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Fall 2020 Reading: 3 Novels that Explore Privacy and Privilege

Updated: Dec 7, 2020

While 2020 has been a year of many setbacks, we’ve seen the occasional silver lining.


One silver lining I’ve experienced is all the extra time I’ve had to read.


And if you’re looking for a pick-me-up to get through the end of 2020, I have good news. The publishing space has been keeping pace with industry norms—and we have some incredible new releases right at our fingertips.


Here are three books to consider if you haven’t devoured them already (each one touching on the themes of privacy and privilege).


1. Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam

Fans of the stunning prose from Alam’s first two books will love his outstanding third novel. Leave the World Behind explores a white family’s getaway to a remote Long Island Airbnb, and the disturbance that changes everything.


When, a few days in, their trip is cut short by the late-night arrival of a Black couple—who claim to own the home and are supposedly fleeing a Manhattan apocalypse—the strangers must come to terms with their new reality.


The two parties are suspicious of each other, trusting when necessary, and riveting in their contrast. The work invites readers to join our protagonists on their vacation, all while pushing us to examine our discomfort surrounding the unknown.


A stunning and twisted exposé of family, class, and race, this book is not to be missed.


2. When No One Is Watching by Alyssa Cole

Wealth, class, and privacy bleed into this powerful thriller.


When Brooklynite Sydney Green begins to examine the rapid gentrification of her lifelong home, she starts a walking tour and comes across a new arrival on her block: Theo.


Little does she know the paranoia that will soon overtake her evolving community. With help from Theo, Sydney discovers her findings are more disquieting than she ever could have imagined. In fact, her neighbors might not have moved to the suburbs after all.


So is the conspiracy true? What happens in the aftermath of gentrification? Can Sydney and Theo trust each other, or is something more sinister at play?


And of course, in line with the security industry, Cole poses another question: How can we tell if we’re being watched?


3. Friends and Strangers by J. Courtney Sullivan

This novel—written by the celebrated J. Courtney Sullivan—is something of a lighter read (the 400-some page count notwithstanding).


Nonetheless, it’s a riveting exploration of power dynamics, class, and privacy. By focusing on the bond between a mother and her child’s caregiver, Sullivan makes us think carefully about whether we can ever truly know the people so integral to our daily lives.


I, personally, couldn’t put this one down (or the other two titles mentioned above). And this only scratches the surface of the must-read books I’ve paged through this year.


What are your favorite novels of 2020? Please share them in the comments below—or contact us to talk privacy and security by scheduling your Umbrella Security Services consultation.

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