Buffalo Book Review: Adulting, by Kelly Williams Brown


I ran across Adulting: How to Become a Grown-up in 468 Easy(ish) Steps on some roundup or another, presumably with a title like “Books That Will Teach You Useful Things” or “Books You Wish Someone Had Given You When You Decided That You Could Go Be an Independent Human Being (HA HA WERE YOU EVER WRONG)”. And thanks to the magic of the interwebs, I added it to a wish list and that desire was sent through cyberspace to my parents-in-law, who picked up a copy for me for Christmas. (I briefly debated being insulted by that, but then decided it was my own fault, really, for requesting it, and besides, YAY FREE BOOK.)

So I cracked it open on Christmas night, and have been plugging away through it over the last few days, and finished it last night…and I’ll tell ya, it did absolutely nothing to assuage my concerns that perhaps I was just an oversized kid in a grownup body with no real clue about how to do this whole Living My Life Without Supervision thing. There is nothing in that book that I didn’t already know, save for a few fun turns of phrase, and there were several–several–sections where I found myself thinking “Ahh, sweetie, that’s a charming start, but lemme fill you in on some helpful details about that”.



I am not the target demographic for this book. This book is aimed at the twentysomething who is just now striking out in search of glory or at least successfully keeping herself fed and clothed and housed. It has helpful sections on topics like what dishes you absolutely need in order to feel like your kitchen is a grownup’s kitchen, and includes advice about how to end relationships like an adult and how the utility people really do mean it when they say you have to give them money every month. For those of us who have recently purchased an olive grabber, who have been paying the bills long enough that all our information is saved and we just have to click “submit” every month, and whose breakups would now include extensive paperwork and possibly an attorney, this is all a bit…Life 101. So I get it–this book is not aimed at me now; it’s aimed at me 15 years ago.

So where, for the love of all that is holy, was this book 15 years ago?!?

Here’s the thing: I don’t need this book now. But some of you do. OH MAN do some of you need this book. Lord knows I did at your age. Some of you are young in ways that make me feel old and tired, and you are trying to figure out how to even figure out what it is that you don’t know. You have this vague sense that all the other people just got some cosmic download of instructions on how to be an unsupervised adult (hint: no we didn’t. We learned by trial and error, and in some cases, by having to pay hefty fines), and it baffles you because not only do we seem terribly worldly and awesome, but we seem to know things you didn’t even realize were things to know.

And that’s where this book comes in. All that information–all of it–is in there. No, it does not include all the advanced coursework–that’s where friends and family and the internet and learning from mistakes comes in–but it at least tells you the things you should be starting to think about, and gives you some basic vocabulary for when you go ask other grownups to fill in the blanks.

It’s an excellent starter book, is what I’m saying, and if you’re in the 18-28 age range and are starting to think about apartments and jobs and insurance and OH GOD HOW DO PEOPLE DO ALL THIS, then it’s for you. Do yourself a favor and go pick up a copy…and then pick 5-10 adults and have their phone numbers and email addresses handy so that when you’re reading it and say “Ok, I have garlic, which she says I should have, but aren’t there, like, other spices too?”, you have a phone-a-friend all queued up and ready to go.

Additionally, Ms. Brown has a writing style that readers of this blog may find familiar. Comfortable, even. The chica writes like your favorite homebuffalo. So she gets bonus points for being extra-awesome there. /grin

TL;DR: Great starter book for folks new to adulting; charming but useless for old pros. Think of it as Adulthood 101, and give it to kids in college.

Rating: 8/10 Muddy Hoofprints for the target demographic.


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