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 been reading a lot this past month, vetting plentiful potential Summer Reading Guide titles and striving to keep my “currently reading” list in balance by carefully choosing backlist titles for my nightstand. You’ll see both reflected below. 

I hope you’ve enjoyed some good books lately as well. Please tell us all about your recent reads in comments.

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

Olive Kitteridge

Olive Kitteridge

Strout fans, would you believe I still hadn't read the Olive books? Retired schoolteacher Olive is not keen about the way her small Maine town is changing. Through a series of interconnected short stories, we get to know Olive's family and some of the townspeople as they each grapple with their respective problems. Each story is written with care and offers some hope as Olive comes to have a better, more honest understanding of herself and those around her. I just stumbled upon Olive, Again on my library's "lucky day" shelf and am looking forward to reading that next. More info →
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September: A Novel

September: A Novel

I was pleased to find this large Pilcher novel, the one published immediately after The Shell Seekers, in the hotel library when I was traveling last month—and even happier to discover that its minor character Noel Keeting play a major role here. The novel opens in May and, in rotating points of view, Pilcher examines the life and love troubles of several characters who we know will all find themselves at the old family home in the Scottish Highlands come September, because they've been summoned to attend a celebration for the daughter of one of the small town's leading families. I didn't love it as much as The Shell Seekers, but this was the right book at the right time for me this January. More info →
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Loveboat, Taipei

Loveboat, Taipei

I enjoyed listening to the audio version of this new YA release on Libro.fm, as narrated by Emily Woo Zeller. Ever Wong is an eighteen-year-old Asian American girl in Ohio, a talented dancer who, unknown to her parents, harbors dreams of pursuing professional dance when she graduates. When her parents find out she's considering abandoning the medical school path they've always dreamt of for their daughter, they promptly put her on a plane to Taiwan to spend the rest of the summer at Chien Tan—an immersive high school program that focuses on language and culture. She does NOT want to go, but when she arrives she's surprised to discover that far from the scholarly summer she expected, the students themselves call the program "Loveboat," because so many long-term relationships begin here, and they have so much unsupervised leisure time. Her roommate has even come in search of a husband. This was a fun listen about a girl traveling halfway around the world to find herself, and maybe find love, too. More info →
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Keep It Moving: Lessons for the Rest of Your Life

Keep It Moving: Lessons for the Rest of Your Life

I read—and loved—Twarp's previous book The Creative Habit. (It even makes an appearance in chapter 11 of Don't Overthink It!) Tharp is now seventy-seven years old, and in her new book she writes about finding purpose as you age, and maintaining vitality in both mind and body. As with all her books, my favorite bits are the specific glimpses into her own routines and work experience. More info →
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Oona Out of Order

Oona Out of Order

The premise of this new February release caught my attention: what if one woman doesn't live her life linearly, but completely out of order, one year at a time? On the eve of her nineteenth birthday, Oona is in a good place: at a New Year's Eve party with the man she loves, counting down to both the new year and a new year in her own life. But just as the clock strikes midnight, Oona passes out—and wakes up as a 51-year-old, in an unfamiliar place, greeted by a stranger who expects this to happen, and a letter from herself explaining the wild ride she's just begun. I appreciated the creativity of this story, which reminded me of Back to the Future for theme and Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine for tone. 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. Get hooked on a new mystery series with these 10 addicting audiobooks, and a simple trick for your To Be Read list.

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    • Fonda says:

      I felt the same regarding The Starless Sea and wondered if I had expected too much or if I lost something in the audio format. Glad to see I’m not alone in going from utterly entranced to feeling let down.

    • Katie says:

      Just added some books to my tbr! I felt the same way about The Starless Sea, which I did read in print. The beginning was 5 stars for me. I was so intrigued and enchanted. And then I got to the last 200 pages and just wanted it to end. I rated it similarly. I had to average my stars.

  1. Linda Stoll says:

    In THE BOOKBAG this month ~
    * A friend gives us a peek at her favorite Christian fiction authors and their books
    * I share the 3 bookish jigsaw puzzles that have gotten me through some long mid-winter evenings
    * I’ve hand-selected the best bookish links I could find
    * I invite my readers who’ve published Christian fiction to share all the details …

    See you there!

  2. I’m not sure how I haven’t read Olive Kitteridge yet but I’m currently in the waitlist for my library’s copy!

    For this month’s Quick Lit post, I’m sharing reviews of some mysteries/thrillers I’ve read recently. This is my favorite genre, but I can be picky about what I want from a good mystery. These reviews include a couple of books I enjoyed, and some that definitely didn’t work for me.


  3. Beth Gross says:

    Oona Out of Order looks like a great book.

    Thanks for sharing this list, Anne.

    I had fun this week researching the ways reading lowers stress. We all knew that, but it’s nice to have scholarly research to back you up, right? https://purplecrayonyourworld.com/6-ways-reading-lowers-stress/

    Last week I published One Book a Month for Toddlers, which I had fun vetting with my 16-month-old granddaughter.

  4. Ginger G says:

    I just finished Bad Blood by John Carreyrou on audio – so good! And I’m currently reading Such a Fun Age. I’m adding Oona to my TBR list.

  5. Maria Ontiveros says:

    The tv version of Olive Kitttedge is also great! I read Go for my 2020 book in translation; interesting look into “Koreans” in Tokyo but solidified my conclusion that YA fiction is not really my cup of tea. Short, easy read.
    Currently reading/listening to my 2020 debut The Cactus League and love it! About baseball people, not just baseball players, in spring training. Beautifully written.

  6. joanna says:

    I discovered Olive Ketteridge, the HBO series and watched it/ binged it.
    It was so good. So I got the book that was just as good. I usually read books before the movie, but in this case I didn’t know it was a book when I watched it. She is a great character! So many levels and felt I could relate to her (miseries). 🙂

    • Sue says:

      I’m wondering if the under 50’s (and I don’t know how old you are) can really relate to Olive—I was 60 when I read it, and I love Olive. I read the book twice, and watched the HBO series and both are excellent. Then I read Olive, Again, and while it’s certainly just as good and I liked continuing the story, it’s SCARY—too scary about old age….

  7. Amapola says:

    I recently finished “This Tender Land” and “Ordinary Grace” by William Kent Krueger. As for Elizabeth Strout, I recommend “Abide with Me” (a young pastor struggling) and “Amy and Isabelle” (a mother and daughter story). From “Anything is Possible”, I enjoyed the first story of the collection. And I have discovered that I enjoyed listening to mystery audiobooks.

  8. Ruth O says:

    I enjoy this monthly post very much, thank you all!
    Finished Moloka’i, and will probably read the sequel. Also finished the first in the Gilded Age mystery series, What the Dead Leave Behind by Rosemary Simpson, and have added the next one to my TBR list.
    Rhetorical question: how is it that one can have holds at the library, all placed at different random times and they all come in the same week? At least usually they can be renewed a couple of times!!

  9. Danielle says:

    So far this year I’ve read “The Inheritance” by Louisa May Alcott, “The Blue Castle” by L.M. Montgomery, “The Bookshop on the Corner” by Jenny Colgan, “The Black Widow” by Daniel Silva, “Skyward” by Brandon Sanderson, “A Gentleman’s Murder” by Christopher Huang and “The Gifts of Imperfection” by Brene Brown. I would classify all of the above a great reads except for “The Bookshop on the Corner”…I would say that is a good read. I’m currently reading “The Year of Living Danishly” by Helen Russell and enjoying it. Thank you for sharing your reads. 🙂

  10. Vicki says:

    I loved Shell Seekers – I have a sweet story about it and a lady I met in the church thrift shop where my mom works, but it’s probably too much for this block. Anyway, I hit the link for September and it links to a German Kindle version on Amazon, just fyi. Love your recommendations so much!!! You’ve rerooted my reading life. mwah!

  11. I saw the Oona Out of Order book mentioned in the most recent issue of Real Simple magazine and thought I needed to add it to my TBR, but then promptly forgot. So I’m grateful for the reminder!

    I’ve been doing quite a bit of backlist reading lately too, just because I know that come summer, I’ll be ALL about the new releases (largely thanks to you and your reading guide, ha ha!). Here’s what I’ve been reading lately (including my first Marilynne Robinson!):


  12. I love Elizabeth Strout 🙂 Oona Out of Order sounds so intriguing – so glad you mentioned it. I’m adding to my TBR. I just finished IN FIVE YEARS, which comes out soon. The main character jumps forward in time 5 years and it’s super engrossing to see what happens.

  13. Jean Vogl says:

    Recently finished September by Rosamunde Pilcher after having read (and loved!) Shell Seekers and Coming Home. All fantastic reads! Cant believe it took me this long to discover her! Started with Winter Solstice during the holidays (perfect recommendation, thank you!). Tried to get into Olive but didn’t love it; maybe I need to give it another try. Oona is on my TBR; sounds interesting!

    • Lisa Toner says:

      I really enjoyed “Rules of Civility”. Surprisingly, I gave up on “The Nightingale”. Just couldn’t get into it at all.

  14. Lisa Toner says:

    I recently read, and really enjoyed, “Daisy Jones & The Six” by Taylor Jenkins Reid. I had a hard time putting it down. “The Gin Closet” by Leslie Jamison is also very good.

  15. Sylvia McCorkindale says:

    I’m reading and really enjoying The Road to Happenstance, a new novel by Janice Dick. A story that is part mystery, part romance and a whole lot about caring well for one another

  16. Dana says:

    I have been binging on Tans French lately. I’ve read The Witch Elm and the first 3 books in The Dublin Murder Squad series. Terrific pacing and character development. Also the first 2 books in The Truly Devious Series. Stepped back from mysteries and currently reading a The. Ten Thousand Doors of January and Keep It Moving

  17. Libby says:

    I just finished Oona Out of Order and I’m recommending it to EVERYONE! Everyone who walks through the door of my bookstore gets an earful about Oona. I was SO SAD TO FINISH IT!!

  18. Marcia says:

    I liked the first Olive book but was disappointed in the second one.
    In January I read “The Elephant Whisperer” by Lawrence Anthony and then “An Elephant in My Kitchen” written by his wife. Takes place in Zululand and if you like elephants these books are for you.
    Our kids book group will be reading a YA book “Girl in the Blue Coat”.

  19. Sandy L says:

    I’m enjoying the 3rd book from mystery writer Penny Weibly. Her mysteries are set in Austin Texas.
    Just finished Foreign Correspondence by Geraldine Brooks. Really enjoyed! This is a non-fiction semi-autobiographical account of the international pen pals from her youth and the quest to find them as an adult. Her People of the Book is one of my all-time favorites!

  20. Diane says:

    Just added Keep It Moving to my TBR list. As I approach retirement (still about 5 years away), I find myself thinking more about purpose. I’m currently reading Stiff – The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach, on a friend’s recommendation. Fascinating and not as gruesome as you might imagine. The author provides good doses of humor throughout. I also started The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield and quickly got sucked in. Happy reading!

  21. Susannah says:

    Quick Lit is my favorite post!! I also like to read all the connected Quick Lits from other bloggers, it’s so fun! Oona Out of Order sounds like a winner…
    Right now I’m reading Celine, by Peter Heller, and after only a few chapters, I’m in love with it!

  22. Laura says:

    I finished Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner this morning. What a beautiful, descriptive, slow (in the best possible way) novel. I hated for it to end. Next up for me is Evvie Drake Starts Over.

  23. Dorothy says:

    I haven’t read Olive Kitteridge either! Will do in March! I read The Library Book by Susan Orlean and loved it! Made me wish I was a librarian, what a wonderful profession. Tons of historical info as well. Read the Serpent of Essex it didn’t live up to the hype for me. Also read Ten Thousand Doors of January which I really enjoyed, as I am not a sci-fi reader at all! Thanks for all you do for readers Anne (and staff)!

  24. Erica says:

    Oona Out of Order sounds fascinating! I love a good time travel book.

    The most interesting book I’m in the middle of right now is Deep Convictions, which discusses four landmark cases about freedom of religion. Also, I’ve finished The Silmarillion and I’m reading a 19th century novel about a grouchy old antiquarian, which is a refreshing change from the poetic young heroes and swooning heroines:

  25. Jackie Jones says:

    I read Inheritance by Dani Shapiro and highly recommend it especially if you are interested in geneaology. Also just finished All My Puny Sorrows by Canadian author, Miriam Towes. I couldn’t put it down and stalled before reading the last ten pages. The two sisters, one who is a famous pianist and suicidal, and the other one who lives a messy life but still loves life and wants to help her sister, are unforgettable. I picked up this book after reading about it in an article by an author who highly recommended the book, and said that it is the book she purchases as a gift for most of her friends.

  26. Teresa Ruhland says:

    I’ve been reading Gwendolyn Harper’s zombie apocalypse romances Bloody Sunrise, Blood Moon and recently released Bloody Sunset trilogy. The first ebook is free. Her talent for dialogue and action scenes is prominent in all three books. You can follow her on Instagram.

  27. Teresa Ruhland says:

    I’ve also been reading Lauren Devora’s Children of Lilith vampire ebook series. Once again I found an author who’s dialogue and action scenes show immense tablet. Her character development is superior.

  28. Denise says:

    Working my way through a Classic Book I have never read before; Jane Eyre. The beginning of the book is good, but I’m bogged down in the middle. It is a lot of internal dialogue. May put it aside soon and get back to it later. I have downloaded the Dutch House and I may be getting to it sooner than I thought.

  29. C says:

    I’m reading Burn The Place: A Memoir by Iliana Regan. And for read aloud we are doing Henry and the Chalk Dragon for my son’s book club. I wasn’t able to find an audio version of it so we are reading a few chapters a night and very much enjoying it.

  30. Ellen Cole says:

    I love Rosamund Pilcher and agree that I didn’t love September as much as I’d loved Shell Seekers. That said, I have loved Winter Solstice and Coming Home as much, if not more than Shell Seekers! I’m fairly certain I’ve heard you mention Winter Solstice on the podcast, but if you haven’t yet read Coming Home, please add it to your TBR. You won’t be sorry.

  31. Kay says:

    I have just read Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon, an absolute five star book with beautiful prose. This is a mystery which takes place party in a nursing home for the elderly and partly in the memory of Florence as she tries to make sense of what is happening. A new resident, Gabriel Price, arrives to live there but he looks exactly the same as someone that Florence knew decades previously, even down to the scar above his mouth. Only Ronnie Butler died, so Gabriel Price couldn’t possibly be him. This book is worth reading for the prose alone but the mystery of Gabriel/Ronnie and what is the third thing about Elsie keeps us both reading quickly and not wanting it to end at the same time.

  32. Sue B says:

    I just blew through Before We Visit the Goddess and Ask Again, Yes! Gave them both 4 stars. Both excellent family sagas in vastly different settings. Also recently enjoyed The View from the Rooftops by Karman. Should have given it 5 stars! Strong characters , great love story against Ww2 backdrop, and satisfying ending. What more do you need?

  33. Lis Moriarty says:

    I love seeing what others have been reading – thank you so much for sharing yours. Oona Out of Order sounds so different which I’m always intrigued by books that are out of the ordinary.
    Here’s what our family has been reading including a murder mystery in translation for my husband, adventure for my children, and a love story that totally broke my heart and put it back together.

  34. Robin says:

    Finished Midnight in Chernobyl, truly a great read. Fast-paced nonfiction, and you really get to know the characters (who are real people) in this book, which I appreciated. Also read My Mrs. Brown, which I had heard about on WSIRN. It was enchanting, great character development, and I love books that examine (seemingly) ordinary lives.

  35. Ruth H. says:

    I took my time reading Alice Hoffman’s The World That We Knew. It’s a beautifully written and deeply moving story of the holocaust. The narrative is so compelling, but I had to set it aside occasionally to let the sections I’d read settle in. To counter-balance I listened to the audio of journalist/biographer Robert Caro’s Working. His steady, reasoned voice helped ground me and I am still enjoying learning how he researched his news stories and biographies.

    Keeping It Moving just came in from my library holds and I’ve started (and am loving) Girl, Woman, Other.

  36. Katie says:

    I took a break from The Remnant Chronicles series last week to read The Royal We – because I needed a love story for Valentines lol. And I LOVED it. Any book that can make me want to cry, and several times at that, is a 5 star read. Now I’m back at the final book in the YA series (which I’m really liking)! I listened to The Dutch House last week and now I’ve got Elinor Oliphant in my ears at work this week.

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