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 on the 15th of the month.

I’ve had a great reading month: I’m blazing through a series and I’ve been listening to more audiobooks than usual. I’ve also been reading up a storm for our Fall Book Preview, coming September 1. 

Today’s list features a little bit new, a little bit old, in a variety of genres. I always welcome your book recommendations, and in light of my intention to read more science fiction this year (more on that below) I’d especially appreciate your recs for that genre. Would you share them in comments? 

This is only a small smattering 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

Lock In: A Novel of the Near Future

Lock In: A Novel of the Near Future

This book has been on my radar since episode 100 of What Should I Read Next ("When everyone loves that book but you"), when Keith chose it as one of his favorites. This year I'm striving to read more science fiction, and knew it was finally time to cross it off my list. Scalzi's novel is set in a post-pandemic world, where 1% of the virus's unfortunate victims find themselves "locked in"—that is, awake and aware, but unable to move. However, thanks to a sophisticated virtual reality, these locked-in survivors can mentally inhabit other physical bodies called "Integrators" and experience the world just as they could before their illness. When an Integrator is found dead at the Watergate Hotel, two FBI agents are called in, and their investigation soon reveals a complex web of business and political motivations. More info →
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Truth or Beard

Truth or Beard

Romance readers have been telling me to read Penny Reid for YEARS, and I finally took the plunge, beginning with the first book in her Winston Brothers series. The series is set in the mountains of eastern Tennessee, where six handsome brothers fix cars, hang with family, do battle with the local motorcycle gang, and—one by one over the course of the series—fall in love. The boys' father is a bad apple, but their mama raised them right, making them read the classics and learn to dance. The series is actually a spin-off of her Knitting in the City series; I'm reading the first book, Neanderthal Seeks Human, right now. Reid's byline describes her books as "smart romance;" I inhaled this first installment. Heads up for some open door moments. More info →
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"Making good moonshine isn't that different from telling a good story, and no one tells a story like a woman." So begins Shiner, a new literary novel certain to land on my best-of-the-year list. Wren lives in the Appalachian Mountains with her family: her snake-handler father, who scares and enraptures the town with his preaching, and her mother, who only ever wanted to get off the mountain with her best friend Ivy, but whose parents made her marry. When Ivy stumbles into the fire and Wren's father performs a "miraculous healing," it sets in motion a chain of events that has devastating consequences for all. Gorgeous, lush, and beautifully sympathetic, I read this in one sitting. Recommended reading for fans of Jayber Crow. More info →
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Not So Pure and Simple

Not So Pure and Simple

I'm always eager to read a new Lamar Giles novel, and this one didn't disappoint. This YA story reads as fast and fun, while delving into the serious topics of friendship, dating, family struggles, and toxic masculinity. Del's been in love with the same girl since kindergarten, but he can't bring himself to tell her. To complicate things, he's developed a reputation as a player, and he's not sure how to admit that it's completely unfounded. And his parents are sending him decidedly mixed messages and sex and dating: his mom dragging him to learn from the fiery preacher at her church, and his dad dishing "manly" but unhelpfully vague advice. How is he supposed to navigate the world when no one will admit what relationships are really like? I enjoyed Del's candor and cluelessness when it came to girls and his classmates, but—perhaps because I'm no longer a teenager—my favorite character is his big sister, who's learning to engage and educate on timely issues on her exploding YouTube channel. More info →
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Finally, a new McCorkle novel! I've kept an eye on her work since enjoying her previous novel Life After Life; astute readers will spy a connection between the two works, though it's not necessary to read them in order. Her writing is gorgeous and evocative and, in this book, deeply sad—I struggled to get through some parts, not because it wasn't good, but because the characters felt so real. Frank and Lil are in their eighties, retired and recently relocated back to North Carolina, both looking back on the life they know they'll be leaving soon. As Lil compiles mementos of the past and writes letters for her daughter to have once she's gone, she's drawn to reflect on sobering events that happened decades ago—scenes from her childhood, her courtship, and earlier in her marriage. Frank is a retired teacher who's at a loss without his students, and is now single-mindedly focused on his childhood and the home he grew up in. That home connects the two to Shelly, a courtroom reporter in the midst of a gruesome trial, and who has a tortured past of her own. I listened on audio; the book was wonderful—if heart-wrenching—in that format. More info →
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The Guest List

The Guest List

This 2020 mystery puts a modern spin on Agatha Christie's classic And Then There Were None, setting a destination wedding on a remote Irish island, accessible only by boat, with guests whose lives are connected in ways they never could have guessed. When a magazine publisher weds a handsome reality tv star, she wants her wedding to be magazine-worthy: the designer gown, the atmospheric location, everything perfect to the last detail. But when the guests arrive, including old colleagues, boarding school friends, unreliable family, and untrustworthy friends—things begin going wrong, as long-buried secrets threaten to burst forth at exactly the wrong time. And then they find the dead body. Told in rotating points of view, this was cleverer than I'd expected. An enjoyable mystery that's excellent on audio. (I would have appreciated a content warning for self-harm; a murder mystery is certain to have triggers but that one took me by surprise.) More info →
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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. 

P.S. 7 ways to discover your audiobook style. Plus 15 fabulous debut novels and 10 comforting classics.

P.P.S. For the top photo I scooped up a variety of pretty new releases and advanced review copies; I’ve only read three of them so far! If you have thoughts on the titles shown there I’d love to hear in comments.


Leave A Comment
    • Debbie Ball says:

      Please email the contact you have for photos as I love who does yours. Im late to HomeGoing but man do I love it! Im following you Shannen and wish you well!!!

    • Amy says:

      When I was rebooting my reading life, Taylor Jenkins Reid’s, Maybe In Another Life: A Novel was one of the first books I read based on a WSIRN episode. I love all things Taylor Jenkins Reid but Evidence of the Affair was really amazing, the whole premise was so intriguing to me!

  1. Lisa notes says:

    I finished several great books this month on anti-racism. I hope I can take what I’m learning and put it into action.

    I’m currently reading “Ask Again, Yes” as my fiction pick this month, and a few nonfiction advanced reader copies. “Love Matters More” and “Beyond Your Bubble” are two standouts so far.

    Here are 7 books I recommend from what I just finished reading:


  2. Amy Rogers says:

    Enjoyed the Guest List! I’m currently reading The Night Swim by Megan Goldin and it’s the perfect summer mystery thriller!

  3. Dara Frazier says:

    Just finished Book Woman of Troublesome Creek. Aside from the beautiful, tear inducing writing, it was poignant to be reminded of a time when books were treasured as precious.
    Sci fi: can’t go wrong with Blake Crouch. Dark Matter is my favorite.

    • Jessica says:

      I’ve also read both of these titles and wholeheartedly agree!
      Blake Crouch was who I immediately thought of in answer to that question. I am eager to read Lock In!

  4. donna says:

    Just finished the murmur of bees – an absolutely wonderful book – highly recommend. you are completely transported to another world even as the murmur of bees resonates with you through sound and sight. mystical realism with a profound story to tell.

  5. Tracie R says:

    By far my f0avorite read of the past month: Boyfriend Material ❤️💙❤️💙❤️💙
    Listened on audio and have been relistening to fave parts and rereading ebook.

    Also loved Lab Girl, swinging wildly to a totally different genre!

    Dear Emmie Blue was good, recommended in a recent podcast of yours.

    Autopsy of a Boring Wife and The Housekeeper and the Professor are recent books in translation gems.

    Just realizing all of these were on audio. Read Party of Two with my eyes in one sitting the other night. Might be my fave Jasmine Guillory.

  6. Ivy says:

    I want to thank Anne for putting “Beach Read” by Emily Henry on my radar. I just finished it yesterday, and I am still in book hangover mode. I loved it so much. Can’t wait to add a few of the above to my TBR as well!

    • Kaity says:

      Yes. Agree 100% Beach Read was so much better than I expected! I was grinning to myself through so much of the audio book

    • Dinah says:

      Yes! I wouldn’t have picked it up without Anne’s recommendation, but it was very good! If I had seen it at the store I would have judged it by its cover. The story and writing are well done, with quick, witty dialogue throughout.

  7. Tienne says:

    This month, I read The Mothers, which I loved A LOT; I listened to Girl, Woman, Other, which I found difficult in some parts because of content and very real and horrific struggles, but it’s so well written and important; and I finally picked up Olive Kitteridge (recommended to me multiple times) but I just can’t get into it – I need plot! I’ve put that aside to read American Dirt because someone loaned it to me. That one I’m loving, though it hurts my soul sometimes.

  8. Sharon says:

    I read and loved Florence Adler Swims Forever, The Pull of the Stars and Everything Inside. I just began Lions I’d Fifth Avenue.

  9. Margaret says:

    So MANY great books this month. I was all over the place with genres. These are the best ones:
    Memoir: Hollywood Park by Michael Jollett.
    Historical fiction: The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue;
    The Mountains Sing by Nguyen Phan Que Mai;
    The Keepers of the House by Shirley Ann Grau.
    Thrillers: A Good Marriage by Kimberly McCreight and
    Fair Warning by Michael Connelly.
    Literary Fiction: The Second Home by Christina Clancy;
    Fleishman is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner;
    Deacon King Kong by James McBride;
    Miss Austen by Gill Hornby and Sea Wife by Amity Gaige.

  10. Tina Singh says:

    Thank you for the list. I am eyeing Shiner by Amy Jo Burns! I am waiting to get The Guest List in my book box soon. I can’t wait to get started on these two books. Love your recommendations and little reviews.

  11. Deanna says:

    I just finished reading Ordinary Grace, The Comeback and Deacon King Kong. All were really great summer reads. Currently reading A Woman is no Man.

  12. Beth Gross says:

    Thanks for your take on your current reads, Anne. Always so helpful.

    I previewed Homeless Bird by Gloria Whalen before giving it to my 12 year old niece for her birthday. Captivating story of a 13-year-old Indian girl in an arranged marriage that goes bad. Appropriate for all ages. I read it in an afternoon and loved it.

    I also got sucked into Pollyanna by Eleanor Porter when I was researching Project Gutenberg for my top picks. Even though the ending of Pollyanna is a little trite, I still enjoyed her sunny personality and the similarities to Anne of Green Gables.

    The other top picks are on my blog post.

  13. S says:

    I have wanted to try Penny Reid forever but I am confused by your write up – are you reading two different series of hers? Two different books are mentioned but I assume the write up is for Truth or Beard not the Neanderthal one?

    • Crystal says:

      Hi there! The Winston Brothers series is its own series with Truth or Beard as the first book. However, the Winston Brothers series is a spin-off of Penny Reid’s series, Knitting in the City. The Neanderthal book that Anne mentioned is the first in that Knitting series (The Winston Brothers are a spin-off of the book ‘Beauty and the Mustache’ in the Knitting series). I love these books, especially the Winston Brother series, and would recommend reading them!!

  14. Meg says:

    For sci-fi recs, Light from Other Stars by Erika Swyler has been one of my fave reads of 2020. If you want science fiction that’s also non-fiction and full of interesting factoids (humans used buttons as decoration for 3,000 years before using them as, you know, buttons), How to Invent Everything: A Survival Guide for the Stranded Time Traveler by Ryan North was my fave book of 2018.

  15. Amapola says:

    This month I finished “The Color of Water” by James McBride, such a beautiful tribute to his mother.
    I finished “Valentine” by Elizabeth Wetmore and although I’m not a fan of multiple points of view, in the end the stories of these women tied together.
    I also finished “Two Girls” by Louisa Lunna. I’ve been craving mysteries
    and detectives and this one was good.
    Currently, I’m reading Elsa Hart’s “Jade Dragon Mountain”, a mystery set in 18 century China and I’m enjoying it.
    I began to listen to “The Fifth Season” by Nemisin, but since it is a long read I decided to wait for a copy at the library.
    I’m also working through The Starr Series by L.M. Montgomery.

  16. Clara says:

    I’ve had a month of wonderful reading that I could hardly put down to get on with the rest of my life: Life After Life (fiction) by Kate Atkinson (why did I wait so long to read this!?); Hidden Valley Road (non-fiction) a fascinating story of a family and of a mental illness—of 12 siblings, six were diagnosed as schizophrenics; and James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time(essays): stunningly smart, insightful, and eloquent.

  17. Cheryl Leary says:

    Anne, You didnt say what you thought of the John Scalzi book. I’d really like to know… I’m reading book three of the “Matched” Trilogy by Ally Conde. It’s excellent.

  18. Ooo, I put Shiner on my TBR list immediately! It sounds like it will be right up my alley!

    My reading life has suffered a bit because we just moved, and any time not spent wrangling my three kids is spent unpacking. But I *did* manage to get a library card at our new place, so hopefully things will pick up again in September!

    I did review the three books I’ve read, though (and detailed why I’m currently on a Susan Meissner kick):


  19. Mary Hawkins says:

    I too was reluctant to read John Scalzi as I am not a big sci-fi fan but I really enjoyed it and have read a few more. My fav. of his to date is Old Man’s War…but, hey, I am a senior! My favourite (Canadian, eh?) Book in ages though is Hamnet and Judith by Maggie O’Farrell. This is the first of hers I have read but won’t be the last. It tells the story of Shakespeare’s own family life and also that of his married life, moving back and forth between the two. The title characters are his twins and, as with many twins, they are incredibly close. When one is tragically lost the other is changed forever. Shakespeare, in this story, uses his literary creativity to deal with his grief and in the process leaves a masterpieces for the ages. His wife is actually more central to the story than he is but the author moves back and forth between them and between Shakespeare’s youth and his adult life in such a moving way. I can’t recommend this book strongly enough.

    • Heather says:

      Another Canadian here, with Hamlet and Judith high on my TBR – good to hear you enjoyed it. (I loved Maggie O’Farrell’s novel The Hand That First Held Mine.) Also, Anne, I see you have the new Camilla Lackberg in that row of books – it’s also on my TBR, however, my sister – who is No Prude – says there is a lot of sex in that book. I guess it depends on what you can tolerate in a book. I am currently devouring The Winters by Lisa Gabriele and can recommend it to fans of Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier.

    • Libby says:

      I also really liked both Lock In and Old Man’s War (but not enough to keep going on that series). Some of my favorite sci-fi is Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan series (Cordelia’s Honor–or the 2 books it contains, Shards of Honor and Barrayar–is a good starting point; my favorites in the series are Komarr and Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance), the Illuminae series by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman (YA), and the Mars Evacuees series by Sophia McDougall (2 books so far, middle grade).

      Recently, I’ve enjoyed The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins (the Hunger Games prequel, which I wasn’t sure I’d like, but she sure worked her magic), Memorial Drive by Natasha Trethewey (but VERY sad, not what I would describe as a beach read), and working my way through the Anne of Green Gables series (currently just finished Anne of Ingleside and starting on Rainbow Valley).

  20. Patty Smith says:

    I loved Amy Poeppl’s MUSICAL CHAIRS & read it in one sitting! Perfect summer book about a Mom who’s looking forward to a romantic summer & instead is forced to hole up with her adult children in her falling down CT farmhouse. Meanwhile, she & her best friend / musical trio colleague have to decide what to do with their long-standing trio now duo. It’s well-written & a great read.
    I also loved Lily King’s WRITERS & LOVERS, Cynthia Martin’s TIDAL FLATS, Sharron Harrigan’s HALF, oh and FLORENCE ADLER SWIMS FOREVER by Rachel Beanland is fabulous!

  21. Kim says:

    Like Anne, I do not gravitate to sci-fi, however my book club chose Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky this month. Not only is it sci-fi, but comes in at 600 pages!! Somehow I’m over halfway through. It’s still not my favorite genre, but it’s good to read something so completely different for me.
    My recent reads (mostly on audio- because – “600 page book”) include Hidden Valley Road (loved), Love Lettering, Clap When You Land (loved!), Not Like The Movies, and Why We Can’t Sleep.

  22. Amy says:

    I’m a relatively new follower and I’ve so enjoyed discovering new books and new-to-me genres through you. Thank you!

    I have 3 teenage boys and a husband who are sci-fi fans. Some of my favorites in the genre are by Timothy Zahn. Icharus Hunt is a good stand alone. I also loved his teen Dragonback series. Our family has read through the series aloud and then we have each revisited it and re-read on our own.

  23. Mrs. Soule says:

    I just finished The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson and loved it! I don’t think I’ve ever read a book that kept me guessing as much as this one! Every time I thought I knew which direction the story was going, it would change – and it kept getting better!

  24. Mary says:

    I just finished listening to “Big Lies in a Small Town” by Diane Chamberlain (LOVED it!!). Read “The Guest List” by Lucy Foley and I really loved the twists and turns in that one. I am also reading a series by A.J. Rivers, starting with “The Woman in Cabin 13”- I am on book 4 right now-I love suspense thrillers/mysteries, so this is good for me 🙂

  25. Jess says:

    I’m reading The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin as I wait for her new or from the library holds list. I’m not a huge sci-fi person, but I’m quickly becoming a huge fan of hers. I’d recommend the Themis Files trilogy (Sleeping Giants is one of my all-time favorites), but I’m pretty sure I first heard about it on your show!

  26. Lynn says:

    Thanks for the ideas! Definitely plan to read The Shine. And Night Swim & The Guest List also look very interesting!
    Recent reads I highly recommend are: Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones
    Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
    The Last Flight by Julie Clark
    The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson
    Writers & Lovers by Lily King
    Also found Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld very compelling (definitely weird to read the Hillary/Bill sex stuff but can see where is essential to telling the story).

  27. Raquel says:

    Thanks for the list! More books for my TBR!
    In terms of sci fi, I’m reading Becky Chambers’ “Record of a Spaceborn Few” right now, third in her Wayfarers trilogy. I love everything I’ve read by her!

  28. Jill says:

    For a very quick delightful easy read try Be Frank With Me by Julia Claiborne Johnson. Exceptional 9-year-old and young woman who is hired to take care of him while his mother writes a book. Funny, poignant, well written. Frank is the young boy who is probably on the autism spectrum but that is never mentioned. Read in a day.

  29. Jessica says:

    My sci-fi recommendation: Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. The movie doesn’t do it justice. If you haven’t seen the movie, read the book first! The entire Ender (and Bean) series is on my husband’s favorites list. I’ve only read the first 2 in the Ender series, but they are easily on my list, too.

  30. Lynette Morse says:

    Hey Anne — Have you tried the Lady Astronaut series by Mary Robinette Kowal? I myself am not a huge sci-fi fan, but these novels are more like an alternate history — a reimagining of the Space Race with women at the forefront. A good mix of real history, some sci-fi, imaginative possibilities, and strong female characters.
    My book club is reading The City We Became for our September meeting, so I’m looking forward to that sci-fi pick, per your Summer Reading Guide recommendation. 🙂

  31. MaryBeth Schwarz says:

    One of my favorite authors is Susan Wittig Albert (also under Robin Paige). I just finished reading her new trilogy of novellas: DEAD LINES; FAULT LINES; and FIRE LINES, which are available as e-books now and will be in a hardback Omnibus version in September. Jessica Nelson is a crime reporter for the Enterprise weekly newspaper in Pecan Springs TX, and she has an admirable gift for following tidbits of information to give her big answers. The final novella moves quickly to solving the mystery of who set fire to her home when she was a ten away on a school trip and her parents and twin were killed. Last year Albert wrote the CRYSTAL CAVE Trilogy of novellas about Ruby, a character in the China Bayles mystery series. I never thought I would like novellas, but these trilogies with connecting stories were excellent by a master writer.

  32. Sue says:

    I’m a huge sci-fi fan, and one of my all-time favourite books is The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell. Not only is it a great “first contact” story, it’s also a moving exploration of faith. At its best, science fiction allows us to wrestle with deeply human issues by situating them in wholly “other” circumstances, and The Sparrow does an exceptional job at that. It’s also very character driven and not overly focused on the science, so I think it would serve as a good entry point to the genre.

    • Melissa Ann Bratland says:

      I second this recommendation! Very easily my favorite, even though I have read much more sci-fi in recent years.

  33. Su says:

    Um, you may not be a Star Trek fan, Anne, but you are familiar with Kirk and Spock, right? William Shatner himself, along with the Reeves-Stevens, wrote a really good series of Star Trek books (nice hardcovers) starting back in the 90’s. The first is The Ashes of Eden. I know everybody that read them (including myself, a big Trek fan) was really enthusiastic about the whole series. Don’t you have any kids that are Star Trek fans?

  34. Suzy says:

    My books for August were:
    This Tender Land—I was a teensy, weensy wee bit disappointed that it wasn’t JUST like Ordinary Grace, I loved that book so much. But it was excellent, really.
    Listening to American Dirt right now, nearly finished, really good story and very informative.
    Convenience Store Woman—sorry, weird and dark! Toooo quirky.
    American Royals—surprisingly fun!
    Far From the Tree by Robin Benway, about adoption. Very good. One to discuss.
    and Faceless Killers, the first Kurt Wallender novel by Henning Mankell. Also good, I will read more.

  35. Lydia says:

    All Systems Red -Martha Wells, With the Fire on High – Elizabeth Acevedo (one of my favorite young authors this year), Soul of the Sword – Juie Kagwa, Wave – S. Deraniyagala, The Girl in the Moon- Terry Goodkind, How Happiness Happens – Max Locado, and Writers and Lovers – Lily King.

  36. Leslie Olson says:

    Photo comment: Bread and Wine must be a re-release as I’ve owned it for a while – a beautiful piece of Shauna’s work on food and life and the beautiful relationship we have. Love Shaunas writing always, but beware she can be hard to relate to for some. Currently listening to VICTORY GARDEN and just finished the Jane Austin Society which is my favorite summer listen/read so far.

  37. Carolyn says:

    I’m currently reading “The Splendid and the Vile” by Erik Larsen. I highly recommend it! Such an intimate look at The Blitz and Churchill. I also recently completed I was Told It Would Get Easier by Abbi Waxman,
    Radium Girls by Kate Moore, and
    The Other Einstein by Marie Benedict. All are highly recommended.

  38. Beth says:

    Summer is my big time to read. By the pool, front porch, curled up on the couch. And thanks to Covid I lost my job, so plenty of time to get lost in books. Most recently:
    “A Woman of No Importance: The Untold Story of the América Spy Who Helped Win World War II.” Unbelievably good. Reads like a novel.
    “Red Head By the Side of the Road“. Okay, but boring.
    “Writers & Lovers”. Really didn’t like.
    “American Dirt” One of the best books I’ve ever read.
    “Big Summer” So so. Read on Audible and had a hard time getting past the annoying voice of the narrator.
    Currently reading “A Rule Against Murder”. Having trouble getting into it.
    “Pool and Its Role in Asian Communism”. Fiction. About a quarter through it and already a great book.

  39. Alicia says:

    I just started reading the Winston Brothers series by Penny Reid also. (All on Hoopla.) I can’t stop and I have all these other books I need to read. I am on Beard Science now.

  40. KT says:

    Science Fiction can be intimidating, but like other genres there is almost always something for everyone.

    There are definitely classics like Ender’s Game and Jules Verne (who helped define the genre), but I highly recommend Ursula K. LeGuin—she was an incredible writer and her work sometimes is fantasy or sci-fi or both. You can try A Wizard of Earthsea for a YA/juvenile fantasy example to get a feel for her writing.

    One I really enjoyed and HIGHLY recommend is Ken Liu’s award-winning short short collection “Paper Menagerie.” It’s phenomenal.

    For something lighter, I highly enjoyed the sci-fi/romance (more romance than sci-fi!) Crosstalk by Connie Willis.

    It’s a genre that is often snubbed by the lit community but it really has so much to offer! I’m glad you’re diving in as I’m trying to do that more as well.

    • Natka says:

      I agree – sci-fi is a big category and all sorts of stuff gets lumped in there. There is a lot of junk , but there are also some truly amazing books.
      I love science and the sense of discovery and adventure. So there are certain types of books I tend to gravitate to.
      Ray Bradbury – I grew up on his short stories. Also “Fahrenheit 451 “.
      Seveneves by Neal Stephenson. This is more hard-core science fiction (with emphasis on real science).
      Spin by Robert Wilson (it’s more about people and how extreme circumstances may change them, but there is also the feel of curiosity and discovery throughout the book).
      Roadside Picnic by Strugatski brothers (dark, brooding, a meditation on society). There is a movie that was loosely based on that story, called “Stalker” (directed by Tarkovskiy) – cinematography fans tend to love it.
      Space Maugli by Strugatski brothers (one of my all-time favorites; sweet, short, an exploration of what it means to be human and touches upon what’s ethical in science).
      Mack McDevitt has some books I really enjoyed: The Hercules Text, Eternity Road, Ancient Shores.
      Vernor Vinge has good stuff, too.

      I am not big on fantasy, but I did enjoy reading The Bear and the Nightingale (and the 2 follow-up novels) by Katherine Arden. I grew up in Russia, so the folklore was really familiar – it was fun to revisit that.

      • Sarah says:

        I’ve been scrolloing comments looking to see if anyone mentioned Ray Bradbury for Sci-Fi. So glad you did, his shhort stories are some of my favorites.

  41. Brenda L Steiner says:

    I have really enjoyed the Rosie trilogy by Graem Simsion: The Rosie Project, The Rosie Effect, and The Rosie Result. The main character is a high-functioning autistic genius. All the characters are engaging and get into many humorous situations. Since the main character tells his own story, you also have to read between the lines to figure out what is really happening.

  42. Emma says:

    In the past month, I’ve read:

    *Machines Like Me – Ian McEwan (alternative history of Thatcher’s UK, with sentient AI)
    *Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day – Winifred Watson (recommended here at MMD, but it was a little too frothy for me)
    *Rebecca – Daphne DuMaurier (LOVED!)
    *Let Me Sing You Gentle Songs – Linda Olsson (a very gentle and moving story of a friendship between an elderly Swedish woman and her young neighbour)
    *Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen (comfort reread!)

    I’m currently reading ‘The Dictionary of Lost Words’ by Australian author Pip Williams. It tells the story of the compilation of the Oxford English Dictionary through the eyes of a young girl who grows up to become involved in with the suffragettes of the early 20th century. Not sure when it’ll hit the US, but look out for it: it’s been a much-loved comfort read for us in lockdown and I know MMD readers will absolutely love it.

  43. Fran says:

    Finished the second Neapolitan book, “The Story of a New Name.” I just love these novels. Also finished my first Marisa de los Santos book, “Love Walked In.” Love that it was a “light” read but not formulaic. Now I’m finally reading “Interpreter of Maladies” and loving it!!

  44. Mary Beth Wallace says:

    I just listened to one of the beat online author discussions I’ve ever heard! Austen Vs.Bronte with Natalie Jenner, The Jane Austen Society and Finola Austin, Bronte’s Mistress, discussing their books and all things Bronte and Austen!
    Amazing!! Presented by the Wellington Square Bookshop. It was on Zoom so I’m not sure it was recorded but well worth your time to see if you can find it!! Of course I read The Jane Austen Society for July MMDBC and after listening to this I ordered Bronte’s Mistress.

  45. Emily says:

    I’ve finished a couple of books lately. The Heart’s Invisible Furies – amazing, one of the top books I’ve read. The Woman in Cabin 10 – I was surprised how mediocre I found this book, considering how popular the author is. It might have suffered because I had just read such a well written book before it.

  46. In the last month I’ve read:
    Adorning the Dark by Andrew Peterson, 5 stars (memoir/call to creativity)
    The Outsider by Stephen King, 4 stars (mystery)
    Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, 3.75 stars (mystery/soft horror)
    The Absolutely True Diary of Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie, 5 stars (memoir)
    Mr. Rochester by Sarah Shoemaker, 3.75 stars (fiction)
    Beach Read by Emily Henry, 4 stars (romance)
    The Last House Guest, Megan Miranda, 3.5 stars (mystery/thriller)
    The Other Bennet Sister, Janice Hadlow, 5 stars (fiction)

    Anne, have you read Good Morning, Midnight by Lily Brooks-Dalton? The story takes place in an apocalyptic/post-apocalyptic environment with characters living in the Artic and in a spaceship trying to get back to earth. Themes include loneliness, connectedness, purpose and regret. I would label it as literary science fiction; the writing is beautiful and the focus is on the thought life of the characters and their relationships with each other. It seems like the type of science fiction story you might like. 🙂

  47. Inky Labyrinth says:

    Shiner looks fantastic and went straight to my list!
    This stress of 2020 has me reading less than usual, but so far I have three faves in my main genres.
    Historical fiction: The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead. Obviously a heartfelt and timely yet brutal story that I think should be required reading. I learned so much.
    Fantasy/YA: Winterwood by Shea Earnshaw. Full of magical winter mystery set in a tiny town and a camp for wayward boys blocked off from the rest of the world.
    Sci-fi: Future Home of the Living God by Louise Erdrich. A near future where pregnancies suddenly become extremely dangerous and coveted as it appears evolution might be going backwards.
    Happy reading!

  48. Amy says:

    I just read Sold on a Monday and I loved it! It was an unexpected twist on historical fiction. Also, I finished Love Lettering per your rec and I loved it also although I wish it weren’t so graphic so I could share it with my daughter 🙂

    • Crystal says:

      Yay! Penny is one of my faves too! And I’m so excited that you mentioned the Smartypants books, I’m listening to them through Hoopla one at a time and am really loving them 🙂

  49. Lyndsey G says:

    I recently finished Beach Read and absolutely loved it. This weekend I started the new Jasmine Guillory and so far, it’s fantastic.
    Also, I *highly* recommend the audio versions of the Winston Brothers books!! I actually read the whole Neanderthal series on audio also and loved them, but the male narrator for the Winston brothers just adds so much.

  50. Crystal says:

    Great list! I’m really thrilled that you included Penny Reid’s Truth or Beard. I started the Winston Brothers series at the beginning of the pandemic and flew through all seven (eight if you count Beauty and the Mustache) in just a couple of months. Now listening to them on audiobook and they are so great.

    I just finished Waiting for Tom Hanks by Kerry Winfrey, Modern Lovers by Emma Straub and A taste of Sage by Yaffa Santos 🙂

  51. Luciana Rosa says:

    I’ve just read “Olive Kitteridge” and loved it, and now I am almost finished with “Olive, Again” – thank you for the tip.
    Before that I read “Recursion” and I thought it was too much over-the-top, like Butterfly Effect on steroids, but I loved the character Dr. Helena Smith and her growth during the story.
    My next read is “Wonder”, but I will read it in Spanish – it will be my first ever book in Spanish! My mother tongue is Portuguese, which is close enough, and I studied Spanish back in university. So I hope I can read a full book now.

  52. Libby H. says:

    Binge reading a series isn’t really my thing, but I just did that with The Broken Earth trilogy by NK Jemisin. Sci-fi isn’t usually my genre either, but I really loved the world she created. I was drawn to the series because of your recommendation of The City We Became, and then I noticed that this series had won consecutive Hugo awards. Totally worth the read!

  53. I read- and loved! – Alex North’s THE WHISPER MAN when it first came out and was excited to read his newest one, THE SHADOWS. I really enjoyed it, too, but in a different way.

    Almost done with Julia Heaberlin’s WE ARE ALL THE SAME IN THE DARK – it it is fantastic!

  54. Rose says:

    Here are two series that are Sci-fi that I really enjoyed. Time’s Eye by Arthur C Clarke is more traditional sci-fi.
    What’s Left of Me by Kat Zhang is YA.

  55. Cheryle Fisher says:

    A fantastic historical fiction book that is not WWII is The Orphan Collector by Ellen Marie Wiseman. Set in 1918 Philadelphia during the Spanish Flu epidemic, the author draws the reader in from page one. There is so much to this story that will take you from highs to lows and back again.

  56. I just finished A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith, and it shot to the top of my lifetime-favorites list. (Francie Nolan forever!!) After realizing I wished I was fitting in more time for classics in my reading life, a few years ago I started doing a “Summer of Classics”…I wrote a bit about it on my blog & shared some of my favorite classics from summers past.

  57. Aimee says:

    So far in August,
    Worth reading – Nobody Will Tell You This But Me (5 stars); I Was Told It Would Get Easier (4 stars); The Switch (this was an ARC – 5 stars); My One and Only Duke (5 stars); Christmas at the Island Hotel (4 stars)
    Skip – Last Tang Standing (2 stars); The Friend Zone (1 star)

  58. RMFahrnbach says:

    If you’re interested in reading more science fiction I highly recommend Martha Wells’ The Murderbot Diaries. The first book is All Systems Red. The books are funny, sarcastic, and never go where you expect. I’m normally not a science fiction fan but I really enjoy this series.

  59. Kathy Orlando says:

    Shiner was an amazing book! The author also wrote a memoir called, Cinderland, which was layered in grief, acceptance, and moving on. I know the author and forwarded her the information that you were reading Shiner. I have been following you for years and would love to connect the two of you!

  60. Sara Ault says:

    I’ve been enjoying the Murderbot Diaries. By Martha Wells. 5 short books that are fast reads about a robot with a bad reputation, who is struggling with human emotions. I’m not a sci/fi reader but this series has been so fun to read.
    Becky Chambers books are also good; Long Way to a Small Angry Plant is the first.

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