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

Welcome to Quick Lit, where we share short and sweet reviews of what we’ve been reading lately.

I just got back from the beach last night. We had a wonderful trip, and it didn’t hurt that I read a book a day for ten days, including these five.

Quick Lit August 2016
A Fall of Marigolds

A Fall of Marigolds

This has been on my TBR for a while, because so many historical fiction fans recommended this to me as Meissner's best novel. The action goes back and forth in time between two women, a century apart, who are linked by a beautiful scarf and by their unlikely survival in two devastating tragedies in New York City. Meissner's tone makes this an easy, enjoyable read despite the tough subject matter—I read this in a day. More info →
Miller’s Valley: A Novel

Miller’s Valley: A Novel

Finally, I read my first Anna Quindlen novel! This story of a young girl growing up in a rural community during a time when the community itself is facing a tremendous change. This was wise, reflective, and easy to read, and strongly reminiscent of Barbara Kingsolver's Flight Behavior. More info →


I keep hearing this new debut novel mentioned in the same breath as "best of the year" and now I understand why. For the first hundred pages I didn't quite grasp what the author was up to, but when it hit me it was powerful. By exploring the stories of two sisters, who met different fates in Ghana more than 200 years ago, Gyasi traces subtle lines of cause and effect through the centuries, illuminating how the deeds of ages past still haunt all of us today. A brilliant concept, beautifully executed. Read it. More info →
Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World

Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World


High praise: I owe the library a week's worth fines because I took this to the beach despite the fact that it was due while I was 600 miles away and it was totally worth it. It deserves its own blog post: I'll figure out a way to dive a little deeper into the concepts here soon. I appreciated the concepts in Cal Newport's previous book So Good They Can't Ignore You; in this one he shares excellent ideas while seriously upping his writing game. This is an excellent read for anyone who wants to thoughtfully examine their priorities, their working habits, or their relationship with social media.

More info →
The Woman in Cabin 10

The Woman in Cabin 10

This twisty thriller was an August Book of the Month pick for me. I was intrigued by the premise: a travel writer takes an assignment aboard an exclusive luxury cruise ship. Shortly after arriving, she wakes in the middle of the night to the sound of something heavy being thrown overboard. She's sure it's a body ... and yet no one is missing from the boat. She's compelled to figure out what really happened, which puts more than her own life in danger. Strongly reminiscent of Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None (If you want to give it a try use the code 30TOTE to get 30% off your first three months + a free tote bag.) More info →

What have YOU been reading lately?


Leave A Comment
  1. GingerG says:

    I spent most of last month reading East of Eden. It was so good! I’m on the wait list at the library for The Woman in Cabin 10. I want to like mysteries but I’m often disappointed. I’m hoping to like this one. It sounds interesting. I’m adding Homegoing to my reading list, too.

  2. karen says:

    I’ve been wading through the Elena Ferrante series but took a break in the middle when A Man Called Ove arrived at the library. I love it!!!

    Btw…I haven’t read Homegoing yet, but the author went to school with my boys, so that’s fun!

  3. Stacey Chin says:

    Homegoing is on my TBR list but I suspect this is one that will be hard for me to get in the UK. I read Me Before You this weekend, with a looming library due date, because after so many mentions on the podcast, I was tired of wondering what all the fuss is about! Could see both why people love it and why people hate it, but I came out somewhere in the middle. Now moving on to the first Flavia de Luce book – hoping I’ll fare better with this series as a waiting-for-the-next-Louise-Penny stop-gap than with Deborah Crombie’s Duncan Kincaid/Gemma James series – which I had to abandon, although I liked the first book, when I realized the library doesn’t have any others from the series available!

  4. I took A Fall of Marigolds out of the Little Free Library on our street but haven’t got to it yet. Deep Work sounds like something I would really benefit from; I have been feeling that sense of distraction brought on by social media!

  5. Tif says:

    Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. Fan-tastic. Have you read? Highly recommended in advance of your Savannah trip this fall. My parents moved there last year and I’m in love with the city.

  6. Veronica says:

    A book a day – what heaven! So far Before the Fall, The Black Widow by Dan Silva ( which was excellent but unsettled me), the 3 Library Lighthouse mysteries(set in the Outer Banks in a lighthouse!), Truly, Madly, Guilty, by Moriarty, Girl Waits with Gun,rereading Harry Potter, and listening to A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I just picked up the new Eowyn Ivey book To the Bright Edge of the World, and it’s wonderful so far.

  7. Guest says:

    I don’t normally read mysteries but I’ve been reading The Dark Vineyard and am enjoying it. If someone is looking to branch out to mystery, I recommend it. 🙂

  8. Robin says:

    I’m almost finished with Good Night, Mr. Wodehouse. It’s a story encapsulating a woman’s life and how she deals with everything by losing herself in books, specifically Wodehouse. Really well written.

  9. Kim says:

    This gives me hope for Homegoing. I’m a little over a hundred pages in and while I can’t point at anything to fault, I’m just not yet seeing why it’s getting such amazing reviews. I’m happy to hear that there’s a larger arc.

    I’m currently reading and loving Lab Girl! Funny stories, interesting insights into academia, and so many fascinating tidbits about plants! Next up for me will probably be I’m Supposed to Protect You From All This, by Nadja Spiegelman. Forgive me if I misspelled her name. The book isn’t at hand.

    • Jess says:

      I’m reading this too. I was 24th on the library list. I’m actually not all that into it. As a woman and a scientist I am finding it a little dull. But maybe the second half will be better. Definitely surprised at the long library list.

      • Kim says:

        Lab Girl? The science bits are probably a perfect happy medium for me, but I’ve heard plenty of complaints that there’s too much science (..in a science memoir?) and I could also see it being dull for someone more scientific. The real appeal I think is in the personal bits! You learn a lot more about her, and about her partnership with Bill, as the book goes on. Those stories are the best part I think.

    • Andrea says:

      I bought Lab Girl for my 17 year daughter who is entering college this fall as a possible biology major. Can’t wait to read it myself!

  10. Oh, I adore Anna Quindlen. (Although as a fellow HSP, I would not recommend you read Every Last One, which was WAYYYY too much for me – I didn’t know what it was about going in.) I loved her last book, Still Life with Bread Crumbs, and her memoir (Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake) is fantastic. Looking forward to reading Miller’s Valley.

    In July I read two of the Cormoran Strike books and six Anne of Green Gables books, so I consider that a great success. They were all wonderful!

  11. Rose Booth says:

    The Woman in Cabin 10 was my August BOTM pick as well. I haven’t started it, but have read page 69, so I think I’ll like it. 🙂 A Fall of Marigolds sounds really good and the premise reminds me of The Keeper of Secrets.

  12. Mary Clark says:

    I just got Homegoing last week, so that’s in my stack. From the library, I had three holds come in at once: Missing, Presumed by Susie Steiner; Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler; and To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey. I am currently reading Emma by Alexander McCall Smith, and just finished Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler and The Believers by Zoe Heller. My favorite books of the summer have been Jo Walton’s Small Change trilogy: Farthing, Ha’Penny and Half a Crown. Alternative World War Two history, with parallels to today’s election. I read them in 4 days, and that was with forcing myself to slow down!

  13. Leslie Lee says:

    I really enjoyed Miller’s Valley, but it left me dying to have someone to discuss it with! (Trying not to spoil anything here…) The unanswered questions about what Mimi found left me haunted me for DAYS.
    I’m in the middle of Homegoing now, and I agree, the momentum is building and I’m really looking forward to it progressing. Each generation’s story has been so difficult emotionally, but so important.

  14. Homegoing and Deep Work jump out at me as must-adds to my TBR list. My favorite July read was The Cuckoo’s Calling … or maybe What Alice Forgot. It’s a toss-up – both great fun to read.

  15. Donna says:

    Thanks for sharing, Anne! I look forward to these posts.☺
    Homegoing is on my summer reading list. I’ve really been into thrillers lately (I read No One Knows by J.T. Ellison back in July and enjoyed it!) The Woman in Cabin 10 sounds like it’s right up my alley!
    I’m currently finishing up The Good Father by Noah Hawley which I love. Also reading Food and the City by Ina Yalof and I highly, highly recommend it. It’s a behind-the-scenes look at New York’s food scene through the eyes of the professional chefs, line cooks, food vendors, and purveyors who call the city home (I’ve been making a list of all the amazing restaurants and bakeries in the book!) I love hearing each person’s story about how they started their business, the trials they faced, and how they overcame them. Very enlightening and relatable!
    Also, re-reading The Knockoff, one of my favourite 2015 reads!

  16. Christie says:

    Just finished Pretty Girls & was about to start Before The Fall, but I needed a transition book! Pretty Girls was dark & at times gruesome, so I picked up The Knockoff at the library today. Hope it will lighten me up!

  17. Eileen says:

    I just finished reading Miller’s Valley this afternoon and have already returned it to our Washington County Library. I am thankful that I read the book.

  18. I read Fall of Marigolds and enjoyed it! I have Woman in Cabin 10 and Miller’s Valley on my Kindle ready to go when in the mood and heard great buzz about Homegoing. I’m impressed with the reading you did on vacation! Very nice… and glad to hear it was enjoyable.

  19. leggy says:

    i just finished “outlander” and while i enjoyed it and i thought it was very well written, it was ultimately just a romance novel and for the 900 pages i would rather people just picked up a julie garwood book. the same historical romance fiction, shorter and straight to the point.
    i started “i’ll give you the sun” but couldn’t make it past page 65, i hated the style of writing, a metaphor attached to every sentence(i kid you not!) but i know i’m in the minority because it has loads of 5 stars.
    finished the prince of fools trilogy and those books were absolute delights!!
    currently reading “homegoing” and “we’re all damaged”. also, finally caved and got “still life” by louise penny because it keeps coming up on the podcast!

  20. So curious about Deep Work, Homegoing and Miller’s Valley! I liked but didn’t love A Fall of Marigolds. Not quite sure why.

    I’ve been digging out from a move but recently loved Radio Girls (a novel about the early years of the BBC) and Hidden Figures (fascinating nonfiction about black female mathematicians at NASA). The latter is going to be a movie too!

  21. Shea says:

    I loved this post and hated it at the same time–I’m adding just about all of these to my to-read list, as they all sound like ones up my alley. I only hate it because that list is already miles long, and between your blog and your podcast I can’t keep up. Can’t someone just pay me to read all day…? 🙂

  22. Britany says:

    It’s been an excellent month of reading for me so far. Finished and loved The Girls by Emma Cline, The Ballroom by Anna Hope, Glory Over Everything by Kathleen Grissom (loved more than the Kitchen House!), Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult, and Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard.

    Currently Reading: the new HP, The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko, & Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good by Kathleen Flinn.

    Up Next: A Man Called Ove (Been waiting months at the library for those one), The Woman in Cabin 10, and All the ugly and beautiful things.

  23. Hannah Beth Reid says:

    I enjoyed “A Fall of Marigolds” too! Though I really wanted it to involve the quilting store more…
    Thanks for sharing your reading with us!

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