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 year got off to a slow start (e.g., it me took ten days—a long time for me—to finish my first book of 2022). But I feel like I’ve been reading at a brisk clip since then, something my reading journal confirms. That’s in spite of the fact that I’ve abandoned two books at the 100-page mark in the past month.

I’ve been reading widely of late—a balance of fiction and non, a nice amount of backlist titles, a few new releases, and while today’s Quick Lit list doesn’t capture it, much of my reading time has been spent with forthcoming books. (If you’re thinking that’s because it’s Summer Reading Guide preparation season, you’re absolutely right!)

I’m using the My Reading Life book journal, of course, which is what you see pictured above. Instead of using the habit tracker to track the number of days I read per month, I’m using it to track the number of books completed. (i.e., no matter when I began a book, I note it for the month I finished it.

This is just a sampling of the books I’ve read since our last round of Quick Lit. I highly recommend tuning into my podcast What Should I Read Next to hear more about my recent reads. In a show about books, I can’t help but discuss my current reading, plus forthcoming releases that aren’t ready to be shared on the blog but are perfect for podcast conversations!

(I also share what I’m currently reading in our weekly podcast newsletter: if you aren’t already signed up, click here to get on the list.)

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

Short and sweet reviews of what I’ve been reading lately

Musical Chairs

Musical Chairs

Author:
I've been itching to revisit this 2020 Summer Reading Guide selection since I first read it two years ago, and finally got to do so last week, in preparation for our Modern Mrs Darcy Book Club conversation with Amy Poeppel about reading and writing funny books. I love to re-read because I notice details that escape me the first time. The story focuses on an empty-nester who plans the summer of her dreams—only to have work, romantic relationships, and family life all fall apart before it even begins. In this reading I was struck by how thoroughly Jane Austen this story felt, perhaps because people's eyebrow-raising behavior provides ample opportunity for humor. I wish I could say that on my second I noticed the story was structured as a waltz, but Amy had to point that out herself before I could see it. Laughter is therapy, and this was a great book to read right now. More info →
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The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives

The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives

Author:
This book was a delightful surprise; I laughed, I cried, I GASPED as I read. This contemporary Nigerian novel focuses on the happy-enough household of Baba Segi, where his three wives and their children have learned to live in relative harmony. But when Baba Segi takes a fourth wife—this one a university graduate—her arrival throws the family into chaos. It's no spoiler to say the wives steal the show! The story is told in rotating points of view, and we get to know each woman's personality and personal history in turn as matters come to a head. A heads up for sensitive readers: content warnings apply; please research before reading. More info →
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The Love of My Life

The Love of My Life

Author:
I'm so glad I picked this up on the recommendation of bookseller friends. The premise is this: Emma and Leo have been happily married for ten years when Leo, an obituary writer, takes on an assignment at work. As an esteemed obituary writer, one of his jobs is to draft advance obituaries for well-known individuals so they're ready, should they be needed. As a noted marine biologist, Emma ranks an advance obit—but when Leo begins researching his wife's life, he quickly discovers the truth doesn't match the story she's told him. He doesn't even know her real name, and she's never breathed a word to him about the first love of her life. The multiple points of view Walsh employed served the story perfectly; I raced through this book to learn the truth alongside Leo. Two notes: I began this on audio, but quickly switched to print, a change I think was for the best. And while details would spoil the plot, sensitive readers may want to research this book's content warnings before diving in. More info →
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Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know

Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know

Author:
I wasn't planning on reading this ... until our MMD Book Club community manager Ginger raved about it at our team's best books of the year event. In his latest release, organizational psychologist Grant argues that we may collectively admire confident and quick thinkers, but the far more valuable skill—especially in today's rapidly changing world, is the ability to question—and even unlearn—what we know. Whether we're talking about workplace success, interpersonal relationships, medical questions, or parenting teens, we're far more likely to reach satisfying (and often, correct) answers if we're willing and able to rethink everything we thought we knew. I took ample notes on this book, and I plan to revisit them regularly in the future—both signs of a worthwhile read. More info →
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One Italian Summer

One Italian Summer

Author:
Funny thing: I'd been thinking about reading this, and finally decided to begin when I found out Lauren Graham read the audiobook, perhaps because the epigraph is from Gilmore Girls. But then I got swept up in the story and wanted to finish as quickly as possible so I switched to print. Ha! When twenty-something Katy loses her mother to cancer, she loses her best friend in the world, and she has no idea what to do next. She makes the difficult decision to travel to the Amalfi Coast—painful, because she and her mother had planned to take this trip together. At a charming hotel in Positano, Katy imagines what her own mother's visit must have been like many years before, when she first visited the hotel in which Katy is finding solace. But then—Katy's mother appears, in the flesh, though she isn't yet Katy's mother, because she's just thirty years old. This was touching and tender and I inhaled it in a day. My favorite Rebecca Serle to date. 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. 

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    • Anne says:

      I’m so happy to hear it!

      I’m intrigued that it’s the audio addition you loved—I’ve been wondering how the book would be in that format and am glad to hear it worked for you.

      • I wasn’t sure if audio would work, but it did! I was happy to get my hands on it in print, though: I ordered it the minute I finished listening and it now sits proudly on my laundry room shelf.

        • Terry says:

          I did exactly what you did . . . I listened to the audio and, upon finishing, purchased a hardbound copy. Then, I bought all the supplies. This book was priceless. . . and (after my supplies run) pricey. Thanks for the recommendation, Anne!

    • Suzy says:

      I loved reading about how the writing duos work! I have just been discovering Nicci French, but the process puzzled me. Thank you!

      • It’s so good! I listened to the audio and had the hardback for the pictures. After listening to Dave tell me stories for hours I now feel like we are best friends. Definitely give it a shot.

        And…I’m listening to the Jamie Foxx memoir now and loving that one too. He reads it himself and is so funny and sincere I know we definitely will be best friends too!

      • Pam Goen says:

        I agree with Will and the rest of you who LOVED it! Dave Growl’s memoir was AMAZING one of my favorite memoirs s far this year!

      • Sarah Williams says:

        I LOVE Dave Grohl. I have seen the Foo Fighters in concert, and I listened to some of his interviews promoting this book. He’s a great story teller.

    • Laura says:

      I’m curious about the Dave Grohl- I grew up in the 90s so obviously listened to his music, but wouldn’t call myself a huge fan. Still worth a read?

      • Erin says:

        Yes! Or more accurately, a listen. I listened to Nirvana’s hits in high school in the 90s, how could you not (my brother was a big fan) and know of the Foo Fighters and have heard their stuff, but would never call myself a fan really. But his book was the latest in a stream of non-fiction audiobooks for me (I also listened to Matthew McConaughey’s, both of Rob Lowe’s, Stanley Tucci’s and Will Smith’s.) Dave’s was fantastic. He is an amazing “Storyteller” who has lived an incredible life, and yet you’ll feel like you know him at the same time.

      • Noelle says:

        Totally. He talks about his philosophy on life and music and parenting and he really is a good storyteller so his stories are interesting and engaging even if you aren’t a big fan of any of the bands he’s been a part of.

      • Rachel says:

        Yes! I like Nirvana and I like the Foo Fighters, but am not a huge fan. I loved this book! Dave (we’re on a first name basis now) is so down to earth, insightful, funny, and such a good guy!

  1. Sandy says:

    Neal Stephenson’s novel “Termination Shock” and Ross Douthat’s memoire “The Deep Places” and an audiobook of Serhii Plokhy’s “The Gates of Europe.”

    • Stacey says:

      @sandy I’m listening to The Gates of Europe now and wow….So helpful in feeling like I have a little background on Ukraine. And although it’s 15 hours on audio it’s going surprisingly fast.

  2. Jill Fitzpatrick says:

    If you want me to watch a tv show or read/listen to a book, just mention “Lauren Graham” and I’m in! Will be adding Italian Summer audio to my to-listen list.

  3. Thanks for this, Anne, and looking forward to seeing what everyone has been reading. I have recently moved to Berlin and the war is a bit too close for comfort–not to mention generally horrifying and heartbreaking. I am reading a mix of things–some to enlighten me about Russia and Ukraine, when I can stand to read about it–and others to take me completely away. Looking for recommendations in both categories!

    One of my escapist reads now is John Le Carré’s The Pigeon Tunnel, which is autobiographical and really interesting.

  4. Deb says:

    Just finished The World Played Chess by Robert Dugoni. It will stay with me forever. It’s about the coming of age of three men – one of whom kept a diary of his time in Vietnam during the war. Excellent.

  5. Christine Crutsinger says:

    I recently discovered Amy Poeppel and have enjoyed every book she’s written and am now impatiently awaiting a new title. I think I discovered her through a mention from Elinor Lipman, another one of my favorites.

  6. Tracey says:

    I learned about a bunch of Nigerian fiction this month including The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives by checking out Tracy bookshop in Prince Edward Island Canada, which was featured on a list of Black-owned bookstores. I’m excited to check out that one and a few others!
    The 5-star highlights of my reading this past month are
    -Missing from the Village by Justin Ling (true crime about the murders of several men in Toronto’s queer community between 2010 and 2017). I’ve found that I much prefer when true crime is written with some social good in mind – like we are learning about a thing so that we can prevent more of it from happening. This book did an excellent job of exploring why these murders of mostly South Asian queer men were able to happen for so long and what we can learn so that it doesn’t happen again. Really well written!
    -Self Compassion by Kristen Neff – which took me seven months to get through because I did all of the exercises and really tried to integrate it into my life. So good and valuable though there is some ableist, heteronormative, fatphobic language.

    Some great four star reads too:
    -What Strange Paradise by Omar El Akkad
    -Euphoria by Lily King
    -The Word Is Murder by Anthony Horowitz (which I wouldn’t have picked up without WSIRN)
    -Winter Counts by David Heska Wanbli Weiden
    -Yearbook by Seth Rogen

  7. Susan says:

    I just read By Any Other Name by Lauren Kate which also features Positano. It was a lovely romance of the non-steamy variety.

  8. Heather says:

    FYI – The Secret Lives book also has an alternate title. My library carries a copy called The Secret Lives of the Four Wives and lists the author’s full name as Titilola Alexandrah Shoneyin.

  9. Melissa Wilson says:

    I have been reading Lisa Genova books this month. I started with Still Alice, moved on to Inside the O’Briens, and now I’m finishing up LEFT neglected. Genova’s books are so well written and so fascinating – totally different than the norm for me. I plan to read through the rest of her books this month.

  10. Amy Mair says:

    I am currently reading Black Buck by Mateo Askaripour and Still Life by Sarah Winman. I love art and art history and was attracted to the cover of Still Life. The writing in Still Life is gorgeous and reminds me of Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels.
    I recently read and reviewed The Mystery of Mrs. Christie by Marie Benedict and loved it. It is historical fiction based on the real life, 11-day disappearance of Agatha Christie. Has anyone read The Christie Affair about the same topic?
    https://www.redfernbookreview.com/episodes/season2-episode19

  11. mary says:

    The Maid by Nita Prose is wonderful with similar protagonist but in a lighter tone than Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam is eerie and will stay with you long after reading.

  12. Elaine says:

    I would describe myself as a “sensitive reader” where certain topics (abuse of animals and children, explicit violence, sexual violence–so definitely not a fan of “Outlander”) are concerned but I have no idea how to research so I’m not ambushed mid-book. I’ve tried looking at reviews but they don’t always mention “sensitive content”. Help, please; how can I know in advance? (I laugh that on movies I’m pretty much down to Disney animation and some of that is sketchy–LOL!)

  13. Nanc says:

    My husband and I listened to the audiobook of The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick on a recent roadtrip. It was warm, quirky, and was enjoyable for us both.

  14. Karen says:

    I just finished Olympus, Texas and really enjoyed it! I also read Notes on a Silencing, an excellent memoir about a cover up of sexual assault at a prestigious boarding school. Definitely a trigger warning on this one, but incredibly well-written and powerful

  15. Janet says:

    I devoured The Lincoln Highway this last week. Just couldn’t stop reading it!

    For book club we read I’d Give Anything by Marisa De Los Santos, which was my first time reading her. Not sure I was super-impressed, but it was a quick read and had some interesting characters. Overall I thought it was kind of a generic book club-book.

    Cloud Cuckoo Land was phenomenal and can’t recommend enough.

    Also have been trying to read Young Men and Fire, about Smokejumpers in the 1949 Mann Gulch fire. It’s supposed to be a classic, but it’s slow-going.

  16. Jana Griner says:

    So far in March, I’ve read The Wives by Tarryn Fisher, Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris, Normal People by Sally Rooney, and The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys.

  17. Colleen Bonilla says:

    My book journal is completely blank for all of January and half of February, due to our stressful move to a new home. But the minute a peaceful moment presented itself in mid-February, I grabbed a book and dug in! I finished and loved Under the Whispering Door by T.J. Klune and then plowed through The Unseen World by Liz Moore. Such a fascinating read.
    For Black History Month, I chose One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia, which I found charming and educational. Then, as I tore through a billionty-two moving boxes, I FINALLY uncovered Winter Solstice by Rosamunde Pilcher! At long last! I’ve been in heaven reading that for the past week or so. Truly the perfect winter read. Last but not least, I’ve started The Boys by Ron Howard and Clint Howard. This book is hard to put down! So lovingly and affectionately written.

  18. Michelle Jarvis says:

    I reads The Escape and The Chase by Lisa Harris both in a matter of days and now I am impatiently waiting until the third book of the trilogy comes out next month.

    I am also re-reading the Mitford books by Jan Karon. I just finished Home to Holly Springs

  19. As always, so many books here that sound fascinating! I work for my local newspaper and edit all the obituaries, so that book particularly sounds interesting to me. Thanks for bringing my attention to it!

    Here’s my list for the month, which include Julie Buxbaum’s latest (not the one coming out next month — the one before that), revisiting an old book from childhood, and some nonfiction picks:

    https://www.toloveandtolearn.com/2022/03/14/loving-and-learning-lately-43/

  20. Becky says:

    I also really liked Think Again. I actually made a calendar note to read it again (not sure if pun intended/inspired) so I’ll be revisiting it soon.

  21. Monica S. says:

    I really enjoyed The Christie Affair and the author’s choice to use the mistress as the narrator of the story. I’m trying to finish Hour of the Witch. Normally I’m a huge Chris Bohjalian fan but this book is not working for me. Next up is The Push for my book club.

  22. Suzanne says:

    Rosie Walsh’s “The Love of My Life” has just made it to my TBR list. I have read Jane Harper’s “The Dry” after having seen the movie. It was so good. Her sense of place in this book was just right. I am now reading Harper’s next book, “Force of Nature “. I am also ready”Miss Koop Investigates” by Amy Stewart. It was recommended for fans of historical mysteries. It’s fine but not sure this is a series for me. My other reads this month include “Not a Happy Family “, “An Unsuitable Job For a Woman “ and The Judge’s List” which I listened to on Audible narrated by Mary Elizabeth Parker. All were enjoyable.

  23. Debbie says:

    I recently finished The Transit of Venus. I first heard of this book on your podcast. I struggled with the first part, then I couldn’t put it down. When I got to the end, I re-read most of it and was amazed at Hazzard’s use of language, foreshadowing, and depth of characters and I was just blown away by the ending! I don’t know anyone who has read this book and am just dying to find someone to talk it over with. I am left with quite a book hangover!

  24. Suzy says:

    I want to put 4 of your books on my TBR (Musical Chairs, The Secret Lives…, The Love of My Life, and One Italian Summer) but my TBR is overflowing and threatening to take my house down the river! Nevertheless, I will remember them. AND, I just have just TODAY decided I must have one of those book carts from Michaels….!
    I LOVED The Maid, by Nita Prose—it started out a little slow and tedious, but it quickly ramps up and I was SOOOO invested in what happened to poor Molly the Maid!! (And I just want to say that it has a nice happy ending)
    Next, a historical fiction novel called “The Second Mrs. Astor” that I won from Goodreads, and it surprised me. It’s about 18 yr old Madeleine Force marrying 47 yr old John Jacob Astor IV, with a delicious courtship in nearby (to me) Bar Harbor, Maine, then a long honeymoon in Egypt while pregnant, and then they return home on a brand new ship called The Titanic…. Considering that actually not that much happened thru most of it, Shana Abe (with an accent over the e) manages to fill 316 pages with just beauty and peace and atmosphere. (those were the days, just before WWI!) I was never bored!
    Also read The Other Black Girl, which I thought was confusing and just weird (it’s probably just me), and The Last Thing He Told Me, which was Good, but not Great. I did appreciate that none of these books has swearing, or much (if any) sex in them. Lastly, Landslide by Susan Conley was really interesting—set in Maine, fisherman’s wife copes with hubby recuperating far away after an explosion at sea while she takes care of “the wolves” (her teenage sons, love that expression!) at home on an island by herself….it was a little bit Eliz Strout, a little bit Monica Wood….Anyway, some good reading!

  25. Brooke says:

    Since Feb 15 I’ve read:
    40 Days of Faith by Paul Tripp
    Pastoral Song by James Rebanks
    The Anthropocene Reviewed by John Green
    The Nature of Fragile Things by Susan Meissner
    Through Gates of Splendor by Elisabeth Elliot

    Anthropocene was my favorite.

    My kids and I give tiny book reviews at theshoreystories.com.

  26. Cheryl.nj says:

    Over the past few weeks, I re-read THE EX-PATS by Chris Pavone (to prep for the sequel, THE PARIS DIVERSION).
    I also read Tammy Duckworth’s inspiring memoir EVERY DAY IS A GIFT; THE WINDSOR KNOT by SJ Bennett (such fun!); LIFT by Kelly Corrigan (beautiful) and FOUR THOUSAND WEEKS by Oliver Burkeman (paradigm shifting).
    My current book is backlist from incredible Irish writer ☘️ Niall Williams, THE HISTORY OF RAIN. He is one of my auto-buy authors.

    • Diane says:

      I am a huge fan of Niall Williams. His prose is exquisite. I don’t find many others who are big fans so loved hearing of your praise

      • Cheryl.nj says:

        I’m very excited to meet you here!!! Thanks for replying!
        I started reading Niall Williams way back when he and his wife Christine Breen wrote a series of memoirs about relocating from New York City to an inherited house in County Clare. The first book is called O COME YE BACK TO IRELAND, if you have not heard of it.

  27. Elise says:

    Love Quick Lit! My “holds” list on the library app is always larger when I’m done with it! A few times on today’s post you mention checking content warnings. Is there anywhere I can check content warnings either on your site or elsewhere online?

  28. Sarah Williams says:

    March is my busiest month at work so I am putting many of these great recs. on my TBR for April and beyond. What I AM reading is a cozy crime, Shady Hollow, a middle grade fantasy Fablehaven, and rereading The City We Became.

    I did finish The Paris Bookseller and Sourdough about 2 weeks ago.

  29. Beth Gross says:

    I just finished The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles. I didn’t love Rules of Civility, but really liked A Gentleman in Moscow.

    Except for some language, I liked The Lincoln Highway. Unpredictable and satisfying.

    I also breezed through Meet Me in the Margins by Melissa Furguson and enjoyed the Shop Around the Corner vibes.

    On my blog I listed More Books Like Jesus Calling, which ended up being a nostalgic journey to my bookstore days. https://purplecrayonyourworld.com/more-books-like-jesus-calling/

    • I am right there with you on Amor Towles’s books! A Gentleman in Moscow was so good, and The Lincoln Highway wasn’t quite what I hoped it would be, but I’m still glad I read it. Love your blog post on books like Hannah Coulter, by the way!

  30. Sue Baum says:

    I finally got my hands on Winter Solstice by Rosamund Pilcher – a warm “cuppa tea” … 5 stars! Want to go to Scotland NOW.
    Read ( and adored) 3 books about the challenges faced by immigrant families – Beautiful Country (China), Crying in H Mart ( Korea), and Olga Dies Dreaming ( Puerto Rico).
    Listened to Tidelands by Gregory on a long road trip…riveting. Would not want to be a poor woman in the Middle Ages.
    Read 2 middle grades books – Fablehaven because my 3rd grade granddaughter loves the series, and Starfish because I had seen it on many lists. Fablehaven is comparable to Narnia…2 siblings travel to the country and discover a magical – and dangerous kingdom. Starfish is about a young girl who thrives in spite of body shaming with the help with true friends and loyal family.

  31. My library copy of One Italian Summer just went in transit, I’m looking forward to it even though I’ve read mixed reviews. A summer in Italy does sound pretty great!

    My reading has been up and down in terms of picking books I expected to enjoy. A lot of 3 star reads so far this year, few that have really grabbed me but there were a few in February!
    February Reading Recap

  32. Mary Kay says:

    I just finished Elizabeth Alexander’s “The Light of the World” and loved it, I learned so much about a different culture than my own and being a widow myself, I could understand her pain so well. I underlined so much that I want to go back and look up, I love a book that stretches my mind. Also finished a book Christian book, “Aggressively Happy” by a young woman, Joy Marie Clarkson and now in the middle of “Aging With Grace” by Sharon Betters and Susan Hunt–very good for me at this time! Keep on doing what you do, I can’t read all the books you recommend, but read a lot ot them. Thanks

  33. Victoria says:

    I am currently reading To Sir Phillip with love by Julia Quinn and love it. I just finished listening to Will by Will Smith and absolute chills, I feel like it is a must listen!!

  34. kristin hannah the nightingale
    @https://romancedevoured.com/?s=kristin+hannah+the+nightingale
    The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah spent 20 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, 45 weeks on the NPR Hardcover Fiction Bestseller List, has sold over 4.5 million copies, and was the Goodreads choice winner of 2018. This historical novel swept up the charts and won over the hearts of almost anyone who read it (including us!). The book is inspired by the story of a Belgian woman, Andrée de Jongh, who helped downed Allied pilots to escape occupied France territory.

  35. Gayle Lawrence says:

    I read two 5 star books in March! Landslide by Susan Conley and West With Giraffes by Lynda Rutledge. Highly recommend both.

  36. Holly says:

    I’m working my way through my Goodreads goal of 22 in 2022. Recently, I’ve read: The Awakening by Nora Roberts, The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley, The Unsinkable Greta James by Jennifer E. Smith, and the Little Library on Cherry Lane by Katie Ginger. Just launched my own site for books and my second love–teddy bears. Hopefully next month I can share more with you all!

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