8 Adult Fiction Books That Are Not About ‘Sad People Having Affairs’

8 Adult Fiction Books That Are Not About ‘Sad People Having Affairs’

Hi friends! 👋🏻 In some online circles, mainly YA fiction circles, adult fiction gets a bit of a bad rap. I can’t even begin to count the number of times I’ve seen an adult online say that they prefer to read YA books because adult books are all about ‘sad people having affairs’. I’m not going to deny that there are a lot of books for adults that are about affairs, but this is the same argument as YA books all being about ‘kids with unpronounceable names engaging in love triangles while overthrowing a dystopian government’ and, in my opinion, it’s just as obnoxious.

Adult fiction isn’t just literary fiction and literary fiction isn’t just stories about affairs, just like how YA isn’t all sci-fi and paranormal romance. It’s unfortunate for some people that those books are often the ones that get pushed to the forefront, but we often have to go digging around to find the books that we think we’ll like instead of just going off of what everyone else is buying, or what a celebrity’s book club tells you to read.

Today, I want to share eight recommendations for adult books that aren’t about ‘sad people having affairs’. Are they happy books? Not necessarily but they’re books that I enjoyed and think other people would enjoy too.

I was initially planning to list the trigger warnings in these books, but because my tastes in adult fiction tend to veer onto the darker side, there were simply too many things to list. If you’re genuinely curious, you can always check the Storygraph page for each title.


Something to Talk About by Meryl Wilsner

something to talk about by meryl wilsner

To ease us in, this book is an F/F romance between a Hollywood star and her assistant who get mistaken for a couple. This is a pretty quick read and not too light and fluffy since it does talk about sexuality and age, and while I’m not very well versed in adult romance books at all, I do think this one will please romance fans. The romance in this one is a bit of a slow burn in my opinion, and it had me wanting to smush the characters together, but it’s still satisfying in the end.

The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

the long way to a small, angry planet by becky chambers

If you’re a sci-fi fan and you haven’t read any of the Wayfarers books, what have you been doing? The first book in the series follows a small space crew as they travel across the galaxy while we learn about each crew member. This is definitely more character-based than plot-based but each of the characters is so interesting and well-written that it doesn’t feel like the plot needs to move faster. Also, the characters are wonderfully diverse as characters from different species should be.

Vicious by V.E. Schwab

vicious by v.e. schwab

I don’t really need to talk about how good Vicious is, do I? If you love villain protagonists and you somehow haven’t picked this one up yet, you definitely should.

American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis

american psycho by bret easton ellis

This is a bit of a wildcard because while Patrick Bateman is definitely having multiple affairs, he’s anything but sad. American Psycho is kind of a tentative recommendation because it’s an incredibly difficult read thanks to its content. Patrick is misogynistic, racist, homophobic, he assaults and murders sex workers, rapes his mistress, kills a child, hates homeless people, and he just gets worse and worse as the book goes on. In between the graphic scenes, he rambles on about people’s clothes, the top of the range gadgets in his apartment, the biographies of musicians he likes, and while it annoyed me when I first read it, the book has grown on me because it shows just how shallow 1980s yuppie culture was. If you can handle the content, give it a go, but if it sounds like too much, watch the movie instead.

Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

certain dark things by silvia moreno-garcia

I had to recommend at least one thing with vampires in it, and Certain Dark Things is definitely my favourite adult vampire book. Set in Mexico City, my favourite thing about this book is that there are so many different kinds of vampires depending on where in the world they come from, just like human beings. Some are descended from European cultures, and others from Indigenous American cultures, and it creates some much-needed diversity because there is no way every single vampire in the world would be white.

Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

ninth house by leigh bardugo

Ninth House is a little polarising in the book blogging community (or at least from what I’ve seen), because a lot of people were expecting something more akin to Leigh Bardugo’s YA books. I’m on the side of loving this book because of how different it is from Leigh’s YA books, and I think she made the jump to adult fiction excellently.

The Apparition Phase by Will Maclean

the apparition phase by will maclean

This is the book on this list that I’ve read most recently, and it was a pleasant surprise for me. I haven’t read a lot of modern gothic books, but this book helped me to give the genre a chance. This book follows Tim, who, along with his twin sister Abi, plays a prank on a classmate where they fake a ghost and then everything goes completely wrong. I won’t say what, because that would be spoiling the book, but I think this one is definitely worth giving a shot.

Ring by Koji Suzuki

ring by koji suzuki

Even if you have seen either version of The Ring, I still recommend the original novel because I think it’s better than both of them. It is pretty different from the movies – mainly the main character who is a married man with a baby daughter and not a divorced woman with a school-aged son – but I honestly found the book to be scarier. This was my first foray into Japanese horror novels and I’m definitely going to continue on with the series, so I definitely recommend it for fans of the movies who are curious to see where it all began.


talk to me!

Do you read adult fiction books? How many have you read that actually are about people having affairs?


  1. March 26, 2022 / 1:11 am

    I agree with you that it’s just as much of a generalization to say that Adult books are about any one thing as it is to say that YA books are. There are all sorts of books, all sorts of genres. Everyone doesn’t have to like them all, but there’s no reason to disparage the genre itself.

    • Louise
      April 5, 2022 / 11:37 am

      Exactly! There are always so much more to genres and reading levels than just what’s popular or what a reading club tells you to read.

  2. April 8, 2022 / 10:15 pm

    I’m kind of the other way around – I prefer both Ring movies to the book. 🙂

  3. April 27, 2022 / 11:21 pm

    The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet has been on my TBR for agessss. Same with Ninth House. Ohhh, I’d also be interested in reading The Ring. I’ll have to check that out!

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