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

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

This month I’ve been making up for lost time, reading quite a few titles I’ve been meaning to read for ages.

Quick Lit December 2016
The Accidental Tourist

The Accidental Tourist

I've been reading to read Anne Tyler for years, and when podcast guest Rebecca Smith (Jane Austen's 5x great niece) said she thought Tyler should be recommended reading for Jane Austen fans, I finally took the plunge. This was an enjoyable read that wasn't anything like I expected, and was relatable in surprising ways. (Any recommendations for what Anne Tyler novel to read next?) More info →
The Sparrow

The Sparrow

This is another one I've been meaning to read for ages, especially because it's on the favorite-books-EVER lists of some of my favorite readers. This seems like a painful book to have as your favorite, just because it's so very sad. It took me a hundred pages to get into it but once I did I couldn't wait to find out what would happen next. More info →
A Deeper Darkness

A Deeper Darkness

J.T. Ellison joined the MMD Book Club last month to talk about reading and writing psychological thrillers and I read this in preparation. I loved this series opener for her Dr. Samantha Owens series and read it in just one night, and when I finally figured out the mystery it wasn't at all what I expected. (J.T.'s best advice for thriller-loving readers: Stop looking for the twist!) More info →
The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living

The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living

This was a fun, more-or-less lighthearted read about a Boston pastry chef who flees to the country after literally setting her workplace on fire with a flambéed dessert. Perfect for fans of Jenny Colgan's The Little Beach Street Bakery or Laura Dave's Eight Hundred Grapes. More info →
What I Saw And How I Lied

What I Saw And How I Lied

When Gretchen Rubin was on What Should I Read Next, she talked me into this modern YA classic that had somehow never made it on my radar, despite being a National Book Award winner in 2008. This was a dark kind of fun, easy to read and hard to put down. More info →


Leave A Comment
  1. Terry says:

    Welcome to Anne Tyler-land! :-). My favorite Anne Tyler is Breathing Lessons. It has a line I’ve quoted over and over for years, but I won’t spill the beans. Also, I’m so glad you read The Sparrow. May I suggest the sequel, Children of God. I took so much away from these books–the danger of impressing our own POV onto others. Russell is a beautiful writer. I just finished Doc (Doc Holliday) and Epitaph: A Novel of the OK Corral. They’re quite a change of pace from The Sparrow, but still filled with the same sensitivity and empathy. Happy reading!

  2. Ann says:

    I read The Sparrow years ago, and it has haunted me since. That book is tragic on so many levels. I enjoyed the Accidental Tourist, too. I may have to go back and read some more Tyler. Thanks!

  3. Irene Carrick says:

    I’m currently reading “And we Stay” by Jenny Hubbard. I love all her books, Mandarin and Paper Covers Rock are both amazing YA books!

  4. I’ve been an Anne Tyler fan for many years. Saint Maybe is my favourite of hers, and I also really liked Breathing Lessons, Ladder of Years and Digging to America. In fact, the latter was the latest-written one of hers that I would say was really good; the subsequent ones are starting to feel like retreads of the same ground, IMHO.

  5. Heather says:

    Breathing Lessons might be my favorite Anne Tyler. Fun list — I need to check out that YA one. I don’t read a lot of YA but I like the really good ones (like We Were Liars)

  6. Susan C says:

    My two favorite Anne Tyler books are Digging to America and Ladder of Years. I don’t always like her books but she is an author that I always read her new books.

  7. Anne,if you can believe it, I read 250 pages of The Sparrow but even with knowing some big elements of the story, it was so sad and I loved some of the characters a lot, I just returned it to library. I wasn’t sure I could bear the whole story…did I make a mistake? I am usually not afraid of sadness in my reading but for reason this felt too heart-rending.

    • Anne says:

      It just keeps getting sadder. If you’re wondering if you missed out on the big moment that made all the suffering the characters endured worthwhile … you didn’t, because that never happens. (I hope that gives you confidence to leave it on the library shelf for now.)

        • Elizabeth Schroer says:

          I usually hate depressing books too. The only redeeming part at the end of the Sparrow was when he confessed to the priest and started to heal finally.

  8. Siobhan says:

    I love Digging to America. I don’t think I have read Breathing Lessons, I must try it. I read The Accidental Tourist a long time ago, but it stayed with me.

  9. My last few reads have been all about personal finance, because that’s my reading focus for the year.

    But I did recently read The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F***, and it was seriously one of the be books I’ve ever read.

  10. Donna says:

    Anne! I haven’t read any of these yet. But I did read No One Knows by J.T. Ellison in the summer! I’ve been on a thriller kick over the past few months.

    A few recent favourite reads:
    I See You by Clare Mackintosh. This came out here in Canada on November 29 and I grabbed a copy right away. I read it in a day. Mackintosh explored some important and timely themes and I am still thinking about it.
    All Is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker. I read this one after spotting it on Reese Witherspoon’s Instagram. Warner Bros. has already secured the rights to it! It gripped me from the opening line. I know I’ll be thinking about this one for a very long time.
    Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan. I read this as my book that I previously abandoned for the reading challenge. I am soooo happy I gave it another chance. Highly recommend! Also, I can’t wait to see the movie.
    Faithful by Alice Hoffman. I picked this up on a whim last month and read it in one night. This was my first from Hoffman and I can’t wait to read more. I think I might choose The Dovekeepers as my ‘backlist’ pick for the reading challenge!
    These Things Hidden by Heather Gudenkauf (I ended up reading 4 of her novels in one week!)
    Michelle Obama: A Life by Peter Slevin. I keep recommending this to everyone as a post-election read!

    Thanks for sharing!

  11. Bonnie says:

    I loved the Sparrow!! and enjoyed the sequel, Children of God, as well. So many people won’t read a book identified as science fiction; I suggest they read the Sparrow – it might open their eyes and throw out misconceived notions of what Science Fiction is.

  12. Susan says:

    The only other Tyler titles I have read are A Spool of Blue Thread and Vinegar Girl, but I think that you would like both of them. I wasn’t a fan of Accidental Tourist.

  13. Kimberlee says:

    Anne Tyler is one of my favorite authors, but Accidental Tourist is definitely not my favorite book of hers. Ladder of Years, Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant, Back When We Were Grownups and Breathing Lessons were favorites. I recall Ladder of Years really resonating with me — I must have read it when I was a new mom, feeling exhausted and underappreciated, because although she was older, I felt like the main character could have been me.

  14. Mary McKnight says:

    Oh, you must read Tyler’s Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant! I loved her earlier work so much, and never quite got into the newer works, but I think this will be the year I try…

  15. I am currently reading Icebound by Jerri Nielsen. It is her personal story of how she volunteered to be the doctor for an American team in Antarctica for one year. She is thoroughly entertaining in telling about “polies” and the manner of living and they establish. The reason she wrote the book was because she contacted beat cancer there and there was no way to get out till Spring, 5 months away. It’s a page-turner. Also just finished Exodus by Leon Uris. A tragic story of the process the Jews fought to get their own country of Israel. The facts are all correct but Uris based it around fictional characters to drive the story.

  16. Laura Schwartz says:

    J.T. Ellison, never heard of this author, but I love a good thriller. What would you compare it to in style?
    I’m on a Tana French binge right now, reading the Dublin Murder Squad series, and absolutely loving every one of them (currently reading book 4).

  17. Thora says:

    I read the Sparrow and its sequel. They are sad books (and I was hoping the second one would be a lot happier – it has some moments, but…not really). But even years after I read them, I still think about them, I still think about the questions brought up. So, it’s a hard book to recommend to people, but the Sparrow has definitely been one of the most thought provoking books I have ever read. It would make a great book club book for that reason – there is a lot to discuss in it.

  18. Jennifer N. says:

    Right now I am reading the latest installment of The Expanse Series that was released a couple weeks ago and am loving it. This series is sort of a near/mid sci-fi opera with a fascinating cast of characters, lots of plot, and lots of reminders that people are still people regardless of how physically removed from Earth they are.

    I just finished A Man Called Ove on Audible. For some reason it took me some time to get through it, but I really loved it. So much of Ove reminds me of my grandfather, who is very ill and only has a few months left with us. I recommended it to my manager the day after I finished, and she has already started it and loves it.

    I also recently finished Big Little Lies, my first Moriarty title, which I really enjoyed. And I discovered it will be an HBO mini-series, too, so that’s exciting.

  19. M.E. Bond says:

    I just discovered Anne Tyler this year when my sister picked A Spool of Blue Thread for our Skype book club. Then I read Vinegar Girl, which was much shorter and more light-hearted. I found Noah’s Compass and The Beginner’s Goodbye on the shelf at the library so I gobbled them up — not sure which I liked better. I’m not tired of her yet, so I’m going to read Digging to America (recommended by my mother-in-law) and then probably Breathing Lessons (since it won a Pulitzer). It’s exciting to discover a new favourite author and then find out she has written so many books! I’ll be busy for a while.

  20. Jess says:

    A Spool of Blue Thread was beautiful and such an interesting exploration of the experiences of a family through three generations. I definitely recommend it!

  21. Lynn Attley says:

    The Sparrow is one of my all time favourite books because I read the sequel Children of God. What you think you know by the end of the first book totally changes as you read the second. It brings depth of understanding to so many characters and events. Friends who did not love The Sparrow had a change of heart after reading Children of God.

    • Hannah Beth Reid says:

      I just finished “The Sparrow” yesterday. I had suggested it for the book club I participate in and came here to see what had been said about it that made us choose to read it this year. Thank you for the sequel info!

  22. Dawn says:

    Ladder of Years was my first Anne Tyler read, and I have since read almost everything she has written. It remains my favorite. It is just so easy to identify with for me. A Spool of Blue Thread is prolly close to my second favorite. But I am a HUGE Anne Tyler fan, so I love them all!!

  23. I’m excited that you read The Sparrow!! Glad it was one you liked.

    I am a big Anne Tyler fan. My all-time favorite is Saint Maybe, then Digging to America. The only one I really didn’t like was The Beginner’s Goodbye. It doesn’t feel like her work at all.

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