August, summer’s denouement. Though this month can be a bit of a drag as it reminds us of the ever encroaching end of summer, there is still one thing to look forward to and that’s books. When in doubt … read a lot. It just so happens that there’s a sufficient batch of fiction, nonfiction, and short story collections being released next month worthy of your attention.
You may be too busy to research all the new titles coming out, but we’re not, and we’ve rounded up a collection of books that suits every genre and mood – from Joan Didion’s biography to fantasy fiction by China Miéville – you won’t be disappointed.
Ian the goldfish has always dreamed of adventure–of seeing the world outside of his fishbowl. When given the opportunity, he chooses to take the plunge off his 27th floor balcony towards certain doom below. In his travels, he is granted the chance to observe the lives of other tenants in his building. He is able to see the private, lonely, confusing moments that people don’t intend to share. Somer provides us with a bird’s-eye-view of the complexity and absurdity of mundane life from as unlikely a source as any.
This collection of three short stories from up-and-coming author Lauren Holmes explores the choices we make and the shits we give about what other people think of us. In “Desert Hearts”, a woman steps away from her law degree to sell sex toys in San Francisco. In the story “Pearl and the Swiss Guy Fall in Love”, she exposes the reality of letting an attractive foreigner perma-camp at your apartment, and the glory of solitude. In “Barbara the Slut”, Holmes steps back to what it’s like to be a sexually-aware high school student in a culture of slut-shaming.
Employing urban fantasy grounded in unmistakable reality, Miéville’s 28-story collection of speculative and satirical works has caused quite a stir. His many well-deserved literary awards have been encouraged by his ability to relate extraordinary happenings to ordinary life; consider: icebergs floating over London, destroyed oil rigs who have been reborn and are now seeking vengeance on land, and a cadaver discovered to have intricate carvings covering his bones, to name a few.
Cameron’s historical fiction piece tells the story of one of early humanity’s greatest accomplishments: the domestication of the wolf. On the brutality of the bitterly cold steppe thirty thousand years ago, mankind is fighting for survival against the climate rapidly changing, the threat of natural predators, the ability to find enough food, and the politics that come along with tribal living. This glimpse into prehistory provides an answer to the question: what extreme circumstances transformed one of our greatest predators into our companions, protectors, and, ultimately, friends?
Another first novel release, Brelinski brings us to 1970 Ardo, Indiana where three sisters and their science professor father, Oren, are attempting to navigate their mother’s depression and their sister Grace’s religious fervor. When Grace returns from a mission trip to Mexico and discovers she’s pregnant, her belief that she is carrying the child of God threatens to tear their family apart. Unsure how to proceed, Oren sends Grace and her sister Jory to an isolated home on the outskirts of town where they learn that building a family is not always the picturesque nuclear idea we’ve been encouraged to strive for.
B., a 30-year-old, unmarried woman in 1967 San Francisco doesn’t know who she is. She feels caught between the prim-and-proper culture of her mother and the counterculture phenomenon of the youth of the 60s. Overwhelmed by her anxiety, her only solace is passing counterfeit checks and going on a Kerouac-esque run from the law, herself, and the increasingly unfamiliar world around her.
Finally released from the shadow of her husband, Santamaria uncovers the lost story of Joy Davidman, the wife of renowned author C.S. Lewis. A Jew turned atheist turned Christian, a writer for communist publications, and an active member of New York literary circles in the 1930s and 40s, Joy was as accomplished an intellectual and writer as her husband and is now receiving much-deserved recognition for that. After travelling to England intending to captivate the man who inspired her, she helped him to write his autobiography, Surprised by Joy (cue the “aww”s), and to write his novel Till We Have Faces. If you want to learn about the woman behind the man, this book might make you realize that the woman is, more often than not, firmly in front of him.
If the nerd in you doesn’t do a full-blown happy dance for this, you need to familiarize yourself with the works of Felicia Day. This glorified Queen of the Geeks has transformed her small-time internet fame into a vast reaching fandom who would all happily bend the knee in service to her adorable, quirky, quick-witted will. A mild feminist and Defender of the Nerd, Day’s memoir promises to be a read that will have you chuckling audibly in public places.
Critically acclaimed author Tracy Daugherty allows us to step inside the life of journalist, novelist, and screenwriter Joan Didion. After Didion met her husband John Gregory Dunne, they quit their jobs at Vogue and Time to pursue a career co-writing screenplays and adaptations. Among her many literary accomplishments, she was also a Pulitzer Prize candidate for her work The Year of Magical Thinking. This biography brings to life the experiences of Didion while maintaining a revering respect for her work.
Jackson is best known for her short story “The Lottery”, and deservedly so, but there’s more that she produced in her lifetime that should also be considered.This collection of her early works and other never-before-published writings provides an insight into the developmental process of one of the most revered female American writers of the 20th century.
**Originally published by me via The Witty Agent on July 31, 2015.