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.

My reading year got off to a slow start: it took ten days—a long time for me—to finish my first book of 2022. Despite my regular journaling, I didn’t realize how many books I’d been reading in late January and early February until I sat down to compile my Quick Lit possibilities! This monthly invitation to take stock of my reading life is just one reason I love our Quick Lit tradition.

I had a good reading month—and at the same time, I read a heaping handful of books that everybody else seemed to love and I thought were just okay. That’s okay—it happens sometimes—but it doesn’t typically happen with that much frequency. (Don’t feel too sorry for me: I read two forthcoming books I absolutely adored and will get to talk about soon!)

I also read more nonfiction than my round-up of recent reads reflects: I finished one popular nonfiction book late last night (you’ll see it next month) plus an assortment of super-practical nonfiction reads that may or may not hit the blog at some point.

This is just a sampling of the books I’ve read since our last round of Quick Lit. I highly recommend tuning into my podcast What Should I Read Next to hear more about my recent reads. In a show about books, I can’t help but discuss my current reading, plus forthcoming releases that aren’t ready to be shared on the blog but are perfect for podcast conversations!

(I also share what I’m currently reading in our weekly podcast newsletter: if you aren’t already signed up, click here to get on the list.)

I can’t wait to hear about your recent reads in comments. 

Short and sweet reviews of what I’ve been reading lately

The Light of the World: A Memoir

The Light of the World: A Memoir

I reread this before naming it our March Modern Mrs Darcy Book Club selection. (Yes, that reread is a crucial step in the selection process!) In Alexander's words: "The story seems to begin with catastrophe but in fact began earlier and is not a tragedy but rather a love story." The author's husband, an artist born in Eritrea, died just four days after his fiftieth birthday. A few years later, poet and creative writing professor Alexander looks back on their life together, their love, and the impact of that loss in her life. This beautifully rendered story is easy to read in a single sitting, and while sad, it exudes joy. More info →
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The Stone Diaries

The Stone Diaries

This book originally ended up on my TBR by accident: I collect orange Penguin paperbacks, and came home from my favorite library book sale years ago with not one but TWO copies of that edition! When I shared my book haul on Instagram, readers noticed my mistake and assured me the 1995 Pulitzer winner was well worth my time. The book details the life of Daisy Stone Goodwill, from her eventful birth in a small Manitoba town to her death in Florida eight-ish decades later. There was much to appreciate in this well-drawn chronicle of a so-called "ordinary" life—the prose is beautiful; so many sentences shimmer—yet I never felt emotionally invested in the story. More info →
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Love & Saffron: A Novel of Friendship, Food, and Love

Love & Saffron: A Novel of Friendship, Food, and Love

So many of you are going to LOVE this epistolary novel, set in the 1960s, that the publisher aptly compares to 84, Charing Cross Road. When L.A.-based Joan writes a fan letter to Camano Island (WA) columnist Imogen to thank her for her column in a Pacific Northwest-based magazine, enclosing a packet of saffron and a recipe, a lasting friendship is born. The women become pen-friends, exchanging letters that move from the topic of food to books (so many books!) to the troubles (and occasional triumphs) of their personal lives. This just may be the gentle, feel-good novel you're looking for. More info →
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Oh William!: A Novel

Oh William!: A Novel

This was the right book at the right time for me; I listened to Kimberly Farr's excellent narration on audio, and loved it so much I named it one of the things saving my life this winter. It's a reflective, often wistful narrative, voiced by Lucy Barton about her first husband William, whom she has—against all odds—remained friends with after their marriage ended many years before. I blew through this in two days because I couldn't stop listening to Lucy's thoughtful, sometimes arresting thoughts about what makes relationships succeed or fail, what it means to be a family, how one conversation can change a relationship and even a life, and how a single revelation about a person may transform our understanding of who they are. More info →
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Still Life

Still Life

This book was mentioned so often in our MMD blog comments here I decided to give it a try. The gently-paced story spans four decades and nearly five hundred pages, is packed with observations on the indispensability of art and beauty, and offers countless incarnations of the many ways to find and give love in this world. I had to nudge myself to pick this one up, but when I did I was happy to read more about the chosen family brought together by protagonist Ulysses (purveyor of globes, named after a racehorse) that endures and evolves from WWII Italy to the 1980s. My favorite moments are those in which Forster's novel A Room with a View is consciously paralleled, or art historian Evelyn Skinner makes a serendipitous appearance. More info →
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A Ghost in the Throat

A Ghost in the Throat

"This is a female text." These beginning words are repeated, over and over, throughout. But what to say about this story, how to define it? Words fail me here, because it's so unlike anything I've ever read: part memoir, part meditation on the female creative process, part biography of a long-dead Irish poet, plus a translation of the poet's best-known work. If you're stirred by the offer of gaining a glimpse inside the mind of a modern poet grappling with her brilliant predecessors, read this immediately. This is going straight on my Best of the Year list. I listened to the exceptional audio version, narrated by Siobhán McSweeney. More info →
The Maid: A Novel

The Maid: A Novel

I picked this up after so many book friends gushed about it. (Plus, I'll admit, I was intrigued by the announcement that Florence Pugh would star in the film adaptation.) Fans of Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine and fast-moving, plot-driven mysteries will enjoy this tale of a conscientious, neurodivergent maid seeking to prove her innocence after she becomes the prime suspect in a wealthy man's murder at a swanky hotel. 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. 

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Leave A Comment
  1. I am really looking forward to Love and Saffron; epistolary novels are my favorite! The Maid also has me intrigued. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed Oh William!

    This month I’m reviewing a 5-star backlist gem, a few newer novels (two I loved [including Oh William!], one that just wasn’t for me), a couple of relevant nonfiction titles, plus a handful of middle books read with my first grader (including one that has been our favorite read-aloud of this school year).


  2. Parker P says:

    “I had a good reading month—and at the same time, I read a heaping handful of books that everybody loved and I thought were just okay. That’s okay—it happens sometimes—but it doesn’t typically happen with that much frequency.”

    I don’t get it. So did you like any of the books that you read recently that you featured below?

  3. Indiana Gigi says:

    I just finished the glorious Dear White Peacemakers by Osheta Moore, and Shoutin’ in the Fire by Dante’ Stewart. I learned so much from both writers (both are also great Instagram follows). Currently reading and enjoying Harlem Shuffle by the brilliant Colson Whitehead. Reminds me a little of Deacon King Kong by James McBride which was one of my favorite reads of last year.

  4. Claire says:

    Thanks for these recommendations – and I agree that The Stone Diaries is a remarkable book. I’ve just finished Must Love Books by Shauna Robinson, and LOVED it.

  5. Holly says:

    So far, this year, I’ve read: Shadow Song and Blood Magick (Nora Roberts), Of Literature and Lattes (Katherine Reay), the Little Bookshop of Love Stories (Jamie Admans).
    I’m finding that I’m running into more and more books that seem to end abruptly. I’m not sure if it’s me or the books, but I’m finding a lot of times plot points brought up earlier in the book to be still unfinished at the end and I’m turning the last page expecting another chapter. Is anyone else noticing this? I ran into this with Blood Magick, Of Literature and Lattes, and the latest Debbie Macomber Christmas book. It’s very frustrating.

  6. Deb R. says:

    I just finished The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell – outstanding and will stay with me a long time. And now I’m about 1/3 through a fictional oldie, Hawaii by James Michener. The history of the islands is so interesting and he has created great characters.

    • Susan Baum says:

      I love Michener, and Hawaii was one of his best! Just a rec: Last year our book club read Moloka’i by Brennert…true story about the Leper’s colony in Hawaii. Heartbreaking and fabulous!

    • Cindy K says:

      Hawaii was my 18th summer read! 50 years ago!!!!! Once I got past the first drudgery of a chapter (my only complaint about some Michener books), I carried it with me all summer. And just last year read the Sam Hell book after seeing so many good reviews. Agreed. It has stayed with me, too…and am so glad I discovered it.

  7. Belle Sarff says:

    When you published the list of winter books I immediately picked up Winter Solstice by Pilcher. It’s a chunk of a book. It has messed with my reading numbers horribly because this book absolutely defies a fast reading. But, oh my! I needed this book and I did not know it. It’s a book that whispers to me, Be Still. The amount of peace I’m getting from this reading is immeasurable. Thank you for such a lovely rec, Anne!

  8. Adrienne says:

    I’ve had a good reading month! Here are my recent reads:

    * Never – by Ken Follett – Geopolitical thriller about the world on the verge of nuclear war, with subplots covering north Africa, China, and the USA. 4 stars
    * Project Hail Mary – by Andy Weir – I really enjoyed this story, and loved all the math and physics that Weir packed into the story without making it read like a textbook. 4.5 stars
    * The Dearly Beloved – by Cara Wall – I picked this book up a while ago based on Anne’s recommendation, and finally got around to reading it. I simply loved the story of four very different people, two couples; and their friendship over the years. 5 stars
    * The Night She Disappeared – by Lisa Jewell – Twisty mystery, but I actually figured this one out, and that’s rare… 3.5 stars
    * Malibu Rising – by Taylor Jenkins Reid – I loved this story of four siblings, who were dealt an unfortunate hand, but stuck together through it all. I’d say more but I don’t want to give any spoilers…. Fabulous characters prompted my rating of 5 stars
    * Wish You Were Here – by Jodi Picoult – This was the selection for my book club, otherwise I may not have read this one at all. I loved Picoult’s early books, but have been really disappointed in her recent novels. This one was very good, although as one of my book club friends said, there was definitely a point at which I wanted to throw the book at the wall… Happily, I kept going and finished this one. 4 stars.

    Current reads are Her Hidden Genius by Marie Benedict, The Night Portrait by Laura Morelli, and The Duke and I (Bridgertons #1) by Julia Quinn (Audiobook).

    • Erin says:

      Oh my goodness, I feel exactly the same about Jodi Picoult. She was a favorite of mine, and then I couldn’t even finish The Book of Two Ways. I was completely gobsmacked (don’t usually use that word, but what else is there to say?) by the twist in this one. I need someone else I know to read it so I can talk about the premise — trying not to give away any spoilers, but wasn’t it fascinating? And yes, I wanted to throw the book at the wall too. After I picked up my jaw from the floor! 🙂

      • Adrienne says:

        I agree! I did not like the Book of Two Ways either and found it got really bogged down with so much Egyptian history detail. There was just way too much going on in that book. With this one, at first I thought the “big twist” was just too gimmicky and simply not believable, but after I walked away from the book for a few days, I was ready to dive back in and see where she went with the story.

      • Barbara Kochick says:

        The Book of Two Ways. I look at it two ways; 1) it was an interesting plot, but 2) also convoluted. Also, (1)I thought the main character was a selfish ***** except (2) when she wasn’t. Finally, (1) it was amazing to read so much about Egyptology except (2) who knew reading about so much Egyptology could be so boring. In conclusion, don’t even get me started about the ending which went one of two ways!

    • Natalie says:

      I too felt the same way about The Book of Two Ways. I really wanted to like it because I thought it would be so interesting to reach about the culture and beliefs but my favorite part was actually the ending which was trademark Picoult. I stopped reading her books however, because she became political in her newsletter and basically told a fan/reader to go screw themselves because they had a different opinion regarding COVID and the vaccines. It really makes me sad because I truly enjoyed her books and used to collect them.

  9. Kathryn L says:

    I read a LOT this past month:

    Sex and Vanity by Kevin Kwan
    The Editor by Steven Rowley
    The Color Purple by Alice Walker
    The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer
    The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
    A Darker Shade of Magic by VE Schwab
    The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
    Lucky by Marissa Stapley
    Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin
    Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

    Currently, I’m having a bit of a book lull but not every month can be a book rampage 🤣

  10. Ann says:

    Currently reading The School For Good Mothers. It had been sitting/from library & I was pleasantly surprised by how easily I was pulled into the story. It takes a bit of a turn. I am halfway through.

    My first 5 star read this year was The Girls In The Stilt House. I thought it was a new release, but it’s been out a while. Kudos to the debut author for her very memorable characters.

    Also read Jacquelyn Mitchard’s The Good Son.

    I am curious to see Florence Pugh play the lead in The Maid. Just watched her in the weirdest movie: Midsommar. Not for the squeamish. It was not Little Women!

    But back to The Maid. I didn’t like it as much as some. It seems to be one of those you love it or hate it situations. I thought it was very slow and all those adages grated on my nerves after a while. I’ll admit “assume” stuck with me. 🤣

    I purchased Still Life for the cover. Does anyone else do that? I picked it up, but was not immediately taken with the story. I follow several reading challenges and a current prompt is “with a bird on the cover.”

    So I may give it another try. I have a bad habit of putting my TBRs off when I pick up new releases. Come to think of it The Goldfinch has a bird as well. That is one big book though!!!!!!

  11. Cheri McElroy says:

    Such great variety. I loved The Maid but not Still Life. At all. And I usually love slow-burn, character-driven novels.

    Recently I read and loved Unseen World and Black Cake. If not for the MMD Book Club I would never have found Unseen World.

  12. Holly A says:

    I’ve been reading the Lady Sherlock series by Sherry Thomas. In it, Sherlock is actually Charlotte Holmes, and she with her good friend Mrs. Watson are consulting detectives. So good. and each picks up right where the previous one leaves off.

  13. Beth Gross says:

    I just finished Lila by Marilynne Robinson, a book I was expecting to love but didn’t.

    I’m having a hard time figuring out why it didn’t work for me. Maybe it was themes I wasn’t expecting.

    On the other hand, The London House by Katherine Reay was a winner for me.

    Meanwhile on my blog I made a list of Clean Beach Reads, starting with the Regency Romance rabbit hole that I unexpectedly fell down.


      • Beth Gross says:

        Yes! Thanks for the tip. I listened to that episode and enjoyed the discussion about Marilynne Robinson’s books as well as the recommended reads. I’m not giving up on Robinson. I have Housekeeping currently in my TBR.

  14. Linda W says:

    Anne, hi. I started the year with a rash of ho-hum books, but February is definitely looking up. “Project Hail Mary” by Andy Weir was an epic adventure. Loved it! “The Murder of Roger Ackroyd” (a Hercule Poirot Mystery) – my first one – entertaining, even though it was written in 1926. “Lock In” by John Scalzi – wonderful! I read it in a little over a day – couldn’t stop. Published in 2014, but somewhat prescient to what we are experiencing today. (This was the very first book added to my TBR from your podcasts. Thank you, Anne!) Currently reading “No Cure for Being Human” by Kate Bowler and about to start “Oh William!” by Elizabeth Strout.

  15. Chris says:

    Two of the three books I’ve read recently are well researched non-fiction that involve people living through world events outside of their control. One is a bestseller by a well known author, “The Splendid and the Vile” by Erik Larsen about the Churchills, their inner circle and a sprinkling of more ordinary diarists during the bombing of London in WW II. It is a fascinating view of how people live, lead (in the case of Winston Churchill), and carry on during the most awful of times.

    A lesser known book by a lesser known author that is also a fascinating look into a tumultuous time is “The Black Russian” by Vladimir Alexandrov. This book tells the life story of Frederick Bruce Thomas, the son of former Mississippi slaves. Frederick travels through northern US cities, Europe, and to Russia, settling in Moscow as a successful entertainment venue business owner. World events (WW I, The Bolshevik revolution in Russia, and more) impact Frederick’s life. Alexandrov is an academic, which might have led to a dry telling but the book and the details of Thomas’ story read like an incredible novel.

  16. Josephine B says:

    Currently enjoying Beach Read by Emily Henry after a bit of a reading slump and am intrigued by Love & Saffron. But most importantly, I must know about the pens in the header image! Trying to make out the brand 🙂

  17. patricia says:

    Just finished The Maid. Very much enjoyed it. Loved her view of life and human interactions. It all ended as it should.
    Last night I read The Coldest Case by Martin Walker and Dark Matter by Blake Crouch. Both worth a look.

  18. Shellie Sandler says:

    I finished Cloud Cuckoo Land last week. It was wonderful. This is a book that everyone should pay attention to.
    Now I am absorbed in Black Cake. The way the author frames this novel makes it tough to put down.

  19. Amapola says:

    This past month I have been doing audiobooks by June Hur: The Forest of Lost Girls, The Silence of Bones and The Red Palace all fast paced mysteries set in the Joseon’s time in Korea.
    Louis Penny, The Madness of Crowds, wonderful to go back to Three Pines.
    Louise Penny and Hillary Rodham Clinton’s State of Terror, great fast-paced thriller.
    Libertie by Kaitlyn Greenidge: I enjoyed the first part better, but then I couldn’t connect with the protagonist.
    Currently reading Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P. Manansala; Yolk by Mary Choi.

  20. Janet says:

    I finished Cloud Cuckoo Land and was so sorry to get to the last page. I wanted it to go on and on!

    Project Hail Mary was fun.

    The Seven Days of Us was a book club selection, very timely even though it was written before this pandemic.

    Just started Daisy Jones and the Six…recommended by a friend with great taste, so I feel confident it will be good!

    • Erin says:

      I loved Daisy Jones and the Six. My favorite of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s books and I’ve read them all. I felt Malibu Rising was a disappointment, which seems to make me out of step with others’ reviews. Though I listened to it on Audible, so maybe that was it? Hope you enjoy Daisy Jones!

      • Melanie says:

        I was also really underwhelmed by Malibu Rising, so you’re not alone! I loved Daisy Jones and the Six though (although I was so annoyed we never got to hear the song the book references a million times!)

  21. Brooke says:

    January book haul – a good month for me!
    Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Harriet Ann Jacobs *****
    Taming the Tongue, Jeff Robinson Sr. ****
    The Beekeeper of Aleppo, Christy Lefteri ***1/2
    Mary Slessor, Geoff and Janet Benge (finished Feb 2) [no rating]
    Beartown, Fredrik Backman (finished Feb 4) ***

    • Janice Cunning says:

      I love that one too. But Happenstance is still my all time favourite novel of hers. It was the first one I read of hers so I think it carries a special place in my heart. I also loved A Celibate Season. Shields was a master at capturing everyday stories.

  22. Lauren says:

    I LOVED A Ghost in the Throat. I thought I was the only person in the world to have stumbled across it. A top read of mine for sure.
    Recent January and February books for me included:
    Small World -Johnathon Evison (V.Good)
    Tell the Bees I am Gone -Diana Gabaldon (Meh compared to the others)
    Matrix-Lauren Groff (V. Good)
    Nobody Will Tell You This But ME -Bess Kalb (Good)
    Small Beautiful Things-Claire Keegan (Good)
    A Children’s Bible- Lydia Millet (Whoah.)

    Currently reading The Memoirs of Stockholm Sven-Nathaniel Ian Miller (enjoying so far)
    Currently listening to Putting the Rabbit in the Hat-Brian Cox (the jury is still out on this one)
    Next up is Migrations-Charlotte McConaghy
    The best way to survive winter is to keep reading and counting down the days until spring 🙂

  23. Susan Baum says:

    I read both Still Life (a lovely virtual trip to Italy) and Oh, William! (love anything by Strout). I also listened to Mel Brooks read his new memoir All About Me! , and couldn’t have loved it more. Among lots of stories, he mentioned their film company, Brooks films, produced the movie of 84, Charing Cross Rd, starring his wife, Anne Bancroft! I was so excited to find it on Crackle….it was fantastic!

  24. Suzy says:

    Love and Saffron sounds good; I just bought Light of the World on Kindle, and I enjoyed Oh, William! It’s different, for sure; well, I should say Lucy Barton’s “voice” is different, but very interesting. I like Lucy, but she is puzzling to me. Like, a huge disconnect from the poor, cold, shy girl that she was, to the twice married top author that lives in Manhattan and goes on book tours—I kept having trouble reconciling it. But I have a minor beef with Elizabeth Strout, my fellow Mainer; WHY did she “diss” northern Maine so badly?? I don’t live in northern Maine, I’m in the coastal east, but I have been there, and I don’t have any idea what she was talking about, to make northern Maine sound deserted and unfriendly!! It’s NOT!! I used to go to conventions in Presque Isle and Houlton regularly, and always met with friendly clerks and wait persons, and yes, there are places to eat! I just googled Houlton, Maine, and even in the pandemic, I found 22 places to eat, including 7 chain restaurants— Pizza Hut, McDonalds, Dunkin, Subway, etc., 2 Chinese restaurants, 1 nice “tablecloth” restaurant, 1 diner, 3 pubs, 2 ice cream places and a Big Stop! And this part of the story took place in the summer, where places are open and people are CERTAINLY out and about. True, it won’t be as crowded as, say, Manhattan, but that’s what people like about it! Just sayin’. If you’ve formed an opinion of N. Maine. Not true.

  25. Alison says:

    My favorite book I read this month was one I read to our kids, “The King Arthur Trilogy” by Rosemary Sutcliff. This one goes down as one of my favorite books I’ve ever read to our kids.

    • Beverly J Wrigglesworth says:

      Rosemary Sutcliff was a great writer of English historical fiction. I have read several of her novels and they are all first rate.

  26. Wendy Barker says:

    Read The Stone Diaries again in 10 or 20 years. I read it first just after it was published mainly because the author lived in Winnipeg as do I. I liked it but it was on my reread 20 years later that I really got hooked on it. And I vowed that I would reread it in another 20 years because I think Daisy’s older self will have more insights for me.

    • Janice Cunning says:

      I agree Wendy. I thought it was ok the first time, liked it the second time, and recently read again for the third time with my book club and loved it. Shields is my favourite author and one of the few whose work I re-read. I also love that her books are so different. She was such a talent.

  27. Guest says:

    My Jan to now books:
    – Miss Julia Speaks Her Mind – HILARIOUS!
    – All the Lonely People – Oh my goodness, I loved this book on so many levels. Definitely recommend.
    – How Y’all Doing? Misadventures and Mischief from a Life Well-Lived – funny to hear Leslie Jordan narrate his own book. 3 stars.
    – My Lady Jane – Surprised by how much I enjoyed this as I normally do not like fantasy
    – Queen Bee by Dorothea Benton Frank – Not sure how to describe this one. Hilarious and thoughtful yet downright silly in ways that really brought down the book.
    – Group: How One Therapist and a Circle of Strangers Saved My Life – Dang. She and her therapist are both crazy. The End.
    – The Kew Garden Girls – a nice historical fiction book that scratched by itch for WWII books set in England.

  28. Gayle Lawrence says:

    I finished “Landslide” by Susan Conley today and am giving it 5 stars! I loved the way she wrote the teenage boys’ dialogue. It sounded so real.
    I thought I was going to love “Razorblade Tears,” and I did at first. I liked the two dad characters and thought they were so well written. However, I felt that the book was repetitive and I didn’t finish it.

  29. Mary Lou says:

    I recently read Death Notes by Sarah Rayne. I’ve read many of her books, but it’s been some time. Most of them have supernatural elements, and are creepy, and sometimes downright scary. There is nothing supernatural in Death Notes. It had a very slow beginning, and I was having my doubts, but the suspense ramps up near the end, and it was wonderful. Among her creepier books, A Dark Dividing is the best known, and is a masterpiece in my opinion. If you don’t know this author, she’s worth checking out.

  30. Sara Fairchild says:

    I hit the mother load with Netgalley this month so I am all over the place with titles. I read The Misfit Soldier (Michael Mammy) a sci fi story of a heroic rescue which I really enjoyed, The School of Mirrors (Eva Stachniak) a historical fiction mother daughter story during the French Revolution, The Paradox Hotel (Rob Hart) a speculative fiction novel about a security officer trying to solve a murder in a hotel for time travelers. And I am trying to finish Chilling Effect (Valerie Valdes) which is back list about a space bounty hunter with a ragtag crew. It should be up my alley but its like pulling teeth to get through it.

  31. Stephany says:

    I read several books in January including The Maid. I realize I am in the minority, but I despised that book so much that I wanted to throw it against the wall when I was finished. Reading it was the latest in several over-hyped book disappointments for me. I’m taking a break from new releases for awhile because I’m tired of getting burned. On the other hand, A Ghost in the Throat sounds very good so I’m adding it to my TBR. Thanks for sharing your recent reads with us, Anne.

    • Debra Hale-Shelton says:

      Here are few highlights of my year so far. The Cat Who Saved Books is a wonderful Japanese fantasy. Michelle Zauner’s Crying in H Mart and Katherine May’s Wintering are well-done memoirs. I started my year with Like a Mule Bringing Ice Cream to the Sun, a special delight for older readers. I finally read The Bell Jar and just bought the new Sylvia Plath biography Red Comet, which I’ve yet to read. I also read Rachel Held Evans’ final book, Wholehearted Faith, which another writer finished after her death. And I feasted on Joan Didion essays in Let Me Tell You What I Mean.

  32. Beverly J Wrigglesworth says:

    I am working my way through some series. One is the Invisible Library series by Genevieve Cogman. I just finished the third in the series about a Library that exists between all of the alternate worlds, with librarians who are sent out to retrieve (steal) unique books from different places.
    Another series is The Memoirs of Lady Trent. I am currently on the third book in this series–The Voyage of the Basilisk. Dragon naturalist Lady Trent travels through all the lands of her (fictional) world to find different kinds of dragons and learn all about them.
    I am also enjoying the Joe Pickett series by C. J. Box. Joe Pickett is a game warden in Wyoming who always seems to be caught in the middle of a murder mystery.

  33. Sandra Mosolgo says:

    The Speckled Beauty-read by author Rick Bragg on audio
    The Lincoln Highway-Amor Towles, loved it
    Crow Lake-Mary Lawson, Canadian setting
    For my Anglophile self,The Thursday Murder Club-Richard Oscan & The Brilliant Life of Eudora Honeysett-Annie Lyons
    The Madness of Crowds-Louise Penny(audio)

  34. Sandra Mosolgo says:

    One more-When We Were Young and Brave-Hazel Gaynor-historical fiction about a Japanese POW camp in China that imprisoned a British school. There are podcasts about the real characters.

  35. I get frustrated with books that lots of people loved that are just okay to me, but that’s better than books I’ve heard are so wonderful that turn out to have serious flaws! I had that latter experience last month with Class Mom.

    This month I read two novels with independent-minded female protagonists, a history of American culture’s panic over child sexuality, and a collection of essays on individual American experiences.

  36. Sandy says:

    My January-February to date list:
    Selling Ben Cheever, Ben Cheever, about a novelist looking for other work, son of author John Cheever
    Agent Sonya, Ben Macintyre
    Marrying Winterborne, Lisa Kleypas (her second novel)
    Only Human, Sylvain Neuvel, third novel in his Canadian sci-fi trilogy
    Stalin’s Meteorologist: one man’s untold story of love, life and death, Olivier Rolin, translated from French, original title Le Meteorologue, biography of Alexey Feodosievich Wangenheim
    The Cellist, Daniel Silva
    National Insecurity, Melvin Goodman
    Matrix, Lauren Groff
    Little Dorrit, Charles Dickens (850 pages!)
    Bewilderment, Richard Powers, re-reading for book club
    Unfinished Utopia: Nowa Huta, Stalinism and Polish Society, 1949-1956, Katherine Lebow (2013 book)
    Lessons in Hope: My Unexpected Life with John Paul II, George Weigel
    An Ordinary Spy, Joseph Weisberg
    The Thief, Fuminori Nakamura (Tokyo crime novel)
    Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austin, re-reading via an audiobook in the car
    Ray and Joan: the man who made the McDonald’s fortune and the woman who gave it all away, Lisa Napoli
    Witness to Hope, George Weigel, first volume of his St. John Paul II biography
    Oh, William!, Elizabeth Strout
    Hello, Stranger, Lisa Kleypas
    Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen
    The Promise, Damon Galgut
    American Jesuits and the World, John T. McGreevy

  37. Wow, so many books on your list that are sending me rushing to my Goodreads to add them to my TBR! I read The Stone Diaries a couple years back and remembered absolutely loving the writing — it’s probably due for a re-read sometime here soon.

    I’m late to the party, but I’ve been reading some excellent books lately, including one of the best parenting books I’ve ever picked up:


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