Grown-Up Reads

The Best Grown-Up Reads of
October 2019

by the Brightly Editors

October’s book releases include familiar voices we’re thrilled to hear from: Zadie Smith debuts her first short story collection, John Kenney returns with love poems for exhausted parents, Jojo Moyes takes historical fiction for a spin, comedian Ali Wong jumps from stage to the page, Elizabeth Strout revisits the irascible Olive Kitteridge, Tess Gerritsen delivers paranormal thrills, Jasmine Guillory charms our socks off (again), and Vanity Fair collects over thirty years of women writing about women.

  • Grand Union

    by Zadie Smith

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    In her first short story collection, the inimitable Zadie Smith showcases her talents across nineteen exceptional and dazzling stories: eleven of them original, the rest favorites from The New Yorker and elsewhere. Smith refuses to be hemmed in by perspective or genre, placing historical fiction alongside horror alongside satire, dystopian, allegory, and more, though the pieces create a union when read together — commenting, in turn, on the way we live now, and what our future might hold.

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  • Love Poems for People with Children

    by John Kenney

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    With the same mix of wit and profundity that made Love Poems for Married People a hit, John Kenney returns with a collection of love poems for sleep-deprived, button-pushed parents. Covering all stages of adolescence, from infancy to teen years to the post-college reappearing act, there’s something for every parent — from wide-eyed moms-to-be to hardened pros — in this hilariously relatable and cathartic read.

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  • The Giver of Stars

    by Jojo Moyes

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    Based on the real-life Pack Horse Librarians who brought books to the rural reaches of Kentucky, Jojo Moyes’s latest brings this incredible story of grit and convention-breaking to life. When Englishwoman Alice Wright marries and moves to small-town Kentucky, she feels unbearably confined, so she jumps at the chance to be part of Eleanor Roosevelt’s new traveling library, along with four other women. Full of danger, triumph, and self-discovery, The Giver of Stars is an epic read.

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  • Dear Girls

    by Ali Wong

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    Stand-up comedian and actor Ali Wong has been stealing hearts (and making us cry-laugh) for years, particularly when she told raunchy jokes from the stage while eight months pregnant. In Dear Girls, Ali writes to her daughters about what it’s meant for her to occupy certain identities — as an Asian American woman, a working mother, and a woman in comedy — coupled with absurdly funny coming-of-age stories and pointed advice. Vogue calls it “a myth-puncturing manifesto.”

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  • Olive, Again

    by Elizabeth Strout

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    Are you as thrilled as we are to revisit Olive Kitteridge? Elizabeth Strout won a Pulitzer for the infamously cantankerous Olive, and HBO viewers have immersed themselves in Olive’s small-town Maine community. With Olive, Again, we find the blunt but empathetic Olive again the recipient of the lost and lonely’s confidences, while Olive herself navigates aging, second marriage, and her complicated relationship with her son. By turns charming and quietly devastating, Strout’s return to Crosby, Maine doesn’t disappoint.

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  • The Shape of Night

    by Tess Gerritsen

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    Part murder mystery, part modern gothic, The Shape of Night will reel you in for a whirlwind read. Fleeing tragedy, Ava Collette moves to Maine and rents an old house called Brodie’s Watch. Unbeknownst to Ava, Brodie’s Watch is said to be haunted by Captain Jeremiah Brodie, and multiple women have died there. When the not-so-ghostlike apparition of Captain Brodie reveals himself to Ava, things get steamy, and she starts to question her own sanity.

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  • Royal Holiday

    by Jasmine Guillory

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    Beloved romance writer Jasmine Guillory is back at it, this time with a holiday-themed romance for the mother of The Wedding Party’s lovestruck heroine, Maddie. When Maddie’s hired to style a member of the royal family, she takes her mother, Vivian, along. There, Vivian meets Malcolm, the beau of her dreams, who’s worked for the Queen for years. The two are content to let their holiday romance run its course — but will they really end things by New Year’s Eve?

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  • Vanity Fair’s Women on Women

    edited by Radhika Jones and David Friend

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    Kicked off with a compelling introduction from current editor-in-chief Radhika Jones, this powerful tome collects stories by and about women from across thirty-six years of Vanity Fair’s pages. There are profiles of icons, yes — Gloria Steinem, Michelle Obama, Tina Turner — but also essays on lesser-known legends and impactful moments from women’s history, like Monica Lewinsky’s look back on the Clinton scandal through the lens of the #MeToo movement. Absorbing reading for the everyday powerhouses in your life.

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