Now that the Summer Reading Guide is out, I'm thoroughly enjoying reading some backlist titles that have been on my TBR for ages, like this 2012 book from the author of Station Eleven. This is the kind of book I love: a compulsively readable literary mystery, featuring stylish prose plus a plot that keeps you turning the page to find out what happens next. I was so impressed by the way Mandel unfolded the story piece by piece, introducing us to a seventeen-year-old girl in hiding (with piles of cash duct-taped to the underside of her baby's stroller), and slowly revealing how she ended up there—and how the members of the old high school musical group the Lola Quartet are connected to her disappearance. Set in muggy South Florida, the story is dripping with atmosphere and has a noir feel. This week, I tried something new on What Should I Read Next and shared a short episode focused on One Great Book. That book is The Lola Quartet, and you can listen to me tell you all about it—and how to know if it's the right book for you—right here. More info →
Austin Channing Brown is one of my favorite follows on twitter: I appreciate her perspective so much and have been eager to get her words into my hands in book-length format. I'm Still Here was worth the wait. The book opens with a story from the library, but it's not a warm and fuzzy one. Austin reveals that her parents named her Austin so that future employers would believe she was a white man, thus opening doors that would typically be closed to a black woman. She writes extensively about how white, middle-class Christians, though well-intentioned, perpetuate racial tensions—and provides guidance on what genuinely effective perspectives and behaviors could actually look like. A great read, important and timely. More info →
This was my first Elinor Lipman book, but it won't be my last. A fellow reader with great taste (read: taste similar to mine) highly recommended her work, so I downloaded the audiobook for a recent solo road trip. It was perfect: light and breezy in tone, but substantial beneath the surface. The miles flew by. This story revolves around a thirty-two year-old woman named Faith Frank, who's dealing with A LOT right now: a flaky fiancé, an incompetent boss, a new fixer-upper (on Turpentine Lane) with a disturbing past, a father who's having a midlife crisis. But her office-mate pal is helping her through, and it's a fun and funny journey. More info →
I made a conscious decision not to read this book: I didn't think a novel about a Christian reality tv star sounded like the right book for me. But then I recorded a podcast episode with bookstore owner Annie Jones, and she said she wanted me to read it so we could talk about it, and then it was a Book of the Month selection, and since I was visiting Annie's store .... I read it. And it GREATLY exceeded my expectations. Seventeen-year-old Esther Anne Hicks is the youngest daughter of an Evangelical family that stars in their own reality show called Six for Hicks. When her appearance-conscious mother discovers Essie is pregnant, it's not a parenting issue. Instead, it's all about the optics. But Essie is determined to finally take control of her own life and find a way out of her high-profile world. For me, this was a perfect beach read. More info →
When several thriller writers tell you that Daniel Silva writes the best spy thrillers out there, and The Black Widow is the best of the bunch … you read The Black Widow. In three days, despite its hefty page count. This is the 16th book in Silva’s series focused on Israeli intelligence agent Gabriel Allon. The story opens with a bombing in Paris, and to make sure another attack doesn't occur, Allon recruits an unlikely woman to infiltrate the terrorist cell responsible. This book stands alone just fine, but now I’m inspired to go back to the beginning of the series. More info →
What have YOU been reading lately? Link up your post below, or tell us all about it in comments!