10 Best New Books Recommended by Readers This Week of August 2023
Looking for some great new books to read? Check out these 10 highly-rated new releases from August 2023, as recommended by readers! From historical fiction to contemporary thrillers, there's something for everyone on this list.
August is always a great month for book releases, and this year is no exception. There are a lot of great new books out there, but it can be hard to know where to start. That's why I've put together this list of the 10 best new books recommended by readers this week.
1. Tom Lake by Ann Patchett
In this heartwarming novel, Ann Patchett tells the story of a mother who reminisces about a long-lost summer love with her grown daughters. As the mother recounts her memories, she comes to terms with the past and learns to let go of her regrets.
During the spring of 2020, Lara's orchard in Northern Michigan becomes the setting for a poignant family gathering. Her three daughters return to the orchard and, amid cherry-picking, they implore their mother to share the story of her past with Peter Duke, a renowned actor with whom she once shared a passionate romance during their time at the Tom Lake theater company. As Lara delves into her memories, her daughters find themselves reflecting on their own lives and their relationship with their mother, leading them to question their perceptions of the world and their understanding of the past.
"Tom Lake" is a thought-provoking exploration of love experienced in youth, love in marriage, and the hidden lives of parents before their children entered the picture. It gracefully navigates the complexities of happiness amidst a world that seems to be unraveling. Ann Patchett, with her characteristic narrative mastery and keen insights into family dynamics, crafts a story both hopeful and elegiac. The novel's rich and luminous narrative is delivered with profound intelligence and emotional subtlety, reaffirming Patchett's status as one of the most esteemed and acclaimed literary voices of our time.
2. Family Lore by Elizabeth Acevedo
This lyrical novel tells the story of a young woman who travels to the Dominican Republic to learn more about her family's history. Along the way, she uncovers secrets that will change her life forever.
Elizabeth Acevedo, the bestselling and National Book Award-winning author, ventures into new literary terrain with her first novel for adults. In this compelling narrative, the lives of a Dominican-American family unfold through the voices of its women, each awaiting a gathering that will forever alter the course of their destinies.
Meet Flor, a woman with an extraordinary gift: she can foresee the exact day of a person's death. When she expresses her desire for a living wake—an event celebrating her long and eventful life—the surprise in her sisters' eyes is evident. Questions arise. Has Flor seen her own impending death or that of another? And what could be her hidden motives? But Flor remains tight-lipped, keeping her sisters, Matilde, Pastora, and Camila, in the dark.
Yet secrets are not exclusive to Flor. Matilde, for years, has concealed her husband's infidelity, but she can no longer evade the truth about her marriage. Pastora, usually reserved, feels motivated to tackle her sister's dilemmas in light of Flor's wake. And Camila, the youngest and often overlooked sibling, decides it's time to demand the recognition she deserves.
The next generation, represented by cousins Ona and Yadi, faces their own trials. Yadi reunites with her first love, who had been imprisoned during their childhood, while Ona, after years of marriage, contemplates the challenges of conceiving a child. As she grapples with the decision to continue pursuing motherhood and the waning enthusiasm for her anthropology research, Ona finds herself at a crossroads.
With the events unfolding over the three days leading up to Flor's wake, "Family Lore" artfully weaves together the lives of the Marte women, drawing from the rich tapestry of their pasts and their present realities in Santo Domingo and New York City. Elizabeth Acevedo's distinctive and radiant voice shines through as she crafts an indelible portrait of sisters, cousins, aunts, and nieces—offering readers an unforgettable journey through this family's history, guiding them through the uncertain waters of what lies ahead.
3. The Bookbinder by Pip Williams
This historical novel set in 19th century England follows the story of a bookbinder who is hired to restore a mysterious book. As the bookbinder works, he begins to uncover the secrets of the book's past.
In this latest novel from the New York Times bestselling author of "The Dictionary of Lost Words," a young British woman finds her life upended by the outbreak of World War I, opening doors to both knowledge and love that she had never imagined before.
Set in the year 1914, the story centers around Peggy and Maude, twin sisters living on a narrow boat in Oxford, working at the university press's bindery. While Peggy is ambitious and intelligent, she has always been told that her role is to bind books, not to read them. However, as she handles the pages, her mind wanders to the nearby Oxford’s Somerville College, where female students have access to an entire library. Meanwhile, Maude finds fulfillment in her work alongside the other bindery girls but remains vulnerable, prompting Peggy to keep a watchful eye over her.
As the war forces men to depart for the battlefield, women like Peggy and Maude must step forward to keep the nation running. Their lives take an unexpected turn when refugees from war-torn Belgium arrive in Oxford, creating ripples that impact their community and destinies. Peggy's encounters with a Belgian soldier inspire her to envision a different future, one where she can pursue education and utilize her intellect beyond bookbinding. However, war and illness soon reshape her world, and her love for the Belgian soldier brings new responsibilities that threaten to hinder her aspirations.
"The Bookbinder" is a captivating tale that explores the significance of knowledge, its creators, and those who can access it. As war unfolds and circumstances change, Pip Williams thoughtfully weaves a narrative that shines a light on a lesser-known aspect of history, presenting it through the lens of women's experiences, much like her acclaimed work, "The Dictionary of Lost Words."
4. My Name Is Iris by Brando Skyhorse
This memoir tells the story of Brando Skyhorse, who was adopted as a baby and raised by a white family. When he was 19, he learned that he was actually Native American. This revelation led Skyhorse on a journey to discover his true identity.
Brando Skyhorse, the award-winning author of "The Madonnas of Echo Park," returns with a gripping literary dystopian novel set in a near-future America. In this powerful family saga, mandatory identification wristbands transform second-generation immigrants into second-class citizens, evoking themes reminiscent of Mohsin Hamid's "Exit West" and Rumaan Alam's "Leave the World Behind."
Iris Prince is at a turning point in her life. After an amicable separation from her husband, she embraces a fresh start in a new home and neighborhood, eagerly planning a life of gardening, coffee clubs, and quality time with her nine-year-old daughter, Melanie. Just when everything seems to fall into place, a shocking discovery disrupts her peaceful existence. A mysterious wall has inexplicably appeared in her front yard, and it continues to grow. The questions of its origin and significance weigh heavily on her mind.
Meanwhile, a Silicon Valley startup introduces a high-tech wrist wearable known as "the Band." Marketed as a convenient tool for tracking utilities and replacing identification, it is reserved for those who can prove parental citizenship. This innovation puts Iris, a proud second-generation Mexican-American, in a distressing position. Stripped of the ability to verify her origin, she finds herself labeled as "unverifiable," and along with her undocumented loved ones, she faces the harsh reality of not knowing where they truly belong. Against a backdrop of fear and violence fueled by intolerance, Iris must grapple with the lengths she's willing to go to protect what matters most to her.
"My Name Is Iris" is a thought-provoking tale that delves into the themes of family, intolerance, and hope, presenting a timely and poignant exploration of a woman's quest to unearth her true identity amidst a society filled with uncertainties and prejudices. This compelling narrative serves as a powerful reminder of the potential consequences of intolerance and the enduring strength of hope in the face of adversity.
5. The Apology by Jimin Han
This powerful novel tells the story of a young woman who is forced to confront her past when she is reunited with the man who raped her. As the woman comes to terms with her trauma, she begins to heal.
In South Korea, a letter arrives at the doorstep of a remarkable 105-year-old woman, setting in motion a series of events that thrust her into a harrowing battle within the afterlife. Jeonga Cha, burdened with the responsibility of upholding her family's name, had made a difficult decision years ago when she sent her daughter-in-law to America to hide an illegitimate birth—a sacrifice made to protect her loved ones' reputations. Little did she know that this choice would come back to haunt her decades later, endangering her cherished bond with her son, straining her relationship with her audaciously impudent sisters, and jeopardizing the future of the family she has tirelessly safeguarded.
"The Apology" is an enthralling fusion of ghost story and family epic, skillfully weaving a narrative that spans back to the days of Japanese colonialism and the Korean War. Told through the unyielding, humorous, and unforgettable voice of a centenarian, the novel unravels the tale of sisterhood and diaspora. As the story unfolds, readers are transported through time, delving into the complexities of human relationships and the profound impact of decisions made in the past.
This poignant and incisive narrative presents the struggles of a remarkable woman who, even in her centenary, defies the limitations imposed by age and circumstance. "The Apology" is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the enduring power of family ties that transcend time and space. With its haunting allure and profound emotional depth, this extraordinary novel leaves an indelible mark on its readers, showcasing the brilliance of storytelling through the lens of one extraordinary centenarian.
6. Gone Tonight by Sarah Pekkanen
This suspenseful thriller tells the story of a woman who is kidnapped by a stranger. As the woman tries to escape, she must unravel the mystery of her kidnapper's motives.
Catherine Sterling has always believed she knows her mother, Ruth Sterling, inside and out. Ruth is a devoted and hardworking woman whose sole focus has been her daughter's well-being. For as long as Catherine can remember, it has been just the two of them against the odds. However, as Catherine matures and yearns to explore the world beyond the confines of their home, tensions arise when she sets her sights on starting a new career and spreading her wings. Ruth, unwilling to let go, finds herself willing to go to great lengths to keep her daughter by her side.
On the other hand, Ruth Sterling believes she knows her daughter Catherine to the core. She is convinced that Catherine would never challenge her, nor question anything about her mother's past or background. Yet, as Ruth desperately clings to the notion of maintaining their inseparable bond, her actions inadvertently begin to expose vulnerabilities and fractures in the carefully-crafted façade she has maintained for years. Both mother and daughter find themselves entangled in a delicate dance of deception, where the truth may threaten to shatter their seemingly unbreakable bond.
As the story unfolds, the dynamics between mother and daughter evolve into a complex and riveting interplay of emotions, secrets, and unspoken desires. The exploration of their relationship delves into the complexities of maternal love, independence, and the delicate balance between holding on and letting go. Catherine and Ruth's journey challenges assumptions and uncovers hidden truths, leading to a gripping narrative that keeps readers engrossed until the very end.
7. All the Sinners Bleed by S.A. Cosby
This dark and gritty crime novel tells the story of a young Black man who is framed for a murder he didn't commit. As the man tries to clear his name, he must navigate a world of corruption and violence.
Meet Titus Crowne, a trailblazing figure in Charon County's history as the first Black sheriff to assume the role. Returning to his hometown as a former FBI agent and security expert, Titus made the decision to take care of his ailing father and provide guidance to his troubled younger brother. His pursuit of the sheriff's position was fueled by a deep desire to create positive change, particularly within the marginalized Black community that has endured unfair treatment at the hands of law enforcement.
However, just a year after his momentous election, tragedy strikes the town when a school shooting shakes the community to its core. The loss of a beloved teacher at the hands of a former student sets off a chain of events that puts Titus to the ultimate test. Attempting to deescalate the situation and convince the boy to surrender, Titus's deputies take drastic measures, resulting in a fatal shot being fired.
As the investigation unfolds, startling revelations come to light. The student they shot had been a victim of abuse, both at the hands of the deceased teacher and unidentified perpetrators. A sinister trail emerges, leading to buried bodies and hidden secrets. Titus finds himself in a precarious position, simultaneously tracking down a killer hiding in plain sight while fulfilling his daily duties, such as protecting Confederate pride marchers.
Throughout this challenging journey, Titus confronts the profound significance of being a Black man wearing a police uniform in the American South. The weight of his responsibility as sheriff is magnified by the racial tensions and historical complexities of the region. Balancing justice and empathy, he navigates the multifaceted layers of his identity and the demands of his role, attempting to bridge the gap between the Black community's needs and the expectations of his law enforcement position.
In this gripping narrative, Titus Crowne's relentless pursuit of justice and self-discovery resonates deeply, offering a poignant reflection on the complexities of race, power, and the pursuit of a more equitable society in the heart of the American South.
8. Wayward by Emilia Hart
This fantasy novel tells the story of a young woman who is transported to a magical world. In this world, she must use her newfound powers to save the kingdom from an evil sorceress.
"I am a Weyward, and wild inside," declares the protagonist as the captivating tale of "Weyward" unfolds across time and generations.
In the year 2019, Kate seeks refuge from a tormenting partner and escapes the confines of London, seeking solace in the ramshackle Weyward Cottage, inherited from a distant great aunt whose memory barely lingers. The cottage, with its enchanting overgrown garden and ivy-clad walls, seems a world away from the shadows of her past. However, a hidden secret lies within its very bones, dating back to the dark days of the 17th-century witch-hunts.
Rewinding to the year 1619, the reader is introduced to Altha, a girl steeped in a magic that transcends spell-casting, rooted instead in a profound understanding of the natural world. Standing accused of the murder of a local farmer, she finds herself on trial, aware that her extraordinary abilities make her a target in a society that fears unusual women and deems them dangerous.
Fast-forward to the year 1942, amidst the tumultuous backdrop of World War II. Violet is confined to her family's grand yet crumbling estate, restricted by the shackles of societal norms. Her heart yearns for the education her brother receives, while her mother's mysterious and rumored madness before her death remains an enigma. The only traces Violet has of her mother are a locket engraved with the initial W and the word "Weyward" etched into her bedroom's baseboard.
In "Weyward," Emilia Hart masterfully weaves together the lives of three extraordinary women spanning five centuries. Their stories unfold in a mesmerizing narrative of female resilience and the transformative power of the natural world. The novel beckons readers on a journey through time, illuminating the enduring strength of women as they navigate through challenges, secrets, and the indomitable spirit of survival. "Weyward" stands as a testament to the unyielding bonds that connect us through time, and the resilience that emerges when one taps into the ancient powers of nature.
9. The Wager by David Grann
This true crime novel tells the story of a high-stakes poker game that went wrong. As the investigation into the game unfolds, it reveals a web of lies, deception, and murder.
From the acclaimed author of "Killers of the Flower Moon," comes an enthralling and suspenseful account of a shipwreck, survival, and the unfolding savagery that leads to a startling revelation. The gripping narrative goes beyond the captain and crew's trial to explore the very essence of empire.
On January 28, 1742, a weathered vessel, cobbled together with makeshift wood and cloth, drifted ashore on the Brazilian coast. Inside the ship were thirty emaciated men, barely clinging to life, ready to recount an extraordinary tale. They were survivors of His Majesty's Ship, the Wager, a British vessel that had embarked on a clandestine mission during an imperial war with Spain. Chasing after the prized Spanish treasure galleon, the ship wrecked on a desolate island off the Patagonian coast. Marooned for months, battling starvation and desolation, the desperate men ingeniously crafted a flimsy boat and embarked on a treacherous voyage of more than a hundred days, braving storm-wracked seas, and covering nearly 3,000 miles. Their triumphant arrival was met with accolades and celebration.
However, six months later, the Chilean coast witnessed another landing of an even more dilapidated craft, carrying just three castaways who shared a contrasting narrative. The thirty sailors hailed as heroes in Brazil were now portrayed as mutineers. In response, the initial group countered with accusations of a tyrannical and murderous senior officer and his cronies. Stranded on the island, the crew had descended into anarchy, with factions locked in brutal struggles for supremacy over the barren wilderness. As accusations of treachery and murder echoed, the Admiralty intervened, convening a court martial to ascertain the truth, with life-and-death stakes as the guilty could face the hangman's noose.
"The Wager" emerges as a sweeping tale of human behavior pushed to the extremes, narrated by a masterful nonfiction writer. Grann's vivid reconstruction of life on a British warship rivals the brilliance of Patrick O'Brian's work, while his portrayal of the castaways' harrowing plight stands shoulder to shoulder with the classics of survival literature, such as "The Endurance." The account of the court martial unfolds with the gripping intensity of a Scott Turow thriller, and the unexpected twists in the narrative keep readers spellbound, attesting once again to Grann's extraordinary storytelling prowess.
10. The Covenant of Water by Abraham Verghese
This nonfiction book tells the story of a group of doctors who work in a remote clinic in India. The book explores the challenges of providing healthcare in a developing country, as well as the power of compassion and hope.
Transporting readers to a mesmerizing world of love, faith, and medicine, "The Covenant of Water" unfolds as a stunning and magisterial epic set in Kerala. Spanning the years 1900 to 1977, the narrative follows three generations of a family grappling with a peculiar and haunting secret. Within this family, a mysterious affliction persists across generations—each era witnesses at least one drowning death, a haunting connection in a land where water surrounds them at every turn. The family belongs to a Christian community with roots tracing back to the time of the apostles, yet the changing times bring forth unimaginable upheavals. At the heart of this saga is the indomitable matriarch, affectionately known as Big Ammachi, whose extraordinary life bears witness to the unfolding of profound transformations both within her home and in the world at large. In this novel, Abraham Verghese's prodigious storytelling prowess is on full display, with breathtaking scenes of medical ingenuity, moments of delightful humor, a deeply moving storyline, and characters that pulsate with the essence of life.
"The Covenant of Water" is a luminous portrayal of a bygone India, where the passage of time casts a shimmering glow on its landscapes. Rooted in the Malabar Coast of South India, the story celebrates the progress made in medicine and the growth of human understanding, a hymn to the advancements that shape the world. Simultaneously, it humbles readers with a poignant testament to the trials endured by past generations, sacrifices made for the betterment of those alive today. Within its pages, the novel weaves an intricate tapestry of history, love, and the resilience of the human spirit. Varghese's artistry renders a profound meditation on the ceaseless march of time, evoking nostalgia for a cherished past while embracing the promise of an evolving future. "The Covenant of Water" stands as an exquisite literary triumph, enchanting readers with its emotional depth and masterful storytelling, making it a shining jewel among contemporary literary novels.
In conclusion, August 2023 has gifted readers with a diverse array of captivating books that have already earned the accolades of avid readers. From Ann Patchett's heartwarming exploration of human connections in "Tom Lake" to Elizabeth Acevedo's powerful family saga in "Family Lore," these new releases have something to offer every literary taste.
Pip Williams' "The Bookbinder" introduces us to a world of magic and storytelling, where memories are bound into books, while Brando Skyhorse's "My Name Is Iris" tackles themes of identity and belonging in the context of undocumented immigration. Meanwhile, Jimin Han's "The Apology" delves into the complexities of guilt and forgiveness, while Sarah Pekkanen's "Gone Tonight" keeps readers on the edge of their seats with its gripping domestic suspense.
With each book offering a unique and compelling narrative, readers are sure to find themselves engrossed in the pages, transported to new worlds, and introduced to unforgettable characters. As the literary world continues to evolve and surprise, these six best new books are a testament to the power of storytelling and the enduring impact of literature.
So, whether you're seeking heartwarming family stories, thrilling mysteries, or tales of love and redemption, these handpicked selections are sure to ignite your imagination and leave you eager for more. As you immerse yourself in the worlds crafted by these talented authors, may you find solace, joy, and inspiration in the pages of these extraordinary books, you also can read The 10 Best New Romances Books of August by MGara Coin. Happy reading!
What are your favorite new books of August 2023? Let me know in the comments below!