Grown-Up Reads

The Best Grown-Up
Reads of April 2020

by the Brightly Editors

Reading can be challenging when there is a flurry of other thoughts preoccupying your mind. Now is the time to lean into books that suit your reading mood, whatever that mood may be, and wherever it may lead. April’s best new books for grown-ups feature a book to suit every mood — empowering reads for moms and moms-to-be, unexpected love stories, captivating novels about family, community, and womanhood, and some light philosophizing about apocalypses from Mark O’Connell.

  • The Trying Game

    by Amy Klein

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    For countless women (and for countless reasons), getting pregnant can be incredibly difficult — physically, emotionally, and financially. After years of trying herself and documenting the journey for her New York Times “Fertility Diary” column, Amy Klein offers up a guidebook that is both emotionally reassuring and full of practical advice for navigating IVF, sperm clinics, baby envy, nosy family members, and so much more.

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  • Notes from an Apocalypse

    by Mark O’Connell

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    Aptly titled for our current predicament, Notes from an Apocalypse follows Mark O’Connell’s questions about what it means to live through, and raise children during, highly unsettling times. With hope and humor, he visits people all over the world — preppers and survivalists, optimists and conspiracists — and muses about the nature of humanity amidst precarity. The New Yorker calls O’Connell’s expedition “a fitting travelogue for our stationary moment.”

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  • Ordinary Insanity

    by Sarah Menkedick

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    Drawing on compelling research, interviews with women, and her own experiences during pregnancy and motherhood, Sarah Menkedick explores what she’s identified as a crisis of anxiety among new mothers — a level of fear and obsession that neither aligns with postpartum depression nor receives adequate recognition or support. Menkedick sifts through a variety of sources and bears witness to profound stories, creating a narrative that will make mothers everywhere feel less alone.

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  • Conjure Women

    by Afia Atakora

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    Born enslaved and raised on a Southern plantation before and during the Civil War, Rue grew up learning her mother’s healing techniques. Now, the South is trying to recover and reform, Rue’s mother has died, and Rue has taken on the role of healer. But when a mysterious child is born and a so-called curse begins to spread, the townspeople’s trust quickly turns to fear and suspicion.

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  • Not That Kind of Guy

    by Andie J. Christopher

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    Wickedly funny and with a wallop of heart, Not That Kind of Guy finds state attorney Bridget Nolan on a last-minute lookout for a date to her brother’s wedding. She doesn’t spend much time out of the office, so the legal intern — whose time under her (ahem) jurisprudence is almost up — seems like the natural choice. Fortunately, Matt agrees, and their outside-the-office romance takes them all the way to Vegas.

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  • The House of Deep Water

    by Jeni McFarland

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    The perfect read to fill the Little Fires Everywhere shaped hole in your life, The House of Deep Water is a deeply nuanced story of motherhood and a fractured community set in small-town Michigan. As three women return home to River Bend against their greatest efforts to stay away, they’re each faced with scandals and secrets, resurrected pasts, and best-forgotten love affairs. A powerful debut by a novelist to watch for.

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  • The Book of Longings

    by Sue Monk Kidd

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    The bestselling author of The Secret Life of Bees and The Invention of Wings returns with an extraordinary novel about Ana, wife to Jesus of Nazareth and sister to Judas. At 18, Ana has a rebellious spirit: she studies silenced women and is firmly set against marrying the much older widower her family has chosen. When she meets 18-year-old Jesus, her path dramatically changes. Through their marriage, we watch the major events of the time unfold, framed by a cast of characters (both recognizable and invented) whose actions speak to their era’s understanding of gender and power.

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  • The Love Story of Missy Carmichael

    by Beth Morrey

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    At 79, Missy is feeling lonely and embittered. Widowed, estranged from her daughter, and still resentful that her son took her only grandchild all the way to Australia, she lives a solitary life in a home she’s stripped down to bare essentials. One day, after her morning routine of reading the obituaries, Missy ventures out to the park where she meets two neighbors who don’t take no for an answer. Step by step, Missy emerges from her shell and reconnects with those around her.

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