What I’ve been reading lately: the new and the notable

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 know I always say that once the Summer Reading Guide is out, I start reading old—as in, not just released—books, but most of today’s titles are hot off the presses. And I didn’t realize just how much I’ve been reading on audio lately until I pulled this list together. (I can say with confidence that my garden has benefited from having good books to listen to: there’s no better motivation to pull a few more weeds than to have a good story you’d love to hear one more chapter of!) 

I can’t wait to hear about your recent reads in comments. 

What I’ve been reading lately: the new and the notable

Dirt: Adventures in Lyon as a Chef in Training, Father, and Sleuth Looking for the Secret of French Cooking

Dirt: Adventures in Lyon as a Chef in Training, Father, and Sleuth Looking for the Secret of French Cooking

Author:
I just shared this new food memoir in our recent post featuring 20 tasty and tantalizing food memoirs and wanted to share it here as well as a recent read. Once again, Buford shares a first-hand account of his time in the kitchen, this time in France. In a quest to deepen his culinary training, Buford and his wife move to Lyon with their twin three-year-old boys. They intended to stay for six months so Buford could cook, but after settling in they extended their visit—and stayed for five years. A lush, detailed, and vividly drawn account of esteemed French kitchens, and the culture that makes their grand food possible. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to Buford narrate his own story in the audiobook version. More info →
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Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor

Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor

Author:
Saad's goal with this workbook-style book, which began as a 2017 Instagram challenge called #MeAndWhiteSupremacy, is to help white readers recognize how they participate in the system of white supremacy. Consider the book your personal workshop: Saad presents 28 carefully structured prompts inviting readers to reflect on and journal about different aspects of white supremacy. By better understanding their complicity in the system, white readers will then be better equipped to demolish it. I listened to the audio version, narrated by the author, which I loved, but appreciated the word of warning given me by fellow audiophiles: since this is a workbook-style book, I didn't want to listen on a six-mile hike; I wanted to listen in small chunks, with pen and paper handy. More info →
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All Things Reconsidered: How Rethinking What We Know Helps Us Know What We Believe

All Things Reconsidered: How Rethinking What We Know Helps Us Know What We Believe

Author:
It was my pleasure to endorse this brand-new book from my friend Knox McCoy, who you may know from The Popcast with Knox and Jamie. In his thoughtful new work, a "celebration of recalibration," Knox manages once again to unite comedy and candor, penning serious reflections that are seriously funny. His reflections on introversion and the Enneagram had me in tears, I was laughing so hard. This book has prompted lots of dinner table conversations at my house: lately we've been discussing times in the past where we've changed our minds about big issues, and long-held beliefs we've come to let go of. More info →
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Disoriental

Disoriental

This coming of age story begins in the waiting room of a Parisian fertility clinic. While awaiting the treatment she hopes will result in a child of her own, Kimiâ Sadr can't help but reflect on her own childhood and family history. She was born in Iran, but fled to Paris with her family after her journalist father criticized the ruling regime and subsequently became a target. Now at 25, Kimiâ plunges into the pool of memory to revisit her tomboy youth in a country that doesn't understand the concept, her close-knit yet contentious family and her relationships with all her aunts and uncles one through six, and her current status as an uneasy immigrant. I loved the voice here ("Just be patient a little bit longer, dear Reader") and the sophisticated layering of a personal story upon numerous current political and cultural events. More info →
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Deacon King Kong

Deacon King Kong

Author:
I started this book back in February and, in the wake of the coronavirus, had a difficult time continuing in print in March—but then I switched to the audio version last month and couldn't put it down. The story begins with a shooting: it's 1969, in the Cause Houses housing project in south Brooklyn; a beloved drunk deacon named Sportcoat wanders into the courtyard and shoots the drug dealer he'd once treated like a son point-blank, in front of everyone. After this jolting beginning, McBride zooms out to show the reader how this violent act came to take place, exploring the lives of the shooter and the victim, the victim's bumbling friends, the residents who witnessed it, the neighbors who heard about it, the cops assigned to investigate, the members of the church where Sportcoat was a deacon, the neighborhood's mobsters (and their families). All these people's lives overlap in ways that few understand in the beginning, and McBride's gentle teasing out of these unlikely but deeply meaningful connections—and the humor and warmth with which he does it—is what captured me. More info →
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Rodham

Rodham

I've been intrigued by the idea of this story since I heard about it years ago, because how on earth does one write an alternate history about a living person? In this new novel, Sittenfeld imagines what Hillary Clinton's life might have been like if, after meeting and then dating Bill Clinton, she turned down his marriage proposal and went her own way. Her answer, which combines real and historical events, was not what I expected. (I appreciate Hillary's reflection near the end of the book, where she ponders what might have been if she had chosen a different path: "Is there a parallel universe where I marry Bill? And if there is, do we stay married?") I listened to the audiobook version, narrated by Carrington MacDuffie (who surprised me with her Bill Clinton accent!). 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. Since we’re on the audiobook theme today, try these 10 audiobooks so good you’ll want to fold another load of laundry, finish washing the dishes, or just sit in the driveway for 5 more minutes, and these 10 audiobooks to listen to while you clean, purge, and tidy.

91 comments | Comment

91 comments

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    • Karen says:

      Shannan – I am excited about Rodham also! My gay son has observed all the problems his girlfriends have are caused by the men in their lives. He is very observant. This book answers a great question.

    • Deb says:

      I’ve read over 30 books during sip, re- read. Team of Rivals by Doris Kerns Goodwin. My Fav. Book by far. Check it out

  1. Maria Ontiveros says:

    I loved listening to Nothing to See Here! I also listened to a wonderful memoir to help understand being Black in America called I’m Still Here by Austin Channing Brown. Currently kindle reading Strike Me Down. A pretty good reading month so far!

  2. Mary says:

    I am reading The Clergyman’s Wife by Molly Greeley. I tend to stay away from Pride and Prejudice stories because I have exacting standards about Austen. Yet this book is incredible. It gives Charlotte Collins a life and a personality. Loved seeing this imagined life for Charlotte after P&P ends.

    • Elizabeth says:

      Just borrowed the audio of “The Clergyman’s Wife” from my library. I never like Austen spinoffs, but I’ll give it a try. “The Jane Austen Society” was a big disappointment, and no book has excited me for awhile. Maybe malaise from being stuck at home more?

    • Sue says:

      I will look for it! After enjoying Unequal Affections by Lora Ormiston so much, I’m ready for another P & P retelling!

  3. Alison says:

    After reading Knox McCoy’s book, I wonder if you’d enjoy Alan Jacob’s book, “How to Think” as a kind of companion guide? A group of friends and I read it this month and all really enjoyed it. It is short in length and isn’t super prescriptive but more helps the reader realize when he/she is falling into faulty thinking.

    • Anne says:

      Alison, I read How to Think a couple of years ago and hadn’t thought about the similarities between the two books! I’m glad you pointed that out.

  4. Dorothy says:

    I have been listening to more audiobooks than I normally do, finding it hard to concentrate on print, which is my usual form. I just listened to Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes and thought it was very good. Julia Whelan is an excellent narrator! I also listened to several Kate DiCamillo books, Louise, Adventures of a Chicken, is fun! And lastly, Once Upon a River, by Diane Setterfield, with another great narrator, Juliet Stevenson.

    • Debbie Hauser says:

      I am currently reading “Nobody will tell you this but me” Bess Kalb
      Recently I have read “Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe” by Heather Webber, “Evvie Drake starts over” by Linda Holmes, “Searching for Sunday” by Rachel Held Evans, “The Giver of Stars” by Jo-Jo Moyes, “The Scent Keeper” by Erica Bauermeister, “ The Garden of Small Beginnings” by Abbi Waxman , “The Bookish Life of Nina Hill” by Abbi Waxman, and “Somewhere Safe with Someone Good” by Jan Karon. I enjoyed them all.

  5. Patricia says:

    I have been on a streak of 4-5 star books and I’m notoriously stingy with stars. The Vanishing Half – Hamnet – City of Girls – Girl, Woman, Other – The Warmth of Other Suns – Passing

    Currently reading: The New Jim Crow (80%) + Americanah (25%)

  6. Dana Qualls says:

    I am reading To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. I am reading it for my book Club. I have seen the movie many times but as I read, I realize I have never read this book! The story of Scout, Jem, and Atticus Finch is like coming home for me somehow. I love the interaction with neighbors and watching Jem learn how to be a man. The way their friends and neighbors turn on the family when Atticus is assigned to defend the African American man is painful and Scout does some growing of her own. I am in the courtroom now with Atticus defending Tom. I am so glad I finally got around to reading this. I think my next read will be Go Set A Watchman.

  7. Anne with an E says:

    I listened to two great books recently, “The Henna Artist” by Alka Joshi and “The Girl with the Louding Voice” by Abi Dare. Since the new normal means staying at home, these books transported me to India and Nigeria with their descriptive details.

  8. Ann says:

    These all sound good! After having a hard time focusing on anything (including reading, sadly) during the worst of Covid in March / April, your blog and podcast has helped me get back on track w/ so many great recs – so glad I found this! (I’ve started w/ ep 1 of the podcast and making my way through..) Just read the Vanishing Half (loved it), can’t wait now to read Mothers. No reading American Dirt (w/ eyes open to the critique) as well as The Real Thing and listening to The Year of Living Danishly (both mentioned on your podcast). Thanks !

    (and would love to hear how you keep your reading journal – will check your blog to see if you’ve written about this already)

  9. Adrienne says:

    My recent completed reads include:
    * All the Ways We Said Goodbye by Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig, and Karen White – this was a good book but for some reason it took me far too long to read it, I think because I didn’t find it as compelling and gripping as I expected. 3.5 stars
    * The Book of Lost Friends by Lisa Wingate (audiobook) – I loved this book until the end, which seemed rushed. It felt like the author just got tired of writing and abruptly ended the story. The main characters, Hannie and Benny, were so interesting, and voiced very well by the audiobook artists, and the addition of real historical letters to the Lost Friends column was amazing. I’ve read very few books set in the Reconstruction Era and wish there were more. 4 stars
    * Illuminated by Matt Bronleewe – This is similar in style to The Da Vinci code, but based on the Gutenberg Bible. It started out strong, but as the story progressed I found it unbelievable, and bordering on ridiculous. 2 stars
    * What the Wind Knows by Amy Harmon – LOVED this book! This is a beautiful love story, which also includes a mythical story, snapshots of the Irish Easter Rising and the establishment of the treaty with Britain that formed Ireland and Northern Irelend, and glimpses into the life of Michael Collins. Oh, and poetry by Yeats! So much going on here….. 5 stars

    Right now I am reading The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson, What If It’s True? by Charles Martin, and Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb (audiobook). All of these are fantastic!

    Happy Reading!

  10. Cyndi Moskal says:

    I feel like I’ve been in a rut of 3 star books this past month – good books but not wow books. Three books that stood out above the rest were Mudbound, Small Great Things and The Dinner List.

  11. I’ve just finished Americanah, which I loved, and White Fragility which open my eyes and has given me loads to think about. I wish every progressive white person in the country would read/listen to this book! (There are also a couple good lectures of Robin DiAngelo’s on YouTube for folks that want a quick introduction…)

    Also read Such a Fun Age & An American Marriage, which I would also recommend!

    • Megan says:

      I just finished an online small group meeting with my church a few minutes ago in which we watched and discussed one of the videos by Robin DiAngelo! I now can’t wait to get my hands on her book. Thank you for the additional nudge!

  12. Rodham is high on my list to read soon and I just added “Disoriental” which sounds absolutely fantastic!

    Here are the books that have been occupying my time lately including “We Are Not From Here” and my current read of “The Jane Austen Society”. I also include our family’s reads such as my husband deeply engrossed in “The House in the Cerulean Sea” and my kids loving “Nanny Piggins” and “Stonewall” (among others) for read-alouds.

  13. Cheryl Powers says:

    I love Charles Martin’s books! Just finished reading Inheritance, by Dani Shapiro; for some reason when I started it I thought she was Dani Perino, Geeez!

  14. Terry says:

    I just finished Writer & Lovers from Anne’s summer reading list and loved it! Before that, I read Sara Paretsky’s Dead Land. She’s a favorite of mine for many decades and I’m happy to say she hasn’t lost a step. I started The Overstory yesterday afternoon—how have I not read this before? I’m gobsmacked by how good it is. 😊 Happy reading everyone!

  15. Tracey says:

    I’m reading a lot of audiobooks too right now. The best ones in the past month were Kindred (I think I was just in the middle of it last month) by Octavia Butler, The Skin We’re In by Desmond Cole, and Normal People by Sally Rooney. I just started I’d Give Anything by Marisa de los Santos (haven’t read her before) and am most of the way through Burnout by Emily and Amelia Nagoski and am liking them both.

  16. Amapola says:

    I finished “The Lovely War” (good), “The Crossing Places” (ok), “The Stranger Diaries” (good) and “The Dutch House” (did not live up to the expectations). Currently, I’m reading “The Warmth of Other Suns”, which was on my TBR since last year and “Brown Church” by Roberto Chao Romero.
    Still working on “The Blue Castle” and “Seven Transforming Gifts of Menopause”.
    Abandoned, “The Secrets we Kept”.

  17. Melissa Lewis says:

    Oh, I’ve been reading a lot as well! I’ve finished the first 2 books in the Ken Folett Century Trilogy. I read and loved Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke (and will pick up book #2 today at the library). I also read and loved Long Bright River by Liz Moore. My book club book this month is Big Summer by Jennifer Weiner and I didn’t find it to be a favorite.

  18. LisaF says:

    Recently finished The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey and The Crofter and the Laird by John McPhee, and I’m currently reading (and nearly finished with) The Lake House by Kate Morton. All three have been terrific reads for me.
    Next up on the towering TBR list are What the Wind Knows by Amy Harmon, another Brother Cadfael mystery, The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner, and A Great and Terrible King:Edward the First and the Forging of Britain by Marc Morris. I think there’s a definite theme to my reading habits here…

  19. Thanks for sharing these, Anne! The book by Knox McCoy looks especially fascinating.
    I just started up a new blog inspired by Anne of Green Gables and L. M. Montgomery, featuring books I love and celebrations of creative living. Today I did a quick review of two Anne-books my family has been loving: Anne Arrives and Anne’s Kindred Spirits, by Kallie George. I hope to have more LMM books and spin-off reviews in the near future!
    https://blytheandbold.wordpress.com/2020/06/15/books-to-share-anne-chapter-books-by-kallie-george/

  20. Rita Morgan says:

    Listened to The saffron Kitchen. It’s amazing on audio! I’m now listening to The Henna Artist. It’s also so good.

    • Tamara says:

      My biggest hits were nonfiction reads this month. Both are stories of many individuals sharing a similar experience.
      102 Minutes: The untold story of the fight to survive inside the twin towers by Jim Dwyer and Kevin Flynn.
      The Black Panthers: Portraits from an unfinished revolution by Brian Shih and Yohuru Williams.

  21. Rachel says:

    So many more books to add to my reading list! Listening to audiobooks while weeding is a great idea! I hate weeding so much. I recently read Confessions of a Domestic Failure and it was hilarious. I would highly recommend it to any Stay-at-Home Mom.

  22. Carol says:

    I am currently working on 2 Reading Challenges(including the MMD Reading Challenge) so that greatly influences what I read. Right now I am reading Firefly Lane (“strong friendship theme” prompt). I recently finished A Burning (debut novel), which I thought was excellent. It was a very quick read and very thought-provoking. Before that I read Hidden Valley Road with Oprah’s Book Club. This was excellent! Oprah even interviewed some family members on Friday. This week I listened to “White Fragility“ and “I’m Still Here”. Both were excellent, but left me confused and feeling hopeless though they certainly got me thinking. So I have been reading some super heavy books lately. I just borrowed “A Year of Yes” based on your recommendation on the SRG. I think Dirt, “Disoriented” and “White Supremacy” sound like good audiobooks. I like audiobooks when I take walks and work on puzzles.

  23. Beth Gross says:

    Disoriental looks interesting. Thanks for another great list, Anne.

    I just finished The Satapur Moonstone by Sujata Massey. I liked it almost as much as the first one in the series, The Widows of Malabar Hill.

    My favorite book I read in 2017 was Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus, so I thought about why I liked it so much and made a list of other books that had those characteristics in common.
    https://purplecrayonyourworld.com/books-like-seeking-allah-finding-jesus/

  24. I started James McBride’s The Good Lord Bird this week as part of my #BLM reading and the audiobook is amazing! It’s a cross between Lonesome Dove and True Grit – a territorial look at abolitionist John Brown and a stolen slave named Henry. The narrator does a fantastic job with the numerous cast and characters. ABout half way done and loving it.
    *reader’s advisory: explicit and graphic language and heavy use of the N*word.

  25. Lisa Z says:

    Thank you for including Me and White Supremacy. I just purchased it for my Kindle and it will be my first dive into this so-needed topic. It just sounds like the right first book on this for me, in a sea of so many highly recommended books. I am looking forward to learning a lot from her writing, and doing the journal reflections too.

  26. Gina says:

    I just finished The Glass Hotel by Emily St John Mandel over the weekend (thanks to MMD recommendation:) . I can’t get that book out of my mind! She is a brilliant author, and would probably be enjoyed by anyone who loves Ann Patchett. Happy and You Know It by Laura Hamlin was a fun, quick read. The story is set in a mom’s playgroup in New York, and centers on what happens when the playgroup hires a young, out of work musician to lead their music time. I also just finished David Sedaris’ latest book of essays, Calypso and I think it is his best work yet.

  27. Dana says:

    Recent reads:

    Kitchen Counter Cooking School by Kathleen Flinn ( a re-read) Great cooking memoir and manual in one.
    Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert ( also a re-read)
    Play Piano in a Flash by Scott Houston Playing the piano again. Great book for adults who want to play popular music.
    To Be Where You Are by Jan Karon
    Clock Dance by Anne Tyler
    Keep It Moving By Twyla Tharp

  28. Carrie says:

    Dirt sounds good! I’ve seen it recommended elsewhere, also.
    I’m currently reading:
    I’m Still Here by Austin Channing Brown (So good!)
    Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes (For book club, also excellent)
    The Wedding Chapel by Rachel Houck (research, but very good)
    Recent reads:
    A Long Time Comin’ by Robin W. Pearson
    A Mosaic of Wings by Kimberly Duffy

  29. Betsy says:

    I am in the middle of reading American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins.
    My daughter has been urging me to read it because she was so moved by the story of Lydia and her son, not a cheerful read, but very moving.

  30. Kacie says:

    I’m so happy I found this blog! Totally convinced to read Rodham, now, and can’t wait. I’m still trying to make it through what I have on my “Quarantine Reading List” which is mostly comprised of older titles (Dune, House of Leaves, etc). Buying more books in the meantime doesn’t help, though…

  31. Sue says:

    Intrigued by Rodham and Disoriental! Listening to The Secret Life of Bees and am awestruck with Kidd’s writing, even after seeing the movie years ago. Finished Such a Fun Age, which was not for me, Bor-ing! But Ordinary Grace, which has been sitting on my shelf for months, was a 10 stars on a scale of 1-5…. Can’t wait to get my hands on This Tender Land!

  32. Always love seeing all the books people are reading, especially the repeat titles.

    Through my reading this month, I’ve traveled the world in time and place. I’ve experienced 1918 Philadelphia during the Spanish flu pandemic, an Indian immigrant community in London, a small Danish coastal town, and Norway in 2017/France in 2041. It was good month of reading with a few virtual book events thrown in.
    http://www.avikinginla.com/2020/06/what-ive-been-reading-lately-my-latest-virtual-book-events-may-2020/

  33. Emma says:

    I’ve read six books this past month, the standout being ‘The Elegance of the Hedgehog’ which I heard about here on MMD! Very polarising it seems, but I loved it.

    It’s winter in Melbourne and so I’m reading anthologies of ghost stories at night and also ‘Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry’, which I can only bear in small doses, it makes me so sad and angry.

    The shortlist for the Miles Franklin Award (Australia’s premier literary prize) was also announced today, and several of the books are on my TBR list. It’s great to see good representation of female and indigenous authors, and I hope some of the books make their way to the US…
    https://www.perpetual.com.au/milesfranklin

  34. Cheralaine says:

    I like the idea of Rodham, but I have an aversion to Sittenfeld. I read Prep many years ago and it was very “not to my taste.” She has obvious skill as a writer but that book is a rare 1 star rating on my Goodreads list. This means it had to offend me in some way and Prep certainly did. I have never been able to pick up another of her books again.

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