Welcome to Quick Lit, where we share short and sweet reviews of what we’ve been reading lately on the 15th of the month.
When I pulled out my reading journal to compile today’s collection of titles, I was surprised by what I found—a wider variety of genres and publication dates than I had remembered. (This is why it’s worthwhile to track your reading, friends!)
Today I’m sharing several new releases, a poetry collection, and a lifetime favorite book I inhaled on a re-read.
Of course, 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 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
This is one of my lifetime favorite novels. I picked it up two weeks ago to read "just a few pages" and ended up devouring the whole thing, for the sixth or seventh time. You know I'm a sucker for an interesting structure: This portrait of an unlikely but successful marriage between a floundering American professor and a British film star who hated the limelight so much she faked her own death and disappeared is told in interlocking scenes from numerous viewpoints, spanning 1944 to 2016, and appearing out of order. I love its intricate plotting, nuanced characters, true-to-life feel, and ultimate hopefulness. More info →
This is the scariest book on our recent horror novels for wimps post. The publisher describes this as The Haunting of Hill House meets Get Out, and that is spot on. Marigold is looking for a fresh start when her newly blended family moves to Cedarville. This move is supposed to give them a fresh start, but Mari can’t help but get the sense that they’re not wanted in Cedarville—and on top of that, her new home gives her the creeps. FOR GOOD REASON. If you have a bed bug or basement phobia, stay far away—but if you can go there you may, as I did, find this YA haunted house story to be good spooky fun. More info →
North Carolina writer Wiley Cash's latest strikes me as a bit of a departure for him, and I am here for it. The story unfolds over just four days; the setting is Oak Island, 1984. I was hooked from the first scene: when the local sheriff is jolted awake by a loud noise in the middle of the night, he heads to the small airport to investigate, where he discovers a crashed plane, stripped bare, and a dead body. The sheriff's ensuing probe uncovers old grievances and rawer, fresher crises in the small community. The audio version narrated by J.D. Jackson is superb, and I could talk for hours about the ending—which means this would be an excellent pick for your next book club discussion. More info →
In his first full-length nonfiction work, poet and journalist Smith explores the legacy of slavery in the United States, and to do so he takes his readers on a tour of sorts, visiting nine physical monuments crucial to that history, like Jefferson's Monticello, the Whitney Plantation in Louisiana, Angola Prison, New York City, and finally Senegal's Gorée Island. Each visit is packed with stories from both past and present, as Smith examines the site's history and explores what that means for us today. It's always dangerous to go into a book with sky-high expectations, as I did thanks to numerous rave reviews from trusted readers, but I needn't have feared: this is a stunner. I highly recommend the audiobook, narrated by the author. More info →
I've been reading more poetry lately; I picked up this new work because I so enjoyed Smith's 2020 essay collection Keep Moving. It was easy to fly through this new work; in fact I had to consciously make myself slow down so I could properly appreciate it. Smith conjures vivid images with just the right metaphors, and I noticed how this particular collection is brimming with those of the literary variety, e.g., "What is home but a book we write, then / read again & again, each time dog-earing / different pages." More info →
Moriarty's latest domestic drama features—to my great delight—a Sydney family of tennis superstars. I played competitively as a teen and relished the details of the Delaney family's world. In the early pages, the 69-year-old mother disappears, the father is the main suspect, and the children are scrambling to find better answers than the authorities can provide—which means all kinds of old skeletons are about to be dragged out of the closet. On the surface this looks like a murder mystery, but the layers beneath are equally important to the story: Moriarty smartly probes questions of how well we can ever know those we love, and how familial relationships shape us. These themes unite for a surprising and satisfying final reveal. More info →
In this collaboration between Summer Reading Guide author Jo Piazza (The Knockoff) and veteran book editor and Cup of Jo columnist Christine Pride, a longtime friendship between a white woman and a Black Journalist is threatened by tragedy. While the inciting incident in this timely read is a police shooting, the real anchor of the story is the strong female friendship between two well-developed characters. Listen to this week's new episode of What Should I Read Next ("Books you can believe in") to hear Jo and Christine talk more about cowriting this book and their own reading lives. More info →
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.