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 started this month at the beach, which is always good for my reading life—or at least for my reading quantity. I re-read old favorites so they would be fresh in mind for upcoming episodes of One Great Book, and plenty of advanced review copies so I could share them with patrons in our One Great Bonus episodes. And I also enjoyed reading a new-to-me old mystery, just for the fun of it.

Today’s list is a little longer than my Quick Lit lists usually are, but I couldn’t bear to leave any of these titles off.

I hope you’ve read some good books lately. Tell us your favorites in comments?

Quick Lit July 2019
If You Want to Make God Laugh

If You Want to Make God Laugh

Marais's debut Hum If You Don't Know the Words was a 2017 Summer Reading Guide selection and I've been looking forward to her new release, which comes out tomorrow, July 16. The book tells the story of three women, two sisters, Ruth and Delilah, and the much younger Zodwa, whose lives become intertwined after the sisters discover an abandoned day-old baby on their doorstep. Each of the women is actively dealing with a personal crisis, and in rotating points of view, we learn each about each woman’s secrets and situation. An absorbing tale of friendship, and redemption, and the transformative power of love. More info →
Things You Save in a Fire

Things You Save in a Fire

While this doesn't technically come out until August 13, many of you have your hands on it already because it's a July early-release Book of the Month selection. As a novelist, Center has said she is “interested in the ways people bounce back,” and after our protagonist and veteran firefighter Cassie throws a few very public punches at a community event, she struggles to figure out how to do just that—in a new firehouse that is reluctant, to say the least, to welcome a female firefighter into their boys' club. Her new position is complicated further when she falls for her fellow rookie, and is forced to finally think about her feelings (ugh). A fast, feel-good read. More info →
Light from Distant Stars

Light from Distant Stars

After enjoying Shawn's YA novel The Day the Angels Fell, I've been eager to read this new release, his first novel geared toward adults, which hits shelves tomorrow. The story begins with a death: a son discovers the body of his father, he's filled with guilt and fear, he doesn't want to tell his sister he was the first one to know. But why? As the memories come pouring back over the ensuing days, the reader begins to find out what went on in this troubled family. Recommended for Billy Coffey fans. More info →
The New Girl

The New Girl

This is my second-ever Daniel Silva book. I love a good spy thriller—they're perfect poolside reading—and this one has much to recommend itself: tight pacing, an intriguing setting (in the international art world), characters exchanging F. Scott Fitzgerald lines over dinner. I particularly appreciated how Silva took his inspiration from all-too-real international events: this time, the 2018 murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and the involvement of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. In this book, Silva asks what if?, imagining how events might play out in the real Middle East. Don't miss the author's note at the end. More info →
The Lager Queen of Minnesota

The Lager Queen of Minnesota

When I was recently reviewing my second quarter reading, I realized that I hadn't finished an audiobook since March! That's unusual for me, and it means I get less reading in—so I immediately downloaded a few promising titles from Libro.fm. This new title from the author of Kitchens of the Great Midwest follows several generations of a Minnesota family as they establish themselves in the brewing industry—and fall to pieces in the process. Despite the family feud and plenty of tense moments, the tone is relentlessly hopeful, and the story hugely listenable. (I walked six miles yesterday just so I could get to the end!) Coming July 23. More info →
Iron Lake

Iron Lake

When a Minnesota reader mentioned that Krueger may be just the ticket for Louise Penny fans waiting for the next Gamache novel, I immediately downloaded the series' first book from my library. This procedural set in rural Minnesota features a strong sense of place, long-running grudges, and an ousted sheriff seeking justice where the authorities will not. Recommended for Louise Penny fans, yes, and also those who enjoyed Snow Falling on Cedars and this year's Summer Reading Guide pick The Current. More info →

What have YOU been reading lately?

P.S. 7 series to read next after you’ve run out of Louise Penny novels40 great book club novels, and the Quick Lit archives.

more posts you might enjoy


Leave A Comment
  1. I spent last month reading the 5th installment in Outlander and fell behind a bit on my reading! Fortunately, I finished up the Chronicles of Narnia and transitioned to History narratives with 1776! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Meredith says:

    Daniel Silva is my favorite author and Gabriel Allon is my favorite character. Dying for The New Girl to be released!!

  3. Emily Greaves says:

    I’m currently reading The Golden Hour and can’t put it down! This summer I’ve managed to read 10 books already and I’ve got to say that The Gown has been my favorite read!

  4. Patricia Switzer says:

    I am currently reading
    Into the wilderness by
    Sara donati ( thank you) and am re_ reading a fine balance by Robinton Mistry
    Would love to get my hands on a book by Roy

  5. Nichola says:

    Here in Australia most of us are on winter school holidays so I’ve had three weeks to (amongst other things) read. Firstly, I re-read ‘interview with a vamper ‘, then onto ‘Games of Thrones- book 1’. Now, I’m just finishing ‘Heroes’ by Stephen Fry.

    Happy reading to all the book lovers out there!

  6. I’ve been reading a lot of Ann Tatlock books. I read I’ll Watch the Moon earlier this year, and loved it so much I am reading her other books now. Finished her Every Secret Thing (loved!) and A Place Called Morning this month. Buried Dreams, Planted Hope is by a former pastor’s daughter about dealing with grief in the loss of her fiance due to an accident just months before the wedding. I enjoyed The Inheritance, Louis May Alcott’s first novel, written when she was 17 but just discovered and published in the 1990s. Finally read Wuthering Heights (didn’t like it much) and am currently reading The Mill on the Floss by George Elliot. I’m also reading Rorie’s Secret by Leisha Kelly, Suffering Is Never For Nothing by Elisabeth Elliot, Sweet Mercy by Ann Tatlock, and Loving People by John Townsend. Others I’ve read are in my end-of-month summary here: https://barbarah.wordpress.com/2019/06/30/end-of-june-musings/

  7. Angela says:

    The Gown has been my favorite book so far this summer! I have also enjoyed The Cruelest Month by Louise Penny. However, I just finished Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch and Gaskell’s North and South, both of which were unfortunately let-downs. Today I will be starting Mark Adams’s Turn Right at Machu Picchu and hope I enjoy it!

    • Brenda says:

      We read “Turn Right” for book club. I enjoyed it; many other members did not. Made me really want to go to Machu Pichu. Good luck with it!

  8. Sarah says:

    Just read “A Thinking Girl’s Guide to Real Magic” and quite enjoyed being swept into a fun new land while still being able to see all those P+P threads throughout.

    • Amy says:

      I read this book in 2013 and absolutely loved it. I’ve been disappointed ever since that she has never written Book 2 in the series. Anyone know why?
      PS The title is actually “The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic” by Emily Croy Barker.

    • Lisa Root says:

      Thank you for reminding me of The Sound of Gravel. I picked it up a few years ago, got distracted, and want very much to be reunited with this sad memoir.

  9. Katie T says:

    I am listening to The Pillars of The Earth by Ken Follet on the Libby app. This is my first audiobook in a very long time, and I am loving it! I am a busy mom, and I listen while I cook dinner. It’s satisfying to see the hours pass by so quickly (it seems I spent A LOT of time cooking – Ha!). I know I would still barely be scratching the surface of this book if I had tried to read a hard copy.

    My young daughter and I are also listening to 26 Fairmount Avenue by Tomie dePaola. The first few chapters have been delightful.

    Thanks for your updates, Anne! Longtime podcast listener and blog reader – first time commenting :).

    • Debbie Ball says:

      Oh the Pillars of the Earth was a 90 degree turn for my reading life. Don’t give up this was one of the most precious gifts of my life

  10. Tara says:

    I just finished Damsel by Elana Arnold and loved it so much. It’s lush and vivid and the cover is one of the most beautiful I have ever seen. If you love Fairytale retellings, pick up this book! My favorite read of the summer so far.

  11. I always enjoy these Quick Lits, especially seeing what books make repeat appearances.

    I’ve traveled the world through my recent books and loved it. I’ve experienced the Gilded Age in New York, a remote fjord in Norway, a crime spree in Iceland, Cuba past and present, island life in Wisconsin, mythical Africa, a lesbian bar in New York City, and Iran on the eve of a revolution. Can you guess what I’ve read?


  12. Pam says:

    It was a good reading month for me, with 10 books read since June 15, and a lot of really good ones. My favourites were The River by Peter Heller and The Gown by Jennifer Robson. Among others, I also enjoyed Pride and Prejudice (Audiobook narrated by Rosamund Pike) and Blood Work by Michael Connelly. Blood Work was a rare reread for me. I’m slowly working my way through Connelly’s complete backlist. I started reading his Bosch series pre-grad school, and now that I’m retired, I can get back to it!

  13. I love comment threads like this! Thank you for all for taking the time to share! My only problem is that I want to read ALL of your suggestions and there isn’t enough time! As Anne says, “Happy Reading Everyone!”

  14. Lynda C says:

    I’ve read
    The Emissary, which was *interesting*
    Ordinary Graces by William Krueger- beautiful and sad-made me think of To Kill a Mockingbird, in a way
    Currently reading-Love Walked in by Maria de los Santos, and am enjoying it!

  15. Susan says:

    I finally read Belong to Me by Marisa de los Santos – such a good satisfying read! I also read Evvie Drake Starts Over and it was delightful! I just started the Lola Quartet and it is really good!

    • Beth says:

      I run hot and cold with Marisa de los Santos but Belong to Me is one of my favorites. Especially Piper’s story.

  16. Virginia says:

    This is a plug for a website with book reviews written by my granddaughter. It’s not books read this month, but more randomly. Check out hellohermione.com.
    I think you’ll like it.

  17. Jenny Yerrick Martin says:

    I just finished Call Your Daughter Home by Deb Spera, which came out in June. Totally absorbing read, a moving historical novel about three women whose lives become intertwined in 1924 South Carolina. Great book. Totally recommend.

  18. Amy says:

    This month Read: Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro (loved it; cannot wait to read more of him)
    Currently Reading: Recursion by Blake Crouch (almost finished and loving it; loved Dark Matter too)
    Up Next: The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary

  19. Catherine M Owers says:

    Hey, I just read Iron Lake a few weeks ago! We went up to Minneapolis and I found a copy in a local indie. I enjoyed it (but am also eager to see how Krueger develops as an author in later books) and finding mysteries set in the city/state I’m visiting is one of my new favorite traveling activities.

  20. Katie says:

    I love, love your books lists! Just requested these all at the library.

    Currently reading and enjoying:
    The Cactus by Sarah Haywood
    Save Me The Plums by Ruth Riechl (MMD Summer Reading List 2019)
    The Friend Zone by Abby Jiminez (MMD 10 Romance Novels for Summer)

  21. Sue says:

    Just started “A Jane Austen Education”, from your Great Deals on Ebooks list, and I’m loving it already! Love the point of view, the honesty, and the writing.

  22. Marisa says:

    I have been on a WWI, WWI reading binge since I read Pam Jennof’s The Lost Girls of Paris (great book!). I have since read all of Pam Jenoff’s books (The Kommandant’s Girl was one of my favorites) The Tattooist of Auschwitz was an amazing read, The German Midwife, The Huntress, The Alice Network, The Great Alone and Winter Garden by Kirsten Hannah, Bear Town and all of Fredrick Backman’s other books, the Rose trilogy by Jennifer Donnelly, and Before We Were Yours.

  23. Leigh-Ann Murphin says:

    I’m reading The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick. It is her first novel, published in 2016. Very good! Funny and thoughtful!😊

  24. Cathy says:

    Have just finished both of Katherine Center’s new books. I was fortunate to get an advanced copy of her new one. I loved the book and it went fast after she move to be with her mother. Our book club is reading EDUCATED for August. I have always taken time to read some beach reads. SUMMER OF 69 is waiting on me.
    AMERICAN DUCHESS, and QUEEN BEE by Frank. Have so many more to also be read.

  25. Stephanie Towne says:

    Yes, William Kent Krueger! So glad you enjoyed the beginning of the Cork series. Now go check out his stand alone, Ordinary Grace-BEAUTIFUL novel! I met him and heard him speak last year and it was amazing.

    • Ellen Cole says:

      Agree! Loved Ordinary Grace and also one of my favorites this year. I listened to the audiobook and felt like the story was perfect in that format. I was interested to listen to the interview with the author at the end of the audiobook..interestingly he said he thought that it would lend itself to audio.

  26. Fonda says:

    Love seeing what everyone is reading. I’ve been a book hangover myself…just now getting going again.
    The Eyre Affair – vacation read
    Little Fires Everywhere – so glad you recommended this one last month
    Maybe You Should Talk to Someone – audiobook, I’m halfway through

    • Libby Monaghan says:

      YES! It’s a great audiobook provider that helps support independent bookstores. The store I own is linked up with Libro.Fm and I explain it to people this way, “You know how when you download a book from Audible, Jeff Bezos gets some of your money to build his personal space ship? Well, this way, our store gets some of your money instead.” 😉

      • Ellen says:

        Sold! I will be sure to transfer my membership. I imagine I can retain the Audible app and have access to the audiobooks I own (I have several I haven’t listened to yet!) This would just be my new account. Right?

  27. Sabiha Chunawala says:

    As a mom of 3, I’d love to hear your advice on how you managed to read 9 books while on holiday with the family. I think of myself as a pretty fast reader, but still can’t imagine accomplishing this much material.

    • Anne says:

      The key is that my youngest is now 9. I could never have read quite that much when they were tiny! Also this was a very low-key vacation. We went on a family trip earlier this summer and I didn’t read nearly as much, because we were always on the go.

  28. Cathie Thomas says:

    I’m currently finishing up the latest Brad Thor novel Backlash. A good spy novel. I have two Karen White novels i checked out at the library to work on next. And I’ve gotten hooked on Preston & Child’s Pendergast series I’m trying to catch up on.

    • Anne says:

      I just found out I get to be in conversation with Kim Michele here in Louisville next month for a bookstore event! Can’t wait to discuss her book women in person.

  29. LISA Root says:

    Now don’t get me wrong, I am not a criminal, but sometimes I peruse my lengthy Kindle list, with 60% of it unread, or those partially read I’ll get back to them books, and then – the thought of being locked up in a cozy jail for about six months with absolutely nothing but said Kindle, doesn’t seem half bad. #toomanybooksnotenoughtime

  30. Kathy H Wicks says:

    Just finished My Life as a Rat by Joyce Carol Oates. I had hoped for more. Next is The Importance of Living by Lin Yutang, published in 1937 – from one century to another!

  31. Ruth O says:

    I read and loved Celine, and The River is on my TBR list. Didn’t care for the Huntress, wound up skipping a lot to see how it wrapped up. Reading Together Tea by Marjan Kamali now and really like it. I have The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek from the library for the next book… More to pick up on hold. Ahh, summer reading!!
    Thanks for the comments, I love to see what everyone is saying about the books they’ve read or listened to. And thank you to Anne for the posts.

  32. Libby Monaghan says:

    Things You Save in a Fire hasn’t gripped me yet like I hoped it would! I’m so surprised by that. So I set it down and decided I’ll revisit it again.
    Right now I’m reading Three Women by Lisa Taddeo and Girls Like Us by Randi Pink and I’m definitely hooked on both of those.

  33. Lou Ann Darras says:


    I love your podcast and because of it, I downloaded an audiobook to listen to while on vacation at Cape Cod: The Shell Seekers. I don’t think this was recommended as an audiobook and there are problems with the speed of the recording (this is a long book) and it is forcing me to slow it down to 0.75 which is too slow but 1.0 is too fast. Anyway, I am enjoying it and it was perfect for Cape Cod but now back home and still listening to the final chapters. Keep up the good work.

  34. Chris says:

    I love William Kent Krueger. I just picked up book ten in the Cork O’Connor series. The characters develop over the series like Louise Penny so it helps to read in order. Ordinary Grace is a stand alone by Krueger and also very good. I’m also enjoying Robert R. McCammon’s Matthew Corbett series and Adrian Mckinty’s Detective Sean Duffy series.

  35. Tracey says:

    I’m a new fan of your podcast and loving it! I already had Ayesha At Last by Uzma Jalaluddin on my TBR shelf but your recommendation bumped it to the top. I’m halfway through and loving it! Next is White American Youth by Christian Picciolini, a memoir by a young man who was part of a white supremacist group that details how he got out. And next after that is Like a Love Story by Abdi Nazemian which I’ve seen recommended but know nothing about. I LOVE going in with no expectations or spoilers!!

  36. cindy says:

    A\Good Morning-Love the suggestions.

    For a very good character driven series, you may want to check out Robert Parker and the Spencer series. The originals are the best, now that Robert Parker is deceased I believe others are continuing the series but they are not as good.

    Also, a vey good new book is Once More We Saw Stars, sad but very good, a memoir.

  37. Anna Marie says:

    Since you mentioned the Gamache novels (I believe fall of 2018) I have been hooked. Along with audiobooks and other books on my reading list – I have not been without one or two of these novels in the waiting. Far from being just “mysteries” there is a life lesson or two I’ve picked up from each story. Can you say addicted?????
    Just wanted you to know you were a source of inspiration – thank you for all of your thoughtful posts

  38. Cheryl Russell says:

    Craig Johnson’s Longmire series is another good series for Louise Penny fans. (Both authors are favorites of mine.)

  39. Molly says:

    Hi Anne!
    I am currently reading Little Fires Everywhere and I’ve noticed a theme in my reading that I’m loving! My most recent favorite reads have all included art/artists in one way or another. Art is a passion of mine and seeing it in stories thrills me! Do you have any recommendations for me? 🙂

  40. Providence says:

    I’m late to the game with some of these titles…just finished Where the Crawdads Sing and it’s now one of my top ten. Love it. Also just finished The Current by Tim Johnston on Anne’s recommendation. Great book (thanks Anne!). Reading Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine and it is fantastic! Listening to the audio version of Come as You Are by Emily Nagoski (in my opinion a must for every woman). And just finished Sal and Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez with my 9 year old son – FABULOUS!

  41. Kay says:

    I have just read Out of Bounds by Val McDermid, one of her Karen Pirie novels. I can’t believe I have waited this long to read her books, perfect for Louise Penny fans.

  42. Kris Prepolec says:

    I have read 3 very different books this summer that reflect the Canadian experience in very different ways: The River by Peter Heller, The Woo Woo by Lindsay Wong, and I’m Afraid Of Men by Vivek Shraya. I would recommend all 3, just a warning that The Woo Woo can causing spontaneous outbursts of laughter, so read in public at your own risk. After hearing about Louise Penny on the show (I absolutely adore What Should I Read Next) I decided to try Still Life. I unfortunately left it at my brother’s when I was visiting, so I will have to wait until Christmas to finish it (torture). Keep the mystery, suspense, and horror recommendations coming!

  43. Melissa Rice says:

    We took our three teenage boys on a cruise this month (our first ever!), and I promised them I would only bring my Kindle, and no physical books. The best part of keeping that promise? I was able to read I’ll Be Your Blue Sky by Marisa de los Santos, and it was at least as good as you said it would be, Anne! I loved her first two novels (Love Walked In and You Belong to Me), but this one was even better. Right now I am reading This Must Be the Place by Maggie O’Farrell. Earlier this summer I plowed through The River by Peter Heller, and it was a great ride. This podcast and blog help me love my library even more, since I can easily jump on their site and reserve all the goodies Anne gives us.

  44. Beth says:

    I’ve fallen in love with the Cork O’Connor books and while I am a huge Louise Penny fan, I think these are much more Longmire than Ganache. Midwestern Longmire is right up my alley!

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