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.

I’ve been enjoying some brand new titles I’ve been eagerly anticipating and some backlist works I’ve been meaning to read for ages. It’s a good balance for the summer.

Want more recent recommendations? Check out these 6 recent audiobooks I thoroughly enjoyed.

Quick Lit July 2018
The Selection

The Selection

Sometimes you read a book because someone you love wants you to read a book ... and this turned out to be really fun. (Which is a good thing because I have now read the whole series!) Imagine The Bachelor meets Cinderella meets The Hunger Games, although Cass says her real inspiration came from Queen Esther of the Bible: she married a king, but what if before she met him she was in love with the boy next door? Cass's stories have great narrative drive—they keep you turning the pages and were excellent beach/travel reads for my daughter and me. More info →
Draft No. 4: On the Writing Process

Draft No. 4: On the Writing Process

I've been meaning to read this essay collection since it came out last September, and picked up my own copy at Politics and Prose in April. It's a keeper. McPhee is a masterful narrative nonfiction writer. He's been working for decades; I first encountered his work in the 2013 New Yorker piece Structure, which appears in this collection. As a reader and a writer, I found these behind-the-scenes glimpses of how he researches, assembles, and edits his work absolutely fascinating. More info →
There There: A Novel

There There: A Novel

I called this one of the 20 books everyone will be talking about this summer, and yep, it's everywhere. As it should be. Twelve different Native American characters of different ages and backgrounds are all headed to the inaugural Big Oakland Powwow at the Oakland Coliseum. Orange says he wrote this novel to capture the contemporary urban Native experience and to "try to honor and express fully all that it entails to be Native and be from Oakland," and I'm amazed at how each distinct voice (all twelve of them!) rings true, and how he weaves the disparate storylines together. This book is so well done. It was also a TOUGH read for me, with triggers galore, and it gave me actual nightmares about gun violence. More info →


I've been following Silas House's career ever since a friend raved about his YA debut Eli the Good. I would have loved to have heard him speak at his big launch event here in Louisville, but alas—I was out of town, and took this book along. The story centers on Asher Sharp, a Pentecostal preacher in rural Tennessee. When a flood devastates his community, he offers shelter to two gay men—and his congregation's reaction prompts a crisis of faith, and a public meltdown, the video of which goes viral. In the aftermath he flees to Key West (hence the title) to deal with unfinished business from his past. Warm and reflective, with House's familiar beautiful prose. More info →
The Way Men Act

The Way Men Act

When I told you I finally read my first Elinor Lipman novel, you all chimed in with your Lipman favorites—and this was the winner (though you warned me it's not a book I would pick up based on the cover!). The story centers on three former high school classmates, now in their early thirties, who move back to their small hometown and struggle to find their place in the world—something they were sure they'd have figured out by now. This book is 25 years old, but its themes still feel fresh. More info →

What have YOU been reading lately? Link up your post below, or tell us all about it in comments!

more posts you might enjoy


Leave A Comment
  1. Ginny Agnew says:

    Just finished Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger published in 2013. It had not hit my radar at the time of publication, nor have I found it here. But this book is totally up your alley and what many of your listeners are looking for.
    Set in a farming community in Southern Minnesota, it is narrated retrospectively by Frank Drum who was 13 the summer of 1961 when the story occurs.
    Frank is the son of a minister and a nearly faithless mother. People die that summer and lives are changed irrevocably. There is enough suspense to keep the reader turning pages, but the real story is about the awful grace of God.
    I strongly recommend it and see why it was a NYT bestseller. Just don’t know how you and I missed it.

    • Debi Morton says:

      Ginny, Ordinary Grace has long been one of my lifetime top 10 books, and I’m not sure when it will be knocked off. The beauty of the writing, and the story itself just overwhelmed me when I read it. The funny thing it that I have tried to read others by Krueger, and the rest of his books, while well written, are very different from this one. Glad you liked it!

  2. Andrea says:

    I devoured the selection series, too! They are absolutely fun and entertaining. I’m currently ticking off MMD Summer reads: just finished Queen of Hearts and am halfway through What We Were Promised ?

  3. Kelly C says:

    I just finished I Shall Be Near You by Erin Lindsay McCabe this morning. I heard about it on one of your podcasts. Love historical fiction and the Civil War era is right up my alley!

  4. Tory says:

    I haven’t been able to find my headphones for the last couple of hours so I’ve been cleaning my house bookless 🙁 Currently reading Only Human (Themis Files #3), and The Stone Sky (Broken Earth #3) is on deck. I suppose I should read the final installment of Binti next to round out my SF trilogies! I’ll be back to the MMD Summer reading guide after that though, I’m about halfway through the list so far.

  5. Emma says:

    Not going to France this year( boo hoo) so to cope with the withdrawal symptoms I’ve been reading a few set in France. Loved The Red Notebook by Antoine Lauraine( set in Paris)and definitely going to order The President’s Hat now. Just read Michel Bussi’s Black Water Lilies( equally good and set in Monet’s Giverny)and now reading Time is a Killer( set in Corsica). Got 2 more of Bussi’s to read.

  6. Nancy Smith says:

    Just recently finished The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah (a WWII novel about women in France and their resistance to the Nazi regime), The Plastic Magician (a stand-alone novel to The Paper Magician trilogy. New characters and some previous characters fill this one about a newly apprenticed magician who is studying and inventing Polymery, plastic magic…love the series and the stand-alone book takes Holmberg back to her roots), and currently reading Venom in the Veins by Jennifer Estep, the 17th book in the Elemental Assassin urban fantasy series featuring Gin Blanco.

  7. Michelle says:

    I’ve been reading up a storm, thanks to Anne’s Summer Reading Guide! I just finished A Place For Us, by Fatima Farheen Mirza. There’s a good reason Anne can’t stop talking about this book—I think it’s the best I’ve read this year. I cannot stop thinking about these characters. Very rarely do I finish a book and immediately want to put it in the hands of everyone I meet, but this one is special. Read it!!! Thank you so much for the recommendation, Anne!

  8. Jerri says:

    I’m vacationing and just finished Michael Crichton’s The Lost World. It was tense and frightening. I read Jurassic Park a few years ago and had a little trouble understanding the references but it was appropriately scary for me! Now I’m starting Child 44 as heard on WSIRN!

  9. Birgitta Qvarnström Frykner says:

    I have read two very funny books, first the Matchmaker of Perigord and than the adaptation of Austens Lady Susan, funny,intelligent Lady Vernon and her daughter.

  10. Sara Kilpatrick says:

    I’m so glad you enjoyed The Selection! The author lives about 30 minutes from me, and she even visited my niece’s school a few years ago (we don’t get a lot of literary claim to fame in Southwestern Virginia so I have to cling to what I can!). I just recently reread the first three books because I loved them so much. It’s not flawless, but it is great fun 🙂

  11. Nanne says:

    Two memoirs that I cannot recommend highly enough:
    Educated (Tara Westover). Way too much to encapsulate in a mini review, will just post quick sound bites: fundamentalist, survivalist family; possibly bi-polar father; author never set foot in a classroom yet managed to teach herself the SAT entrance exam, get into undergrad & make it to both Harvard & Oxford for graduate degrees; the author was never taken to a doctor as a child, all injuries (including major trauma, third degree, full body burns) were never treated by medical professionals, etc. But at it’s core, Educated, is a story not just of survival but of finding a way to thrive after a horrific life as well as having love & compassion for the people who should have taken care of her. And it’s NOT depressing!

    –Southern Discomfort: A Memoir (Tena Clark)

    (I read this as an ARC, think it will be out in a month or so)

    Follows the author’s family, in Mississippi, from the 50’s to the present. Tackles all of the big issues of the time: racism, casual bigotry, dysfunctional family (who doesn’t love to read about a gorgeous, talented but frustrated mother who drives around the county emptying whiskey bottles and firing a gun at her no-good, but big hearted, cheating husband??), sexual orientation, coming of age…the issues go on & on and are just beautifully, lovingly & thoughtfully addressed by Clark. A lot of LOL humor mixed with gentle (not annoying) introspection.

    Both of these memoirs are excellent, can’t-put-down-reads. If you are in a book group, these would make GREAT discussions!

  12. Michelle K says:

    I am listening to There There right now and I am enjoying how the authors weaves together the lives of the different characters. I am also reading The Orchid Thief by Susan Orlean and Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl (which I received through my Page 1 Books subscription). I am hoping to finish at least one of them this weekend!

  13. Christine says:

    I’m late to the party, but I just have to give a shout-out to Devil in the Grove by Gilbert King. It won the Pulitzer in General Nonfiction in 2013 and it’s so easy to see/hear why. I’m about 40% into this dense read and don’t want it to end any time soon – but at the same time, I want to rush through to satisfy my curiosity.

    It can feel heavy – as real-life tales of tragedy do – so I mixed in a light memoir (I Don’t Know What You Know From by Judy Greer). In fact, my July has been one big experience in palate-cleansing: tragic book, fun book, heavy book, light book. The rest in the past 3 weeks:
    The Hating Game – Sally Thorne
    The Glass Castle – Jeannette Walls
    The Late Bloomers’ Club – Louise Miller
    The Great Alone – Kristin Hannah
    I’ve Got Your Number – Sophie Kinsella

    p.s. Thank you to Anne, and everyone who comments on these posts – really enjoy reading your thoughts and adding to my TBR!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.