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

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Welcome to Quick Lit, where we share short and sweet reviews of what we’ve been reading lately on the 15th of the month.

I read a nice little stack of spring and summer 2022 releases this month, and more time vetting books for future Modern Mrs Darcy Book Club selections, and I can’t tell you about those yet. (Soon!) But I didn’t want my reading month to feel rushed, and so as you’ll see, I spent a great deal of time slowly working my way through an essay collection, a nonfiction craft book, and a lengthy sequel to a mystery I loved. (I was hoping to tell you about one more fun book in today’s round-up, but alas, I still have 40 pages to go!)

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

I began rereading this on Christmas Day because the snug story felt exactly right for my reading mood. In this quiet novel, five individuals aged 14 to 70-something, each dealing with their own painful personal tragedy, are unexpectedly brought together during the Christmas season in the Scottish countryside. They have each, for their own reasons, decided not to celebrate the holiday this year; because of painful events in their recent pasts they don’t think they can bear it. But redemption is found in surprising places, and this bunch of distant family, friends, and strangers finds love and redemption when they didn’t dare to hope for it. This was a wonderful way to close out my reading year. More info →
Author: Ann Patchett
I wasn’t going to read this, and then enough bookseller friends recommended it that I changed my mind. In this broad essay collection, Ann Patchett reflects on the writing life, significant friendships, bookstore ownership, and taking mushrooms (really!). I had read earlier versions of some pieces before—and maybe you have, too, because we shared them in Links I Love, but I enjoyed both revisiting those and reading her new work. You may be surprised to hear my favorite issues center not on her writing experience but on complex family relationships, as she does in “The Nightstand” and “Two More Things I Want to Say About My Father.” More info →
Last fall I felt like the universe wanted me to read Magpie Murders, and I was so glad I finally did! Over the holiday break I picked up the sequel, though I’ll admit to being intimidated by its hefty (600+) page count. No spoilers here, but the story picks up shortly after Magpie left off. Editor Susan Ryeland is called upon to investigate a murder: in a far-away British hotel called The Moonflower, a man was brutally murdered—and the owners think the key to discovering the perpetrator of the crime lies in a book Susan edited years ago. This was a satisfying puzzle of a book, and the story-within-a-story format added extra layers of interest for this reader. More info →
Author: Will Storr
I enjoy reading the occasional book on the craft of writing, and I’ve been slowly making my way through this newish release this winter. Storr posits that stories make us human: we were evolved to care deeply about what happens to others, and our brains crave to understand the causes and effects of human behavior. (You know what we love most of all, according to Storr? GOSSIP. It’s biology; we can’t help ourselves.) According to Storr, when we better understand the physiology of stories, we tell better stories. I especially loved his copious examples, which run the gamut from Shakespeare to contemporary bestsellers. More info →
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this lively YA series that takes wild and laughable liberties with familiar historical events, giving them much happier endings than you may remember. (In fact, the dedication page reads, “For the people who feel like they have to be perfect. And for France: we’re sorry for what we’re about to do to your history, but it was your turn.” In this new installment, which builds on the events of My Lady Jane, Mary Queen of Scots takes center stage, just before her arranged marriage to her childhood friend Francis. I enjoyed this on audio: as read by Fiona Hardingham, who also narrated my recent listen Once Upon a Wardrobe. I will say that while this story was good fun, it didn’t hold the thrill of the first Lady Janies book, simply because I knew what to expect this time—although the Brexit joke made me laugh out loud. 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. 

The post What I’ve been reading lately: the new and the notable appeared first on Modern Mrs Darcy.

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