Quick Lit December 2019
In the Orchard, the Swallows

In the Orchard, the Swallows

I picked up this very short novel after one of my favorite readers recommended it at our inaugural Book Club Retreat this fall. Another selling point was that it's published by Europa Editions, one of my favorite publishers for finding works slightly off my beaten path. In this quiet, meditative novel, an unnamed narrator, who's just been released from fifteen years in prison, tells his story of doomed love: he, a peasant, committed the "crime" of falling in love with a wealthy girl, and in measured, evocative prose, he tells how it happened, and what it meant for his life. If you want a plot-driven book, this isn't for you, but poetry lovers will find much to appreciate. More info →
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American Spy

American Spy

This fascinating and multi-layered spy thriller is told from the perspective of a black woman, recruited by the CIA in the all-white, boys' club-era of the 1980s for an important African mission. Her assigned task is to fall in love—or pretend to—with Thomas Sankara, the president of Burkino Faso, known as "Africa’s Che Guevara." (Sankara is a real historical figure and I was so curious about how Wilkinson would handle his story.) The book's epigraph is from Ralph Ellison: he refers to being "a spy in enemy country," and I'm grateful this work inspired me to learn more about the rich literary history of African American spy novels and the theme of double consciousness. A rewarding read on so many levels. More info →
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The Dog Stars

The Dog Stars

I have had this on my list for a VERY long time. Then we talked to Peter Heller for a Modern Mrs Darcy Book Club author event, and that pushed me right over the edge. I think we were all swooning listening to him talk about his work and his process! In this book, his debut, Hig is one of the few survivors of a flu pandemic, save for his dog and a gun-toting loner. Or so he thinks. When he receives a random transmission on the radio, he begins to dream of what might exist beyond life on the hangar. Reminiscent of Cormac McCarthy's The Road and Emily St John Mandel's Station Eleven but you don’t have to have read these in order to appreciate the way Heller examines the landscape between hope and despair. More info →
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The Starless Sea: A Novel

The Starless Sea: A Novel

Readers, I very rarely include a book I HAVEN'T finished in Quick Lit... but I'm stuck at 30% in this audiobook. (And before you protest my problem is the format: I've heard some readers say they could ONLY enjoy it on audio, and some say they could NEVER enjoy it on audio ... so there you go.) The writing is absolutely lovely, the premise is interesting, but getting myself to hit "play" is a struggle. I'm finding it strongly reminiscent of our February Book Club selection The Ten Thousand Doors of January, which I loved. More info →
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The Supernaturalist

The Supernaturalist

I read so many books because my kids tell me to. This is the latest urgent recommendation from my fourth grader, who fell in love with Eoin Colfer novels this year because—funny thing—our What Should I Read Next producer Brenna suggested them. When Brenna recommends books, we sit up and listen. The Supernaturalist is a middle grade standalone novel about a 14-year old orphan named Cosmo Hill living in the dystopian world of Satellite City, where his assigned societal role is to serve as a guinea pig for food and drug testing—which is exactly as scary as it sounds. But then he discovers he possesses a rare gift, and joins up with a team of vigilantes who share his gift and dedicate themselves to using it to do a little bit of good in their crummy world. But their mission changes when they discover they've all been lied to. This isn't my typical genre, but I'm glad I read it. More info →
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