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 life has suffered lately, largely because of my looming deadline. Isn’t it ironic that writing books hasn’t been great for my reading life? I’ve also been reading lots of backlist and ARCs for Volume II of One Great Book, coming June 21. I’m looking forward to sharing those titles in good time.

Today, I’m happy to share three recent reads I loved. (I thought about making this a longer list and sharing the mediocre as well, but the thought of writing about them after suffering through the reading of them made me want to go back to bed.)

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

Quick Lit June 2019
Little Fires Everywhere

Little Fires Everywhere

It was a pleasure to interview author Celeste Ng when she came to town on her paperback tour. To prepare, I re-read her last book, and enjoyed it even more than I remembered. The novel opens with a house on fire, literally. It belongs to a suburban family, and it wasn't an accident: as one character reports, "The firemen said there were little fires everywhere." But who did it, and why? That's the setup for this literary thriller, which explores what happens when an itinerant artist and her daughter move into a seemingly perfect Ohio community, and thoroughly disrupt the lives of its residents. More info →
Act Like It

Act Like It

Regular readers know that flying is not my favorite, so when I flew to Colorado last week, I wanted a book that was, above all, FUN. I settled on a re-read of Act Like It, which is my favorite in the series. I read it the first time at the suggestion of my friend Leigh Kramer: when I asked her for a not-so-steamy romance recommendation, Lucy Parker was her immediate suggestion. Richard and Lainie are actors in London's West End. Though talented, Richard's cranky off-stage antics are turning his fans against him, and the theater is worried they won't be able to sell tickets. Fan favorite Lanie is already stuck working with her cheating ex-boyfriend, and then it gets worse: she's asked to pose as his new girlfriend to help Richard clean up his reputation. And fans love nothing more than an on-stage/off-stage romance, so soon they're packing in the crowds. But then the lines between on-stage and off begin to blur. More info →


After loving The River so much I put it in the Summer Reading Guide, I immediately wanted to read everything Heller has ever written. This was the first book I chose. Celine is a 60+ private investigator and artist in New York City, and perhaps the reason the character rings so true is that Heller based the character on his mother, also a detective and artist in NYC. In this story, a young woman seeks out Celine to help her find her father, who's been missing for decades, so Celine and her partner head to Yellowstone National Park, where it becomes clear someone wants this man to stay missing. Read this for the way Heller writes about nature and explores the intersection of family, privilege, and the secrets we keep. More info →

What have YOU been reading lately?

P.S. 40 great book club novels, 6 fascinating books about an unlikely favorite subject, and 12 great books that celebrate the power of female friendship.

P.P.S. If that Lucy Parker caught your eye, don’t miss 10 romance novels that are perfect for summer reading.

more posts you might enjoy


Leave A Comment
  1. Carrie says:

    I just finished Way Down Deep by Ruth White and thought it was precious (middle grade fiction) and have just started Where the Crawdads Sing. I’ve also got The Secret Life of Bees going as a reread!

    • Jen says:

      I read Dream Within a Dream by Patricia MacLachlan this week and loved it! It was precious too. I’ll check out Ruth White – thanks for the recommendation!

  2. Justine says:

    I wasn’t crazy about Little Fires Everywhere. I have to pickup The River at the library on Monday! Looking forward to reading that. Right now I’m reading The Tattooist of Auschwitz and find I can’t put it down.

  3. Belle says:

    I am just finishing The Satapur Moonstone by Sujata Massey. It’s the 2nd in the Perveen Mistry series. I really like this series so far. Although I did enjoy the first more than this one. I also will pick up from the library The Spies of Shilling Lane by Jennifer Ryan. I loved, loved her book called The Chilbury Ladies Choir. Excited to see if this next one holds the same charm.

  4. T Estrada says:

    I recently finished “We Must Be Brave” by Francis Liardet, and “The Baker’s Secret ” by Stephen P. Kiernan. Both are WWII fiction, and I thought both were fantastic.

  5. Susan Clark says:

    Hi Anne!
    I have requested “The River” from the library, and still a few more people ahead of me, but cannot wait to read it! Currently I am reading an ARC of William Kent Krueger’s new novel coming out in September – “This Tender Land”….loving it!!

  6. Leigh-Ann Murphin says:

    I was sooo happy to snag Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb at my library this week!! I can hardly put it down!!

  7. Julie says:

    ~Finished up Lovely War by Julie Berry and loved the unique way the difficult stories of 4 young lives affected by WWI and racism was told! Excellent and quick read!

    ~I almost gave up on “The Printed Letter Bookshop” by Katherine Reay but the ending had some great redeeming qualities. It was a bit predictable but I’m happy I read it.

    ~And I’m hopeful of finishing Jane Austen’s Emma by this weekend! It’s only taking me 6 months…. I started it on audio and decided to just pick up the book and finish it as my audio listening has been sparse lately.

    ~I’m currently reading a YA ARC of Across a Broken Shore by Amy Trueblood. I wasn’t feeling any flow to the story when I got started but I’m about 30% in and it’s starting to gain traction.

    Vacation is next week so I’m getting my stack of TBRs ready to take with me!

  8. Pam says:

    I’ve read 8 books since May 15. Of those, my favourites were:

    Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. It was a l-o-n-g wait for my public library hold to come in, but I finally got to read this one. A bit slow, but a nice change from my usual list of fast-paced mysteries and thrillers. A mystery element, but not a real page turning one. Verdict: A satisfying read, that was worth the wait.

    Meet Me at the Museum by Anne Youngson. I had to order this hard cover from the UK, and waited about six weeks with bated breath. A surprisingly dense little book that packs a strong message around social connections, memory, hope and creating a life for oneself. Epistolary format. And a link to archaeology. What’s not to like! (My first university degree was in Anthropology). Verdict: A place on my all-time favourites bookshelf.

    Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum. I’m usually not a big YA reader. Too long past that age, I guess. And coming of age tales, especially ones involving snarky, self-centred teenagers, turn me off. This is not that. Three-dimensional characters and a likeable teenage protagonist had me racing through this book. Verdict: A place on my keep for now bookshelf.

    Note that two of the three were recommended by Anne! I wouldn’t have read them if I hadn’t heard about them here, so I am grateful for her blog and podcasts. Looking forward to the next round of One Great Book!

    Next up: The River by Peter Heller, from the public library. I’ve read and enjoyed The Painter, also by Heller. As a Canadian, I am looking forward to the northern Canadian wilderness setting in this one.

  9. Penny W says:

    I’ve been on a romance kick lately, and have found some really great books, like “The Simple Wild” by K.A. Tucker and “The Unhoneymooners” by Christina Lauren.

  10. Katie Kibbe says:

    I just finished Celine and loved it! I am looking forward to Heller’s latest book when my turn comes up at the library. Thanks for recommending his work in the Summer Reading Guide. I listened to Celine because you liked his writing so much. Thanks!!!

  11. Madelyn says:

    I’m reading the book about spy Kim Philby. Fascinating. Then I read Ex Pats which I think you spoke of on a recent episode. Apparently I’m going thru a spy phase. Also reading The Kitchen Counter School- a first for me. I don’t cook… jury still out!

  12. Meg Evans says:

    This has been a book-filled four weeks for me–I’ve had the library holds working overtime!
    The Angel’s Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
    The River by Peter Heller
    The Gown by Jennifer Robson
    The American Agent by Jacqueline Winspear
    A Deadly Divide by Ausma Zehanat Khan
    With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo
    The Last Time I Saw You by Liv Constantine
    The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters by Balli Kaur Jaswal
    Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
    Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb

  13. Rachel White says:

    I just finished The River by Peter Heller! It took a little bit for this plot-driven reader to get into it, but I ended up loving it!

  14. Maria Lengerke says:

    I finished A Place for Us. Wow! Truly as Anne says, a slow burn, but so worth it. If anyone is an enneagram nerd like me, I saw my 4 son in Amar. So hard for the 4s to fit in and to feel as if they belong and equally as hard as the parent to make them know that they are loved and have a place with us. This one hit close to home even though my life looks entirely different, the feelings are the same for parents and kids every where.

  15. Laura Love says:

    It has been a great book month so far! I have read “A Jane Austen Education” by William Deresiewicz, “Redeeming Love” by Francine Rivers, “Love Walked In” by Marisa de los Santos, and “A Gentelman in Moscow” by Amor Towles. Loved all but “Loved Walked In”, which I found to be so-so. I thoroughly enjoyed “I’ll Be Your Blue Sky” when I read it last summer, so I am glad I read it first.
    I am currently happily reading through “Suprised by Oxford” and “Ex Libris” (some laugh-out-loud moments in there), with “Sleeping Giants” ready to go on my kindle app.

  16. Tanieke says:

    Trying to get out of my reading slump, so in the past week and a half I have read:
    Eleanor & Park – Rainbow Rowell
    Fangirl – Rainbow Rowell
    The Time Travellers Wife – Audrey Niffenegger

    Not sure what to go onto next so I think there’s a well-needed trip to the library in my upcoming week (the three listed above are off of my shelves). Does anyone have any recommendations? I’m trying to avoid books that are sequels or in series, etc, so that I don’t get into a slump waiting for access to the next book.

  17. Marcia says:

    I’m currently reading a different kind of book than my usual. Leaving Church by Barbara Brown Taylor, is the true story of an Episcopal priest and her journey. I’ve struggled being a part of the corporate church for a while and that’s one of the reasons I’m reading it. Just wonder where it will take me.

    • That’s such an interesting book. Her book An Altar in the World (which is sort of like a collection of essays about different places we can find God in the world) is also very good.

  18. Bushra says:

    I just finished The Mother-In-Law by Sally Hepworth, which I really liked. On audio, The Best Cook in the World by Rick Bragg is making me laugh out loud and making me think about why an Appalachian Alabaman’s past reminds me so much of my immigrant Pakistani Texan childhood! Also, I just finished the first Lord Peter Wimsey book and really enjoyed how Dorothy Sayers builds all her characters so completely through their conversation.
    What’s next depends on what arrives at the library hold shelf!

  19. Lois says:

    I’ve been in a reading slump for a while now. I’ve been trying to read Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine now for over a week, but after only 100 pages, I just can’t seem to get interested. I keep telling myself that I need to continue reading with the hope that it will get better. Has anyone read this book? I’d be interest in knowing whether or not I’m the only one struggling with this read. Thanks! I love coming here and hearing about what others are reading. I

    • Susan says:

      I ended up dnfing that book I just couldn’t get into Eleanors head. So much of that book goes on in her mind so if you don’t like her I would quit. Lots of good books out there I would put it down and find something else to read.

  20. Debra Benton says:

    Thanks to all of you and the Reading Guide, I seem to be reading more lately – the Finisher Completer in me I think. Finished Accidental Beauty Queen which was a nice, easy book to read and would be great for a beach read. I didn’t like its predictability and the character development. I wasn’t really cheering for them. Reading Save Me the Plums after finishing Sapphires and Garlics which I loved, funny, sharp writing with a great message and reminder to stand up for ourselves. Finished Bel Canto by Ann Patchett and Book of Dreams by Nina George – books and characters that have stayed with me. I am still processing Book of Dreams. It was very different from her other books and I llove her writing style. The story and message are deep and I feel I am still working on what it meant for me. I really enjoyed Bel Canto – while you knew how it would end in general (she gives you strong foreshadowing), the final ending was a surprise. I have been looking for interviews with the author to find out what she was thinking there. Starting reading Bookstore of Yesterday a couple days ago, I just couldn’t resist it as bookstore in Phillie (Shakespeare and Co). Starting The River on audio this week and finishing up Sapphires as the Library wants it back.

  21. Amy H says:

    Upon your recommendation (and because I like the cover), I read The River. Loved it so much I am now listening to Celine. I’m from Colorado and I can’t believe I didn’t know more about Peter Heller–I’ve heard of some of his books but didn’t put everything together until WSIRN? Thanks for pointing me in the right direction. His writing is beautiful and the story lines are thrilling! Can’t wait to read more.

  22. Jessica says:

    I read “The Guest Book” recently, in preparation for meeting the book’s author, Sarah Blake, at bookclub a few nights ago! It’s a dense book, full of lots of plot lines and complex characters. A great read for vacation time, I highly recommend!

  23. Susan says:

    So far this month I have read
    My Ex Best Friends Wedding I loved it!
    Sunset Beach which I thought was just alright
    Queen Bee I really enjoyed
    The Friends We Keep I really liked a lot!
    The Accidental Beauty Queen was great fun!
    The View From Alameda Island was a great book that has a heavy subject matter.
    Now I am reading The Summer Guest so far so good.

  24. I’ve been savoring Sarah Dessen’s new novel The Rest of the Story. It may be my new favorite or second favorite. She realistically captures the angst and dilemmas of teenagers, and she delivers a positive message of communication and support, especially from family.

  25. Harriet H Langford says:

    News of the World: A Novel….!!

    Any of Donna Leon’s Commasario Brunetti Venetian police novels. So literate and characters are so well drawn.

  26. Robin says:

    I just finished Little Fires Everywhere and loved it! I really want to read Peter Heller, I think my son and husband might like that too. The post about romance novels was timely, I got so sick of them and swore them off, but now think I might get back in there! Also, I’m hoping one of your amazing readers might help me… A book was mentioned on one of your podcasts. The word Betrayed or Betrayal, with a woman’s name was in the title. About a female spy, I believe. I have searched high and low and cannot come up with this book! Help, please.

  27. Linda Hanna says:

    Summer is the time that I read older titles I’ve missed. I think all of these are books that Anne (or one of her guests) have recommended on her podcast. On deck: Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry; Gilead and Lila by Marilynne Robinson; Meet Me at the Museum by Anne Youngson; The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman; Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi; The Brothers K by David James Duncan; and Greenwillow by B.J. Chute. My one departure: The River ( I love Peter Heller – The Dog Stars was excellent!)

  28. Mary says:

    I just finished The Gown and Waiting For Tom Hanks – thank you for those #summerstooshort recommendations! My recent favorite is Symphony For the City of the Dead: Shostakovich and the Seige of Leningrad. This was excellent on audio! I also read What Remains by Carole Radziwill. It took me several years to find this one, but I am so glad I did!

    Best with your deadline!!

    • Laura says:

      I just read and loved City of Thieves by David Benioff (the audio was so good), so I’ll have to pick this up because I’d like to learn more about Leningrad (or do I? It was pretty brutal). Also, Anne, the 4 reading guide picks I’ve read so far have all been great! Thanks for contributing to a summer of good books.

  29. Mariuca says:

    I just wanted to let you know that I love your blog, podcasts and, of course, the Summer Reading Guide,especially the one for this year 2019, so long and inspiring!
    Thanks for providing avid readers with such a good set of reading stuff, excellent quality posts and book recommendations!

  30. Hannah says:

    My reading life has slowed waaaay down lately, but for all good reasons: my sister just completed her flight training in the Air Force, another sister just moved in two houses down from us, and another sister had her sweet baby girl this week! 💛💛💛 But I’m slowly working my way through Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier and The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas.

  31. As a huge fan of Joshilyn Jackson’s work, I was thrilled to get an ARC of NEVER HAVE I EVER. It was excellent! And so was Charlie Donlea’s SOME CHOOSE DARKNESS. I’m a big fan of his books, too. 🙂

    Two middle grade novels I read recently – and loved! – AUGUST ISLE by Ali Standish and EXTRAORDINARY BIRDS by Sandy Stark-McGinnis.

  32. Fonda says:

    I’ve had a decent reading month for June.
    Beyond the Point – Loved everything about this one
    How Not To Die Alone – Okay
    The Wife Between Us – Couldn’t put it down (Glad my book club chose this one.)
    Swimming Lessons – Loved the structure and premise, didn’t love the characters
    From Scratch – audiobook
    Starting ‘Ask Again, Yes’ tonight.

  33. Krysia says:

    I just read Lucy Parker’s The Austen Playbook on a plane this last week! I enjoy her romances – Act Like It is still my favorite though!

  34. Leslie Occhiuto says:

    Just finished The River, moments ago. Based on your recommendation . Sooooo Good! Definitely need more Heller.

    • Deb Boden says:

      Did you want more from “The River”?
      I found it left me unsatisfied…. I am reading The Past Is Never by Tiffany Quay Tyson. I cannot put it down!!

  35. Idarah says:

    I just finished The Truffle Underground today, and liked that it was lite-ish true crime. Also made me hungry. Speaking of hungry, I also read my first legit romance Pride, Prejudice and Other Flavors which was a nice spin on Jane Austen’s famous novel. It also was centered on food! Will definitely be looking at your not too steamy romance recommendations.

  36. Sheri says:

    I’m finishing up Such A Perfect Wife by Kate White and loving it. It is my first book by her. I also just finished By Invitation Only by Dorothea Benton Frank and loves it as well…it was a first also. Recently finished listening to another first author, Sally Hepworth and the Mother-in-law and re ally enjoyed it. So many books to read and not enough time!!

  37. Linda Welsh says:

    Just read “The Paper Wasp” by Lauren Acampora. Oh my goodness, I couldn’t put it down. Its about two childhood friends that grow apart and reconnect as adults. I’ve never read anything like it before. Give it a try!

  38. Terry says:

    I finished Save Me the Plums last week on Audible and loved it. Does anyone know if there’s a way to find the recipes in print form? I’m currently listening to (I mostly listen to fiction and read non-fiction) Journey to the Center of the Earth – I’ve never read it or anything by Jules Verne.

    • Anne says:

      I have the hardcover of Save Me the Plums and it has the recipes in it. Sometimes audio versions have supplements that contain the printed information referred to in the book, so it’s worth checking to see if your version does.

  39. Diana says:

    Lucy Parker’s London Celebrities series – should they be read in order?

    (All are available on ebook through my library, but I’m likely to get Pretty Face before Act Like It!)

  40. Dee Klausman says:

    I just read and loved, loved, loved The Last Romantics by Tara Conklin. Read it if you’ve not. Also, found Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman very compelling too. I was surprised by the depth of it and the feelings it evoked. I’ve not read Celine or Act Like It but will add them to my list. Little Fires Everywhere was one of my favs from last year.

  41. “Principles are fundamental truths that serve as the foundations for behavior that gets you what you want out of life. They can be applied again and again in similar situations to help you achieve your goals.” There’s plenty of other lessons that I took away from the nearly 700 pages in Principles, but I’ll leave those for you to discover on your own. If you’re crunched for time, I found the “Life” portion of the book that comes first to be the most helpful. The “Work” section seemed to repeat some of these common themes. You can check it out for yourself here .

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.