What I’m 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’m currently doing major Summer Reading Guide prep (aka reading a ton of titles coming out between now and July 4) but I’m trying to mix it up—because otherwise I start to suffer from major new fiction fatigue. This month I enjoyed 3 strong recommendations from my fellow readers, a Newbery book that’s been on my TBR for too long, and a modern classic I’ve been meaning to read for a decade.

Quick Lit March 2017
The Handmaid’s Tale

The Handmaid’s Tale

Confession: this is the first time I've read the whole thing, not just excerpts. I listened to the Claire Danes audio version. Her narration was understated (in a good way), which made the story extra-creepy. I'd recommend the audio, but I'm so glad I finally read this in any format. More info →
Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It

Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It

Will and I were fighting over who got to read this first! The author is a former hostage negotiator for the FBI. His workplace tales were fascinating, of course, but I was also impressed at how he took those principles and applied them to everyday life—like negotiating a salary, or buying a house, or having normal, everyday conversations with your kids. This is one I want to read again, because I'm certain I didn't absorb everything on my first read. (I happened to read this RIGHT before we put our old house on the market, which was perfect timing!) More info →
The War That Saved My Life

The War That Saved My Life

I just loved this. It’s a Newbery Honor Book, set during WWII, and the plot is set in motion when two children—one of whom is very much unwanted—are evacuated from London into the British countryside. (If you think this sounds like Everyone Brave Is Forgiven you’re exactly right.) I'm very much looking forward to the sequel, due out this fall. More info →
Far Far Away

Far Far Away

This was recommended to me on the What should ANNE read next? episode of What Should I Read Next. This was a well-written, genre-bending story, and I have to agree with what this book's fans urged me to do: don't read the description, just dive in. I was surprised at how much it reminded me of A.S. Byatt; a must-read for fans of the show Once Upon a Time. More info →
High Dive

High Dive

In December 1984, a very real assassination attempt was made on Margaret Thatcher's life at the Grand Hotel in Brighton, where Thatcher was staying with her cabinet. That thwarted attempt was Lee's jumping off point for this novel. He imagines what might have happened, telling the story through the eyes of three different characters: a conspirator in the plot, the hotel manager, and the manager's teenage daughter. I was impressed at how Lee made each of these characters spring to life, instead of making this a cardboard retelling of 1984's events. An interesting, quick read. More info →

What have YOU been reading lately?

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  1. Melissa says:

    Hi Anne!
    I just discovered you a few months ago and you have rekindled my love of reading and I have read so much in the past few months, mostly recommendations made in your podcasts. We must be sisters in reading, because none of your recommendations have let me down. I just want to thank you for all you do! You have helped me through a difficult time and just wanted you to know that you make an impact. Keep sharing dear heart!
    Melissa O.

  2. Heather says:

    I’m reading an ARC of Karen Katchur’s The Sisters of Blue Mountain (so good) and recently finished Idaho by Emily Ruskovich (beautiful writing, heart-wrenching story) and The Longest Night by Andria Williams (smart, character-driven story against the backdrop of a nuclear reactor incident in the early 1960s).

  3. Sara Kilpatrick says:

    So funny about Far, Far Away. I picked it up randomly at the library a few months ago. Then I saw on Goodreads that you were reading it (great minds and all that). Of course, I have committed myself to some large tomes so I have not had time to dive in. I’m glad to hear you enjoyed it! It will stay on my list 🙂

    I just finished reading The Alice Network by Kate Quinn (which doesn’t release till June – thank you Goodreads giveaways!). It was a great historical, espionage read. Really enjoyed it!

    I’m working on The Count of Monte Cristo and The Arabian Nights. Both are moving along though at a rather slow pace.

  4. I decided earlier this year to read all twelve of Willa Cather’s novels. Some I have read before, but when I was much younger. Classics are really pulling me right now, and I wonder if that has to do with my age–I am turning 69 in a few weeks. Anyway, I have read the first three, Alexander’s Bridge, O Pioneers!, and The Song of the Lark, and now I am immersed in My Antonia. I have always been drawn to slow books that develop character deeply and wrap you in setting. Cather meets those criteria. I love the Vintage Classics editions of these books–lovely, serene covers.

    I think of Handmaid’s Tale as a classic, too, by the way, and think this might be the year to reread it. Thanks for the nudge.

  5. Erin says:

    The War That Saved My Life was one of my favorite books I read in 2016, and I totally picked it up because I thought it looked interesting. When I returned it I had to gush about it to the librarian . . . LOL.

  6. Jennifer N. says:

    I’m so excited you read The Handmaid’s Tale – it’s one of my all-time favorites (I’m a big fan of dystopian fiction.)

    Recently I have finished “Small Great Things” by Jodi Picoult on audio, “Fatal Grace” by Louise Penny (she’s the author I picked to read 3 of for the MMD challenge per your love of the series, which I love now, too), “Interpreter of Maladies” by Jhumpa Lahiri (such an interesting read), and “Exit West” by Mohsin Hamid (my favorite book so far this year.) I recommend them all, especially Exit West because that novel is magical.

    I just started “Under the Dome” by Stephen King last night, which will keep me occupied for awhile since this is 1,088-page door-stop of a book.

    I also wanted to say thank you for introducing me to Book of the Month Club. I was one of those readers that did not read a lot of new releases (if any) and felt like I was always the last to know about great new books. Now I’m one of the first!

      • Jennifer N. says:

        I’m almost to 200 pages less than a week later, and have been too busy to read as much as I like, so you’re absolutely right! My goal is to finish by the end of the month so maybe I can sneak something else in before I get my BOTM subscription. I have read The Stand and I always tell people it didn’t FEEL like a long book. I should have expected the same here :-).

  7. Jenny says:

    I am listening to The War that Saved My Life and it is wonderful. I am huge middle grade lit fan and this title had been on TBR list for a while. Thanks to the Book Club flight pick, I started it this week. Now my daughters are adding it to their Overdrive holds list. The narrator is great, I highly recommend it in audio.

  8. I read The Handmaid’s Tale for the first time this month too. I’m not sure I could have handled the audiobook version. The book was definitely weird and you’re right, a bit creepy so I’m not sure I’d like to hear all that in my head but like you said, I’m glad I’ve read it, especially since it’s being referenced a lot these days.

  9. Karen says:

    I have The War that Saved My Life on hold at the library. I am hoping it comes in before March is over so I can read it before the book discussion in the MMD book club for A Piece of the World.

    I am a fan of Once Upon a Time and am looking forward to the next season to come out on Netflix. 😉 So I’m adding Far, Far Away to my to-be-read list. 🙂

  10. Jill says:

    Am currently reading “In This House of Brede” by Rumer Godden. Being about life in a Benedictine monastery, it’s probably not for everyone. That said, the writing is great and the characters interesting. I’m learning a lot about daily religious life and looking forward to my next trip to the monastery in my area where I’ll be better informed when I hear those bells and have silent breakfast in the refectory. This was one of your recommendations for the long book on the reading challenge, so thank you!

  11. Christine says:

    I listened to The Handmaid’s Tale also – it was my first ever audiobook – and I thought Claire Danes was fantastic as the narrator. It was just as you described and brought so much to my reading of it. Definitely hooked me into the magic of great audiobooks!

  12. Andrea says:

    I just read The War That Saved My Life, too! It’s in my reviews that I linked up 🙂 Did you know that there is a sequel?? The War I Finally Won is coming out later this year.

  13. I’m usually not a nonfiction person, but the negotiating book sounds enthralling! I read The Handmaid’s Tale almost a year ago and was not a fan of it. I might have enjoyed it as an audiobook though, and I will check out the TV show. For some reason, it just missed the mark for me.

    In February, I read 12 books and just finished up a length review post of all of the! Now I’m excited to dive into new books for March. I’m hoping to snag one of these. Thank you for your quick reviews!

    OH ! I’m also just about to finish Pride and Prejudice for the first time! I finally understand your blog URL. (Took me long enough- been reading for almost 2 years)

  14. I’m not typically a non-fiction reader, and the Negotiating… book is definitely not something I would normally pick up. But you had me at “everyday conversations with your kids” I feel like I’m in a hostage situation every day at the dinner table with my 3 year old, so I think I may have to pick that one up. Thanks, as always, for sharing!

  15. I read “The Handmaid’s Tale” a few years ago and it is truly one of those unforgettable books. Will be interesting to see how they film some of the haunting scenes. Am reading “News of the World” by Paulette Jiles. Took about 40 pages to get to the relationship between Captain Kidd and the child, Johanna, he is returning from the Indian tribe to her extended family. Also reading “Ruby” by Cynthia Bond, an Oprah book club pick a couple of years ago. Reviewer’s comments of “a stunning debut,” “evocative” and “horrific” aptly describe Ruby’s life.

  16. Kate Olson says:

    Last year a good friend chose Laura Ingalls Wilder’s “The Long Winter” as a summer book club read, which I thought was a brilliant idea in the midst of a hot, dry summer. In contrast, Upstate NY is currently blanketed with snow, courtesy of Winter Storm Stella. While my children build snow forts, I’m tucked inside reading Jane Harper’s new novel, “The Dry.” The hot, arid, anxiety-ridden mystery is a perfect way to escape the winter from the comfort of my couch. Bonus fun: looking up poisonous Australian spiders referenced in the book on Wikipedia!

  17. Aya says:

    I’m a huge fan of the show Once Upon A Time! Off to order Far Far Away 🙂 Thank you for always explaining what a book is about in just the right way so readers can find what they like 🙂

  18. Wyndi says:

    I recently finished The Second Mrs. Hockaday. There are so many reasons why this book shouldn’t have worked… first novel, mixed genre, mixed time periods, etc. it was FANTASTIC!!! Probably my favorite of the 30+ books I’ve read since January. It’s Civil War historical fiction with an interesting nod to David Copperfield. I can’t say enough about how great it is.

  19. Donna says:

    I’m adding The War that Saved My Life to my never-ending reading list! Thanks Anne.?

    Recent reads:

    The Best Kind of People by Zoe Whittall. This one hooked me from page one. I could not put it down; I finished it in two days!

    Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris. I picked this up on a whim yesterday and I read it from start to finish last night. Such a page-turner.

    The Lonely Hearts Hotel by Heather O’Neill. This took me a lot longer to finish than I thought it would. But I enjoyed it. It’s a mix of historical fiction and fantasy and it’s sooooo beautifully written. Heads up for foul language and sex scenes.

    I am still reading Columbine. Hoping to finish it this weekend!

  20. Heidi says:

    I just finished A Rule Against Murder (Gamache book 4), Razor Girl by Carl Hiaasen, and Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty. I’m in the midst of Essentialism and Strangers on a Train. I think I’m going to pull out some P.G. Wodehouse or Georgette Heyer for a palate cleanser – looking at this list, no wonder I’ve been feeling a little dark lately!

  21. Liza says:

    I read The War That Saved my Life last year for the middle school librarian. It was SO SO GOOD. I didn’t realize it was a Newbery honor book!

    What have I read lately? The Shades of Magic series by V.E. Schwab, The Girl Who Drank the Moon (a Newbery Honor book for this year – and well deserving of the honor), Frogkisser! by Garth Nix (another middle grade book that was a lot of fun). Next up on my TBR is a Kate Morton book (I forget the title – my mom shoved it into my hands), Heartless by Marissa Meyer, and Caraval by Stephanie Garber.

    My reading goal for this year to only read books that I haven’t read before. I tend to reread books again and again, which leaves less time for the new stuff. I’ve done well so far – and still have a large unread pile at home. I’ve only reread two books – the first two in the Shades of Magic series – and that was only to refresh the story in my head so I could read the third book which just came out.

  22. Andrea says:

    Loved The War that Saved My Life! I recommend it to everyone and have gifted it to my kids’ teachers for their classroom.

  23. Bryanna says:

    I just finished The Nest which I actually really enjoyed! I am starting All the Light We Cannot See now. I am so excited because I have been waiting to get it from the library for a LONG time! It’s fun to see what everyone else is reading!

  24. Here are the titles I’ve recently read:
    The Blogger’s Simple Guide to Taxes by Sarah Korhnak
    Simplify by Joshua Becker
    March: Book Two by John Lewis
    The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker
    News of the World by Paulette Jiles.
    I enjoyed or found each of them very useful.

  25. Amanda says:

    I just finished “Goodnight June” by Sara Jio. Not only do I enjoy her stories, but I enjoyed the sprinkling of children’s books in this one.

  26. Heather says:

    Recently read and loved Burying the Honeysuckle Girls (Emily Carpenter) and The Longest Night (Andria Williams). Now reading an ARC of Karen Katchur’s The Sisters of Blue Mountain, which is super intriguing so far.

  27. I’m currently involved in a reading.challenge hosted by Books and Chocolate. So right now I’m reqdi Wuthering.Heights by Emily Bronte and Feminism Is For Everyone by bell hooks. That one is from a black .fem lit list I created.

  28. ~Amy F.~ says:

    Due to a rare and treasured vacation from university, I’ve finished several books lately:

    Spy Secrets that Can Save Your Life, by Jason Hanson–because sometimes we have to read the books our 12-year-old selves would want us to read 😉
    Say Goodbye to Survival Mode, by Crystal Paine
    Good as Gone, by Amy Gentry
    The Magician’s Lie, by Greer Macallister

    I’m currently reading The Satanic Verses, by Salman Rushdie (I heard about it in a Survey of English Literature course and thought I’d see what all the fuss was about. Turns out I’m not a fan of magical realism, although I can tell it’s a well-written book and I plan to finish it.)

  29. Liz says:

    I am reading two books right now! Liar Temptress Soldier Spy, about women spies/soldiers in the Civil War, and the children’s book, Serafina and the Black Cloak, about an unusual girl who lives in the shadows and basement of the Biltmore House.

  30. Cathi says:

    Read A Man Called Ove for Jan bookclub and really enjoyed it. Currently reading Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult and Flight Patterns by Karen White. Next is Dark Matter.

  31. Jennifer says:

    I really loved The War That Saved my Life! And I have A Handmaids Tale on my TBR list. I’m so glad I found your website, probably over half my book selections stem from your lists, thank you! Definitely found some books I’d never thought of reading!

    Currently I’m 3/4 of the way through Ender’s Game and 1/2 through A Man Called Ove.
    And I just finished:
    A Gentleman in Moscow
    My Grandmother Told Me to Say I’m Sorry
    Eleanor and Park
    The Zookeepers Wife
    From the Mixed up Files of Mrs Basil E Frankwiler
    And the Throne of Glass series books 1-5

  32. Kim says:

    Hi! I just finished Commonwealth & loved it! Next I dove into Present Over Perect b Shauna Neiquest….equally wonderful! I too love hearing about what everyone is reading!

  33. Nicole says:

    The first book captured my attention. Automatically added it to my reading list. It really looked so good! You have the best recommendations!

  34. Carla says:

    I have just finished listening to Same Kind of Different as Me. It was great! The circumstances that brought these people together and the relationship that came out of it was remarkable.

  35. Christie Kline says:

    Just read High Dive. So interesting in the way it’s told and the writing is crisp and smart. This book didn’t get a lot of recognition, so I hope more people come across it.

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