Welcome to Quick Lit, where we share short and sweet reviews of what we’ve been reading lately on the 15th of the month.
Readers, we reached a 2021 Summer Reading Guide milestone this week! I’m sorting book titles on index cards into possible categories across my kitchen counter, which gives me both immense satisfaction and a bit of a headache. (It’s so hard to decide!) In between buzzy upcoming books for the guide, I’m making time to read a little nonfiction, a few recommendations from friends, and an evergreen favorite.
This is just a sampling of the books I’ve read since our last round of Quick Lit. If you’re interested in hearing more about my recent reads, I highly recommend tuning into my podcast What Should I Read Next. In a show about books, I can’t help but discuss my current reading.
I can’t wait to hear about your recent reads in comments.
What I’ve been reading lately: the new and the notable
I'm currently reading this for the fourth or fifth time since it's our April flight pick for the MMD Book Club, and it's even better than I remembered. Totally worthy of the "modern classic" label, I can't believe it's been out for 25 years now. Anne Lamott writes personal-yet-practical advice for writing and living in this inspiring guide for writers. Even if you don't consider yourself a writer, you're sure to get something out of her pithy and poignant collection of advice. The title comes from a moment in Anne's childhood, when her brother was trying to write a school report on birds. Completely overwhelmed and near tears, he sat at the table with his writing supplies and books all around him. Her father, a professional writer, hugged him and said, "Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird." More info →
I picked up this new release after a few friends declared it their "best book of the year." Though it didn't rank that high for me, I did underline many passages and learned a TON about taking care of chickens. Will and I thought about getting chickens for years but never went for it, and it turns out chickens are really hard to keep alive. The nameless main character manages to care for her brood of four chickens through a Minnesota winter, a summer tornado, and the random ailments that strike chickens down without explanation or warning. While pouring herself into her new hobby, she's also coping with heavy grief and disappointment due to a recent miscarriage and the possibility of a cross-country move. If you're in the mood for a quiet, introspective book that's on the shorter side, this might be right for you. More info →
I downloaded this on a whim from Libro.fm, and what a lovely surprise! Having just read and researched Zora Neale Hurston and the Harlem Renaissance, I enjoyed catching all of the references in this expansive-yet-accessible exploration of Southern literary history. Eubanks connects the contributions of giants past and present—from William Faulkner, Eudora Welty, and Richard Wright all the way up to contemporary authors like Jesmyn Ward and Natasha Trethewey—to Mississippi's culture, landscape and history. I enjoyed learning more about authors I've read and getting to know authors that were unfamiliar to me, and vicariously exploring a state I've only visited once. While I loved the audiobook narrated by James Shippey, the hardcover has gorgeous photos that surely enhance the reading experience. More info →
Think Where'd You Go Bernadette meets Fleabag, with a dash of Bridget Jones’s Diary. Since "a bomb went off in her brain" when she was a teenager, 40-year-old Martha has been coping with an unnamed mental illness. She can be cutting and rude, and completely lacks a filter, wreaking emotional havoc on those around her. Avoiding a heavy tone, Mason explores the nuances of severe mental illness, providing an interior perspective of how it might feel to live within its grasp. While Mason's subject matter is often bleak, I found her inner narrative to be often hilarious. (When Martha teams up with her saucy sister Ingrid, prepare for side-splitting shenanigans.) I also appreciated the hopeful ending. The charming, colorful cover doesn't indicate some of the triggering content inside, so be mindful when you pick this one up. More info →
I adore a good enemies-to-lovers romance with plenty of banter and tension, so Sally Thorne's first two books were big wins for me, especially her first. This brand-new release features a sweet heroine and made for a pleasant reading experience, but I was hoping for a little more zing. While working at the Providence Luxury Retirement Villa, earnest and responsible Ruthie meets immature party boy Teddy. Both need a little change, and a lot of growing up—and their romance serves to make them both better. The side characters in the retirement community add needed sparkle and humor. Previous fans of Thorne's contemporary romance novels will find plenty to appreciate in Ruthie and Teddy's love story. More info →
This wasn't high on my spring reading list, but I'm so glad I picked this one up! Newport starts with the history of email, showing us just how we got to our current collective predicament. There's nothing wrong with email itself, he argues, but the way we now use it is destructive to productivity, clear communication, and our very quality of life. I came away resolved to test out a few of his strategies, and since reading this book I've been checking my email less often, something I know makes me feel better and less frazzled on busy days. Like in his previous work, I wish more of his examples were drawn from women's lives—and while the book focuses on corporate email communication, I would LOVE to show him my cluttered inbox, packed with emails from four different schools for my four children. More info →
What have YOU been reading lately? Tell us about your recent reads—or share the link to a blog or instagram post about them—in comments.