Welcome to Quick Lit, where we share short and sweet reviews of what we’ve been reading lately.
I’ve been reading a TON lately but I don’t have much to share with you yet! All this Summer Reading prep is lots of fun (mostly) but it’s killing me to stay mum about the summer books I’m reading for now.
In short, story-driven chapters, Rob Bell explores presence, mindfulness, and creativity in his newest release (published March 8). Regular listeners of his podcast The Robcast will find many of the concepts familiar. I enjoyed this one, and especially appreciated his insistence that you don't need a fifty-year plan to begin something, you just need to do the next right thing. This would make an excellent companion to Elizabeth Gilbert's Big Magic. More info →
I had heard good things about this one from a few readers I trust (which surprised me, given the book's solid 3-star rating on Amazon) but was hesitant to invest 944 pages of my reading life in it. But then I interviewed Seth Haines for What Should I Read Next? and he convinced me to give it a try. The novel revolves around a punk-rock band, a wealthy, dysfunctional NYC family, a pyrotechnics expert and his daughter, and the invisible threads that bind them all together in 1976 Manhattan. If you're deciding if this one's for you, you should know that it's being compared to Wallace, Wolfe, Franzen, and DeLillo, and is full of sex, drugs, and rock and roll. More info →
When I first read this book it was a delightful surprise: I expected dry and boring and instead it was riveting. I've been re-reading this slowly over the past two months and am enjoying it just as much the third (or maybe fourth, honestly) time. The content is fantastic (whether you're an introvert or extrovert) but Cain is also a top-notch storyteller. More info →
When I got together with a bunch of writers recently we all talked about how much we loved Susan Meissner. Her most recent novel, published November 2015, begins in modern-day times when a distinctive green velvet hat appears at a vintage clothing shop. The hat is instantly recognizable as one that Scarlett O'Hara wore in Gone with the Wind; it disappeared during filming and hasn't been seen since. Of course the hat has a long, strange history, and Meissner takes us back in time to 1938 Hollywood, where two young friends are trying to make it in Tinseltown, each in their own way, and we see how that hat changed both their lives. This isn't my favorite Meissner novel, but it's a solid one, and Gone with the Wind fans won't want to miss it. More info →
I was warned this beautiful and heartbreaking story would suck me right in and it certainly did. The year is 1791, and an orphaned Irish girl is brought to a Virginia plantation as an indentured servant and makes her home among the slaves. The story is told alternately by the orphan Lavinia and 17-year-old Belle, the half-white illegitimate daughter of the plantation owner, who becomes Lavinia's de facto mother figure. The story keeps a brisk pace, propelled forward by rape, corruption, lynching, and occasionally, love. Now I'm looking forward to the just-released sequel Glory Over Everything: Beyond the Kitchen House. More info →