What the Grownups Should Read

Today I am profiling what the grownups should read.  While I almost exclusively read kid’s books, every year at BookExpo I make a point of going to the Adult Book Buzz.  These are the books that are expected to resonate with readers in the months ahead.  Hey, their track record is pretty good.  In the last 3 years, 11 titles from across their panels have hit the NYT bestseller lists.

I have not read these, but I did get a chance to hear the editors talk about what drew them to these titles. I have to confess that these books not only caught my interest but their editor’s descriptions had me longing for a chance to get back to the grownups table.

The titles link to Amazon, although several of these books will not be available until the beginning of 2020.  I receive a small commission at no cost to you if you purchase through the link.  If the past is any indication, I would put these on your TBR list.

The Secrets We Kept by Lara Prescottwhat the grownups should read

Available September 17, 2019

This one felt like it was for the ladies.  By this, I don’t mean that men wouldn’t enjoy it, simply that it highlights the power of women who have been underestimated and who have used their invisibility to accomplish great things. 

Set during the Cold War, this book is about the CIA secretly getting the manuscript for Dr. Zhivago, printing it, and trying to smuggle is back behind the Iron Curtain.  It was described as Mad Men meets Hidden Figures.  A thrilling narrative.

This one is already planned to be published in 30 countries with a global launch, so Knopf definitely thinks it has a hit on its hands.  The women I was seated next to had already read it and she said she couldn’t put it down, so there you go.

The Warehouse by Rob Hartwhat the grownups should read

Available August 13, 2019

The editor said that he got the same rush reading this book as he did The Martian and Ready Player One.  Did I mention he was the editor for those two books as well?  Some pretty impressive company!

Set in a future where unemployment is rampant and climate change has wreaked havoc, a giant online retail company called Cloud comes in to save folks.  Workers can live in “the Cloud” facilities that provide everything they could need including a safe, climate controlled environment.  Our two main characters Paxton and Zinnia find themselves in the Cloud, but Zinnia is not all that she appears.

This was described as foreshadowing the death of the American dream, the increased power of online retailers and the desperation of individuals just to have secure jobs.  The big question becomes who is really to blame if things turn out this way?  The editor made a point of telling us that there is no obvious evil villain in this story.  He also told us that after reading this story we will never look the same way at those brown two-day shipping boxes delivered to our doors on a regular basis.

My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russellwhat the grownups should read

Available January 2020

This book held very little appeal to me at first glance until my seatmate said that this one was really good, another can’t put down read.  To note she had no vested interest in any of these titles and she does have some street cred, being the head of the Texas Book Festival.

This one is about a young girl, Vanessa, who has an affair with her much older teacher.  Years later he is accused of seducing other girls and Vanessa must confront her own past with him. 

This novel was described as challenging the notion of seduction when it is really a disguised form of abuse.  The book confronts our societal ideas of the tempting teenager, and the idea that arming victims makes us feel better as if they can control their abusers.  A very timely topic, but more amazing was that the author started writing this book years before when she was only 16.   

Such A Fun Age by Kiley Reidwhat the grownups should read

Available January 7, 202

In this book, Emira is a black babysitter working for a white woman who owns a lifestyle magazine.  While Emira is watching her charge,  she is accused of kidnapping the girl and the entire incident is caught on tape.  It is horrifying for Emira and her employer tries to fix it for her. 

I was told the story both tackles issues and entertains.  It was described as a good soap opera that also intertwines topics such as race, class, and privilege.

This book explores the concept of transactional relationships which I think have become more and more common in all our lives. I personally continue to wrestle with the right way to navigate these so I must admit I am curious how the author handles this issue.

Uncanny Valley: A Memoir by Anna Wiener

Available January 14, 2020

This one caught my attention immediately because it is about Silicon Valley, a place I call home.  The editor called this book both funny and full of uncanny observations into the tech industry.  

Anna moves to San Francisco to start working for a Big Data company.  She is besieged by standing desks, acronyms galore and snacks as far as the eye can see.  From there she moves to an open source startup and works from home.  She becomes both a purveyor and consumer of tech and gets an eerie glimpse at both sides of the internet.  

She sees the companies she works for turning a blind eye to ethics in the name of progress and begins to understand the arrogance of the industry.  Unchecked ambition and a lack of regulations are startling.  I was told that this will do for the Tech Industry what Liar’s Poker did for Wall St.  I don’t know if I would go that far, but we shall see.

So there is your rundown.  Hope it gives you some good titles for the weeks and months ahead.  For my local friends, give me a shoutout if you want to read any of these titles.  I may have a few advance copies that I can share!

Also, feel free to check out the selections from last year if you are looking for a vacation read: Upcoming Adult Book Titles