10 Must-Read Books for August


It’s August? Isn’t the eighth month on the calendar supposed to be a hot wasteland for new books coming out? Isn’t the entire publishing industry at the beach, with one big “On vacation — back September 1st” sign showing up in automatic-response emails, much to the chagrin of brave book critics and bloggers everywhere? Maybe it used to be that way, but with a new Haruki Murakami novel, Roxane Gay’s collection of essays, and several other books you’ll be hearing about for a long time to come, this August is one to look forward to.

Dear Daughter, Elizabeth Little (August 4)

Do you want a mystery novel that you can stay up all night reading and then take to the beach to finish it off the next day? Elizabeth Little’s Dear Daughter is pretty much all you need: the tale of a former high society girl who gets out of prison and goes on a mission to find out who really killed her mother.

Bad Feminist, Roxane Gay (August 5)

One of the most anticipated essay collections of 2014 comes hot on the heels of Gay’s An Untamed State, which happened to be one of the most anticipated debut novels of the year.

The Birth of Korean Cool, Euny Hong (August 5)

Using her own experience growing up in Seoul and talking with current residents, Euny Hong looks at how South Korea went from third-world military dictatorship to global cultural juggernaut.

What We See When We Read, Peter Mendelsund (August 5)

Mendelsund, one of the truly great book-cover designers, explores what we see when we read, in a volume packed with stunning visuals. It’s a fascinating and enlightening look at something we might not actually realize we’re thinking about with every word we read.

2 A.M. at the Cat’s Pajamas, Marie Helene-Bertino (August 5)

With this sweet and funny tale about a young girl dealing with heartbreak by chasing her dream, Marie Helene-Bertino shows she is a writer with a tender heart and a whole lot of talent.

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami (August 12)

A million Japanese fans can’t be wrong, especially the million who bought Murakami’s latest the first week it was published in his homeland. And since this is Murakami moving back into territory that’s a little moodier than his epic 1Q84, about a haunted man’s attempt to put things right, this smaller work will certainly be worth your while.

My Drunk Kitchen, Hannah Hart (August 12)

The problem with the 20-something drunk YouTube cooking star having a cookbook out is that you probably have to stay sober for it to make any sense and for everything to come out right. That doesn’t seem entirely fair, but it’s still fun to read — and maybe you can try to save a few ideas for after you’ve tossed back a few and want something to eat.

Your Face in Mine, Jess Row (August 14)

They say that people change, but in the case of Kelly’s close high school friend who he hasn’t seen in nearly two decades, it’s the type of change nobody would have seen coming. Row’s tale is one that, especially after Maureen O’Connor’s recent New York magazine story, people will be discussing, and it demonstrates why he is one of the most innovative storytellers out there.

Sweetness #9, Stephan Eirik Clark (August 19)

You know how they say you reap what you sow? Well, let’s just say Clark’s delightfully twisted, funny tale about a man coming to believe that an artificial sweetener he developed is the source of many modern-day troubles will make fans of Sam Lipsyte quite happy.

Flings, Justin Taylor (August 19th)

While I loved Taylor’s debut novel, The Gospel of Anarchy, it was his first collection of stories, Everything Here Is the Best Thing Ever, that really suggested we had a new modern master of the short story on our hands. This second collection only proves it.