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.

This month I’m sharing several new releases as well as two of my picks for the 2016 MMD Reading Challenge.

Quick Lit 2/16
Roots and Sky: A Journey Home in Four Seasons

Roots and Sky: A Journey Home in Four Seasons

Several years ago, Purifoy and her family made an intentional move to a big Pennsylvania farmhouse (minus the farm) in search of a community and a home. In these pages Purifoy tells the story of their first year at Maplehurst in beautiful yet unfussy prose. Such a lovely memoir. More info →
Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up

Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up

I expected this follow-up to the blockbuster The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up to be more of the same; I didn't really expect any new info and was pleasantly surprised by this new release. On the whole, I found this book a lot more practical and a lot less woo-woo. Kondo dishes out detailed instructions on everything from folding clothes to organizing lingerie to storing pesky plastic bags. I found her detailed instructions on tackling the kitchen most helpful and made a few needed changes in my own kitchen storage after reading this. (Don't get too excited about the illustrations: they're sparse and not particularly helpful.) More info →
We Have Always Lived in the Castle

We Have Always Lived in the Castle

I read this as my "book you can finish in a day" for the 2016 Reading Challenge. As expected, it's not exactly scary, but Jackson is sure good at infusing a story with a creepy atmosphere. In this work, her last completed novel before her death, she tells the story of the Blackwood family. Not so long ago there were seven Blackwoods, but four of them dropped dead from arsenic poisoning several years ago and how that happened remains a mystery. Read this during daylight hours: its themes of family secrets, hateful neighbors, and mysterious deaths aren't the stuff of bedtime reading. More info →
Among the Ten Thousand Things

Among the Ten Thousand Things

I added this to my list after Seth Haines recommended it as a favorite on What Should I Read Next. This wrenching debut novel tells the story of a family that falls apart after infidelity comes to light. I appreciated Pierpont's vivid portrayal of the characters' emotional lives, her elegant prose, and the way she flashed forward to five, ten, twenty years ahead to show what had become of the family members. (Seth wasn't kidding when he said the racy content would make you blush, and heads up for profanity.) More info →
Touching the Void: The True Story of One Man’s Miraculous Survival

Touching the Void: The True Story of One Man’s Miraculous Survival


I've been meaning to read this modern adventure classic for years, largely because I'm obsessed with Into Thin Air. I expected the two books to be similar but—aside from the fact that they both deal with life and death in the icy mountains—the books didn't feel at all the same. Krakauer's is reflective and journalistic; in Touching the Void, Simpson and his climbing partner alternately tell the tale of their disastrous ascent of a remote peak in the Peruvian Andes.

More info →

What have YOU been reading lately?

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  1. Carrie Roer says:

    I really want to read Roots and Sky — I don’t usually choose a “word” for the year, but have been struck over and over in the last 6 weeks that this is my year for “home”. Unfortunately I have no book budget, and I only get books from my library, unless it’s a reference book that I know I’ll read more than once. So… I hope I can convince my library to get a copy. Or maybe it’ll show up in one of your Kindle Deals (that’s how I justified getting Tsh Oxenreider’s Notes from a Blue Bike). 🙂

  2. Karen says:

    I am 3/4 of the way through Just Mercy. It is a hard, but important read….only I am at a loss to what to do with the information I now have!

  3. I feel like I’ve read here long enough that we’ve discussed John Krakauer before…right??? Anything compared to Into Thin Air is a book for me. Have you read Into the Wild or Under the Banner of Heaven? Both are gold.

    • Anne says:

      I’m sure we have because I LOVE Into Thin Air! I’m a little scared of the other two you mention there but I think I can get over it and read them one day because I just keep hearing how good they are.

  4. Meg Evans says:

    I walked away from Among the Ten Thousand Things. Too much salaciousness–I’m not a prude, but I just kept thinking that if one of my kids happened to pick it up or read over my shoulder, it would be beyond awful. I also just wasn’t into the story–I didn’t particularly like any of the characters and I didn’t care what happened next. Back to the library it went.

    • Anne says:

      Yep, that would be awful all right. And that is very meta because the story gets started when kids end up reading a box of salacious info that they were never supposed to see!

  5. Corby says:

    The Purity of Vengeance by Jussi Adler-Olsen. It’s the 4th book in the series. The main character runs the cold case department along with his two quirky assistants. Quick easy reads. And I like that some of the storylines continue from book to book. If you enjoy detective novels check it out.

    Also reading Lock-In by John Scalzi. Interesting mystery with an intriguing sci-fi twist.

  6. Jessica says:

    Just finished Roots by Purifoy. I was drawn to it because I am pregnant with my 4th child like she is in the beginning of the book. Excellent.

  7. Dana says:

    Just finished Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. I LOVED it!
    I want to go back and read it again.

    I am reading A Natural History of Dragons: A Memoir by Lady Trent. It is a Victorian age-type novel with dragons. I picked it up on a whim, but I am really enjoying it. The voice of the narrator, Isabella, is great and it reads realistically except for the existence of dragons. It is the first in a series. Enjoying it a great deal.

    • Dana says:

      I forgot: I also just finished “The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend.” It was a fun, enjoyable read about a woman who starts a bookstore in a decaying town.

      I have Roots and Sky on my Kindle but I have not started it yet.

  8. Emily says:

    I had really been wondering about Spark Joy. I listened to the audio version of Tidying Up and it was so repetitive (although informative) that I didn’t think that I’d try this one. But your recommendation might change my mind. Thanks!

  9. I’m glad to know Spark Joy is worth a look. I’m never sure about nonfiction sequels. 🙂 Also I’m reading Necessary As Blood by Deborah Crombie based on your recommendation and loving it! It’s giving me a few places to visit on our trip to England in May too!

  10. Victoria says:

    I received a review copy of Purifoy’s book and it’s the kind of book I think I’ll be pouring over again and again during certain seasons. I can picture myself putting it down in order to do some writing of my own too. 🙂

    And I love your descprition of Kondo’s new book. I’m alllll about the “a lot less woo-woo” side of tidying up! 🙂

  11. Wyndi says:

    I’ve been on a tear of reading MMD picks. Recent reading: The Lake House (finished), The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up (in progress), Jane Eyre (finished), Eleanor & Park (in progress), Emma: A Modern Retelling (in the queue), as well as having a Georgette Heyer audiobook handy.

  12. Kelli says:

    Ever since I listened to that podcast, I’ve wanted to read Among the Ten Thousand Things and I just got the notification from my library today that it’s waiting for me! Can’t wait! Although it’s actually going into my current library stack that includes 11/22/63, Ann Patchett, Louise Penny #7, Just Mercy, and The Guest Room by Chris Bohjalian. I’ve had so many out lately that I’ve been reading according to due date to try to get to them all in time, but I felt locked in so now am reading based on what I want to read next. We’ll see how many I run out of time with 🙂

    • Susan E says:

      I just finished Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner based on your recommendation, Anne. I loved it and can’t wait to read more of his. Also recently read The Storied Life of AJ Fikry by Gabrielle based on your recommendation as well. Short and sweet. And read The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George based on a recommendation by my mother. Didn’t like it quite as much as the other two. Always love getting recommendations from this blog.

      • Anne says:

        I’m so glad you enjoyed Crossing to Safety and A. J. Fikry! I didn’t care for The Little Paris Bookshop myself. It *sounded* like a good idea but I felt like it dragged and I just didn’t care about the characters.

  13. Sara K says:

    I was glad to hear Spark Joy has practical tips for the kitchen. That was ne area I felt was lacking in The Magic of Tidying Up.

    I have read Wonder by RJ Palacia and Bossypants by Tina Fey so far this month.

    I read so many books in January do I’m feeling a little let down at my progress so far this month.

  14. Liz Krumins says:

    We Have Always Lived in the Castle has been one of my favorite books since high school! I discovered Shirley Jackson after reading The Lottery. You can definitely read it in one day but I liked to reread passages as I went, I love her style!

  15. Thanks to you, I just put the Shirley Jackson book on hold at my library. I have recently finished reading The Princess Bride (how did I not know it was a book until this year!) and Winter (after being on the hold list for MONTHS). Such fun. 🙂

  16. LoriM says:

    Touching the Void was an AWESOME movie, too. Can’t remember if I read the book but my husband and I both loved the movie. I think it’s streaming now, too… I kept forgetting that it was actors playing the parts.

  17. Seriously cannot wait to read Roots and Sky. And I recently read the new Maisie Dobbs novel (so good) and Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson – a YA novel set during the California Gold Rush, which I loved.

  18. Katie Roper says:

    I just nailed down my reading challenge list and have started on a couple books from it. I’m reading all the light we cannot see (a book I’ve been meaning to read) and the silmarillion (a book published before I was born). I’m excited about the variety that this challenge has encouraged to my reason life, especially when it comes to things I should have already read.

  19. Pam says:

    I don’t have a blog so I will post here what I’ve read so far in February. The 100 Year Old Man who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared, Tiny Little Thing and currently reading The Happiness Project.

  20. Donna says:

    Thanks for sharing, Anne. I’m definitely adding Touching the Void to my never-ending TBR list! Into Thin Air is on the list of 100 books I plan on reading this year. I’m thinking I’ll get to it in the summer or fall.
    I’ve read a ton of amazing
    books lately:
    Last week I finished The Shell
    Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher
    and I can safely say it’s the
    best piece of fiction I’ve read
    to date. It’s a classic for a reason and I can’t recommend
    it enough!
    I finished Descent by Tim
    Johnston on Saturday night. I
    just couldn’t put it down. I
    was dying to know how it ended but also didn’t want it
    to end. A gorgeously-written
    thriller that will keep you
    turning the page. I found myself holding my breath throughout. So so incredible!
    Last night I finished The Glass Castle and I really can’t believe it took me this long to pick it up! A beautifully-written memoir that made me laugh, made me angry, and made me shake my head in disbelief. A winner for sure!

  21. Helen Grace says:

    I’ve been so inspired by your 2016 Reading Challenge, that I’m making such progress that I need some help with Book Published this Year category as I’m going to be there soon, and then I’m going to start the Challenge all over again! So, I’m keeping to Fiction, and need a good plot line, so what can you recommend?
    Helen grace

  22. Melissa says:

    I am so glad you enjoyed Spark. I loved the concept behind The life changing magic of Tidying Up. It really changed the way I think about how I purchase and get rid of things, but some of her ideas were a little strange to me.

    I look forward to reading Spark. I’d love more practical ideas on how to organize the things I LOVE and want to keep!

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