As back-to-school season begins, it seems an appropriate time to add to your own reading syllabi. August’s new book releases offer something for a slew of preferred areas of study. Love history? You’ll find biographies, memoirs and historical fiction. Practically major in thrillers? Stephen King, Paula Hawkins and Megan Abbott all have new offerings.
We’ve rounded up 20 new August book releases to read now, all available to purchase or preorder on Amazon.
‘Billy Summers’ by Stephen King
The king of horror returns with this thriller about Billy Summers, a killer for hire who wants out of the assassin biz. A decorated Iraq war vet who only agrees to carry out hits on bad guys who really deserve what’s coming to them, Billy must complete one more job before retiring, but, of course, everything goes wrong. Go ahead and clear your weekend now.
‘Her Heart for a Compass’ by Sarah Ferguson
The Duchess of York has penned a novel, and if you love following the royals — or just really miss “Bridgerton” and “Downton Abbey” — you’ll want to dive into this coming-of-age story set in Victorian England. If just the thought of following the tale of someone named Lady Margaret Montagu Scott doesn’t entice you, how about the rejection of a forced society marriage, banishment from polite society and a journey of self-discovery? Pass the tea and crumpets.
‘All the Frequent Troubles of Our Days’ by Rebecca Donner
Subtitled “The True Story of the American Woman at the Heart of the German Resistance to Hitler,” this moving biography traces the life of Mildred Harnack, a Milwaukee-born Ph.D. student living in Germany during the rise of the Nazi party who founded Berlin’s largest underground resistance group. From helping Jews escape, to spreading anti-Hitler leaflets, to becoming a spy, to her eventual capture and execution, her little-known story is finally brought to light by her great-great niece through newly discovered documents, diary entries, survivor stories and more.
‘The Turnout’ by Megan Abbott
Fans of Abbott’s dark crime fiction (“Dare Me,” “The Fever“) will want to add her latest to their summer reading lists. Set in a family-owned ballet studio, it follows two sisters who take over running the business following their parents’ death. All seems well, until an accident, that takes place right before the annual “The Nutcracker” performance, sets off a series of events that, like ballet, as Abbott writes, are “full of dark fairy tales.”
‘Afterparties: Stories’ by Anthony Veasna So
Described as funny, ruthless, hopeful and soulful, this posthumous debut collection of stories from So, who died of a drug overdose in December, weaves the Cambodian American experience throughout each piece. From a high school badminton coach out to reclaim his glory by trouncing a teen star player, to a love story set in the tech world, to sisters discussing their absent father who started a new family, it’s receiving rave reviews for its energy and emotion.
‘The Guilt Trip’ by Sandie Jones
Jones (“The Other Woman“) returns with a suspense thriller surrounding three couples — including Will and Ali, who are about to get married — all traveling to Portugal for the wedding. Ali is new to the group, while the rest are all longtime friends, and, at first, she seems nice enough. Until, that is, a secret comes out about her that leads to more and more secrets being revealed.
‘Something New Under the Sun’ by Alexandra Kleeman
The glitz and glamour of near-future Hollywood turns gritty and apocalyptic in Kleeman’s story of movie-making (a New York writer heads to California to oversee the film version of one of his books) mixed with disastrous droughts, wildfires and environmental corruption.
‘Blind Tiger’ by Sandra Brown
Historical fiction gets the action-thriller treatment with the latest from bestseller Brown. Set in prohibition-era 1920 Texas, a soldier looking to return to being a civilian lands in town the same day a local woman is reported missing and soon finds himself not only a suspect but part of a moonshine war.
‘Damnation Spring’ by Ash Davidson
Set in 1977 to 1978 Northern California, Davidson’s debut saga, centered on a small redwood logging operation, is about family, protests, struggles, greed, environmental damages and more — themes all still relevant in 2021.
‘This Will All Be Over Soon’ by Cecily Strong
The actress and “Saturday Night Live” star gets candid in this pandemic-era memoir, which reads like a journal. Looking back briefly at her upbringing and rise to “SNL,” it tackles her struggles dealing with the coronavirus and isolation, but its real focus is on her cousin, Owen, who died at age 30 from brain cancer. Strong grieves his death but also remembers the positive lessons he shared with her.
‘She Wouldn’t Change a Thing’ by Sarah Adlakha
Fans of what-if/alternate lives/time travel fiction will be drawn to Adlakha’s debut centered on Maria, 39, a psychiatrist, wife and mother of two with one on the way who wakes one day in her 17-year-old body. When she learns she’s been sent back to prevent a tragedy involving her husband’s family, will it change his — or her — future forever?
‘The State Must Provide: Why America’s Colleges Have Always Been Unequal — and How to Set Them Right’ by Adam Harris
In this in-depth look at race in the higher education system, Harris, a writer for The Atlantic, delves into the history of Black opportunities in education, including Supreme Court cases, such as Plessy v. Ferguson, that upheld segregation, offers portraits of Black pioneers in higher ed, looks at government and private sector funding of historically Black colleges and universities and examines the inequities, challenges and failures that continue to endure in the system, along with thoughts on correcting them.
‘All In: An Autobiography’ by Billie Jean King
With 20 Wimbledon wins and 39 Grand Slam titles — not to mention that infamous defeat of Bobby Riggs in the “Battle of the Sexes” match — Billie Jean King is cemented as one of tennis’s all-time legends. Her new autobiography looks back on her success but also focuses on the women’s movement, civil rights, sexism, her eating disorder and being outed at the age of 51. Prepare to be inspired.
‘Burning Man: The Trials of D.H. Lawrence’ by Frances Wilson
Wilson’s biography of the famed author tackles new territory, focusing on Lawrence’s life from 1915 to 1925, during which he faced trial for obscenity charges for “The Rainbow,” traveled the world and was diagnosed with tuberculosis. Structured like Dante’s “The Divine Comedy” in three sections — Inferno, Purgatory and Paradise — it weaves in diaries, memoirs and letters to give a closer look at the influential writer.
‘Seeing Ghosts’ by Kat Chow
In a moving memoir about grief, loss and love, journalist Chow, who co-founded NPR’s “Code Switch,” explores the aftermath of her mother’s unexpected death and her family’s emigration from China and Hong Kong to Cuba and America.
‘The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois’ by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers
In her fiction debut, poet Jeffers, nominated for the 2020 National Book Award, traces the history of Ailey Pearl Garfield’s family — from her enslaved ancestors to her parents’ marriage to her own coming-of-age story — focusing on growing up Black in America.
‘The Madness of Crowds’ by Louise Penny
The latest novel in Penny’s bestselling Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series returns to Three Pines village in Quebec, where Gamache is spending the holidays with his family. Assigned to provide security for a professor with an ugly agenda that begins to spread widely, a murder takes place — and Gamache must investigate.
‘God, Human, Animal, Machine: Technology, Metaphor and the Search for Meaning’ by Meghan O’Gieblyn
Philosopher O’Gieblyn (“Interior States“) explores the relationship between technology and religion through essays that touch on artificial intelligence, morality, “enchanting” the internet, faith and spirtuality and more.
‘A Slow Burning Fire’ by Paula Hawkins
Fans of “The Girl on the Train,” get ready for your next big thrill ride. Hawkins’ latest follows three women — all tied to a man found murdered in a London houseboat and all harboring their own resentments and secrets. Filled with plot twists, it promises to keep you guessing until the very end.
‘The Riviera House’ by Natasha Lester
Remy Lang mysteriously inherits a house on the Riviera where she discovers evidence that a painting from her childhood home was a stolen WWII work of art. Her research leads to 1939 Paris and Eliane, who is working with the French Resistance, risking her life to stop Nazis from stealing valued treasures. Based on true events.