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

Welcome to Quick Lit, where we share short and sweet book reviews of what we’ve been reading lately.

I’ve been reading heaps of early 2019 releases this month, but today I’m sharing books that are already on bookstore shelves. And I didn’t notice something unusual about my list until this morning: half of the books are romance (or romance-ish) novels! For those of you who keep telling me to give the genre some more love, I hope you’re happy to have convinced me.

Quick Lit November 2018
Virgil Wander

Virgil Wander

I loved Enger's first novel Peace Like a River, which was published almost ten years ago. In his new release (just out October 2) our title character is a Midwestern movie theater owner who drives his car into icy Lake Superior, and isn't the same after the experience (and ensuing concussion). The accident affected his language and memory, and he cannot navigate the world as before. He sees the world in a new way, and this concept of seeing permeates the book. Enger's pacing is careful, his characters thoughtful, his world entirely believable. I enjoyed my reading experience, though as we neared the end, the story took a direction I didn't expect or like. (That very thing would make this an EXCELLENT book club pick.) More info →
Nine Perfect Strangers

Nine Perfect Strangers

Liane Moriarty is one of my must-read authors, and her latest doesn't disappoint. (Although it doesn't quite unseat What Alice Forgot as my favorite.) She says the story actually started as a joke: after a stressful season, she began saying her next novel would take place at a tropical resort, and she'd have to spend a lot of time vacationing "for research purposes." But as she thought about it, she realized it really would make a good story. Swap out the tropical setting for an luxurious health retreat, bring in nine strangers, each with their own reason for renewal, and you're in for a great reading experience. Two things: Nicole Kidman is already on board to play Masha, and I got to discuss this book with Liane on her tour. SO FUN. More info →
One Day in December

One Day in December

Do you know how I told you I can't read on airplanes? This was the exception, and that says a lot. The premise is great: Laurie doesn't believe in love at first sight. But then one snowy December day, through a foggy bus window, she locks eyes with a man on the sidewalk and she knows he's The One. But before either of them can do anything, the bus drives away. She spends the next year searching for him, but she's unsuccessful ... until her best friend shows up at a Christmas party with her new boyfriend in tow—and it's Bus Boy. Over the next ten years, we watch the characters navigate love and friendship, stew over missed opportunities, and hope for second chances. If you're on the hunt for a Christmas time read that isn't a Christmas story, this is it. More info →
Act Like It

Act Like It

When I asked my friend Leigh Kramer for a not-so-steamy romance recommendation, this 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. A fast, fun contemporary romance. More info →

What have YOU been reading lately? Tell us all about it in comments or share a link in the comments to your post on what you’ve been reading lately!

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  1. Megan says:

    I am currently Peace Like a River and can’t wait to read Virgil Wander! I have really enjoyed Peace Like a River, it is incredibly well-written.

    • Lisa says:

      I loved Virgil Wander! Peace like a River is one of my favorite books, so I held high expectations before I read it. It didn’t disappoint. Also, Leif Enger has a beautiful instagram account worth following.

    • Sheryl Esau says:

      So glad to find others who loved A Place for Us. What a great book. Definitely in my top 3 of the year and although I haven’t finished 200,I’m way over 100 for my first year ever.

  2. Patricia says:

    Every reader will love Susan Orlean’s new book
    THE LIBRARY BOOK. Part ode to readers and libraries, part history lesson and part dectective novel, I promise you won’t be able to put it down.

    • Michelle says:

      I’d like to second this! I loved The Library Book and have bought a couple of copies for the bibliophiles in my life. Your description is very good. A lover of libraries and books, for me it was immersion reading. I rarely do that with non-fiction.

  3. Adding ONE DAY IN DECEMBER to my Christmas TBR list! 🙂 Sounds cute and perfect for the holidays.

    Also, WHAT ALICE FORGOT is tied with THE HYPNOTIST’S LOVE STORY for my favorite Liane Moriarty book. I loved ALICE right from the start, and the message in it is great. With the HYPNOTIST — I didn’t like how that book started, but I love how it turned out. It’s a dark horse! I’m sure you’ve read that one, but if not, you should give it a try!

  4. Paula says:

    I just finished Light of the World by Elizabeth Alexander and you were right! It was beautiful and on Audible is was exquisite. I’m so thankful for your suggestions!

  5. Janean says:

    I’m in the middle of A Place for Us. I started it a few times this year and, while I could see that it was excellent, I wasn’t in the mood for it. Now, I’m fully invested and it shows that there really can be a right time to read a book.

    I recently finished Becoming Mrs. Lewis, which I read slowly and adored as a longtime Lewis fan. I re-read Tell Me More for the MMD book club and added Corrigan’s Lift one afternoon. Both delights that I’m sure to revisit. Prior to those, I had a Joshilyn Jackson streak – The Almost Sisters, Gods in Alabama, Someone Else’s Love Story and My Own Miraculous. Streaks speak for themselves I suppose. Clearly, you’re enjoying your reading! While spending my virtual time in the south, I read Where the Crawdads Sing, which I think fully lives up to the hype. It’s very atmospheric and the characters are well drawn and unique. Excellent on audio.

  6. Shona says:

    I loved Virgil Wander..everything about it.

    I’ve been reading a lot..catching up on things ivstRted etc. I’ve finished A Cold Dark Sea, Another Country, Come November, Still Life, The History of Love. Currently reading Song of Ice and Fire, Anna Karenina, Christmasxat Littke Beach Street Bakery.

    I finally started an Instagram dedicated to what I’ve been reading. You can see my latest books and what I thought of them there. My handle is reading_shonanigans.

  7. Katie Bach says:

    I am currently in school at 58 3/4’s . So my reading life has had to be put on the back burner a bit. I have snuck in a few books though. The second Mrs. Hockaday by Susan Rivers , Historical Fiction written in letter form during the Civil War is raw honest & emotional.The 2 nd one was If You Love Me by Maureen Cavanaugh is a memoir of a Mother’s journey through heroin addiction. Heartbreaking but so important to read at this time of opoid addiction in the US.I highly recommend both.

  8. Monica Wilson says:

    I am new to this blog and so excited to have found it! I discovering through a book recommendation from Emily Freeman and through I’d Rather Be Reading! Such a great book, Anne! I treasured my time last weekend reading it! Always great to find a kindred spirit through love of books! I connected with so many things you shared. I will be adding your current book recommendations to my never ending list of BTRs!

  9. Shawna Johnson says:

    I’m currently reading YOUR book, I’d rather be Reading, as well as Anne’s House of Dreams by LM Montgomery and a nonfiction called Victorians Undone by Kathryn Hughes.

  10. Darla says:

    Just finished I’ll Be Your Blue Sky – at your urging. So glad I gave this author another chance. I also read an ARC of Elinor Lipman’s Good Riddance – terrific. I’m enjoying reading her back list as well. I read Virgil Wander and truly enjoyed it, but not until you mentioned it did I realize that plot twist was what was nagging at me.

    • Darla says:

      And I’ve been wary of 9 Perfect Strangers after Truly, Madly, Guilty – I truly did not like that one. I never wanted to hear about a BBQ again! I have What Alice Forgot on my shelf – I’m bumping it up the list!

  11. Kamian says:

    I’m interested to know what you didn’t like about the ending of Virgil Wander! (We may have to discuss offline to avoid spoilers.) I finished it last week and thought it was very lovely. I really enjoy Leif Enger and I appreciate how he includes religion as a factor in his novels, despite it being a less popular choice than ever.

  12. Erika Shirk says:

    One Day in December sounds like so much fun and as a linguistics major I am completely intrigued by the new Leif Enger book.

    I blew through 16 books in October and shared a quick sentence or two about each of them: https://erikashirk.com/2018/11/15/what-i-read-october-2018-quicklit/
    This last year I have read a lot more fiction by diverse authors, but I would love some recommendations for more diverse non-fiction since I tend to read both in equal numbers.
    Anyone have favorites to recommend?

  13. My tips:

    1. If you are lucky enough to have a good public library, then look at lists of recommended books from years past. They will be on the shelf; no waiting.
    2. When in doubt, browse the biographies, expecially autobiographies. Two favorites are Katheryn Graham and Martin Gardner.

  14. Mindy says:

    My favorite reads of October were Small Fry by Lisa Brennan-Jobs (a beautifully written coming-of-age memoir by a woman who just happens to be the daughter of Steve Jobs) and Bad Blood (a GRIPPING and unbelievable true story set in Silicon Valley). I also FINALLY read All The Light We Cannot See which I had written off at some point, thinking I was done with WWII novels. So beautiful and so glad I was finally convinced to try it. Also really enjoyed Sally Field’s memoir, In Pieces.

    • I loved All the Light We Cannot See — and yes, there are a lot of WWII novels out there. Two others I liked were The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton (amazing plot twist in that one!) and Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave. I’ve heard others say the Brennan memoir is very good, so I’ll have to check that one out: I really enjoy memoirs.

  15. Melanie says:

    Anne I recently read the most delightful off-the-radar book. A Dog’s Life by Peter Mayle. This is a memoir style story told from the point of view of a somewhat philosophical dog. It’s light and fun and hilarious if you picture the author sitting at a desk looking at his dog and trying to imagine what dialogue must be going on inside the dog’s head. I don’t think I ever would have come upon this if not for a reading challenge category of best sellers from the 1990s. Most everything on the NY Times best seller lists from that decade was either something I’d already read or something I wasn’t interested in reading. I came upon this title and I’m so glad I did! This would be the perfect recommendation the next time you have a podcast guest that wants something fun but not too saccharine or fluffy.

  16. Jill K. Porco says:

    Just finished The Alice Network, which I loved, finally! a historical fiction piece NOT focusing on WWII–though it’s discussed in the book. It focuses more on women spies in France during WWI. There is a parallel story involving WWII, but the stronger story is about the WWI spies. Am just starting Into the Water and Killers of the Flower Moon (for my book group although there is NO way I will finish it in time before our meeting this month! ?

  17. Jeanne says:

    Caught an oops. :). Peace like a River was published almost _20_ years ago in 2001.

    Love it and your recommendations. Thanks for all your work!

  18. Aimee says:

    This was a great reading month for me. I finished 6 books!

    A 30 year old, but new-to-me, memoir by one of my favorite fiction writers
    A highly anticipated debut novel that did not disappoint
    An inspirational invitation to joy
    A newly released memoir that’s both funny & profound
    A backlist title from one of my favorite authors
    And a life-changing work of narrative non-fiction that I almost didn’t finish because I was so busy applying what I learned 🙂

    I’d be honored if you stopped by to read about them here:

  19. Janene says:

    Thanks for the great recommendations! I haven’t read Liane Moriarty but I think it’s time to give her books a try! Just finishing “Lethal White” by Robert Gailbraith which I have thoroughly enjoyed. Next up, “When the Men Were Gone” by Marjorie Herrera Lewis.

  20. I just finished reading “I’d Rather Be READING” 😉 and it was really nice. Now I’m reading “Bringing Up Bébé” by Pamela Druckerman. I’m also reading “The Complete Book of Essential Oils for Momma and Baby”. I just ordered “1,000 Books to Read Before You Die” and “Born A Crime” by Trevor Noah. I am a serial reader so I am also reading many more books at a time LOL.

  21. Sarah Shakespeare says:

    some great suggestions on the list. I’ve just discovered the Discovery of witches by Deborah Harkness and would recommend all three books in the trilogy to be added your reading pile if you not had already read them.

  22. Jennice says:

    I just found out that my daughter’s school is giving away free adult books in the lobby of the school. So far I’ve snatched up Running With Scossors, The Red Tent,and The Hand that First Held Mine. I read the Red Tent 11 years ago while preg angry with my first child and I’m reading it again while pregnant with #2. Has anyone else read any of these?

  23. Amy Pirk says:

    I picked up “One Day in December” last Friday after reading this post. Loved it. I seriously have a book hangover now. This was the first book I read that you recommended. Can’t wait to try out some more titles now. Thanks, Anne!

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