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.

I’ve been reading so much in preparation for this year’s Summer Reading Guide (coming shortly before Memorial Day). The books I’m sharing today all share a common theme: I read them because I was considering them for the Summer Reading Guide, but for various reasons, they won’t be in it.

Luckily, that doesn’t mean they’re not worth sharing.

Quick Lit 5/16
My Mrs Brown

My Mrs Brown

If you've heard this little book described as a modern-day fairy tale, remember this: those traditional non-Disney fairy tales are often very sad. Mrs Brown is a staid, respectable woman: she's not prone to excess, she's not the sort to have a bucket list, she has the non-glamorous job of cleaning a beauty parlor. But the few who see past her plain exterior adore her. When a local great lady dies, Mrs. Brown is hired to help inventory her things before the estate sale, and it's there she encounters The Dress. It's a very specific Oscar de la Renta dress, in a very specific color, and Mrs. Brown immediately turns her life upside down so she can save the money to buy one. Mrs. Brown's dress isn't just a dress to her, and we don't find out why she needs it until the very end of the novel. I wasn't sure what to make of this one when I read it, but as my thoughts have circled back to it over the past couple of months I've found it increasingly satisfying. Published April 12. More info →
Every Anxious Wave

Every Anxious Wave

Imagine 11/22/63, except instead of traveling back in time to right the course of history, Karl Bender is going back to see his favorite bands perform live. Karl's mundane life becomes a lot more interesting when he discovers a portal to the past in his closest. He starts time traveling to see his favorite musicians, and selling others the opportunity to do the same. Of course it doesn't go according to plan. The concept alone makes this worth reading if you love punk rock and time travel. But the center goes all wobbly, and because the characters' visits to the past keep changing the future, the ending will make some of you crazy. For the record: my husband loved it. (Remember the 8-line edit? Take note.) Published February 9. More info →
Keep Me Posted

Keep Me Posted

This epistolary novel centers around two sister who have fallen out of touch, somewhat predictably, as their lives have sharply diverged. Sid is a Luddite living in Singapore because of her husband's high-powered job; Cassie's made a life with her own family in New York City and is addicted to watching her friends' lives unfold on facebook. When Sid issues a challenge that they'll start communicating with real, old-fashioned letters, Cassie reluctantly agrees ... and they're both surprised at the world-rocking revelations they read on the page. This was a sweet and entertaining debut (although not G-rated for sure). If you enjoyed Janice Lee's recent release The Expatriates, definitely add this one to your list. Published April 5. More info →
The Unexpected Everything

The Unexpected Everything

I love Morgan Matson books—I've chosen at least one of her books for previous Summer Reading Guides, and others have been strong contenders—and was absolutely delighted to stumble upon this brand-new release (May 3) at my local bookstore. Andie is a politician's daughter who has her life, and her summer, all planned out: she can't wait to flee town (and the ever-watchful eyes of her father's staff) for her perfect summer internship that's going to help her land her spot at the perfect college. But that was before the scandal. Now her summer plans are off ... and a girl who never does anything unexpected faces a whole summer full of just that. This isn't great literature or anything but Matson does what she does really well. Perfect for fans of Jennifer Smith or Jenny Han. Without giving too much away, I'll just say you writerly types have an extra reason to love this one. More info →
Along the Infinite Sea

Along the Infinite Sea

This was my first Williams novel about the sprawling Schuyler clan but it won't be my last. The author tracks the same characters through her loosely connected novels, which provides an interesting layer of interest but doesn't require the reader to read them in order. (Her books are often filed as romances, but Williams's characters have substance.) In this novel, Williams hones in on Pepper Schuyler, the spunky iconoclast who delights in rocking the boat and doesn't mind making her own path, which is how she ends up holed up in Palm Beach, restoring a very fancy, very expensive vintage Mercedes. The car brings another strong woman into her life: the mysterious Annabelle, who pays a fortune for the car because it's the one that carried her family to safety when they fled Nazi Germany thirty years prior. The sale is just the beginning of their relationship, and as the story unfolds we find out just what happened to Annabelle during WWII, and how Pepper is going to extricate herself from her own current mess. More info →

What have YOU been reading lately?


Leave A Comment
  1. I love Summer Reading Guides! Mine will be coming out on May 26. Also – my favorite of the Schuyler books was Tiny Little Thing…Along the Infinite Sea was my least favorite by far. A Hundred Summers is my favorite of her stuff overall and one of the top beach books I always recommend.

  2. I will definitely have to grab that Matson book. I read Second Chance Summer in April. Hello, sobbing! I love her style. I haven’t been a huge fan of Jennifer E. Smith’s books, but I love Matson!

  3. I always look forward to your summer reading guides. You inspire me, Anne! I really enjoyed The Serpent King this month. It was such a beautiful story of three unlikely friends!

  4. Mary says:

    I look forward to your guide. I love all your posts. I just started Merchant of Venice based on your WSIRN latest broadcast. It is actually my mother’s copy from 1936, with her handwritten name on the inside page. : ) It was her favorite book and I never read it. She has passed away but this still feels like i am sharing it with her.
    I just finished The Kite Runner which you mentioned as not being able to get into because of its theme and content. I agree with you, though I read your comments after I had just begun the book. I am compulsive about finishing a book. It was difficult read (though well written). I would not recommend it unless you can carry off extremely depressing.

  5. GingerG says:

    Oh, My Mrs Brown sounds interesting! Just put my name on the wait list at the library for it. And thank you for the 8-line edit disclaimer on the other book. The premise sounds fun but…nope. P.S. Can’t wait for the Summer Reading Guide! Yay!

  6. Jill K says:

    These all sound great. I can’t wait for the summer reading guide, and for Books On The Nightstand’s summer reading BINGO. Those two things have combined make for some fun summer reading.

  7. Katherine says:

    Hi – “My Mrs. Brown” sounds like exactly the same story as “Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris.” I just looked at the Amazon reviews & several other people commented on this as well. “Mrs. Harris” is a very sweet novel, but in the end, very sad.

    Looking forward to the reading guide!

  8. Shvetal says:

    My Mrs. Brown reminds me of Flowers for Mrs. Harris, that I read over and over again, and loved, as a teenager. Looking forward to your summer guide.

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  10. Shannon says:

    It’s my turn to choose our family book club selection for June and I really want to pick one from your summer reading guide. Any chance you could give me a sneak peek by telling me which book on the summer reading guide you think would be the best for book club discussions? We meet on the 22nd 🙂 Thanks for all of the time you put into this!

  11. Lisa notes says:

    I always love seeing what you’re reading and what you say about it. I’ve finally picked up Jane Austen’s Persuasion after all these years and am really enjoying it. Sometimes going way back to those classics are so enjoyable. 🙂

  12. I loved Keep Me Posted, especially the bond between the two main characters. I enjoyed Along the Infinite Sea, too – I love Williams’ books, though I think Tiny Little Thing is my favorite. And I can’t wait to read the new Matson!

    Recently, I’ve loved Orchard House by Tara Austen Weaver, and every single page of Krista Tippett’s memoir Becoming Wise.

  13. I’m a sucker for books with hand written letters since I still keep in touch with one of my high school friends that way. There’s something about getting a letter in the mail that can’t be beat. I’ll be adding Keep Me Posted to my list!

  14. Marie says:

    Re “Every Anxious Wave”: This is so up my alley, it isn’t even funny. I just wish you’d labeled it nonfiction. 🙂 I’ll keep my expectations in check because of what you said about the ending, but otherwise, thanks for the recommendation!

  15. Jeanette says:

    This is a great list of books. The book, Keep Me Posted, is one I may add to my list. Thanks for sharing.

  16. Donna says:

    Keep Me Posted and The Unexpected Everything both sound really good! I am currently reading Along the Infinite Sea and loving it. I am making my way through all Williams’s novels. I read and loved The Secret Life of Violet Grant last summer and read and absolutely loved Tiny Little Thing back in April.
    I’ll be reading A Hundred Summers this summer.
    Recent favourites:
    Alice & Oliver by Charles Bock (I can’t recommend it enough. Set in New York in the early nineties, it’s a heartbreaking yet hopeful, very realistic portrait of a young family’s journey through cancer. Bock does an amazing job of illustrating the toll cancer takes on the mind, body, and spirit of a young wife and mother as well as the strain it puts on the couple’s marriage.)
    Read Bottom Up by Neel Shah & Skye Chatham
    Currently reading and loving: The Accident by Chris Pavone

  17. Laura says:

    I’m 80 pages into Keep Me Posted and the main character is driving me nuts! She’s so whiny and shallow. Does she become more likable and relatable or is this just her personality? Trying to decide whether to stick it out or pass on this book. Thanks!

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