Grown-Up Reads

The Best Grown-Up Reads of September 2019

by the Brightly Editors

September’s best new book releases call for long stretches of reading time, so clear the calendar and make room in your TBR stack. Between Ta-Nehisi Coates’s debut novel, Margaret Atwood’s follow-up to The Handmaid’s Tale, and an espionage-meets-love-story based on the real women who brought Doctor Zhivago to the world, you’re going to be one happy reader. (And there’s more where that came from!)

  • The Water Dancer

    by Ta-Nehisi Coates

    Following the success of Between the World and Me and We Were Eight Years in Power, Ta-Nehisi Coates turns his remarkable talent to fiction - specifically, a genre-bending tale set in the South at the height of slavery. Young Hiram Walker discovers he has the gift of Conduction: he can magically travel along water routes to safety. Determined to save his loved ones from bondage, Hiram joins the war against slavers in this revelatory novel.

  • The Testaments

    by Margaret Atwood

    Margaret Atwood's long-anticipated sequel to The Handmaid's Tale takes up the story fifteen years later, when the Republic of Gilead is showing cracks in the façade. Told through the voices of three women who have been either complicit or instrumental in keeping Gilead afloat, Atwood once again manages to make a fictional regime's corruptness feel all too familiar, and she uses those troubling echoes to ask crucial questions about power and complicity.

  • Red at the Bone

    by Jacqueline Woodson

    In her generation-spanning novel, Jacqueline Woodson untangles the effects that parents' choices have on their children, and vice versa. At her coming-of-age ceremony, 16-year-old Melody wears the dress made for her mother 16 years earlier - before the unexpected pregnancy that brought two families together. In sparse and evocative prose, Red at the Bone moves back and forth in time, encompassing a family's losses and triumphs.

  • The Secrets We Kept

    by Lara Prescott

    Based on a thrilling true story, The Secrets We Kept centers on two CIA secretaries tapped for a secret mission: to smuggle Boris Pasternak's manuscript, Doctor Zhivago, out of the USSR and bring it to print. American-born spy Sally Forrester takes Russian-born novice Irina Drozdova under her wing for the globe-trotting assignment. Intertwined with the women's espionage is the love story of Pasternak and his muse, Olga, who was sent to the Gulag for her loyalty to her lover.

  • She Said

    by Jodi Kantor and Meghan Twohey

    In 2017, when New York Times journalists Jodi Kantor and Meghan Twohey broke the story of Harvey Weinstein's years of sexual harassment and abuse in Hollywood - despite Weinstein's significant efforts to stymie the investigation - they couldn't anticipate what would come next. In She Said, they chronicle not only the dramatic effort to expose Weinstein and those who covered for him, but also the watershed of women's stories that followed with the rise of the #MeToo movement.

  • The Sweetest Fruits

    by Monique Truong

    The 19th-century author Lafcadio Hearn is best known for his writings about Japan. In this historical novel with astonishing scope, Monique Truong tells the story of Hearn through the women who orbited him: his mother, Rosa, who was forced to leave her son behind in Ireland; Alethea, a former slave who crossed paths with Hearn in Cincinnati and became his first wife; and Setsu, the mother of his children and unacknowledged collaborator.

  • Everything I Need to Know I Learned from Mister Rogers' Neighborhood

    by Melissa Wagner and Fred Rogers Productions, illustrated by Max Dalton

    Last year's documentary film about Fred Rogers, Won't You Be My Neighbor?, reminded the world of the magic and long-lasting value of Mister Rogers' guidance, and this feel-good book encompasses those sentiments and more. Both a history of the beloved show's journey from a Pittsburgh studio to international TV and an illustrated celebration of the host's best advice, this delightful read belongs in every household. With the upcoming release of A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, starring Tom Hanks as Fred Rogers, his name is one that will continue to be talked about.