Contemporary Fiction
Flight Behavior

Flight Behavior

The plot of Kingsolver's 2012 novel revolves around climate change, and a young Tennessee woman and a butterfly colony who both stray from their typical flight paths. When Dellarobia sees something inexplicable in nature, her experience stokes tension between religious leaders, scientists, politicians, and climate change experts with different views on what exactly she witnessed. Suspenseful and page-turning, I thought this finely crafted novel had many wonderful moments and an unsatisfying ending—which would make it perfect for a book club discussion. Though it's unusual for novelists to read their own work, Kingsolver's lyrical voice perfectly suits her prose.

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Sense and Sensibility

Sense and Sensibility

Other audio editions are available for cheap as Whispersync deals, but this edition is the clear winner in the ratings, with an impressive 4.5 for the performance. I re-read this Austen title in June and thoroughly enjoyed it, again.

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Weightless
Arcadia

Arcadia

Entertainment Weekly calls this "a moving look at the value of human connection in a scary, chaotic world."

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Lady Cop Makes Trouble

Lady Cop Makes Trouble

$9.99$2.99Audiobook: 7.49 (Whispersync)

From the publisher: "The best-selling author of Girl Waits with Gun returns with another adventure featuring the fascinating, feisty, and unforgettable Kopp sisters. Based on a true story, Girl Waits with Gun introduced Constance Kopp and her charming and steadfast sisters to an army of enthusiastic readers. Those readers will be thrilled by this second installment--also ripped from the headlines--in the romping, wildly readable life of a woman forging her own path, tackling crime and nefarious criminals along the way."

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The Rumor

The Rumor

$12.99$3.99Audiobook: 12.99 (Whispersync)

Nantucket novelist Madeline King is on deadline but has a huge case of writer's block: she needs a story for her next novel, and she needs it fast. Then her best friend Grace starts crushing on her handsome landscape architect. Madeline knows a good story when she sees it, and her novel practically writes itself. I loved Hilderbrand's comments about this novel at BEA: she said that because she was intimately familiar with writer's block, she had no trouble at all writing this novel. Writers will note that all the publishing industry details are spot-on. My favorite Hilderbrand so far.

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Dear Carolina
The Versions of Us

The Versions of Us

Eva and Jim meet by chance on a Cambridge Street, and as for the rest of their history? It plays out in three alternate versions, exploring the ramifications of a single decision Eva makes. From BookPage: "Barnett masterfully pulls the reader through these alternating tales. Each option is compelling and believable. Perhaps there's a lesson to be learned here: Regardless of the paths we choose, the people who are meant to be in our lives will find their way there."

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Beach Town

Beach Town

$9.99$2.99Audiobook: 12.99 (Whispersync)

In Andrews' latest summer novel, a movie location scout discovers the perfect sleepy town on the Florida coast, and then promptly falls for the man standing in the way of her plans. This is classic fluffy summer romance.

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A Man Called Ove

A Man Called Ove

I couldn't get into this as a hardcover but then a friend with great taste suggested I give the audio a try. I started again from the beginning, and this time this grumpy old man story hooked me. Don't you love when that happens? A great narrator can truly make or break the reading experience. George Newbern's accents—especially for Ove—are fantastic. I laughed and cried and couldn't stop listening. But do yourself a favor: don't even think about finishing this novel in a public place, and consider removing your mascara first.

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The Late Bloomers’ Club

The Late Bloomers’ Club

From the author of The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living. Pastry chef and author Miller takes her readers back to Guthrie, Vermont in her feel-good novel about following your dreams … after finally figuring out what it is you actually want. Nora Huckleberry (that name!) has lived in the same small town all her life, where she raised her baby sister and ran the family diner alongside her dad. When Peggy the cake maker unexpectedly dies, Nora and her sister inherit a house, land, and a host of complications——including the handsome man who wants to buy Peggy’s property to build a big-box store. Everyone in town has an opinion about what Nora should do. If you like the sound of two headstrong sisters, small town vibes, and plenty of food, this may be your perfect summer novel.

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Eight Hundred Grapes

Eight Hundred Grapes

I enjoyed this one from page 1: the storytelling is excellent, and the author explored so many interesting themes about relationships. (But I have complicated feelings about how those relationships resolve—which would make this a fantastic book club novel.) The story is set at a small family vineyard in Sonoma County; the title comes from the number of grapes it takes to make a bottle of wine. Add Audible narration for $11.49.

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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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Bear Necessity

Bear Necessity

Single father Danny was just fired from his construction job. In addition to struggling to pay his rent, he can't seem to connect with his son Will, who's been silent ever since his mother died a year ago. In a move of desperation, Danny spends his last few bucks on a panda costume to become a park performer. When he chases off some bullies in the park who were taunting his son, Will opens up to him—not knowing that it's his dad in the bear costume. Wanting to comfort his son, Danny continues the charade. Charming side characters round out this story of grief, love, and connection.

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The Summer of Good Intentions

The Summer of Good Intentions

When a strained family reconvenes at their beach house for their annual summer vacation, the secrets they've been carrying start to slip out. This is a summery novel in a sense, thanks to its Cape Cod vacation setting, but it's filled with heavy issues: broken relationships, dementia, and serious diagnoses. Pack your beach bag accordingly. Add Audible narration for $4.49.

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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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The Canterbury Sisters
The Actor and the Housewife

The Actor and the Housewife

At 7 months pregnant, a Mormon housewife has a chance connection with her celebrity crush (think Colin Firth), and the two strike up an improbable friendship. They're drawn together by their quick wit and brilliant banter (which are wholly responsible for the book's enjoyable dialogue). Over the years, the relationship becomes more significant to them both, even though they have little in common on the surface. An exploration of family, stardom, and whether or not men and women can be friends. I didn't love reading this book (well, except for all the witty banter), but I did love talking it over with a friend after I finished it.

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The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared

The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared

This international bestseller was originally published in Sweden in 2009. It's drawn comparisons to Forrest Gump, because the 100-year-old man of the title finds himself involved in key political moments throughout the course of his long life. Many of you have already read this as your book in translation. Not everyone loves it, but those who do have labeled it "clever," "quirky," and "un-put-down-able."

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The Coincidence of Coconut Cake

The Coincidence of Coconut Cake

The publisher describes this as You've Got Mail meets How to Eat a Cupcake. A gruff British restaurant critic tanks a Milwaukee chef's career with a scathing review of her beloved French bistro. What he doesn't know is that he visited the restaurant on the worst day of her life. Of course, they later meet, and sparks fly, and then they both have a lot of explaining to do. The plot is utterly predictable, but anyone who knows anything about the Milwaukee food scene will forgive all.

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The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend

This 2016 novel is strongly reminiscent of The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry in that its all about the power of books and the power of community. When young Swedish girl Sara arrives in small town Iowa to find things are NOT as she expected, she takes the logical next step: she opens a bookstore. The plot is a little thin, but the bookish moments make up for it.

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Someone Else’s Love Story

Someone Else’s Love Story

Sweet 21-year-old Shandi "fell in love with William Ashe at gunpoint, in a Circle K” when he steps between a gunman who's high on drugs and her 3-year-old son. When the crisis is over, Shandi hurls herself into a new mission: getting him to love her back. Her blond god Thor that she fell in love with so quickly turns out to be a brilliant geneticist, whose genetic makeup contains some “specific duplications and deletions.” What Shandi doesn't realize is she's stepped into the middle of someone else's love story, not her own—but that story proves to be far more interesting than she ever could have dreamed. This was a runner-up for the post about the best summer reading for your Myers-Briggs personality type.

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Delicious!: A Novel

Delicious!: A Novel

Food critic and author of memoirs <em>Tender at the Bone</em>, <em>Comfort Me with Apples</em>, and <em>Garlic and Sapphires</em> Ruth Reichl's first hand at fiction. From the publisher: "Billie Breslin has traveled far from her home in California to take a job at Delicious!, New York’s most iconic food magazine. Away from her family, Billie feels like a fish out of water—until she is welcomed by the magazine's colorful staff. She is also seduced by the vibrant downtown food scene, especially by Fontanari’s, the famous Italian food shop where she works on weekends. Then Delicious! is abruptly shut down, but Billie agrees to stay on in the empty office, maintaining the hotline for reader complaints in order to pay her bills. To Billie’s surprise, the lonely job becomes the portal to a miraculous discovery."

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Life and Other Near-Death Experiences

Life and Other Near-Death Experiences

Bustle calls this novel "anything but formulaic: it's unceasingly delightful, and Libby Miller is a sensitive, super-smart Everywoman hero you'll come to adore." I’ve had the pleasure of reading several of Camille’s books, and they have a few important things in common: they're all about love, loss, and navigating life's curve balls with humor and style. They go down like light-hearted, escapist reads, but they address issues that matter to us all. I read this one last fall.

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The Knockoff: A Novel

The Knockoff: A Novel

Imagine a mashup of The Devil Wears Prada and In Good Company . The story is heavily inspired by All About Eve (which you must watch immediately if you never have): when 42-year-old Glossy magazine editor Imogen Tate returns from a 6-month sabbatical, she finds that her fill-in, a twenty-something Harvard Business School grad, is actively trying to usurp her position—permanently. (And worse—turn the magazine into an app!) Not great literature, but tons of fun.

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Astonish Me

Astonish Me

This book, set in the rarefied world of professional ballet, is unlike anything I’ve never read in form and content. Spanning 30 years, told from four different viewpoints, this novel sweeps you into the world of classical ballet—a world you didn’t know you’d been longing to enter. Some of the flashbacks are wobblier than others, but the richly drawn characters and powerful storytelling keep you turning the pages, The Times hated it, but nevermind that. (A warning: check all your preconceptions about good girl ballerinas. There’s lots of language, and so much cocaine.)

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Gods in Alabama

Gods in Alabama

Part love story, part murder mystery, pure Southern fiction. After spending ten years in Chicago, hiding from her past, Arlene returns home to face a secret she's been hiding since she fled town after high school, and introduce her black boyfriend to her racist mother. Football, dysfunctional families, and colorful characters landed this one on the staff picks shelf.

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The Lost Sisterhood

The Lost Sisterhood

$11.99$1.99

Perfect summer reading for you ISFJ's. BookPagesays this is "a gorgeous journey from England to North Africa to Greece, thrilling readers with beautiful settings, courageous women and breathtaking adventure." Add Audible narration for $11.49.

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A Prayer for Owen Meany

A Prayer for Owen Meany

Irving is a masterful storyteller, and has a knack for drawing compelling characters. This novel, which gently addresses heavy themes of fate and faith, is widely believed to be his finest. Read it and see why it’s on so many readers’ desert island lists.

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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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