9 Books We Can’t Wait to Read in August
A tomboy from Wisconsin struggles to shed her Midwestern sensibility after she moves to New York City. A travel agent weighs the pros and cons of exposing a conspiracy within the company she’s dedicated her life to. A twenty-something moves in with the man she’s having an affair with—and his wife and daughter. These are the protagonists of a just a few of this month’s most highly anticipated new reads. Here, nine books we can’t wait to read this August.
1. Tomboyland by Melissa Faliveno
Melissa Faliveno grew up in working-class Wisconsin in the 1980s surrounded by factories and farms, guns and bars and lakes and trees. As a first-generation college graduate who moved to New York City, she found it impossible to fully shake her roots. In her debut collection of essays, she examines the complicated—and often contradictory—parts of her life: the first time she shot a gun; her experiences in BDSM as a feminist; and navigating androgyny and bisexuality, womanhood and rage, religion and myth, loneliness and love.
2. Finna: Poems by Nate Marshall
Here's how author Nate Marshall defines his latest collection of poems: “fin-na /ˈfinə/ contraction: (1) going to; intending to rooted in African American Vernacular English] (2) eye dialect spelling of "fixing to" (3) Black possibility; Black futurity; Blackness as tomorrow.” Finna examines Black vernacular’s influence on pop culture and its necessity for familial survival, while exploring the erasure of Black lives and other oppressed people in the American narrative and asking how gendered language can provoke violence.
3. The Disaster Tourist by Yun Ko-Eun
Yona works for Jungle, a cutting-edge travel agency specializing in tourism to destinations devastated by disaster and climate change. After an incident with a predatory colleague, she’s on the verge of losing her job, but given a proposition: Take a paid "vacation" to the desert island of Mui and pose as a tourist to assess the company's least profitable holiday. There, she uncovers a plan to fabricate an extravagant catastrophe, forcing her to choose between the company she’s dedicated her life to or the chance at a fresh start.
4. The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi
One afternoon, in a town in southeastern Nigeria, a mother opens her front door to discover her son’s body at her feet. What follows is the tumultuous story of the family’s struggle to understand Vivek, its now-deceased son. The Death of Vivek Oji is an emotional novel about friendship, loss, transcendence and the costs of transphobia and homophobia on a person, a family and a society.
5. Luster: A Novel by Raven Leilani
Edie is a 20-something low-level employee at a New York city publishing house. She infatuated with Eric, a married white man twice her age she met online. After she loses her job, Eric’s wife invites Edie to stay with them in New Jersey, partly to support Akila, the Walkers’ adopted black daughter. During her time with the Walkers, the dynamics among the four keep shifting in strange and unsettling ways.
6. Looking for Miss. America by Margot Mifflin
From its start in 1921 to its current incarnation as a scholarship competition, the Miss America pageant has been shaped by war, evangelism, the rise of reality TV and by contestants who confounded expectations, including Vanessa Williams, the first black winner, who received death threats and was protected by sharpshooters in her hometown parade. This history of the pageant is a fascinating look at how Miss America has struggled to stay relevant in the 21st century, without condescension or ridicule toward the women who have fought tooth and nail to be crowned.
7. Vanishing Falls by Poppy Gee
The remote town of Vanishing Falls is situated deep within the Tasmanian rainforest. The town’s showpiece is a 52-room mansion currently occupied by Jack Lily, a prominent art collector and landowner; his wife, Celia; and their four daughters. But when Celia vanishes without a trace, Joelle, a woman in town whose abilities are vastly underappreciated, could be Celia’s only hope.
8. Love After Love by Ingrid Persaud
In Trinidad, after Betty's husband dies, she invites a colleague, Mr. Chetan, to move in with her and her son, Solo. Over time they become a family, until one night, Solo overhears Betty confiding in Mr. Chetan about a secret that plunges him into torment. Solo flees New York as an undocumented immigrant, and Mr. Chetan remains the singular thread holding mother and son together. Love After Love questions who and how we love, the obligations of family and the consequences of choices made in desperation.
9. Being Lolita: A Memoir by Alisson Wood
As a lonely and vulnerable high school senior, Wood finds solace in writing and in a young, charismatic English teacher, Mr. North. After he gives her a copy of Lolita—telling her it’s a beautiful love story—their connection goes from a simple crush to an illegal romance. As she grows up, Wood is faced again and again with the story of her past, from rereading Lolita in college to teaching it to teenage girls. Her first book is a coming-of-age memoir that shines a bright light on our shifting perceptions of consent, vulnerability and power.