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.  

Today’s list is nonfiction-heavy by my standards, but I’ve been reading heaps of fiction, too! Our next Winter Book Preview is coming up on December 8, and I’d like to weigh in with personal opinions on a nice percentage of those titles, so I’ve been reading lots of forthcoming releases.  

I’ve also been listening to audiobooks at a brisk pace, and rounded up my recent favorites in this post featuring 12 audiobooks I loved this fall, so don’t miss it! 

This is just a sampling of the books I’ve read since our last round of Quick Lit. If you’re interested in hearing more about my recent reads, I highly recommend tuning into my podcast What Should I Read Next. In a show about books, I can’t help but discuss my current reading. 

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

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

Beginner’s Luck (Chance of a Lifetime Book 1)

Beginner’s Luck (Chance of a Lifetime Book 1)

Author:
After reading Clayborn's forthcoming novel Love at First for the Winter Book Preview, I was in the mood to read more of her work as soon as possible. I tore through her Chance of a Lifetime trilogy, about three friends whose lives are changed after they go in together to buy what turns out to be a lottery ticket, in a week! This series opener centers Kit, a steady scientist who, because of her peripatetic childhood, wants to use her winnings to create a home for herself and develop roots in her community. So when Ben shows up in his role as recruiter her to entice her to leave it all behind and move to Texas ... well, it's a disaster. But as they keep talking, their connection grows. I loved watching Ben and Kit work through their respective baggage over the course of the story, and the large cast of well-developed secondary characters give this series life. More info →
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Buy from Amazon
Buy from Audible.com
Buy from Bookshop
Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times

Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times

Author:
This genre-blending book was a delightful—if quiet—surprise. May defines "wintering" as "a fallow period in life when you’re cut off from the world, feeling rejected, side-lined, blocked from progress, or cast into the role of an outsider." She takes this single subject and turns it, chapter by chapter, considering different events, aspects, incarnations, and inciting events of a winter season, guiding the reader through scenes of her life and inviting them to join her on adventures to explore what it means to winter—heading to Stonehenge, to Iceland, to ice-bathe, to sauna. I appreciated the multidisciplinary approach; May builds the narrative around events of her life, but draws from health, psychology, spirituality, religion, science, nature and more to tell her story. This was lovely on audio, as narrated by Rebecca Lee. More info →
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Buy from Amazon
Buy from Audible.com
Buy from Bookshop
Shadow and Light: A Journey into Advent

Shadow and Light: A Journey into Advent

Author:
"We don’t know what the holidays will bring, but we know they will come." I love these words that introduce my friend Tsh's gorgeous new hardcover, an ecumenical guide through the waiting season of Advent, which begins this year on November 29. The structure and practice are deliberately simple, with a short reading for each day, accompanied by a short discussion question, a piece of music to listen to, and a work of art to reflect upon. It's a forgiving guide: if you start late or miss a day (or several), no worries, just flip to the current day and carry on. More info →
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Buy from Amazon
Buy from Bookshop
The Writer’s Library: The Authors You Love on the Books That Changed Their Lives

The Writer’s Library: The Authors You Love on the Books That Changed Their Lives

For this collection of author interviews, librarian Nancy Pearl and writer and producer Schwager wanted to explore one question: How does the practice of reading inform the life of a writer? To do this, they sat down with a series of twenty-three of today's best-loved working writers, including Amor Towles, Louise Erdrich, Andrew Sean Greer, Laila Lalami, and Donna Tartt, asking them why they read, and how reading helps them write. All of the interviews, with one exception, were conducted in person, and I appreciated the immediacy of these transcribed conversations. Be careful with this book: with so many tempting titles discussed, you'll be tempted to triple the size of your TBR. More info →
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Buy from Amazon
Buy from Audible.com
Buy from Bookshop
The Calculating Stars: A Lady Astronaut Novel

The Calculating Stars: A Lady Astronaut Novel

This sci-fi series opener, loosely inspired by Hidden Figures, has a fabulous premise: what if an asteroid slams into the earth, eventually leading to the founding of a colony on Mars? In this alternate history of the 1950s, the world may soon become uninhabitable, and so a group of female scientists led by WASP pilot and mathematician Elma York race against time to find a way for earth's residents to survive the cataclysmic fallout from the blast. There is A LOT of science in this book, but Kowal keeps it easy to read and emotionally relatable. The series currently stands at three books, with a fourth planned for a 2022 release. More info →
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Buy from Amazon
Buy from Audible.com
Buy from Bookshop

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. 10 excellent fall nonfiction reads, and 15 absorbing nonfiction books to inspire your inner scientist.

more posts you might enjoy

63 comments | Comment

63 comments

Leave A Comment
  1. Alison says:

    Thanks for the tips on those books! They look interesting, Anne!

    Some I’ve read recently and enjoyed:
    The Pelican Brief (Grisham)
    The Witch at Blackbird Pond (Speare)
    A Midnight Summer’s Dream (Shakespeare)
    The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (Irving)
    Understood Betsy (Fisher)
    The Great Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (Doyle)
    Anne of Green Gables (Montgomery)
    The Call (Guinness)

    Heavy on “Children’s Literature” which seems to be my current phase in comforting pandemic reading. 😊

  2. That Wintering book sounds fascinating, albeit pretty intellectual…I’m not sure my brain can handle intellectual right now! I seem to be able to handle much less than usual in my reading life lately, lol—I’m sure other people can relate. We’re actually moving across our state at the end of this month too, so I’ve been to busy to read as much as usual! Here are the titles I did manage to plug my way through since October:

    https://www.toloveandtolearn.com/2020/11/13/loving-and-learning-lately-30/

  3. Wendy Posten says:

    I’m currently reading “Excellent Daughters: The Secret Lives of Young Women Who Are Transforming the Arab World” by Katherine Zoepf and it’s filling that space for feminism and hope that I need right now.

  4. Bethany Brehm says:

    I’m in the middle of Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield, and it is the exact thing I need right now! Atmospheric, mysterious, and just a tiny toe dipped into fairy tale-feel. I’m loving it. Perfect cozy winter escape read!

  5. Amapola says:

    This last month was full of great reads from some of my favorite authors:
    The Searcher, by Tana French, I enjoyed her approach to this story, she’s just a great writer.
    Hamnet, by Maggie O’Farrell has become my favorite book of the year. The prose and language of grief was powerful without turning hopeless.
    All the Devils Are Here by Louise Penny, always good to reconnect with some of my favorite characters in fiction.
    Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi, the kind of book I wish I could have discussed with other friends.
    The Good House by Ann Leary in audio was a great story.
    Maisie Dobbs’ series by Jacqueline Winspear, I decided to pick up where I have left this series some years ago and it did not disappoint.

  6. Jodi Frederick says:

    I just finished 2 books by A.A. Milne (yes that A.A. Milne)
    Once a Week – colllection of short stories, some connected
    The Red House Mystery – very fun murder mystery, think Dorothy Sayers
    Not That it Matters – I just started this collection of essays last night. There is one that made me think of you, Anne. It’s about bookshelves. Very funny!
    All written in the early 1900s.

  7. Gloria Anderson says:

    Just finished reading “The President’s Hat” by Antoine Laurain. A book club member put it into the mix of our books. I loved it. Short, sweet and a great blend of characters who come together over a hat! Not just any hat but one of a famous French president. Won’t spoil it for you. Enjoy!

  8. Terri Grady says:

    Well, I’ve added to my library ‘wishlist’ again! I requested they buy Light & Shadow, though that may not happen before Advent begins. I’ve been reading Broken Harbor by Tana French. I’m not sure how I feel about this murder mystery, but I need to finish it to see how it ends!

  9. Julia Blake says:

    Love your new recommendations… I read The House at the Cerulean Sea which was one you suggested several months ago. It was a perfect escape with some substance. Loved it. Thanks.

  10. Laurel says:

    I listened to our Dec bookclub book….”Mastering the Art of French Eating” by Ann Mah. I loved it! I’m now listening to “The Au Pair” by Emma Rous as I sew Christmas gifts. In the non-fiction category, I am throughly enjoying Jacqueline Winspear’s memoir “Next Year We’ll be Laughing “.

  11. gamma says:

    My fall reading has been less satisfying until this last week, when A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik surpassed my expectations. Harry Potter-ish, except most of the kids don’t survive to graduate, and instead the The Boy Who Lived, The Girl Who Wields Weapons of Mass Destruction. And (understandably) buckets of snark.
    And then I dipped into a fav reread, The Past Tense of Love by Elizabeth Cadell. Rom-com candy!

  12. Lisa Soukup says:

    The Calculating Stars and the following books are fabulous! I have all but the latest on audiobook and they are amazing! Read by the author!

  13. Adrienne says:

    Hello! My recent reads have been mixed, with several books that just didn’t work well for me. Here’s my list:
    * One Day in December (audiobook) by Josie Silver – I enjoyed this modern-day romance, and it was great on audio; four stars.
    * The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune – Well, this started out well and had a clever premise, but it just didn’t click with me at all. Meh; three stars.
    * The Book of Two Ways by Jodi Picoult – I’ve enjoyed many of her books in the past, but didn’t like her previous novel, A Spark of Light, and I found this one just difficult to churn through. There are long (very, very long) sections about Egyptology which I don’t think added enough to the story to justify inclusion, and the ending was just awful. Sigh… two stars.
    * The Wonder Boy of Whistle Stop by Fannie Flagg – Flagg wrote Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe back in 1987 (I think that’s right) and it is one of my all-time favorite books, so I was so happy to hear that she had recently written a sequel. This book was fun, and it was like a chance to catch up with old friends. If you haven’t read Fried Green Tomatoes or seen the movie, this book might be confusing to read, but I loved it; five stars!
    * All the Devils are Here by Louise Penny – After 16 books in the Inspector Gamache series, I find I am so invested in the characters and the overarching story lines. This book continues those story lines, but the details of the specific plot and incidents in this story are incredibly weak. I’ve worked in a consulting engineering firm very similar to the one depicted in the book, and I currently work in the nuclear power industry which is also included in the book, and the way Penny depicts events are simply not credible. Engineering firms don’t do things the way she describes and there is no way the nuclear power industry would act as described. Those aspects of the book were frustrating and induced lots of eye rolls, but I’ll keep reading this series; four stars.

    Current reads include The Two Lives of Lydia Bird by Josie Silver (audiobook), The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue, and A View Across the Rooftops by Suzanne Kelman.

    Happy Reading!

  14. Susan Erhardt says:

    I’m just finishing The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel, which I didn’t love. I’m also reading Ruta Sepetys’ The Fountains of Silence.

  15. I read The Calculating Stars maybe 18ish months ago and really enjoyed it! The second and third have been different, the third especially has A LOT of science in it, but I’m still looking forward to reading the 4th!

    I’ve been doing a lot of reading, including continuing my re-read of the Harry Potter series this fall (#5 and #6 recently, those take a bit to get through!) and knocking out a lot of other books to make my goal by Dec. 31st! Cooler weather has made reading a little easier! My List Here

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *