Make summer last longer with the 10 best books of August

The latest mystery from Louise Penny, a probing novel by Richard Russo, and Sarah M. Broom’s memoir of living in New Orleans, all made our list this month. 

Courtesy of Penguin Random House and HarperCollins Publishers
“Chances Are ...” by Richard Russo, Knopf, 320 pp.; and “Cold Warriors: Writers Who Waged the Literary Cold War” by Duncan White, Custom House, 800 pp.

The lazy days of August offer an excuse – if one was needed – to chill out with a good book. Here, you’ll find titles that provide a welcome diversion, as well as others that introduce you to fascinating people and places you would not have otherwise stumbled across. Aren’t books great? 

1. A Better Man by Louise Penny

Chief Inspector Gamache has been given an offer his superiors were sure he would refuse in “A Better Man,” Louise Penny’s latest entry in her stellar “Three Pines” series. Demoted after a high-stakes raid, he’s awkwardly sharing the title of head of homicide with his longtime right-hand man. Meanwhile, a young woman has gone missing, her dad is frantic, and the water and danger are both rising.

2. Chances Are ... by Richard Russo

During a weekend on Martha’s Vineyard, three men in their 60s meet to renew their college friendship and puzzle over the mysterious disappearance, 40 years earlier, of a young woman with whom they were all in love. Richard Russo’s storytelling, word pictures, and understanding of character and community are rich in psychological detail. 

3. A Double Life by Karolina Pavlova

A 19th-century Russian novelist and poet, Karolina Pavlova was deemed a revolutionary not because she explored political topics but for daring to pursue a writing career. Once banished from the literary canon, this new release of her only novel includes both her prose and poetry that offer astute observations of Russian society.

4. Careful What You Wish For by Hallie Ephron

When a professional organizer comes across what seems to be stolen property and then discovers a dead body, the mess is more than she bargained for. It definitely does not spark joy. In this thoroughly enjoyable twist on the classic murder mystery, her organizing skills help solve the puzzle.

5. Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center

A stellar young firefighter is at her best in emergency situations, but at times she needs rescuing herself. With a bountiful cast of quirky characters and a charming rookie she’s falling for fast, help is on the way. The novel is not only delightfully romantic, but also courageous and inspiring.

6. The Yellow House by Sarah M. Broom

Courtesy of Grove Atlantic
“The Yellow House” by Sarah M. Broom, Grove Atlantic, 304 pp.

In this heartwarming yet clearsighted memoir, Sarah Broom writes about growing up in New Orleans. She explores what binds us to a house and to a neighborhood and how these help shape our identity. And while she criticizes the city that she loves for its injustices and for failing to live up to its promise, she treasures it as her home.

7. A Good Provider Is One Who Leaves by Jason DeParle

Reporter Jason DeParle first met Tita Comodas in the slums of Manila three decades ago. His book is not just an affecting rendering of her family’s experiences but an intelligent, compassionate analysis of the economic, political, and cultural ramifications of global migration.

8. Cold Warriors by Duncan White

In this totally involving book, Duncan White dramatizes the Cold War as waged in literature. He chronicles how writers from Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and Richard Wright to Joan Didion and Mikhail Sholokhov prosecuted a war of ideologies.

9. A State at Any Cost by Tom Segev

Tom Segev’s reassessment of the life of David Ben-Gurion, the controversial founder of the modern state of Israel, now appears in an English-language translation. No matter where the reader stands, the book, the culmination of years of research, makes for engrossing reading.

10. Syria’s Secret Library by Mike Thomson

Courtesy of Hachette Book Group
“Syria's Secret Library: Reading and Redemption in a Town Under Siege” by Mike Thomson, Public Affairs, 320 pp.

Books may seem like luxuries when every day is a struggle for survival. But the residents of the war-torn Syrian town of Daraya treasure literature and knowledge. The story of their hidden library will warm the heart and feed the mind – just like the library itself.

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