In case you don’t know this by now, I’m 100% not someone who thinks adults shouldn’t read YA. I think the designations by readership don’t make sense, especially with different media sources quoting that 50% or more YA readers are over 18. My personal definition is that books about teenagers are young adult and books about adults are (insert adult genre here). More of the definitions are decided by publishing professionals and how a book is marketed/what press publishes the book. All that’s fine.
That being said, after a record low year for reading “adult books” last year I’m trying to fit a few more in this year. Here are a few I’ve really enjoyed:
At age twenty-two, Lotto and Mathilde are tall, glamorous, madly in love, and destined for greatness. A decade later, their marriage is still the envy of their friends, but with an electric thrill we understand that things are even more complicated and remarkable than they have seemed. The strange details and moral ambiguities totally hooked me. I had a hard time connecting with the characters, although I suspect this was by design. And the fact I liked this book so much without fully siding with one of the characters is impressive. This book had a lot, a lot of hype last year and was even Obama’s favorite book of the year. I can see why!
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie illuminates a seminal moment in modern African history: Biafra’s impassioned struggle to establish an independent republic in southeastern Nigeria during the late 1960s. We experience this tumultuous decade alongside five unforgettable characters: Ugwu, a thirteen-year-old houseboy who works for Odenigbo, a university professor full of revolutionary zeal; Olanna, the professor’s beautiful young mistress who has abandoned her life in Lagos for a dusty town and her lover’s charm; and Richard, a shy young Englishman infatuated with Olanna’s willful twin sister Kainene. I think I enjoyed it even more than Americanah, one of my favorite books last year. Flawless.
A nuanced investigation into the sexual, economic, and emotional lives of women in America. In a provocative, groundbreaking work, National Magazine Award finalist Rebecca Traister, “the most brilliant voice on feminism in the country” (Anne Lamott), traces the history of unmarried and late-married women in America who, through social, political, and economic means, have radically shaped our nation. Traister weaves together demographic data, stories from history, and personal anecdotes. So much of media focuses on romantic relationships when it comes to woman so this was super refreshing. While I was reading this book, I was talking to everyone about it. I think my friends found it kind of annoying/concerning, but oh well. It’s interesting!
Violet Parry is living the quintessential life of luxury in the Hollywood Hills with David, her rock-and-roll manager husband, and her darling toddler, Dot. She has the perfect life–except that she’s deeply unhappy. David expects the world of Violet but gives little of himself in return. When she meets Teddy, a roguish small-time bass player, Violet comes alive, and soon she’s risking everything for the chance to find herself again. Also in the picture are David’s hilariously high-strung sister, Sally, on the prowl for a successful husband, and Jeremy, the ESPN sportscaster savant who falls into her trap. For all their recklessness, Violet and Sally will discover that David and Jeremy have a few surprises of their own. This is great for anyone who loved Semple’s other book Where’d You Go, Bernadette? I flew through it.
Growing up in the suburban hell of Misery Saga (a.k.a. Mississauga), Lizzie has never liked the way she looks—even though her best friend Mel says she’s the pretty one. She starts dating guys online, but she’s afraid to send pictures, even when her skinny friend China does her makeup: she knows no one would want her if they could really see her. So she starts to lose. With punishing drive, she counts almonds consumed, miles logged, pounds dropped. She fights her way into coveted dresses. She grows up and gets thin, navigating double-edged validation from her mother, her friends, her husband, her reflection in the mirror. But no matter how much she loses, will she ever see herself as anything other than a fat girl? It was interesting and engaging, but more like 13 slices of life instead of a unified story.
This version of the Bennet family—and Mr. Darcy—is one that you have and haven’t met before: Liz is a magazine writer in her late thirties who, like her yoga instructor older sister, Jane, lives in New York City. When their father has a health scare, they return to their childhood home in Cincinnati to help—and discover that the sprawling Tudor they grew up in is crumbling and the family is in disarray. With Kitty and Lydia as crossfit junkies and Mr. Collins a Silicon Valley tech nerd, this book is a hilarious update on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Even though it doesn’t have the same romance of the original, the humor and tone definitely match.
Have you read any of these books? Do you have any reccommendations on what “adult” book I should read next? I’m thinking maybe Sweetbitter, by Stephanie Danler.
6 thoughts on “Reading More “Adult” Books”
Hmmm. Adult book recs? I have a couple: Peace Like a River by Leif Enger (a top 10 book for me!), Rosie by Anne Lamott (and its companion books), East of Eden by Steinbeck, and C.S. Lewis’s space trilogy (which starts with Out of the Silent Planet).
Of these, Peace Like a River is easily my favorite. So damn good. And then I got to have lunch with the author many years after first reading it. WIN.
I’ve read East of Eden and the space trilogy, but definitely want to check out the other too. Also so cool to have lunch with a favorite author. That’s amazing!
It was so fun! He son ended up going to the university where I work, so they invited him to speak and to have lunch with the writing majors . . . And one zealous admission counselor who used to be a writing major. Lol