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

Welcome to Quick Lit, where we share short and sweet book reviews of what we’ve been reading lately.

This month I’m continuing to read advance review copies for the Summer Reading Guide (and the time to begin sharing those is getting closer!).

I’ve also been doing lots of research for my work-in-progress, which means a higher-than-usual percentage of my reading has been nonfiction.

Quick Lit March 2019
Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World

Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World

In his new release, Newport makes a strong device that we are way too connected to our devices. (His statistics on the kids and young adults coming of age in the era of commonplace smart phones and constant internet connectivity were particularly sobering.) He makes a strong case that it's not good for our brain, our relationships, or our society. Much of the information in the book is not new, and I enjoyed Newport’s call backs to work I've previously read and enjoyed, by authors like Winifred Gallagher and Sherry Turkle. More info →
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Juliet’s School of Possibilities: A Little Story About the Power of Priorities

Juliet’s School of Possibilities: A Little Story About the Power of Priorities

I've been eagerly anticipating this beautiful little book from Laura Vanderkam, just out March 12. Her 2018 release Off the Clock was one of my favorite books of the year; this fable reads as a lightly fictionalized version of the same concepts. In the book, Riley is a hot-shot young consultant who's making herself and her clients crazy by trying to fulfill their every want and need. But when she ends up at a mysterious retreat called Juliet's School of Possibilities, she's introduced to an entirely new way of approaching her life and her work. You can read this short book about the difference between busyness and true success in an afternoon, and put the core lesson to work in your own life for all the days to come: "Expectations are infinite. Time is finite. You are always choosing. Choose well." More info →
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The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma

The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma

This book has been repeatedly recommended to me over the past year, and despite purchasing my own copy on fall book tour, I postponed reading it. I expected it to be hard and heavy—it does have "trauma" in the title, after all—but while van der Kolk certainly addresses difficult subjects, the main descriptor I'd use is fascinating. Burying our traumatic experiences comes at a great cost, because they can't truly be ignored—those experiences manifest themselves in our very bodies. Van der Kolk explores what that looks like, and what to do about it. Some of the treatment options were so unexpected (and effective) that I couldn't resist reading paragraphs out loud to my husband. More info →
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An Unconditional Freedom

An Unconditional Freedom

This is the third book in Cole's popular Loyal League series, but my first of her novels, and I found this a great place to jump in—which I did at the urging of friends with disparate tastes who all agreed Cole's writing is top-notch. This thoroughly researched historical romance is set during the Civil War, and pairs well-written history with an engrossing story of two broken people whose lives have been ruined by slavery—but are surprised to find a glimmer of hope when they find each other. (There's only one bedroom scene, right near the end, and you can skip it without missing the point of the story.) More info →
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What have you been reading lately? Tell us all about it in comments or share a link in the comme


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    • Emily says:

      If you are a parent or work with kids at all and are interested in Digital Minimalism, you should read “Reset Your Child’s Brain” by Dunckley!

  1. Nancy Lohr says:

    I’m reading A Light So Lovely by Sarah Arthurs on the spiritual legacy of Madeleine L’Engle. I find so much thought-provoking content in all things L’Engle, so loving this book. Also reading What If It’s True by Charles Martin. His deep and honest Christian faith is put down on the page in raw and perceptive form. This has been a slow read for me as I stop to meditate on his words and the words of Scripture that he is discussing.

    • Deborah Ball says:

      Was hot to finish The Island of Sea Women when I went tour local library foundation fundraiser and got to see Greg Iles and get a copy of Cemetery Road. He did a wonderful job entertaining us and the book is a hefty 600 page read. He says he edits almost nothing~But it is quite good, and a little off my usual MMD tbr stack!

  2. Deb G Langston says:

    I read a lot of books about the amish. They are inspirational, and they are quite relaxing to read. I read an average of 3-4 books a week. The latest Amish series I read was Amish Romance Series by Brenda Maxfield who is one of my favorite authors. If you have never read about the amish i totally recommend it. There are several wonderful authors.

  3. Bettie says:

    So far this month I have read News of the World, The Wind in the Willows and The Silent Patient. Books that fit into categories for the 2019 Reading Challange 52 books in 52 weeks. Currently listening to West with the Night, Beryl Markhams memoir. Will be starting If Beale Street Could Talk for my long time Book Club and once I finish it will read From Here to Eternity for a book club I have recently started going too.

  4. I haven’t shared a reading roundup for several months, so my pile is quite big! I have…
    * A twisty tale set on the river Thames
    * One strange epidemic
    * A cozy Mormon (!) murder mystery
    * 2 immersive historical novels
    * 1 gorgeous coffee table book
    * 2 must-read political picks for non-political people.

    (p.s., Just went and added The Body Keeps Score to my TBR!)

  5. Tonya Heston says:

    So far in March I’ve read The Edge of Always (a follow up novel to The Edge of Never) and am currently in the middle of Fly Away (a follow up to Firefly Lane). I tried to read The Goldfinch and Educated, but could get into neither of those books, so I set them aside for now – apparently I am not in the right state of mind for anything profound. After I’m done with Fly Away, I plan to start in on hundreds of books I’ve acquired through the free book emails.

  6. Carla says:

    I just finished The Crossroads of Should and Must by Elle Luna which was a delightful read about finding your passion. I highly recommend this book for anyone trying to figure out their path. I’ve just picked up her next book, Your Story Is Your Power: Free Your Feminine Voice. Looking forward to that one this weekend.

    On Audible I’ve been listening to Enlightenment Now by Steven Pinker. It’s a ton of statistical information indicating why we are better now that at any other time in history. I’m not entirely sure how I feel about this yet. Its over 19 hours listening time, and I’m just over 10 hours into it.

    • Anne says:

      That’s a fun combo! Those last two books on your list are coming soon to a podcast near you … and you’ll get some company for your “odd man out” position on one of them. 😉

  7. Stephanie says:

    Lately, I’ve read a lot of heavy books: Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates; Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay; The Truth Book: Escaping a Childhood of Abuse Among Jehovah’s Witnesses by Joy Castro; Duped: Double Lives, False Identities, and the Con Man I Almost Married by Abby Ellin. Three of these four are part of Book Riot’s 2019 Read Harder Challenge, and I think I need a few lighter books to balance this out. I’ve picked up Tamar Adler’s An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace, which is lovely and is making me want to clean out my refrigerator (which, uh, may need it. Desperately). I’ve got another book about food, a book about mending, and then The Cider House Rules by John Irving afterwards. And then I think I need some lighter, happier books. 🙂

  8. Lynda says:

    Two of two books I’ve read this month that I enjoyed, I heard about on WSIRN…Kitchen Yarns by Anne Hood and My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand. I especially enjoyed My Lady Jane..a funny, fast paced read.

  9. I’ve been in such a reading slump this last month or so, so I’m looking for some good books that will help me break out of this awful time in my reading life. Maybe something lighter or easier to read to get me back in the swing? Any thoughts?

  10. Tasha says:

    I really should read Digital Minimalism; thank you for bringing it to my attention. I’ve recently put aside my Kindle and returned to physical books, and my reading has improved in every way: enjoyment, retention, speed, you name it!

  11. I’ve been working my way through the final edit before proof of my husband’s latest novel in the G&B Detective Agency series. It’s probably read #4 of this one since September, but he recently reworked the subplot and changed the book’s place in the series chronology, so it’s necessary. I also joined the Book of the Month Club, which I resisted for years because I seldom want to read what’s trendy, but Jasper Fforde’s newest was a selection and I love his books. (I’m saving that, and started The Age of Light first.)

    • Laura says:

      I just met Jasper Fforde at a book event a few weeks ago! He was delightful and funny, as expected. Looking forward to reading Early Riser as soon as I finish my current ones!

  12. I discussed last month’s reading in my end-of-the-month post here: https://barbarah.wordpress.com/2019/02/27/end-of-february-musings/

    I enjoyed an old but unread classic: A Little Princess. I also enjoyed a new take on an old story: Marilla of Green Gables. Read the Bible for Life: Your Guide to Understanding and Living God’s Word by George H. Guthrie and Journaling for the Soul by Deborah Haddix gave me lots of thoughts for enhancing my devotional life. A recently discovered new favorite author to me is Leisha Kelly, and I read the third of her books about her fictional Depression-era Wortham family.

    This month I’ve finished Patti Callhan’s Becoming Mrs. Lewis, about the woman C. S. Lewis married, Terri Blackstock’s If I Run trilogy, and Steal Away Home: Charles Spurgeon and Thomas Johnson, Unlikely Friends on the Passage to Freedom by Matt Carter and Aaron Ivey.

  13. Lynn says:

    I did not know that Laura Vanderkam had a new book out! It sounds really good and different from her other books. I keep hearing that Digital Minimalism is really good. I need to move it to the top of my TBR pile. I love reading nonfiction so I love to see the nonfiction books that you read. This month was a great reading month for me. I read quite a few books. https://fromourbookshelf.com/what-im-reading-lynn-1/
    I also recently shared what my husband has been reading. https://fromourbookshelf.com/books-for-guys-what-my-husband-is-reading/

  14. Jaklyn Bunnett says:

    This month I have finished The Alice Network by Kate Quinn (fit into my 2019 reading challenge category for author who is new to me), And Then There Were None by the great Agatha Christie (2019 reading challenge category for a book published before I was born), and I am now currently reading three books: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson (2019 reading challenge category of a book in translation), The Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon (on audio for my commute), and lastly Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by JK Rowling (to catch up with the Harry Potter and the Sacred Text podcast). I feel like with all these fiction, I will need to change things up next month and get in some nonfiction!

  15. Deborah says:

    1. The Odyssey. Eating, drinking, fighting.
    2. Pride and Prejudice. A much better read as an adult than high-school kid.
    3. Lilac Girls. Even better the 2nd time around.
    4. The Marrow of Tradition. Always makes me angry. We are such a racist society. IT’s in our marrow.

    The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. VERY funny and insightful.

    • Deborah, “Eating, drinking, fighting.” has got to be the funniest – and most apt – review of The Odyssey I’ve ever read! Lol. Did you by any chance read the Emily Wilson translation? I feel like pushing it on everyone I know! It’s sooo good.

    • SoCalLynn says:

      I’m reading the Odyssey now. Trying to, anyway. So many names and ancestry with each name. I feel it could be a lot shorter, ha ha!

  16. Connie Head says:

    If you were fascinated by The Body Keeps The Score (which I am adding to my TBR list now – thanks!) you may also like Switch On Your Brain by Dr. Caroline Leaf. In it she connects the way our brains work with Scripture and explores how we can actually change our genetic makeup by the way we think. It’s an absolutely fascinating read.

    Our bookclub nonfiction read for this month was Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll.

    And I am also strolling through the audiobook of Rick Bragg’s A Southern Journey: True Stories From The Heart of The South and loving it.
    Love your podcast and these Quick Lit posts, but my TBR list is getting out of control.

  17. It’s been an unusual reading month for me with very varied reading for a wide variety of reasons which resulted in more books completed than usual! One book was for my Scandinavian Book Club, a couple were read-alongs with my 6th grade son, one was for an author talk, and a couple just because I felt like it. Some books fulfilled prompts for reading challenges, others didn’t. It was a fun month of reading! See what I’ve read here:

  18. The Body Keeps Score sounds like it would fit right in with a lot of what I’ve been reading lately; adding that to my TBR list now!

    I’ve had spring cleaning on the brain lately, which has meant a higher-than-usual volume of books about minimalism, decluttering, and organization (though I made sure to read some “just for fun” stuff in there, too):


  19. Jana Vanden Branden says:

    I just finished When Invisible Children Sing, which is a memoir of an American Doctor’s account of the year he took off from Harvard Medical School to serve the street children of Bolivia. It was harrowing and shocking, and I am saddened to know that millions of children around the world live this way. It was an eye opening book, and I highly recommend.

  20. Brandy says:

    I just finished reading Scythe and The Rent Collector; both are great books. I’m currently reading Harry’s Trees and LOVING it.

  21. Edie says:

    I’m loving Circe by Madeline Miller right now. I didn’t expect it to be such a page-turner. And I finished Spinning Silver by Naomi Nowik earlier this month and it was wonderful.

    Oh, and Echo on audio. I’ve been recommending that to everyone I know. Best audiobook I’ve heard so far.

  22. Jolie says:

    I’ve been reading up a storm, and loving every moment of it. Little Fires Everywhere didn’t click for me, but I adored One in a Million Boy, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, Three Wishes (my first Liane Moriarty) Station Eleven and The Enchanted April. Right now I’m reading Whiteout by Ken Follett, and he never lets me down, so March is turning out to be a fantastic month! Thank goodness I’m retired. I’m having the best of times.

  23. Linda says:

    I’m reading a memoir by Pam Houston called Deep Creek, Finding Hope in the High Country. It is honestly and beautifully written and shares insight into what motivates this author. I am enjoying discovering some of the essential pieces of the life of one of my favorite authors.

  24. Alan Thomas says:

    Milkman is still roaming about in my head. It seemed to begin with problems I didn’t think could be solved, e.g. Characters have no names: older sister, maybe boyfriend. It quickly started to work in many ways. I looked forward to my next session of reading this book. I was disappointed when it ended. There are moments of brilliant humor. Important themes are here but not burdensome. I intend to listen to it again in a few months to relive the joys and compassionate realities of this book. Don’t let the “troubles” of Ireland put you off.

  25. Heather says:

    I read a book I have been meaning to read, which recommended by my 15 year old daughter. It was Homeless Bird by Gloria Whelan. What a great story. I am so glad I finally read it.

  26. Janene says:

    I just finished “We Were the Lucky Ones” by Georgia Hunter (loved the interview on WSIRN!) and the Huntress by Kate Quinn. Two very different views of WWII but I really liked them both!

  27. Terry says:

    For March, I am reading classics mostly, but not exclusively.
    1. The Jungle by Upton Sinclair.
    2. Howard’s End by EM Forster.
    3. Pride and Prejudice (re-read) by Jane Austen.
    4. Life After Life (currently reading) by Kate Atkinson.
    5. The Shuttle (currently reading) by Francis Hudson Burnett.
    In my TBR still in March, I will re-read The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan. Hopefully I will get to that still this month! Lots and lots of pages to go!

  28. Sandy Young says:

    I’m reading two books right now, both beautifully written and ever so interesting. In the daytime, I’m devouring Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens; and before I go to sleep, I spend some time in Death by Accordion by Cheryl Miller Thurston, a teacher friend of mine. Even though I’m only about a quarter of the way through on each one, I love them!

  29. Julia Christensen says:

    I would just like to thank all the commenters that generously list book titles and relevant thoughts instead of a blog link. I dearly enjoy reading Anne’s posts and the comments, but do not have time to go to alternate blogs. I sincerely appreciate it!

  30. Gaby says:

    I just finished The Library Book by Susan Orlean which was fantastic. I am a fiction reader so this was outside of my ‘comfort zone’ but I truly loved it and highly recommend to all book lovers.
    I also just finished A Discovery of Witches which made me run out to get the second book as it ended in a cliff-hanger.
    Other notable reads last month were How to Walk Away by Katherine Center and The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon.

  31. RuthAnn Stagg says:

    I checked out Jillian Michaels book “6 keys” and enjoyed that. Just finished my first Liane Moriarty “What Alice Forgot” and loved loved loved it (i listened to it so hopefully that counts). in the middle of Wallace Stegners “Crossing to safety” and enjoying it so far. I love following all your book recommendations.

  32. September says:

    I’ve been doing my own Quick Lit without even knowing that’s a thing! A short and sweet (and very honest) review of every book I’ve read this year – currently just over 30 of them: http://www.septembergerety.com/books

    There is some overlap between my list and yours – I read Digital Minimalism when it came out last month, and I’m currently working on my second Laura Vanderkam re-read of the year. And I’ve added a couple from your list to my library holds…

  33. Liza says:

    The Digital Minimalism book looks interesting.

    I haven’t read nearly as much as usual this year, but life has been a tad busier than usual as well. I’m currently reading The Priory of the Orange Tree. It’s really good and interesting; it’s just a HUGE book and I’m having to read very slowly and carefully in order to absorb all that is happening.

  34. Ruth O says:

    I have just finished Educated (and never have I felt more conflicted about a book…), In the Bleak Midwinter (hooked right away, and now I want to read the next one, which is on hold at the library!), and Amal Unbound which was also great. Also read An Ordinary Grace (Krueger) and Endurance (Kelly) towards the end of February-liked them both.
    Now I am just beginning Still Life, not far enough into it to know but based on reading here, I want to finish it so as to understand the next ones better. OK For Now, a YA book by Gary Schmidt, has me wanting to do nothing but read it. It’s funny how it’s either feast or famine with finding truly gripping books, lately it has been feast and I am embracing it. I think I found all of these from reading this blog and the links in comments!
    I always find more to add to my TBR list from this monthly post, thank you all very much!

  35. Kathrin says:

    I’m currently reading European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman by Theodora Goss which I picked up at the library because it sounded interesting. The format takes some getting used to, because the narrative is interrupted by conversations from the characters.

    Before that I read L’evangelie selon Pilate by Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt. I understand enough French to be comfortably able to read it, but I still pucked up an e-copy in German – unfortunately I couldn’t find an English one.

    Tomorrow it’s time for St. Patrick’s Confession.

    I’ve also got several audios on just now – finished Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar a few minutes ago plus Benedict XVI’s Jesus of Nazareth pert 1 (I have a printed copy of it somewhere but can’t find it).

    I may have a look at some of the ones on your list as well.

  36. Amyborch says:

    Just finished, Where the crawdads sing, which like Harry’s Trees, has significantly wonderful wrig about the outdoors, and Becoming Mrs. Lewis, which is technically historical fiction, but has many quotes from the works of CS Lewis and Joy Davidman to make the book feel less fictional and more historical. I’m a sucker for outdoor books and CS Lewis.

  37. Sue says:

    Anne, I finally followed your recommendation for Leif Enger; I found “Virgil Wander” at the library two days ago, and oh, my goodness. Leif had me at the first paragraph. I am not too far into it, but I LOVE it, I LOVE the writing, I LOVE the character. THIS is the real thing!

  38. Debra says:

    Wow, just reading all this adds so many books to my already vast TBR list!! Thanks to all of you who list the titles in your comments, I’m afraid time limits me from checking out all the links! Just finished Mary Poppins for my challenge book of published before I was born. Afraid that was a disappointment, she really was not a nice person in many ways! Read The Thirteenth Tale and now understand why you recommend it. Really good story, with lots of twists. Also finished Michelle Obama’s audio of Becoming! Really enjoyed that and will have to check out forum on it now. Was in Nashville last week so went to Parnassus and sadly, just missed Ann Patchett, but picked up two of her books so planning to start Bel Canto and Circe this month along with Enchanted April. Had trouble finding that last one, but finally got the ebook from the library today so looking forward to it.

  39. Dee says:

    Great picks! I’m really interested in the Digital Minimalism book, and though it’s not exactly a new topic I always love hearing fresh perspectives on social media.

  40. A visit to Montgomery, AL, to the Legacy Museum and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, inspired me to buy the book, “Just Mercy” by Bryan Stevenson. It’s not a cheerful read, but I think that as a white woman I need to be more aware of the injustice of our justice system. I highly recommend the book.

  41. Hannah Christmas says:

    Love these recommendations I’m finding. They all sound fascinating! I’m currently reading “The Innocents Abroad” by Mark Twain. I’m attempting to read books that take place in as many countries and regions around the world as possible, and this book covers quite a few for me! Plus Twain’s humour and sarcasm is right up my alley. I’m also reading “The Pilgrim’s Regress” by C.S. Lewis, which also has its own characteristic sassiness to it that I love. I enjoy Lewis’ imagination and his take on the Christian journey, or rather the skeptic’s conversion journey, is fascinating and thought-provoking.

  42. Deb says:

    I may be late to the game but I’ve just finished The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern 👏🏽👏🏽☺️
    I loved it and it’s funny because I’ve never liked the circus, even as a child😂🤣
    I’ve also finished my annual reread of Alice in Wonderland, and I’ve just bought an annotated version that I can’t wait to dig into along with a graphic novel called Tetris that combines my love of reading and gaming👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽
    I can’t wait to read Juliet’s School of Possibilities 🤸🏽‍♀️

  43. Brenda Crews says:

    Quiet Neighbors by Catriona McPherson
    Margins by Richard A. Swenson
    Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist
    Words to Live By by C.S. Lewis

  44. Miriam Blum says:

    I just finished reading the #1 new bestseller on Amazon called, “Thriving Blind; Stories of People Thriving Without Sight, ” by Kristin Smedley. She has two blind sons and details 12 interesting people she has met; one climbed Mt. Everest, one kayaked 226 miles of the Grand Canyon and one is an iron man competitor. What did they have in common? They were all BLIND. It certainly changed my perceptions of overcoming obstacles and blindness and it was very inspiring! What a great read!

  45. Mechel Scarborough says:

    I’ve only recently discovered you podcast and have binge listening every chance I get. One book I have heard mentioned many times is God’s in Alabama by Joshilyn Jackson. I wholeheartedly enjoyed this book and when I finished it didn’t know how to feel about it. I would never have even looked at it twice if not for your recommendation. So Thank You so much! I love the podcast and sadly will be finished soon and have to impatiently wait from week to week.

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