What Are You Reading in August? Here are Some Suggestions


It’s truly daunting how many books flood the shelves every month. So going forward, we’re going to comb through the catalogs and pluck out some promising titles for the book lovers out there. Plus, this is an opportunity for you to share what you’re looking forward to. What’ve you already preordered?

Let’s face it: August is where bad movies go to die. The news is wretched. Even reality stars can barely be bothered to feud entertainingly. There will never be a better moment to fill a tote bag with books and cut out for the beach. Here are some suggestions:

Bad Feminist, Roxane Gay

This is the big one! Gay’s book is getting glowing advance praise, and also I’m pretty sure she’s incapable of writing anything boring. She talks Sweet Valley High and Scrabble tournaments, Chris Brown and The Help. Even better: It’s an essay collection, so you can parse it out, maybe save a couple for days when the Internet is particularly infuriating.

Girl Talk: Unsolicited Advice for Modern Ladies, Christie Young

Not something you’re going to read cover-to-cover under a blanket with a flashlight, but this fun little book dispenses life advice many of us desperately need, in illustrated fashion. Topics tackled include travel, small talk, and pet acquisition.

In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette, by Hampton Sides

Do you like ill-fated polar voyages? I like ill-fated polar voyages! This edition of “why you should never venture north of Ontario” follows what happened when New York Herald owner James Gordon Bennett dispatched a crew to the North Pole. Spoiler: the Arctic is brutal.

Mona Lisa: A Life Discovered, Dianne Hales

Hers is one of the most famous faces in Western history, but who was she, really? Why Mona Lisa? Hales weaves what little we know about the real Lisa Gherardini with details about the Florence she inhabited and the daily lives of Renaissance women.

We Should All Be Feminists, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

This brief ebook is adapted from Adichie’s approved-by-Bey TED Talk, so it’s largely a retread. But it comes with a new intro and hey, sometimes things just feel different on paper.

Bittersweet: A Novel, Colleen McCullough

My book club recently read The Thorn Birds, and it was beautifully ridiculous—hundreds of pages of people dying gruesomely in rural Australia. Plus it was more dated than a burnt-orange TV room. So color me curious about her new novel, which follows two sets of twins trained as nurses in the 20s and 30s and sounds like an Aussie riff on the Mitford sisters: “Edda wants to be a doctor, Tufts wants to organize everything, Grace won’t be told what to do, and Kitty wishes to be known for something other than her beauty.”

Heroes are My Weakness, Susan Elizabeth Phillips

I see you, romance readers. Broke puppeteer gets snowbound on an island in Maine with a horror writer. A “mysterious mansion” is involved.

Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner, Judy Melinek and T.J. Mitchell

For the Law and Order fanatics who’ve watched every episode Netflix has to offer: Dr. Judy Melinek writes about her first two years as a New York City forensic pathologist. Bet she’s seen some shit.

Little Women, Heidi, and Anne of Green Gables

In case you’re feeling nostalgic: Puffin Books is releasing really gorgeous copies of these old favorites, illustrated by Anna Bond of Rifle Paper Co. Let’s see whether we all still relate to Jo March and report back.

Obviously this list is heavily influenced by my own weird preferences (ahem, Arctic explorers). What did I miss? What are you eagerly awaiting? Share with the class!

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