10 books to add to your reading list in August

A collage of book covers.
10 top books for August.
(Atria; Simon & Schuster; Riverhead; St. Martin’s; Pegasus Books; FSG; Viking; Little, Brown; Basic Books)

On the Shelf

10 August Books For Your Reading List

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Critic Bethanne Patrick recommends 10 promising titles, fiction and nonfiction, to consider for your August list.

Whether they’re set in the near future or way back during World War II, this month’s titles all connect to issues we face today: Racism, epigenetics, the opioid crisis and, of course, the fate of the earth. It’s more than you could take in from a single book, but fortunately you can take your pick. There’s more than enough to keep you entertained and informed before summer gives way to a hectic fall.


The Many Daughters of Afong Moy
By Jamie Ford
Atria: 384 pages, $28
(Aug. 2)

Ford (“The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet”) uses the real-life Afong Moy, the first Chinese woman in the United States, as the catalyst for a story about matriarchy, mental illness and mettle across generations. As 21st century Dorothy Moy, “Washington’s former poet laureate,” undergoes treatment from a Native American doctor, she reconnects with her ancestors and their struggles to give strength to her young daughter.


"The Last White Man" by Mohsin Hamid
(Riverhead Books)

The Last White Man
By Mohsin Hamid
Riverhead: 192 pages, $26
(Aug. 2)

What would happen if, overnight, your skin changed color? In the wrong author’s hands this might seem cheap, but fortunately the author here is Hamid (“Exit West”, “The Last Fundamentalist”). As in all his work, he wants to ask questions, not force answers down his reader’s throats. His protagonist, Anders, who has turned “a deep and undeniable brown,” observes the rest of his once-white town undergo the same metamorphosis, with consequences that mirror dangerous forces in the real world.

Mohsin Hamid on ‘Filthy Rich’ and ‘The Reluctant Fundamentalist’

Properties of Thirst
By Marianne Wiggins
Simon & Schuster: 544 pages, $28
(Aug. 2)

For the record:

8:27 p.m. Aug. 9, 2022A description of Marianne Wiggins’ novel “Properties of Thirst” includes a reference to an internment camp for Japanese citizens. It is for Japanese Americans.

During World War II, a California rancher named Rockwell “Rocky” Rhodes learns that the government plans to build an internment camp for Japanese citizens on the land adjoining his. Having lost his beloved son Stryker in action at Pearl Harbor, only to watch Stryker’s twin sister Sunny fall in love with the man sent to plan the camp, Rocky is torn between honor and family, patriotism and morality, in Wiggins’ first novel in 15 years.

'Afterlives,' by Abdulrazak Gurnah
(Riverhead Books)

By Abdulrazak Gurnah
Riverhead: 320 pages, $28
(Aug. 23)

The 2021 Nobel laureate’s new novel takes place in what is now Tanzania. Once “Deutsch-Ostafrika,” then “Tanganyika,” it was the site of a 1904 genocide meant to quell a native uprising. Gurnah builds a story around the aftereffects of that atrocity and the African Askari regiment sent to fight for Germany during World War I, weaving together individual stories and asking what it means to keep living in a society corrupted by colonialism.

Much of the world may consider him obscure, but to generations of writers with African roots, Abdulrazak Gurnah is both an influence and a role model.

Other Birds
By Sarah Addison Allen
St. Martin’s: 304 pages, $28
(Aug. 30)

Fans of Hulu’s “Only Murders in the Building” and Netflix’s “Dead to Me” will warm to this quirky tale of a woman moves into her late mother’s South Carolina Low Country condo in search of clues about their relationship — and instead finds clues about how the other residents of “The Dellawisp” (named for magical birds who live alongside the people) might be involved in the demise of a notorious hoarder named Lizbeth Lime.


Formidable: American Women and the Fight for Equality, 1920-2020
By Elisabeth Griffith
Pegasus Books: 416 pages, $35
(Aug. 2)

Historian Griffith proves herself up to the formidable task she sets forth to achieve in this thorough and thoughtful look at a century of change — which she cautions might seem more radical than it actually is, given how long it’s taken to realize the demands of early feminists of all races. The author gives a great deal of attention to intersectionality and specific identities and interests, taking care to note that the fight doesn’t belong to any one group.

"Yoga" by Emmanuel Carrère, translated from French by John Lambert
(Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

By Emmanuel Carrère
FSG: 352 pages, $28
(Aug. 2)

Is this a fictionalized memoir or a “nonfiction novel” or something completely different? Maybe it doesn’t matter, because the highly regarded French writer’s account of leaving a yoga retreat to enter a mental hospital has a style and pace so musical that the reader simply wants to follow his lead. Through his manipulation of form and fact, both reader and author arrive at a place that’s satisfying and redemptive, not unlike a good post-workout savasana.

‘Yoga’ charts true-crime master Emmanuel Carrère’s journey from intensive meditation to mental breakdown — but leaves out the divorce that derailed him.

Existential Physics: A Scientist’s Guide to Life’s Biggest Questions
By Sabine Hossenfelder
Viking: 272 pages, $28
(Aug. 9)

You may not have expected this month’s most entertaining book to be about science. Hossenfelder, an acclaimed physicist, not only explains her subject well; she also engages general readers in connecting science with spirituality. Why are we here? Do we have free will? What is, finally, the meaning of life? Read Hossenfelder along with a basic guide to physics and keep an open mind about her conclusions, but most importantly, enjoy the ride.

"Raising Lazarus," by Beth Macy
(Little, Brown)

Raising Lazarus: Hope, Justice, and the Future of America’s Overdose Crisis
By Beth Macy
Little, Brown: 400 pages, $30
(Aug. 16)

If you haven’t read or watched Beth Macy’s “Dopesick,” you should do both, then crack open this followup to find out what the relentless journalist has learned about how our country might stem the tide of a crisis that need never have happened. Since “Dopesick” was first published, the Sackler family and their company, Purdue Pharma, have been publicly shamed and sued — but they still have their billions, and we’re still living with the wreckage.

The limited series starring Michael Keaton and Rosario Dawson weaves culpability of big pharma with opioid addicts and law enforcement.

What We Owe the Future
By William MacAskill
Basic Books: 352 pages, $32
(Aug. 16)

At just 37, the Oxford professor and director of the Forethought Foundation is renowned for his philosophy of “longtermism,” the view that positively influencing the far future is a key moral priority of our time. His new book asks readers to consider a few things before investing time and resources into their actions: whether they would be significant, have long-lasting effects and address a real need.