I know I should read as I teach writing as well as write. You just moved it higher in the queue. 🙂

  3. Did “Twitterature” get retired? I guess I missed something since I’ve (sadly) missed a few link-ups. I look forward to checking out On Writing Well and also the book with no pictures, that sounds intriguing. Thanks!

    • Holly says:

      I was wondering what happened to “Twitterature” too! I like the sound of Twitterature a little better, but I like Quick Lit because it’s probably more accurate–my book reviews are always more than 140 characters. 🙂

    • Anne says:

      It’s really the same old twitterature with a new name. It was confusing to people who didn’t do twitter, which was a shame, since the “what I’ve been reading lately” posts really had nothing to do with twitter! Hopefully the new name is more descriptive and less baffling. 🙂

      Details here if you’re interested.

  4. Megan says:

    Heather Vogel Frederick hosted a giveaway on her blog several years ago, and I was the very lucky winner of Home for the Holidays, as well as some Betsy Tacy books and tote bags. I finally made time for Home for the Holidays this Thanksgiving, and I LOVED it! I wish the Mother-Daughter book club books had existed when I was in fifth grade or so. I used my Amazon 25% off to buy myself the box set for Christmas!

    • Anne says:

      Lucky you! And that was smart to use the book deal to get the box set. I’m sorry to say that didn’t occur to me!

      And I would have loved these as a kid, too.

  5. Tim says:

    I read Zinsser’s book this past year and thoroughly enjoyed his tips and anecdotes (I might have enjoyed the anecdotes even more than the great writing tips, but don[‘t tell anyone).

    When I saw BJ Novak read that book when it first came out I almost fell out of my chair. He’s so creative!

  6. Kierstin says:

    I love On Writing Well! The Elements of Style by Strunk/White/Kalman is also great but I have to say my favorite book on writing is Aspects of the Novel by E.M. Forester. It blew my mind…as much as a book on how to write a novel can haha.

    We ordered The Book With No Pictures for Christmas! Hopefully it’s as good as every one says.

    One of my favorite Christmas reads is King, Kaiser, Tsar by Clay. It’s non-fiction but so well written and absolutely fascinating.

  7. Anne says:

    What a great roundup. They all sound good! (Though, I am like you….the one about Alzheimer’s sounds scary.) The Mother Daughter Book Club sounds so sweet! I must check this out. My uncle gave me a copy of Zinsser (randomly! with a sweet note about writing!), and I must get to it. As always, thanks for the fun, Anne! 🙂

  8. Susan says:

    I’ve taken the plunge into The Outlander series, due in large part to your raves, MMD. A quarter of the way into the first book, I am hooked. Hope my family doesn’t expect me to emerge from 18th century Scotland to do their laundry or fix their meals any time soon!

  9. Hannah says:

    Still need to read ‘On Writing Well.’ I also want to get ‘Writing Down the Bones’ by Natalie Goldberg. One of my favorite writing books right now is Francine Prose’s ‘Reading Like a Writer.’ I’m a third of the way through and it feels like I’m sitting in a small class under a wise and gifted teacher.

  10. Kate says:

    My nephew is still a tad too young to appreciate The Book with No Pictures, but I can’t wait to get it for him. It reminds me a lot of The Monster at the End of This Book, which my brothers and I adored when we were little.

    I just started Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, so looking forward to spending the holiday cozily wrapped up in its 800+ pages, but my library hold of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s annotated autobiography, Pioneer Girl just came in so I may set it aside briefly to read that.

  11. Heidi says:

    My 10 year old daughter loves the Mother-Daughter Book Club series. She has read them all at least twice. The series has even inspired her to pick up the books they discuss. She’s currently reading Little Women (one of my all-time favorites!) without any prompting from me!

  12. Laura says:

    I checked out the Book With No Pictures from the library but returned it w/o reading it to my kids. I hold an irrational grudge against it b/c it beat out Ben Hatke’s “Julia’s House for Lost Creatures” for second place in the Goodreads Reader’s Choice awards — in the *picture* book category. Novak’s book. has. no. pictures! And Ben’s book is full of beautiful pictures. Such an injustice! . . . Maybe I’ll get over it eventually and take a look at that video on You Tube. 😉

    • liz n. says:

      Oh, please check out the book again and read it to your kids! The greatness of this book is that it needs no pictures. It’s pure silliness and fun. I promise, you will end up laughing just as much as your kids will!

  13. Cassie says:

    I didn’t here about BJ Novak’s book until I had already bought my nieces and nephews books this year, Darn! The Accident sound great, I loved The Expats. Thanks for the recommendations!

  14. Stacey says:

    Love the new name! And I just requested The Vacation from the library and ordered On Writing from Amazon- not sure how I haven’t read that one yet? Can’t wait to peruse all the lists! Twitterature day used to be my favorite day of the month and now it it is Quick Lit day 🙂

  15. Sarah says:

    I really want to check out BJ Novak’s book that you recommended! I don’t have kids or even know any, but he is hysterical! I just finished listening to the audio version of One More Thing, which he narrates with the help of some famous friends. It’s not kid-friendly, but I was laughing out loud in the car!

  16. Dana says:

    Oh, I love this list and your blog! So happy to have found you. The name itself is just fantastic, but the content is as well 🙂

    I will have to check out some of these, including On Writing Well, I’m always a sucker for a good craft book.

    Thanks for a great list!

  17. I loved The Mother Daughter Book Club series – I hope I can convince my daughter to read them with me when she’s a little older. My kids loved the Book With No Pictures, too – my son could not stop shrieking with laughter as he read it.

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