What I’ve been reading lately: the new and the notable

Welcome to Quick Lit, where we share short and sweet book reviews of what we’ve been reading lately. Jump in anytime and share yours: write about your recent reads on your blog or on your Instagram account, and leave the link in the comments section.

This month I’m continuing to read advance review copies for the Summer Reading Guide, which is only a month away now. But I’ve learned that I can’t only read brand new books or I’ll lose my mind, which is why you’ll see an assortment in today’s book list.

Quick Lit April 2019
The Chemistry of Calm: A Powerful, Drug-Free Plan to Quiet Your Fears and Overcome Your Anxiety

The Chemistry of Calm: A Powerful, Drug-Free Plan to Quiet Your Fears and Overcome Your Anxiety

I first discovered this book nearly two year ago, when a What Should I Read Next guest recommended it. (That's still one of my favorite episodes: look for Episode 93: Books to help you manage anxiety + a book brunch that will have you drooling wherever you get your podcasts.) I re-read it for a project I'm working on, and once again found it a gold mine of information. Each time I return to it, my biggest takeaway is to not neglect the basics, even when the problems we're facing seem far too complicated for simple things like good food, exercise, and sleep to help. More info →
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Keep Going: 10 Ways to Stay Creative in Good Times and Bad

Keep Going: 10 Ways to Stay Creative in Good Times and Bad

I enjoy Kleon's work—especially his weekly newsletter—so I picked up his brand-new release to tangibly support what he's doing when I popped into Rainy Day Books in the Kansas City area earlier this month. After reading his blog posts about the process for well over a year, I enjoyed reading the finished product, in just one sitting. The creative life (or any other kind of life) can be a slog sometimes, and I found Kleon's advice for carrying on to be fun, pithy, and practical. He has a gift for stating familiar ideas in fresh and unexpected ways: "you can be woke without waking to the news", "sleep tidies the brain," "the demons hate fresh air." More info →
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Reconstructing the Gospel: Finding Freedom from Slaveholder Religion

Reconstructing the Gospel: Finding Freedom from Slaveholder Religion

I read this book as a sort of homework assignment: the author was coming to my church to speak, I'm on the committee, and I read only because I wanted to be prepared. And then I couldn't put it down. Despite the "reconstruction" referenced in the title, I was surprised to find this book to be a thorough history lesson. Wilson-Hartgrove, a white minister serving in a historically black church in Durham, NC, discusses the Christian religion, the New South, America's racial divide, and politics. The history is uglier than I knew, with Wilson-Hartgrove's portraying too many professed Christians who knew “how to worship Jesus on Easter Sunday morning and stamp out ‘Negro rule’ in the afternoon.” The current situation remains bleak, yet Wilson-Hartgrove insists that to remain hopeful, it's necessary to both take a long view and take action to right the unjust systems of this world. I'll be thinking about this book for a long time. More info →
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Beyond the Point

Beyond the Point

They say write what you know, and Claire Gibson has done just that with her debut. Born and raised at the U.S. Military Academy, she is intimately familiar with that life and West Point's tight-knit community. Beyond the Point follows the lives of three female cadets, from their school years at West Point in the 1990s, and then as their assignments take them around the world and away from each other. I appreciate how this book combines elements that we don't expect to go together, but in Gibson's hands, of course they do: women's fiction + a military setting; the power of female friendship + the soldier's life. I was happy to see this chosen as a Book of the Month selection for April. More info →
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Lost and Wanted

Lost and Wanted

I enjoy the genre sometimes dubbed fi-sci: fiction steeped in the world of science, and Freudenberger's new release takes place largely in the theoretical physics department of MIT. Helen is a physicist whose professional life is on track: her work on five-dimensional spacetime and black holes has earned her worldwide acclaim. But her personal life is thrown into disarray when she receives word that her best friend has unexpectedly died. I especially enjoyed the subtly-drawn parallels between quantum physics and complex personal relationships. I recommended this book on Episode 177 of What Should I Read Next ("When your reading life is a roller coaster") for its compassionate portrayal of living with chronic illness (lupus). The title comes from an Auden poem: "For time is inches / And the heart's changes / Where ghost has haunted / Lost and wanted." More info →
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What have you been reading lately? Tell us all about it in comments or share a link in the comments section to your blog or instagram.


Leave A Comment
    • Filipa says:

      I read it because Anne suggested it and I absolutely loved it. It was surprising, because I never would have picked that one for myself. Lesson learned!

    • When going through my book shelf to see what I needed to read next, I discovered that I had picked up Station Eleven totally on my own. It wasn’t until I discovered it on my book shelf that I realized Anne has recommended it! I moved it right up to the top of my TBR list!

  1. Sarah says:

    Have read so many great books lately: The Lost Man, The Current, Daisy Jones and the Six, Book Love, Quiet Girl in a Noisy World, Sisters First, and Inheritance. Almost finished with I Miss You When I Blink. Attended an author event to hear Dani Shapiro speak – I think Hourglass remains my favorite but Inheritance was beautifully written as well.

    Half looking forward to your summer reading guide and half worried my TBR is going to further explode. The Calm book you mention looks wonderful.

      • Kim Little says:

        I haven’t read Inheritance yet, but, I have listened to the entire first season of her podcast, Family Secrets! It is so good. The tenderness and understanding in which Dani speaks to her guests is so wonderful.

  2. Linda says:

    I am plowing through the last 4 Maisie Dobbs books because the newest just came in from my library holds! I also just finished American Prison, easily the best book I have read so far this year.

  3. Alison says:

    So far for April, I’ve read Little House on the Prairie with my kids, Watership Down and The Screwtape Letters. Enjoyed them all!

  4. Christine Martucci says:

    I’m in the midst of Women Talking by Miriam Toews and I am speechless. This fictionalization of a real event is a very powerful testament to the power of ….you guessed….women, talking. I’m only midway through,but when I am not reading this book, I am thinking about it.

  5. Terry says:

    I just finished The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton, which I loved. I love when a book takes me on an emotional journey, and, boy did this ever!

    • Laura says:

      I just finished that one too and liked it so much more than The Age of Innocence! Would have changed up the ending, but I understand why she was dramatic.

  6. Amy says:

    I read Caraval by Stephanie Garbar in a day! It had been on my shelf for a few months, and once I opened it, I couldn’t stop! Have already reco’d it to a friend! I also finished The Memory of Lemon by Judith M. Fertig, which I hoped would be similar to Garden Spells, but it wasn’t as enchanting as Sarah Addison Allen’s writing!

  7. Coincidentally, all my books this past month had a common thread, nature, which was perfect since spring is making its appearance in full force these days. Two books involved scientists studying the natural world, and in the third, the protagonist escaped the everyday world by hiding out in nature (literally, in a rye field as a child and in the cemetery as an adult).

  8. Amy says:

    This past month I read Daisy Jones & the Six (sooo good), The Familiars by Stacey Halls (pretty good), Fahrenheit 451 (a masterpiece) and currently reading Middlemarch.

  9. Cinthia says:

    I just finished reaching Chillpreneur by Denise Duffield-Thomas and I highly recommend it for all entrepreneurs who want to chill and still make money!

  10. I rounded up last month’s reading here: https://barbarah.wordpress.com/2019/03/31/end-of-march-musings/. My favorite of those was Saving Amelie by by Cathy Gohlke, a novel about the daughter of an WW2 American genetic scientist who hides and saves the deaf daughter of a friend. Excellent! I also enjoyed Steal Away Home by Matt Carter and Aaron Ivey, a fictional book based on the true friendship of C. H. Spurgeon and a freed slave, Thomas Johnson.

    This month, so far, I’ll Watch the Moon by Ann Tatlock was great. Set just after WW2 and in the midst of polio outbreaks, everyone has their own private sorrows and wrestlings with God. The Fashion Designer by Nancy Moser was really good also, about an English maid whose “American Dream” is to start a business designing and sewing clothes.

    One book I am currently reading is Booked: Literature in the Soul of Me by Karen Swallow Prior. Much food for thought. Another is How to Understand and Apply the New Testament by Andrew Naselli. Some helpful points I’ve not come across in other “how to study the Bible” books.

  11. Jackie says:

    I just finished “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley as an online book club read. I can’t say it was my favorite all-time book, but I’m trying to read books that I probably should have read years ago. I’m now reading something completely different, “The Big Over Easy” by Jasper Fforde. Hilarious!

    • Laura says:

      I read Frankenstein over Christmas and thought it was so exasperating! (Frankenstein is the true monster!) But I was glad to have it finally read. I love Jasper Fforde, but haven’t started the nursery crimes books yet.

  12. Sara T. says:

    I just finished The Silent Patient. It was the most captivating book I’ve read in a long time. Also the new Michael Connolly book which I thoroughly enjoyed I love how Renee Ballard helps Bosch. Now I’m finishing up Rleanor Oliphantis is completely fine.

  13. Cammie says:

    I am re-reading George Orwell’s 1984 and To Kill a Mockingbird since I am currently teaching both novels, and I always re-read along with my students. For my book club, I am currently reading Ruthless Tide by Al Roker. And for myself, I am reading The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes. These are all vastly different texts, but I am used to reading several books at the same time. Thanks for all of your regular recommendations!

  14. Deborah Ball says:

    sorry, went back to Mandel books based on the recommendations, but I cant seem to get into her? Am I too old to relate, since I am 64? On a non fiction run right now, because after reading The Library Book by Susan Orlean, I attended a luncheon even with Mary Laura Philpott whose I MISS YOU WHEN I BLINK is definitely not to be missed. Ran into other MMD lovers there and it was such fun!

    • Anne says:

      Mary Laura is such a delight—I bet that luncheon was a blast! Mandel has a distinctive style, and if she’s not for you, I think that is okay. Unless you have the opportunity to go to a luncheon with her, in which case I would say, DO IT!

  15. Shannon Hsu says:

    This month I finally read The Mothers by Brit Bennett and loved it. It is one of the best books I’ve read this year. After consuming a few of Elly Griffiths’ Ruth Galloway mysteries, I’m on to Swans of 5th Avenue by Melanie Benjamin.

  16. Lynn says:

    I just started reading Save the Plums by Ruth Reichl this weekend and love it so far. I love cooking and reading, so this book is a perfect combination of both. On our site I recently shared a list of books that my husband has been reading. He has read some great nonfiction history type books recently. One of the ones he and I both read recently and enjoyed was the Cadaver King and the Country Dentist which was a fascinating and sad modern day story of Injustice in the South. https://fromourbookshelf.com/books-for-guys-what-my-husband-is-reading-2/

  17. Karen says:

    The Chemistry of Calm and Keep Going both sound like books I need to read right now. And I have just bought Women Rowing North by Mary Pipher, Where the Past Begins by Amy Tan, and The Highly Sensitive Person by Elaine Aron. I’ll start on them as soon as I finish re-reading Out of the Valley: Another Year at Wormingford by Ronald Blythe. This is a second collection of his columns from the British Church Times. Wise, poignant, and eloquent musings on religion, history, nature, gardening and people.

  18. Han Dang says:

    I am reading Year of Yes after listening to WSIRN. And just finished Rebecca. I’m new here and excited for all the news

  19. Heather says:

    I think I need to read the Chemistry of Calm and Beyond the Point has me intrigued. It has been an excellent reading month. Check out my readshttps://myviewofthehoneypot.blogspot.com/2019/04/what-i-read-april.html

  20. Im currently reading a couple things. I started them in January and still haven’t finished them. Avery doesnt make it easy to have much reading time. I keep a reading goal on my instagram stories(Title is Reading Goals) mommyincolorreads. Right now I’m reading The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver. You actuall mentioned another of her works on your podcast recently.

  21. Jaklyn says:

    I have been listening to Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series. I am currently listening to The Fiery Cross. I also finished Yes Please by Amy Poehler, I’d Rather Be Reading by the one and only Anne Bogel and I am also rereading the Harry Potter series and am on book 4.

  22. Chris says:

    Dreamland by Sam Quinones.
    About the opioid crisis in the US. A sobering, sad and necessary read.
    The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah.
    I’m not a big wilderness or Alaska fan, but I really liked this.
    Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok. Loved this one.

  23. BarbMae says:

    Thanks to your recommendation, I read my first Louise Penny book on spring break! Of course I started with the first one – Still Life. LOVED IT and have ordered the next few in the series. I’m hoping to have “Bury Your Dead” read before a trip to Quebec City in July.

    • Tracy B says:

      I read Still Life in December and then decided I can only read one a month from the series or else I might just indulge and read them all in a row! I want to get to Quebec City one day, I’ve been to Montreal. This summer we are going to Nova Scotia.

  24. Rebecca says:

    Currently finishing All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. So far I love it I enjoy the back and forth and the short chapters. I also recently took the plunge into audible. I listened to my first book yesterday The Dipatcher by John Scalzi. I am getting ready to listen to The Only Woman in the Room by Suzanne Toren. this book is longer, but I want to make sure it is unabridged. I have to get used to listening to books instead of reading them. Sometimes I feel like I am cheating, but like that I can have two books going at once as I have a 1.5 hour commute to and from work everyday. That is also how I found your podcast (lifesaver. Now my TBR list is ridiculous so I need to love books on tape.

  25. Caroline says:

    I am so glad you mentioned Beyond The Point! I just got it from Book of the Month and I knew next to nothing about it. I am really looking forward to reading it. The story sounds fascinating and it is a thick book and that always makes me happy!
    I am finally getting to read The Alice Network and really enjoying it. Also loved The Time Traveler’s Wife a lot! I cried through the last 80 pages and my rating is HUGGGABLE.
    Another book I enjoyed was Heat: An Amateur’s Adventures As Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker and Apprentice To A Dante Quoting Butcher In Tuscany by Bill Buford. He wrote it based on an article he wrote about chef Mario Batali for The New Yorker and actually worked in Batali’s Babbo restaurant. I was entertained and I learned a lot! I also read an ARC Dutch Girl: Audrey Hepburn In World War II by Robert Matzen. I am an Audrey fan but don’t know much about her beyond her movie career. It was both a biography of her younger years and a history of the Netherlands during WWII. Fantastic book! I also recently read Queenie and loved it! Funny, touching, frustrating and sad. Excellent!

  26. Debra says:

    Just read a relatively new book–The Library Book– will make you so thankful for our libraries. Just finished an older book, A Prayer For Owen Meany. Worth the length.

  27. Jeanine says:

    I’m definitely adding Reconstructing the Gospel to my list–sounds super interesting!
    I’m currently making my way through an ARC of Alice Hoffman’s book, The World That We Knew (definitely a different kind of WWII story!), The Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson, and Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed. I also just finished Queenie (ignore descriptions that say it’s like Bridget Jones–it’s darker), as well as Purple Hibiscus.
    Side note: I have a lofty goal of somehow following along each week with One Great Book and reading all the ones Anne recommends… I only just decided this so I’m playing catch-up right now! Haha. I’m starting The Lola Quartet and Ex Libris this week and am going to try to get to Rules of Civility on the weekend! We’ll see how this goes 😉

  28. “Reconstructing the Gospel” sounds like my kind of book. When visiting the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, AL, I saw under Orange County, FL, where I grew up (white), a long list of black lives taken on the same day in 1920. I found a book: “Emancipation Betrayed,” which tells about the history of racism in Florida after the Civil War. On Election Day, 1920, black voters were met with violence. I especially recommend the book for anyone with a Florida connection.

  29. I just finished Maid by Stephanie Land on audio and I didn’t want it to end! It’s a great read-next if you loved Educated by Tara Westover, and the audio version is narrated by Land, which I love (and she does a great job). This would be such a great book for book club because there’s tons to talk about.

  30. Angela says:

    I just finished the audiobook of Jenny Lawson reading Furiously Happy, which I absolutely loved. I am about two-thirds through The Salt Path by Raynor Winn. I was really looking forward to it since I enjoy hiking, but so far I have unfortunately been underwhelmed by it.

  31. Lauren says:

    I never comment, but wanted to second Beyond the Point! I got it from BOTM and finished it in a day or two. I was drawn to it since my cousin went to West Point and his stories about the environment there were fascinating; this book adds an even more interesting layer since it follows women’s experiences.
    (Incidentally, I also got Miracle Creek from BOTM which was also good, though very different.)

  32. Elizabeth Guyer says:

    This month:
    American marriage – not a huge fan of this one
    Girl stop apologizing – about 1/3 of the way through
    When We Left Cuba – LOVING IT

  33. Tracy B says:

    Right now I am read When We Left Cuba by Chanel Cleeton. I loved the first book, Next Year in Havana. That’s the way all historical fiction should be written. It was such a wonderful balance of learning but not a a dry non fiction way. Often books say there are set in a certain time or place but after the first paragraph you almost forget and it teaches you nothing about that time or place.

  34. J says:

    I am reading and listening to Where the Crawdads Sing by Owens. I want to find a day to find a quiet spot and just read it to the end. I am also trying to finish up Bel Canto by Patchett for a staff book club and recently started an advanced copy of a YA book called I Wanna Be Where You Are by Kristina Forest.

  35. Susan says:

    I’ve just finished reading ‘The Seasons of Trouble:Life Amid the Ruins of Sri Lanka’s Civil War’. I started ‘A Walk Across the Sun’ by Corban Addison and will be reading ‘Purple Hibiscus’ by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie for my book club in May.

  36. Elizabeth says:

    Reconstructing the Gospel looks like it will be a good eye opener for many..adding it to my TBR. Beyond the Point is going on there too!

  37. Eileen says:

    I don’t think I’ve seen this book mentioned anywhere – I just finished The Orphan of Salt Winds by Elizabeth Brooks and I liked it very much.

  38. Fonda says:

    ‘Beyond the Point’ is on the shelf waiting for me to finish my book club read. March was a decent month for me, but April is booked with activities so I’m missing a lot of reading time.
    March reads:
    An Anonymous Girl – Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen (Made for a great book club discussion.)
    The Only Woman in the Room – Marie Benedict
    Garden Spells – Sarah Addison Allen
    The Brutal Telling – Louise Penny
    Praying Together – Megan Hill
    We’re Going to Need More Wine – Gabrielle Union

  39. Tory B. says:

    I just devoured Min Jin Lee’s “Pachinko”. It was the shortest tome I ever read; 473 pages in a matter of a handful of days.

  40. Michelle K says:

    I am finally reading the Anne of Green Gables series! I just started Anne of Avonlea. I am also working my way through Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.

  41. Edie says:

    Just finished The Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkel on audio. It’s the account of Christopher Knight, a man who lived in the Maine woods as a hermit for 27 years. It was absolutely fascinating.

    • Fonda says:

      Edie, I just finished that one as well. It has been on my bookshelf since it was a Book of the Month selection in March of 2017. I love your description, “absolutely fascinating,” for that is how I found it as well. I picked it up after reading Lousie Penny’s ‘The Brutal Telling’ and going on a hermit tangent to better understand the quest for solitude. I have mixed feelings about the author, but I think the work is very well done. Such fun to find a backlist title I recently enjoyed among this great variety of recommended books.

  42. This month’s reading included: The Lost Girls of Paris,Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk, Southern Comfort (non-fiction) and The Diary of a Bookseller (non-fiction).
    Tuesday I heard Doris Kerns Goodwin give a talk and Amor Towles is coming in June to give a talk.
    I live in Iowa City where the University of Iowa Writer’s Workshop is held and we have an outstanding bookstore, Prairie Lights. So there is a lot of reading encouraged in this area.

  43. Susan Bradford says:

    I am reading the Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson and I cannot put it down. Beautifully written stories about the migration of African Americans out of the South. I am learning so much about the courageous men and women who decided to leave hoping for a better life. I am over 300 pages in! I heard about this book on WSIRN – not sure who the guest was who mentioned it.

    Also listening to Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan on audio – really enjoying it!

  44. Saar says:

    A lot of interesting books on this list, especially the first one – although I feel as if maybe that’s more so something I *need* to read than something I want to read…

  45. Sue Baum says:

    I just finished The Library of Lost and Found by Phaedra Patrick and loved it! Gave it 4 out of 5 stars, but could go 4.5. This was an enchanting and lovely story. Martha is a middle-aged single gal who has devoted her life to the needs of her family and friends. When the story begins, Martha’s parents have died and Martha, who cared for them until their deaths, is living alone in their house. Much like George Bailey in “It’s a Wonderful Life,” Martha’s life has not gone the way she imagined when she was a young girl. While her colorful grandmother Zelda encouraged young Martha, a budding writer, to be imaginative and courageous, her overbearing father took the exact opposite view and squashed her ambitions. One day, she receives a book that leads to many questions about her dear departed grandmother Zelda, who died 30 years ago…or did she? The mystery unfolds as do Martha’s future opportunities.

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