The dog days of summer are upon us, and there’s nothing more appealing than kicking back with a great book and a glass of iced tea (or a refreshing beer, if you like a different kind of brew). Summer is a great season for hot new books, and August promises tons of great choices, from dramatic non-fiction to thought-provoking essays to engaging novels. Here’s a quick rundown of my top 5 books coming out this month!
1. In the Kingdom of Ice by Hampton Sides (Aug. 5, Doubleday). In 1878, Captain de Long set sail aboard the USS Jeanneatte on what he hoped would be the first naval expedition to reach the North Pole. Within months, the ship was trapped in the pack ice, and the crew drifted through the arctic for nearly two years before the ship’s hull was finally breached. After abandoning the sinking vessel, the crew was stranded 1,000 miles from the most remote reaches of Siberia. Facing starvation and extreme temperatures, they began a dangerous trek across the endless ice, fighting for survival. I don’t read as much non-fiction as I should, but this book reminded me of just how colorful and compelling it can be. This non-fiction account has all the tension and page-turning capabilities of a novel.
2. Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay (Aug. 5, Harper Perennial). Gay’s collection of essays about feminism, race, and culture is an absolute must-read if you are interested in any of those topics — and you should be. Her writing is eloquent, insightful, and so, so powerful. I want to buy a copy for everyone I know.
3. The Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami (Aug. 12, Knopf). Tsukuru Tazaki had four best friends at school, each of whose names contained a color. One day, however, his friends announced that they didn’t want to see him ever again. Since then, Tsukuru has been unable to form intimate connections — until he meets Sara, who leads him to find the truth about what happened when he was younger. Although I haven’t read Murakami in a few years, he’s one of my favorite authors, and I’m really looking forward to his new book!
4. Sweetness #9 by Stephan Eirik Clark (Aug. 19, Little, Brown). While testing Sweetness #9, a flavor chemist at a leading flavor production house notices that the artificial sweetener causes strange side-effects in lab rats and monkeys. He keeps his observations to himself, but years later, when Sweetness #9 is America’s most popular sweetener, his family life starts changing in unsettling ways. Is Sweetness #9 — and David’s silence — to blame? I was recommended this book at BEA, and it’s also the latest novel to receive the “Colbert bump” amid the Amazon/Hachette dispute. It’s one of the next books on my list!
5. The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton (Aug. 26, Ecco). After her family falls on hard times, 18-year-old Nella is married off to a wealthy merchant with the Dutch East India Company. She moves into his Amsterdam house with high hopes for her marriage but is disappointed by her reception: her husband, Johanne, is distant and rarely home, and his sister is cold and unfriendly. When Johanne gives Nella an ornate cabinet house as a wedding gift, she seeks out a miniaturist to help furnish it. But Nella gets more than she bargained for; the miniaturist begins delivering startling pieces Nella didn’t ask for — pieces that hint at carefully hidden secrets. In a way, this novel reminded me of Hannah Kent’s Burial Rites. It’s creepy, has great historical details, and is full of cunningly hidden secrets.
Which August releases are you most excited about?