The 7 Best Books of August

 

August is the month when the publishing industry traditionally takes a month-long nap, but luckily, they’ve arranged for some great books to come out anyway. Whether you’re joining the presses on a long vacation or stuck working in a (hopefully air-conditioned) office, you can still entertain yourself with fiction from America, England, and Japan, nonfiction about the life of the mind and natural science, and a cookbook with some decidedly literary inspirations.

Dear Illusion: Collected Stories, Kingsley Amis (New York Review Books Classics)
The gin-loving author of Lucky Jim might have been the funniest author to come from England since P.G. Wodehouse. His wide-ranging short stories, which include mystery and science-fiction tales, are collected here in a beautiful volume from the always amazing New York Review Books Classics. 

The Man Who Wasn’t There: Investigations into the Strange New Science of the Self, Anil Ananthaswamy (Dutton)
When you think ‘beach read,” you probably don’t think neuroscience. But science journalist Anil Ananthaswamy has a knack for making difficult topics accessible to everyone. His new book tackles the concept of the self, with his thoughts on Alzheimer’s disease, autism, and schizophrenia.

The Oyster War: The True Story of a Small Farm, Big Politics, and the Future of Wilderness in America, Summer Brennan (Counterpoint)
That fried oyster sandwich you’re eating comes with a bigger backstory than you might have thought. In Brennan’s first book, she looks at an oyster farm in an environmentally protected area of California that fought the federal government for its right to keep doing business. 

Make Your Home Among Strangers, Jennine Capó Crucet (St. Martin’s)
The Miami-raised Crucet makes her debut with a novel about a young Cuban American woman dealing with her first year at a prestigious college, the bitter divorce of her parents, and a national controversy involving a Cuban family’s attempt to immigrate to the United States on a raft.

Fortune Smiles, Adam Johnson (Random House)
Johnson follows up his Pulitzer Prize–winning The Orphan Master’s Son with a collection of surreal short stories about post-Katrina Louisiana, an East German prison warden, two defectors from North Korea, and a computer programmer taking care of his disease-stricken wife.

Wind/Pinball: Two Novels, Haruki Murakami, translated by Ted Goossen (Knopf)
The legendary Japanese author’s first two novels, written in the late 1970s and early 1980s, are available with a new English translation. The coming-of-age books, which are predecessors to his beloved A Wild Sheep Chase, are collected in one volume. 

Voracious: A Hungry Reader Cooks Her Way Through Great Books, Cara Nicoletti (Little, Brown)
You (probably) can’t eat your favorite book, but this might be the next best thing. Nicoletti’s cookbook is full of recipes inspired by authors from Jane Austen to Jonathan Franzen. There’s even instructions for a “fava bean and chicken liver mousse crostini (with a nice Chianti) after Thomas Harris’s The Silence of the Lambs.” Why, hello, Clarice.