Grown-Up Reads

The Best Grown-Up Reads of
August 2019

by the Brightly Editors

Background credit: jayk7, Moment Open/Getty Images

August’s best new reads feature real and imagined characters navigating relationships, journeys, and our complicated era. From a difficult mother-daughter dynamic to the particular concerns of raising sons, a Delhi love story to the Wild West, these books are both spellbinding and life-affirming. As summer wanes and schedules get busy, we hope you’ll take time to enjoy some excellent reads of your very own.

  • Motherland

    by Elissa Altman

    Elissa Altman’s latest memoir is a candid excavation of a mother and daughter forced to reckon with their differences. After a tumultuous childhood and strained relationship with her mother, a beauty-obsessed former singer, Altman has built a stable and comfortable life for herself in Connecticut with her wife of 20 years. But when her Manhattan-dwelling mother suffers a fall and loses her independence, the two are thrust into a caretaking relationship and must confront their complicated bond.

  • Polite Society

    by Mahesh Rao

    Austenites and fans of Crazy Rich Asians, plan to fall head over heels for Mahesh Rao’s Delhi-based, modern retelling of Jane Austen’s Emma. Rao’s Emma is the beautiful and bored Ania Khurana, who — after successfully making a love match for her spinster aunt — has turned her matchmaking talents to her new friend, Dimple. But Ania’s carefully laid plans go awry with the arrival of her aunt’s debonair nephew. Old money and new collide in this charmingly scandalous read.

  • Trick Mirror

    by Jia Tolentino

    New Yorker cultural critic Jia Tolentino reveals nine original essays in this thought-provoking collection that unpacks specific dilemmas of our time, including the rise of showcasing our lives on the internet, the exhausting insistence on nonstop optimization — particularly when it comes to women’s bodies, and the sins and ecstasies of mega-churches and mind-altering drugs. Moving seamlessly between personal anecdotes, reportage, and literary criticism, Trick Mirror reflects our modern-day culture through a bold and singular voice.

  • Inland

    by Tea Obreht

    Téa Obreht’s long-awaited sophomore novel — following her 2011 bestseller, The Tiger’s Wife — takes place in the mythical American West. The story follows Nora, a frontierswoman holding down the household while her husband and older sons are MIA; Nora’s youngest son, who’s obsessed with a shadowy beast; and Lurie, a former outlaw who embarks on a journey to escape the (literal) ghosts that haunt him. How the characters come together is the surprising heart of this epic tale.

  • The Beekeeper of Aleppo

    by Christy Lefteri

    Essential reading, The Beekeeper of Aleppo tells the heartbreakingly authentic story of lives upended by the Syrian war. Nuri is a beekeeper in Aleppo, and his wife, Afra, paints beautiful landscapes. But when Aleppo becomes unlivable and Afra witnesses one horror too many, the two must embark on a perilous journey across Turkey and Greece toward refuge in Great Britain. Navigating multiple layers of grief and loss, the story of Nuri and Afra is unforgettable.

  • Boy Mom

    by Monica Swanson

    Parenting blogger and mom of four sons, Monica Swanson offers a practical and spiritual guide to raising boys in today’s world. She addresses pressing concerns, including technology and the influences of friends, dating and developing healthy relationships, and the importance of work ethic and pursuing passions. If you or someone you know is raising boys into young men, let Swanson’s insights offer guidance and encouragement.