Welcome to Quick Lit, where we share short and sweet reviews of what we’ve been reading lately.
This month I’m still vetting 2018 Summer Reading Guide picks like crazy (can’t wait to share it with you in about a month from now!), and I’ve been reading at a snappy pace because of it. This month I’ve also read an unusual number of books about fraught family relationships, as you’ll see below.
Here’s a sampling of what I’ve finished this month.
In this memoir, Tara Westover tells of how she overcame her oppressive childhood: her survivalist family lived in the mountains of rural Idaho and practiced extreme fundamentalist Mormonism; her father's manic depression was undiagnosed and untreated. There was no question that Tara would marry and settle near her family to raise a family of her own, but she found a way out. I picked this up because readers with great taste told me it was a great example of the genre, but it didn't blow me away as it has so many others—perhaps because it felt so similar to Ruth Wariner's The Sound of Gravel? I listened to this on audio (not read by the author), which was fine, but didn't seem to elevate the experience. More info →
I enjoyed this strange little book, the first English novel from Israeli author Blum. This story follows three friends who work as "coincidence makers"—the ones responsible for the "random" occurrences we write off to chance—a spilled drink, a broken glass, a missed train. But these coincidences are important because they change the course of our lives and the course of the world, though we may not perceive it. I loved the varied and delightfully wacky coincidences these friends participated in over the course of the story: "Guy once managed to cause an entire floor to hang laundry on the same day following a wager with Eric. After two months of frustrating attempts, Emily was able to create a situation in which, for half an hour, only buses with numbers divisible by three were at the central bus station." A little bit Einstein's Dreams, a little bit Minority Report. More info →
I stumbled upon this book in an old Austin Kleon blog post. The author gives practical advice for completing hefty writing projects like theses, dissertations, and books—especially if you're also managing a day job. I read it in a little over an hour and came away with some terrific practical ways to manage my writing schedule, approach the initial drafts and subsequent edits, and figure out how long a big project will take. More info →
I thought this work about a successful and mercurial painter was well done, and therefore nerve-wracking to read: Rachman's portrayal of how one narcissistic artist's volatile temperament and fragile ego dominate and finally destroy his family had me on edge from about page 4. It was a bit much for me, but if you like fraught family novels about complicated relationships, this book is for you. (Bonus: the cover is gorgeous.) If you enjoy this, mark your calendars for Judy Blundell's The High Season, coming May 22. The novels are by no means the same but complement each other beautifully. More info →
This is one of the buzziest books of spring, both for the stories in and surrounding the book. The author's agent plucked this one from the slush pile, sold it for a rumored price of nearly a million dollars, and Scarlett Johansson is already slated to star in the film adaptation. I read this in just two days because I wanted to know what happens next. If you love domestic noir, give this a try. (If you have had your fill of that genre, this book is not going to change your mind.) The story unfolded like a Hitchcock movie in my mind. If you loved this year's Dangerous Crossing, pick this one up (and vice versa). More info →
What have YOU been reading lately? Link up your post below, or tell us all about it in comments!