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 I share short and sweet reviews of what I’ve been reading lately, and invite you to do the same.

Lately I’ve been focusing on spring’s new releases, though I also checked off a book I’ve been meaning to read for a while.

The Precious One

The Precious One

This was my first de los Santos novel. I read it in two days, then dove into her back catalog, so now I can say it’s not my favorite by her. Readers who love it will appreciate its attempt at hard themes, its nods to Middlemarch, and the author’s beautiful prose. Readers who don’t like it will find the relational plots too unbelievable too swallow—and that’s saying a lot for an author whose works are typically comfortably predictable. I’m glad I read it. Release date: March 24. More info →
Happiness for Beginners

Happiness for Beginners

Center’s latest novel about a woman who sets out to pull herself together on a wilderness adventure is unrealistic, predictable, and compulsively readable. A fun and light read that still manages to tackle some serious topics. This would be a great airplane or beach read. Release date: March 24. More info →
Savor: Living Abundantly Where You Are, as You Are

Savor: Living Abundantly Where You Are, as You Are

Niequist calls this collection her attempt at paying attention to the things that really matter, and to encourage you to do the same, with 365 daily devotions. Also included are 21 recipes (poppy seed cake, green chile strata, Thai beef salad) as a fun and tangible reminder to savor your life, where you are, as you are. Release date: March 10. More info →
The Bookseller

The Bookseller

It's Denver, 1962, and Kitty Miller is happily living the single life, co-running a struggling bookstore. But then she begins having dreams that show her an alternate reality: the life she would have had if one single moment had unfolded differently. (Think Sliding Doors.) If you thought The Life Intended's plot was farfetched, you aren't going to like this one. This felt a little gimmicky to me (and the autism thread felt especially heavy-handed), but I did appreciate the numerous literary references. Release date: March 3.

More info →
The Circle

The Circle


A chilling cautionary tale about the internet, social media, and connectedness with echoes of Animal Farm. At 503 pages, the book felt a bit long-winded to me, but it nevertheless raises important and timely questions about connectedness, transparency, and the dark side of the internet. Published in October 2013, and I wonder what I would have thought if I had read it then.

More info →
The Nightingale

The Nightingale

This book disappointed me, not because it was bad, but because it had the potential to be outstanding. While Hannah does a wonderful job portraying the state of occupied France in World War II, the characters felt like types. Many reviewers praise the sheer originality of the book for its portrayal of French women in WWII, but I kept thinking of Jojo Moyes's stronger novel The Girl You Left Behind. Release date: February 3.

More info →

What have you been reading lately?

54 comments | Comment

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  1. Alissa says:

    I’m glad to see you mention the Bookseller because I LOVED it! Couldn’t put it down, wanted to see what would happen. But I also love the movie sliding doors.
    I couldn’t get into the Precious Ones and normally I love her work so I think I will try it again.

  2. liz n. says:

    “Cat’s Eye” is my current read. I haven’t read Atwood in awhile, and I missed her, so we’re hanging out with a cup of coffee and a couple of noisy birds fighting over nesting territory.

    I was looking forward to “The Nightingale,” so here are my questions for you, Anne: Since nothing ruins a book for me more than poorly-developed characters, should I even bother with this one? When you finished the book, did you feel like you’d wasted time that should have been spent with a better book?

    • Anne says:

      Re: The Nightingale. That’s so hard to answer! I did feel a little like I’d wasted my time, but that’s personal: I had high hopes for it as a MMD summer reading pick, and I have a lot of advance copies and recent releases to read through, and after reading half of The Nightingale I knew there was no way it would make the cut. On the other hand, after hitting the halfway mark, I DID keep reading.

      If you do read it I’d of course love to hear your thoughts—especially as to whether or not you’re glad you read it.

    • Kathryn says:

      I’m a little over halfway through the Nightingale and can’t put it down. Totally sucked in!

  3. Dawn says:

    Now I am guessing at which de los Santos book is your favorite (Love Walked In is mine). 🙂

    I enjoy reading Kristin Hannah when I want a reliably easy read with stock characters. The only time this didn’t happen was with Winter Garden. That book caught me off guard; I wasn’t expecting the flashbacks to have so much history and grit to them. It was a hard, sad read, and I count it as one of my favorites. I would like to see Hannah’s work transcend the obvious a bit more often. I have The Nightingale on the way.

    • Bree Mooney says:

      I agree. Winter Garden is among my most memorable fiction reads. I haven’t read Nightingale yet, and Hannah’s last novel disappointed me. I have really enjoyed most of her books, though, so I will give it a go.

  4. Byrd says:

    Happiness for Beginners sounds good! I’ll have to check it out. I’m a backpacker, so I wanted to love Cheryl Strayed’s Wild, but the drug use etc got a little heavy for me. So maybe this is a good alternative?

    I linked up my mini-reviews … thanks11

    • Anne says:

      I gave up on Wild at page thirty-something because it was a little grim for me. I keep thinking I’ll give it another try but haven’t yet. There’s none of that in Happiness for Beginners, but it’s been criticized for making hard-core hiking sound like a walk in the park. FYI. 🙂

    • Anne says:

      Those two are definitely similar. Not in a bad way, just in a “if you like one the other is a good bet” way. 🙂

  5. Karen says:

    I’m so disappointed that you were disappointed in the Nightingale because I am one of those who absolutely LOVED it…and everyone I know who has read it has loved it. I guess I’m just going to have to read The Girl You Left Behind now!

    • Anne says:

      I would love to be able to talk about both books with readers who’s read them! Let me know if you do: I’d love to hear your thoughts.

      • Karen says:

        I immediately requested it from the library and can’t wait to read it! I’m hoping to receive it in the next couple of days. I’ll let you know when I’m done 🙂

        • Karen says:

          I just finished The Girl You Left Behind as I promised I would 🙂 I’d love to discuss both books. Honestly, I was immediately drawn in by Hannah’s characters and became attached to them. Moyes’ were harder for me to embrace. The Nightingale I could not put down. The Girl You Left Behind had sections that were tougher for me to push through. Maybe if I had read them in different order?? But I am glad I read both 🙂

          • Anne says:

            I felt the exact opposite! Now I’m wondering what *I* would think if my own reading order had been reversed. Those two books would be fun to discuss together at book club.

  6. Natasha says:

    I just finished Lev Grossman’a The Magician and am still undecided about how to feel. The main character is despicable but is by no means loveable. The story felt rushed and glossed over what I thought would’ve been important key plots to the story… I’m currently waiting for The Invasion of the Tearling to be released, so I’m experiencing that feeling where every book I try to read is a huge disappointment because I’m highly anticipating a different book.

      • Byrd says:

        Nope I’m with you guys! I thought one part of the book (the beginning? can’t remember now) was really really good, as if it had been written years later than the rest of it. The rest of the book – meh. The ending was a letdown and I let the series drop.

        • Natasha says:

          I totally agree!! I borrowed the next book in the series from my library, but I’m so unmotivated to read it. My TBR list is so long that I feel like I don’t even want to waste my time on an “alright” book.

  7. Arenda says:

    I’ve only read one book by Kristin Hannah (Winter Garden), but had the same experience you did in being disappointed in the formulaic characters.

  8. Cassie says:

    I read The Circle last year, it freaked me out a little bit. It really gives you a lot to think about. Happiness for Beginners sounds great!

  9. Annie says:

    I’ve been hearing lots of press about The Bookseller. And I like Niequist– I’ll look for Savor. I love finding a new-to-me author with a long backlist. Thanks for the recommendation of de los Santos!

  10. I haven’t read Kristin Hannah’s latest but I have been very disappointed by her last couple of books. Her earlier work is much stronger. Magic Hour is my favorite!

    I cannot wait to read The Precious One. Love Marisa de los Santos!

  11. Breanne says:

    I really enjoyed The Nightingale but I think part of the reason why I enjoyed it so much was the other books I’ve read in the last year along the same strain. The Girl I Left Behind Me is one of those as is Code Name Verity.

    Would I enjoy it if I hadn’t read the others first? I don’t know but I had those characters in my mind as well as the ones from Nightingale.

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