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.  

This is a particularly fun edition. Today I’m sharing a pile of new releases I loved (and which will sound familiar to those of you who picked up our Winter Book Preview digital magazine). I’m also sharing a handful of recent nonfiction favorites. 

This is just a sampling 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

The Push

The Push

While not a thriller in the traditional sense, this novel, which in many ways makes me think of a contemporary East of Eden, is right at home among mysteries and thrillers. This psychological drama is written as a sort of letter from a woman to her ex-husband, in which she promises to tell "her side of the story," from when they met through the present day, where she sits in the dark outside her husband's home, watching his new family through their living room windows. The letter quickly settles on her relationship with their daughter, a connection that began coldly and deteriorated from there, though perhaps not for the reasons her ex-husband (and, at first, the reader) suspect. Book nerds will appreciate the unusual second person narration, repeated motifs, and the multiple possible interpretations of the title. (Take note: specific triggers are not obvious from the book description, and sharing some here would involve significant spoilers, but they are plentiful.) More info →
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The Survivors

The Survivors

I’ve long said that Harper's first novel The Dry is her best work, but now I might have a new favorite. In her latest, Harper returns to the themes that worked so well in her debut: a man returns to his tiny hometown to find that neither the community nor his family have forgotten or forgiven his involvement in a past tragedy—and that's before a fresh crime brings painful memories raging back. Much of the story is set in seaside caves that the local teens enjoy exploring—but flood when the tide comes in. A deliciously creepy (and sometimes claustrophobic) tale of buried secrets, family tensions, and life after tragedy. This doesn't officially come out until February 2, but since it's a January Book of the Month pick, I'm including now. More info →
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This Close to Okay

This Close to Okay

Cross-Smith's second novel (following her 2020 short story collection So We Can Glow) is a hard read in many ways and yet the story sucked me right in, and the propulsive plot kept me turning the pages. Though the subject matter is weighty, a strong sense of humor and snappy dialogue kept this book from feeling overwhelming (for me, but please mind your triggers). An added bonus was the novel's setting in the real-but-not-real location of Louisville; I enjoyed puzzling over which thinly disguised businesses, neighborhoods, and cities Cross-Smith had in mind. Heads up for an open door scene and serious content, including depression and suicide. This doesn't officially come out until February 2, but since it's a December Book of the Month pick, I'm including now. More info →
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The Wife Upstairs

The Wife Upstairs

Longtime readers know I'm a sucker for a classic retelling. Jane Austen is my usual catnip, but I'm glad I took a chance on this updated Jane Eyre, set in contemporary Birmingham, Alabama, in the Thornfield Estates neighborhood of Mountain Brook. In Hawkins's version, Jane becomes a dog-walker with a troubled past she'd prefer to keep hidden, Bertha the owner of a Southern home and fashion empire that put me in mind of Draper James, and Eddie the handsome, grieving widower looking to rebuild his life after tragedy—or so he says. A dark kind of fun. More info →
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The Power of Writing It Down: A Simple Habit to Unlock Your Brain and Reimagine Your Life

The Power of Writing It Down: A Simple Habit to Unlock Your Brain and Reimagine Your Life

I was honored to provide an endorsement for Ally, which reads: Good things come to those who write. I'm thrilled that this book will help so many people benefit from the power of putting words on the page, learning through Allison Fallon's firm but friendly instruction both why and how to develop their own writing practice—because words can change everything. More info →
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What Could Be Saved

What Could Be Saved

Despite its hefty 464-page length, I finished most of this family drama in a single day. The Preston family moved from Washington, DC to Bangkok during the Vietnam War. When they returned home several years later nothing was the same—not in their country and not in their family, because while in Thailand their eight-year-old son had been kidnapped and was now presumed dead. This story opens with that boy's sister opening an email, a message from Thailand saying, I think I have your brother. Will you come get him? In dual timelines that span 47 years, the story probes the long-held secrets the Preston family members have been keeping, and their devastating consequences. More info →
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Walking: One Step At a Time

Walking: One Step At a Time

I've had this little book on my stack for well over a year, and am so glad I picked it up as one of my final 2020 reads! I loved it so much. This book in translation (from the original Norwegian) is a little bit personal story, a little bit philosophical meditation on just that—how walking is grounding and expansive. I took a ridiculous number of notes in my book journal (which I shared with the Modern Mrs. Darcy Book Club in our Best Book of the Year event, along with all the quotes I had to read out loud to my family). More info →
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The Biggest Bluff: How I Learned to Pay Attention, Master Myself, and Win

The Biggest Bluff: How I Learned to Pay Attention, Master Myself, and Win

This book was such a delightful surprise. I never expected to love—or even read—a book about poker, but several readers with great taste told me to prioritize this one, and I'm glad I listened. In this story-driven narrative, author and New Yorker journalist Konnikova tells how and why she dedicated several years of her life to becoming a professional poker player, and seamlessly connects what she learns at the table to making better decisions and living a more satisfying life. Endlessly fascinating and laugh-out-loud funny. 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. 20 unputdownable mysteries and thrillers to keep you glued to the page, and 14 wintry audiobooks to listen to on dreary days. Plus the best thing I’ve done for my reading life lately.


Leave A Comment
    • Desert Island bookworm says:

      When Anne said above she enjoys retellings of Jane Austen (this thread includes two other similar comments), I wondered if she ever read 2012 novel THE UNBEARABLE BOOK CLUB FOR UNSINKABLE GIRLS by Julie Schumacher. Many Janites may’ve missed since it’s classed YA–but older readers who memorized her works get even more out of it.
      Narrator’s mother (“only a few hundred years kept her and Jane from being friends”) says her daughter reminds her of Catherine, heroine of NORTHANGER ABBEY. Knowing that, you’ll guess how a public swimming pool in the USA is modern version of Bath, England. Other girls in the book club echo JA heroines–and maybe a touch of Jane Eyre too.
      While classics assigned for mother-daughter book club don’t include Austen, readers may put her collected works on their own (re)reading lists, along with some from English teacher mom’s bookshelves that narrator alphabetizes.
      I love Schumachers’s descriptive images–reminds me of one of my fave authors for re-reading, Elizabeth Enright (unknown to many adults as classed as juvenile, tho her characters include elderly eccentrics).
      Just found Schumacher novel The Shakespeare Requirement–“one of Washington Post’s 50 Most Notable Works of Fiction in 2018”. Older titles such as these may be read while fresh of the press books are in your waiting list limbo.
      P.S. Schumacher’s prevous adult novel Dear Committee Members is perhaps influenced by both the 18th century novels in letter form she read and Jane Austen’s own witty correspondence.

  1. Meg says:

    I read Why Fish Don’t Exist last week and already know it’s going to be a best of 2021. Science, history, true crime, philosophy, memoir: a balancing act that is pulled off as beautifully as a Cirque Du Soliel show.

  2. I’m joining others here with a review of my 2020 reading – I really enjoy these peeks into the patterns of our reading lives. My favourite non-fiction was Square Haunting: Five Women, Freedom, and London Between the Wars (Woolf and Sayers are two of those women), and my favourite fiction was The Parasites, a lesser-known but accomplished Du Maurier novel. For reviews of these and others, hop on over to my blog https://susandcook.blogspot.com/2021/01/quicklit-january-2021-reading-round-up.html

  3. Ahhh I too really enjoyed The Wife Upstairs & “What Could Be Saved” is waiting for me to pick up at the library today!!

    Here’s what my family has been reading lately including a book that finally got me out of my beginning of the year reading slump, the trilogy my husband is finishing up, audiobooks I’ve been binging, and picture books that are brightening my kids days.


  4. jayne garvin says:

    Looks like some great picks. Can’t wait for The Push and What could be saved. Our book club just finished the Henna Artist. Everyone loved it.

  5. Marty Suter says:

    I started the new year with Greenglass House and the Bear and the Nightingale. Loved the Russian folklore aspect to Bear and looking forward to running through both of these series. Both recommendations from WSIRN 🙂 Also, finally reading Little Women for the first time.

  6. Marie says:

    I am excited to add The Power of Writing it Down to my TBR!
    Right now I’m reading Historians on Hamilton: How a Blockbuster Musical is Restaging America’s Past, and I think it’s absolutely fascinating.

  7. Beth Gross says:

    I’ve been revisiting Call the Midwife books and DVDs. The gritty human drama sometimes fascinates me and sometimes overwhelms me.

    I also recently finished Stepping Heavenward by Elizabeth Prentiss, fiction about a wife and mother in the 1800’s striving to live a godly life. I was struck by how much culture and gender roles have changed since then.

    Since I’ve been a slow adopter to audiobooks, I did some searching on how to get started with free audiobooks to hopefully help other slow adopters. https://purplecrayonyourworld.com/free-audiobooks-a-beginners-guide-for-the-non-techie/

  8. Amapola says:

    During the holidays I read:
    “Piranesi” by Susanna Clarke, the kind of book that would be great to discuss with a friend.
    “Persons Unknown” and “Missing, Presumed” both by Susie Steiner, police procedurals.
    “Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet” by Jamie Ford.
    I had picked “A Gentleman in Moscow” when it came out, but for some reason couldn’t finished it. I began the year with that book and somehow it resonates more with my present situation after spending the holidays away from the family. This is exactly what I needed this Winter!

  9. Victoria Parker says:

    I just finished my BOTM pick Outlawed by Anna North which I loved! Currently reading The Forgotten Kingdom by Signe Pike, which is just as enchanting as The Lost Queen. Grudgingly finishing The Chicken Sisters, not the book for me right now. Then I’m settling in with some seasonal winter reads that I’ve missed: The Snow Child, Iron Lake, The Hunting Party, The Current and Beartown. Cue up the cozy throw, chai tea and a seat by the window 💕

    • Cheryl says:

      Everyone–please hang a big “trigger warning” on OUTLAWED for anyone who with infertility or pregnancy loss issues. 🙁

  10. Susan says:

    I definitely will read Jane Harper’s latest. I loved her other books. As a memory keeper I am very interested in The Power of Writing it Down. I’m off to a great reading start this year. I have read Daisy Jones & The Six (5 Stars), Skipping Christmas (5 Stars), Lovely War (5 Stars), The Lions of Little Rock (4 Stars), Winterdance (4.5 Stars), The Glass Hotel (4 Stars), Long Bright River (3 Stars), Don’t Overthink It (5 Stars), Sourdough (4.5 Stars), and The Brilliant Life of Eudora Honeysett (5 Stars). Currently reading: West With The Night and Walkable City and Transcendent Kingdom (my book club read for January).

  11. So fun to see Erling Kagge’s Walking: One Step at a Time mentioned here (always fun to see Norwegian books mentioned in the wild!). It’s been on my radar, but now after reading your review, it’s moved onto my TBR list. It will fit right in with my 2021 Scandinavian Reading Challenge.

    Here are my latest reads. It was a good end to the year!

  12. I’ve already read five books this year! So far none of them come close to my favorites from 2020, but I did just finish and enjoy The Survivors. I’m 30 weeks pregnant with my first baby and I’m having a girl, so I’m hesitant to pick up The Push, BUT it sounds right up my alley! Help!

    • Lena says:

      That was my dilemma too! I got in early on my library holds and the book came in but I returned it because I was worried about reading it while pregnant!

  13. Kate says:

    Currently rereading for 3rd time (did audio twice) Here For It by R. Eric Thomas for my church book club. Turns out my pastor was on the committee that mentored author’s husband in our denomination’s process to become a minister! Also reading The Book of Creation by J. Phillip Newell because I’m making deep dive into Celtic Christianity after reading & loving in 1st week of January a more recent book titled The Ancient Way by River Jordan. Also reading Storm Beat: A Journalist Reports from the Oregon Coast by Lori Tobias. Her first novel is in my stack of TBRs from the library. For my audiobook, it’s Barack Obama’s memoir, A Promised Land.

  14. I finally read a Louise Penny book; two other mysteries; Ask Again, Yes; and A Circle of Quiet.

    This week I read The Upstairs Room by Johanna Reiss for the first time since junior high, and I’m about to read it to my 6-year-old after concluding that it is not too scary and in fact will be a good introduction to the story of the Holocaust, as well as relating to her frustration at being home and isolated so much in the past year–could be worse, see? It’s an even better book than I remembered, with such delightful characterizations of the people who sheltered the author in hiding.

  15. Belinda Meyer says:

    I just bought What Could Be Saved and can’t wait to read it! As a child in the 1070’s, my family lived in Bangkok so this book has definitely piqued my interest! Right now I’m in the middle of The Shell Seekers, a recommendation from your podcast. Enjoying it so far!

  16. Tracey Mitchell says:

    I’m adding The Biggest Bluff, Walking, and maybe What Could Be Saved to my list.
    I’ve read quite a few since the last quick lit. The best was The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett. I found it fascinating, insightful and well-written. Also great but a little heavy subject matter for me for right now was Louise Erdrich’s The Round House. It is beautifully written and I like books that defy genres: coming of age/mystery/thriller in this case.
    I also loved a non-fiction book called This Is Chance by Jon Mooallem about a 1964 earthquake in Anchorage and the woman who reported on it by radio. I would describe this as creative non-fiction. I loved how the story came together.
    I’ll be reading more by all three of these authors.
    I also read a couple by people I know which were both excellent but pretty niche subject matter that I’m including here for those with specific interests in these areas: Postwar Politics, Society and the Folk Revival in England 1945-1965 by Julia Mitchell and Faultlines: Life and Landscape in Saskatchewan’s Oil Economy.

  17. Anonymous says:

    FYI Anne, Leesa Cross-Smith has actually written 4 books total. 2 collections of short stories (including So We Can Glow) and an earlier novel (Whiskey & Ribbons).

  18. Alison says:

    Just finished a big book of “Grimm’s Fairy Tales.” Also reading:
    “Testament of Youth” (Vera Brittain)
    “The Habit of Being” (Flannery O’Connor)
    “Orthodoxy” (GK Chesterton)
    “101 Great American Poems” (The American Poerty & Literary Project)

    Enjoying all of those! Glad to hear some of the above books on my TBR are being enjoyed or read by others (“Stepping Heavenward”, “The Hunting Party”, “The Snow Child”). Gives me the push I need to read them!

  19. Sherry Andre says:

    I have been pouring over several dozen glorious picture books which might be considered for Caldecott and other ALA awards at the end of January. Favorites so far: Hike written and illustrated by Pete Oswald, and A Polar Bear in the Snow written by Mac Barnett and with incredible creative illustrations by Shawn Harris.

    For all lovers of Jane Austen, I’ve read three books recently, that I have really enjoyed.
    1. Lucy Worsley’s Jane Austen at Home
    2. Miss Austen by Gill Hornsby which is fictional account of Cassandra looking for letters to friends twenty years after Jane’s death, and remembering the events all those years before.
    3. What Matters In Jane Austen: Twenty Crucial Puzzles Solved by John Mullen. Fascinating chapters include Age, do sisters sleep together, weather, seaside visits are dangers, which important characters never speak, what games are played, books read, sex?, blushing, right and wrong ways to propose, and more. Travel back into Austen’s different novels as each topic is explored.


      Have you read “The other Bennett Sister” (Janice Hadlow)?
      I bought it on impulse nd haven’t read it yet – but would be interested to know if you have and what you made of it?

  20. Laura Freeman says:

    Jack by Marilynne Robinson, one of my favorite authors, was not a disappointment. Setting is US in the 50s. It’s about a love affair between a white ne’er-do-well and a black schoolteacher. Here’s an excerpt:
    “And so he had lived, more or less, until he met Della. A little thievery when the opportunity was too patent to be ignored, or too interesting. A drinking bout for some reason or no reason. A stint in prison. Then an occasion for him to try out his manners, so long of no use to him, put away with his necktie and his shoelaces. Running after her papers as they blew down the street, then “Thank you, Reverend,” and tea in her parlor with Jesus looking on. She so lovely besides, and a woman of some learning. What more could fate have done to stamp her in his mind as the angel waiting at the door of his tomb? No wonder he could hardly go an hour without thinking about her. And since it was always true of him, truer since prison, that his thoughts were the idle companions of his idleness, his isolation, and were never meant to govern his behavior any more than practicality or ambition could do, he really had believed she was safe in his thoughts, and aloof from him, too, for good measure.”

  21. Lind Kirkpatrick says:

    I followed your Reading Challenge and wrote my list of 12 – I went to the Booksdtore on the same day and purchased my first set.
    1. The Great Alone (Kristin Hannah) for the “already read” catagory. I enjoyed it more this time than the first time a year ago. its a fascinating book of a world that I could hardly imagine
    2. The Sun and her Flowers (Rupi Kaur)as my poetry choice.
    Why haven’t I read it before! I dont really enjoy poetry in general but the words here are pared down to express the heartache and vulnerability of the speaker. No wonder its been translated into so many languages.
    3. The Dutch House (Ann Patchett) as my “prizewinner” category. onto page 101, enjoying it, but not totally involved as yet.
    4. American Dirt (Jeanine Cummins) as my ‘Immigrant story” – not yet started.

    What I want to say is thank you for your quiz – I have bought books I would never have looked at and have given me a new window through which to view the world. I read a tremendous amount and was stuck in the same choices as always and not making any growth – I am so happy to have done the quiz and made the start on opening my mind to new worlds.

  22. Laurel says:

    I’m enjoying the William Kent Krueger mystery series and the Peter Grainger mystery series. A good mystery on a cold, dark New England night is perfect!

    • Fran Derrick says:

      If you haven’t read William Kent Krueger’s stand alone novels,Ordinary Grace and This Tender Land, you need to do so. They are truly exceptional in my humble opinion. I do enjoy the Cork O’Connor mysteries as well.

  23. Paula says:

    I enjoyed The Wife Upstairs. I just finished The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. I don’t believe a Dickens novel has ever made me laugh out loud before. I also finished Blood Heir by Ilona Andrews which I loved.

  24. Donna says:

    I have been lost in the world of Outlander since this summer, and can’t seem to drag myself out to read anything else. Currently, I’m reading The Fiery Cross. With every book, I say I’m going to take a break and read something else after, but every time, I jump right into the next one. I think part of it is the amazing storytelling and part of it is the relief of not having to pick something else to read.

  25. My first 5 star read of 2021 was THE NOTHING MAN by Catherine Ryan Howard – so creepy and suspenseful! Loved it! One of my favorite things about it was the structure – alternate points-of-view but with a twist. 🙂

  26. Christina says:

    There are some intriguing titles on this list! I’m looking forward to checking some of these out, especially The Biggest Bluff, What Could Be Saved and The Power of Writing It Down.

    My list for the past month included a bunch of fantasy and romance (Christmas break, y’all!), as well as a couple of fascinating middle grade titles. My favorites were probably The Book of Lost Names by Kristin Harmel and The Princess Game by Melanie Cellier.

  27. Jen Snider says:

    I just read The Wife Upstairs and loved it!! The Survivors is on my nightstand right now, will probably pick it up tonight!!

  28. Donna says:

    Reading has been a struggle since all of this Covid stuff happened. I feel like it should have been the other way around…but here we are. I am slowly getting my groove back and I am reading the most wonderful book…Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times by Katherine May. I highly recommend this…it is more applicable now than ever and especially if there is anything difficult that people may be dealing with.

  29. Janice McBratney says:

    I finished Magic Lesson by Alice Hoffman. Her writing is phenomenal ; then went right to Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy. I couldn’t put it down, so of course, I finished it. I found the story so interesting and the writing was spot on. I have just started The Night Portrait by Laura Morelli. Such a different place and time. And now a new list from Ann! Oh, my! Read on!

    • Anne says:

      My husband LOVED Migrations but I still have a bookmark in it at page 20 or so—and it’s been there for months and months! Thanks for the reminder it’s still there waiting for me.

  30. Ann says:

    The last book I finished before the end of 2020 was Arctic Fury by Greer Macallister. It was slow to build, but finally came to an icy ending that I thought was appropriate for Winter. I love historical fiction. This book jumps back and forth between a trial and initially the lead up to an expedition. The best parts of this book were definitely toward the end when the long awaited expedition was underway. There is a bit of mystery and an unexpected twist.

    Prior to that my last few reads of the year were Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell and Memorial by Bryan Washington. These could not have been more different, which is always a good way to spice up your reading.

    Hamnet a beautifully written tale about the son of Shakespeare; but the surprise was it is less about him and the son and more about the boy’s fascinating mother. This one was a page turner for me.

    Memorial is set in Houston, Texas. I am from the area so I enjoyed local references. The book starts out with an attention grabbing opening. A gay man is flying to out of Houston to Japan to be with his dying father as his mother is arriving in Houston. She ends up moving in with the man’s lover while he is away. This book was a surprise. It was about so much more than I expected. Very interesting characters. Love, Relationships and dying.

    I finished Arctic Fury, but I was actually reading The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo as we transitioned from 2020 to 2021. I am enjoying the book, but somehow have not finished it yet. You know how life can get in the way of reading sometime. My daughter arrived from overseas for the holidays and we did some limited “running around.”

    The Most Fun We Ever Had is about a couple and their daughters. At first it was hard to tell which daughter was which. Well, honestly every once in a while I am still confused as to who is who! It jumps back and forth in time and life events. It is all good reading though, but long! I ended up returning it to the library. I will get it back though!

    Currently reading Perestroika in Paris by Jane Smiley. Very cute book. The shape and size is cute. The cover is cute!

    TBR: I am determined to read some Agatha Christie and have signed up on http://www.agathachristie.com and am receiving a newsletter. January’s pick is The Hollow. I am behind because I have not gotten the book from my local library yet. On a wait list.

    I am a member of BOTM and have ordered The Prophets and Outlawed.

    My daughter brought books with her. Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye among others.

    I started 2020 and the beginning of the Pandemic with Valentine by Elizabeth Wetmore. I loved that book. It is about strong Texas women Y’all. I’ll always remember where I was & what we were going through. It was a time when libraries had closed and I was away from home and was desperate to get my hands on a good book. I devoured it, all the while thinking I should make it last.

    Since then I read 37 books in the year. My goal this year is 50. I am a bit overwhelmed with finishing my current books and all the TBRs waiting in the wings. I am fortunate to have a fantastic county library near my home. They have switched to curbside pickup service. The library is not open to the public and will not open in the near future due to Covid. So I am always on the brink of tears when a library worker brings my selections out to my car and I pop my trunk.

    • Susie says:

      I agree that Perestroika in Paris is a cute size and shape and cover, but I was very disappointed with the content. The best I can say is that it was not scary or upsetting at all. No animals were hurt in the making of this story!

  31. Beth Myles says:

    I recently finished THE GIRL WITH THE LOUDING VOICE by Abi Dare. Please read this book. I am glad I gave myself time to adapt to the language because it helped bring Adunni to life. Finding my next read took a little while, as nothing compared. After numerous starts and stops, I have finally settled on LISTEN, SLOWLY by Thanhha Lai. Another incredible book with a Strong Sense of Place. Thank you Mel and Dave.

  32. I have the Survivors on my shelf right now and this review has definitely encouraged me to pick it up a little faster! Currently, I am reading the first Hercule Poirot novel by Agatha Christie as well as Exit West by Mohsin Hamid.

  33. I added The Power of Writing It Down immediately to my TBR when I saw the review you’d posted on it on Goodreads the other day…it sounds right up my alley! I’ll have to request that my local library order it ASAP.

    Here’s what I’ve been reading lately, from the new releases (The Star-Crossed Sisters to Tuscany) to the old, OLD backlist titles (Consider the Oysters by MFK Fisher):


  34. Susan Baum says:

    I loved World of Winders by Aimee Nezhukumatathil…beautifully written little book that is part memoir, part life science textbook. Wonderful! I also enjoyed A Secret Gift by Ted Gup …How one man’s kindness revealed the hidden history of the Great Depression. A wonderful and uplifting true story!

  35. Debbie says:

    I’ve recently read and enjoyed the following: Cher Ami and Major Whittlesey(The only book I’ve read that is partly narrated by a pigeon), In the Bleak Mid-Winter, The Late Bloomers’ Club (This one made me very hungry and I Look forward to the book discussion later this month.)
    I’m currently reading the latest Vera Stanhope mystery, The Darkest Evening, and it is as good as all the others in this series.

  36. Sandy Croslow says:

    I’ve been enjoying several of your 2020 recommendations and a few others. Feel-good reads:v“City Baker’s Guide to Country Living ” and “Late Bloomers Club” by Louise Miller, “Christmas at the Island Hotel”. Heavier reads: “The One-in-a-Million Boy”, “This Tender Land”, and “Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine”. Historical fiction with mystery adventures: “The Last Train to Key West” and “The Lions of Fifth Avenue”. Currently reading one for my book club: Anxious People. I put it down to read several of the above and because I didn’t like it. But since I went back to it, I am enjoying the humor and quirky plot.

  37. Brenda says:

    Thanks, Anne! You have just added to my TBR list. I’m listening to Kate Stayman-London’s One to Watch. It is wonderful. I think it was on one of your 2020 lists, too.

    • From what I understand (and how I use this term in my own reviews), this is a warning to readers that there are difficult themes in this book that might trigger an emotional response in the reader. For example, I will mention if there is cancer in the plot because I don’t want someone who recently lost a family member or friend to go to a book I recommend blindly and have a rush of grief and heartache from a plot too similar to real life. This way, they are aware before starting the book and can decide for themselves if its a book they want to read. I appreciate when I see trigger warnings since I am a highly sensitive person and certain themes (like child abuse) in books and movies send me into a panic attack, so I need to avoid them.

  38. Thank you, Anne, for another year of great book recommendations through your blog and podcast! I’ve learned to put more clear explanations to the type of books I enjoy, and have consequently been able to find more that I love (and have no qualms about quitting those I don’t). I am linking my favorite 2020 reads, and many were discovered because of you, including Lovely War, The Last Year of the War, Without Reservations, and This Tender Land.


  39. Sara Bell says:

    I’m currently reading Greenlights by Matthew Mcconaughey, Fawkes by Nadine Brandes, and several I read a little snippet of at a time…

    And I just shared a mini episode about my favorite homeschool book on The Christian Bookworm Podcast 😊

  40. kristen says:

    So far this month I have read:
    Circe by Madeline Miller- Not sure why I waited so long! I listened to it on audio and it was amazing. The story itself was pure magic, but the narration was gold.

    Home by Toni Morrison- A short read at only 147 pages, but so much emotion is packed in there.

    Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell which I almost passed up thinking it not a good fit. Thank goodness I did not!
    The Bear & The Nightingale by Katherine Arden This one is based on Russian Mythology and has two more books in the series. I need to get my hands on those.

    And Brene Brown’s Braving the Wilderness. Her books are always just the bit of empowerment you seem to need whenever you pick them up.

    I have also read Every Last Fear by Alex Finlay which is a 2021 debut and quite an anticipated Thriller. I can definitely recommend this fast paced one.

    Also, @Anne I am not versed on the rules of such things but, is the author of Write it Down aware that her cover has already been used?

  41. Amy says:

    Not a book blogger or “bookstagramer” but here is what I’ve read between Dec 15 and Jan 15.
    The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher, audiobook
    Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan (I purposely did not move on to the second book because I have a habit of getting sucked into romance series and only reading that and I’m trying to vary my genres more, thinking of August and Penny Reid’s Winston Brother series)
    The Worst Best Man by Mia Sosa
    Party of Two by Jasmine Guillory
    Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid (one of my all time faves this was a reread. Listened to audio this time, it was soooo good)
    The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
    Currently reading If Water Were Fire by Sara Salam, listening to Things I Only Tell My Friends by Rob Lowe (this is surprisingly VERY interesting), The List of Things that Will Not Change by Rebecca Stead (middle grades novel).

  42. Gina says:

    I read The Push and thought it was fine, but couldn’t get past the fact that it had almost the exact same plot points as a book that was published in 2018 called Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage. The narrator had identical mommy issues that made her an insecure and paranoid mother, and the “bad seed” in both books goes to great lengths to have all of the father’s love and attention. For a book with so much hype, the plot was very familiar.

  43. Elizabeth says:

    I love this list, but I didn’t realize how much I look forward to your links & loves post every Friday until there wasn’t one this week! Thank you for your consistently great content!

  44. Betsy says:

    I’m just now finishing up Hamnet. It is such a beautiful yet tragic story of family and loss. Her prose is lyrical and descriptive. It is like reading a delicious chocolate treat, and I can’t wait to pick it up each time.

  45. Ruth O says:

    I look forward to this post every month and usually add to my TBR list. Just finished (as in stayed up til past 2 this morning–it was THAT good!) The Water Keeper by Charles Martin. Like so many others, really struggled to get into and stick with a book and after my daughter suggested this one, I followed through. Definitely worth it. I have a couple others going but none as gripping as this one. On Goodreads it mentions a sequel, and that would be great!

  46. Susie says:

    I just finished “The Dog Stars” by Peter Heller, which I read because I liked Celine sooooo much, as well as The River. Someone mentioned that it was a good Second Chances story, and it was. The story was sweet and I could see Peter Heller as Hig (after seeing an interview with Peter). But it had so many f-bombs in it, it was a wonder it didn’t explode every time I touched it! I suppose that is appropriate language for two of the very few survivors of a flu pandemic to use, but still…it bothered me.
    The other book I’m listening to is “Dead Wake” by Erik Larsen, about the sinking of the Lusitania. Wow, is it interesting!

  47. Cheryl says:

    INTIMATIONS–Zadie Smith’s short book of profund essays about 2020.
    Loved it. Laughed. Related. Was disturbed by it. Can’t stop thinking about it.

  48. Erin Handly says:

    Just finished the audiobook version of Meet Me at the Museum by Anne Youngson-the dual narrators made it a fantastic listen!

  49. Adelyn mintz says:

    I read What Could Be Saved based on your recommendation and I am very surprised that this book was for you. Talk about triggers! It is very dark. I think potential readers should know—not for the sensitive. Well written, yes, and I stayed up late to finish it, but yikes.

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