Grown-Up Reads

The Best Grown-Up Reads of January 2019

by Jennie Yabroff

Photo credit: jayk7, Moment Open/Getty Images

It’s January, which means that the gyms are (temporarily) full, our bank accounts are empty, and we have three more months until the official start of spring. But January also represents a chance for a new beginning, the perfect time to establish good habits that last through the year (and beyond). What about making 2019 the year you read a book you’d never normally read? If you’re a memoir fan, try some historical fiction. If you only read nonfiction, try a thriller. We’ve got a list of books from every genre — make 2019 the year you try something new.

  • The Dreamers

    by Karen Thompson Walker

    The premise of The Dreamers may sound dangerously alluring to the sleep-deprived among us — a town is gripped by a mysterious illness that puts its victims to sleep for weeks on end. The sleeping patients appear to dream more than usual — and show no signs of waking up, ever. As the sentient members of the town fight to stay alert, the novel explores the value of consciousness, and what it means to be awake to your life.

  • Inheritance

    by Dani Shapiro

    Dani Shapiro has made a career out of examining her life in memoirs, from her childhood to her parents to her marriages. More than most people, Shapiro thought she knew her own story. But everything she thought she knew changed in 2016, when a DNA test revealed the man she believed was her father was not, in fact, related to her at all. In this book, Shapiro goes on a hunt for the identity of her real biological father, as well as the truth about who she is and what it means that she was lied to about who she was.

  • Golden Child

    by Claire Adam

    Claire Adam’s novel is set in the author’s native Trinidad, where a family of four tries to make a modest life for themselves while hoping for something more for the next generation. The parents’ plans of hard work and quiet sacrifice are shattered, however, when one of their twin boys goes missing. The rest of the story is an exploration of both the Trinidadian landscape and the heart of the family.
    (On sale: 1/28/19)

  • Underground: A History of the World Beneath Our Feet

    by Will Hunt

    Aside from disgust at the piece of gum (or worse) we step on as we traverse the city streets, few of us stop to think about what’s happening on our sidewalks and below. In fact, the deeper you go, the more there is to see, including abandoned subway stations, secret tunnels, intersecting sewers, catacombs, and even entire underground cities. In this book, explorer Hunt tours what’s beneath the streets of 20 countries — what he finds will change the way you think about life underground.
    (On sale: 1/29/19)

  • All the Lives We Ever Lived: Seeking Solace in Virginia Woolf

    by Katharine Smyth

    Some books entertain you for an evening. Some books sustain you for a lifetime. For Katharine Smyth, Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse — a notoriously difficult novel of introspection and shifting perspectives — defines the second category. Smyth first read the novel sitting in the same room as her father, and after he died, it was his presence she sought to recapture in her rereadings over the years. Part memoir, part literary criticism, this book explores the solace of reading, and the effects of time on grief in a way Woolf herself would appreciate.
    (On sale: 1/29/19)

  • The Au Pair

    by Emma Rous

    In this twisty, irresistible thriller, a horrible event turns out to be just the beginning of the secrets, scandals, and cover-ups that follow one mysterious family. Hours after her twins are born, a new mother throws herself off a cliff and the family’s au pair disappears. Years later, following yet another tragic death, one twin discovers everything she thought she knew about her family’s sad past may be a lie, and the truth may be even darker than the rumors that have haunted her for her entire life.

  • The Paragon Hotel

    by Lyndsay Faye

    Personal reinvention and racial identity collide in this historical thriller about a woman who, escaping her own demons, finds herself in the midst of literal demons, in the shape of the Ku Klux Klan. Alice, a.k.a. “Nobody,” has to get out of Harlem, fast, and Oregon seems like the farthest, safest point. But when she checks into the Paragon Hotel — an all-black residence in 1920s Portland, Oregon —` she soon finds herself at the center of a mystery involving the Klan, the hotel’s more flamboyant occupants, and a missing child.

  • Black Is the Body: Stories from My Grandmother’s Time, My Mother’s Time, and Mine

    by Emily Bernard

    In this collection of linked essays, writer and academic Bernard explores race from her own experience, based in her belief that “blackness is an art, not a science.” One essay describes how being the victim of a violent crime when she was in college made her rethink her identity as a black woman, and also freed her to write her story. All the pieces will have you reexamining the way you think about what it is to be black in America today.
    (On sale: 1/29/19)

  • Adele

    by Leila Slimani

    In her previous novel, The Perfect Nanny, French novelist Slimani tackled one of the most unthinkable subjects in modern society, a murderous nanny. In this book (published in France before The Perfect Nanny,), Slimani takes on another controversial subject — female sex addiction. Adele leads an apparently full life with a great career, great husband, and great kid. So what drives her to jeopardize everything that she has as she pursues sexual encounters when she’s supposed to be at work? This smart, disturbing novel is more interested in questions than tidy answers and will keep you captivated until the end.