Best New Books to Read in August 2022


“Every book is a dream. … Sometimes dreams come true and sometimes they don’t.”

This may sound like an agent comforting an author who just stumbled across her novel in a Dollar Tree dumpster, but it’s actually the words of Penguin Random House attorney Daniel Petrocelli, part of his opening statement at the trial, that do it could change publishing business.

PRH, already the world’s largest book publisher, announced plans to buy one of its main competitors, Simon & Schuster, in November 2020. The Justice Department sued to stop the merger, arguing that a Simon/Penguin hybrid would then dominate some 49 percent of the bestseller market, which they argue will reduce the total number of books published (bad for readers) and curb the famous bidding wars that sometimes result in huge paydays (bad for the writers). Penguin Random House says such auctions are rare and most books don’t make a profit at all. (Hence the remark about dreams that don’t come true.)

Stephen King has been vocal in his opposition to the deal, testifying for the DOJ that the merger would be a nightmare for independent publishers, who already account for only a tenth of the market. Nobody knows the business like King. The prolific and best-selling horror writer has done it all, collaborating with the biggest publishers as well as the up-and-coming indies and lit magazines. 20 years ago he even gave self-publishing a chance. So when he says the merger will be a bloodbath, believe him.

And now five new dreams are waiting to come true…

Inside Mohsin Hamid’s new novel, his first since 2018, is remarkable West exit, a white guy named Anders wakes up with brown skin, and for a while we see the world through his eyes. He is confused and isolated, worried about how he is being treated by his boss, his girlfriend, strangers in the supermarket. But soon we learn that Anders is not the only person in this situation, and our fast-paced fable eludes existential seriousness The transformation and enter the moral playground of The Twilight Zone. Somehow both blunt and pointed, The Last White Man doesn’t answer all the questions it raises (how could it?), but it explores its premise with vigor and sensitivity. (Riverhead, $26, available now)

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In Megan Gidding’s tightly woven supernatural dystopia, there’s nothing more terrifying than a woman in total control of herself (as the song goes) because you never know when one of them will turn out to be a witch. Teenage girls are instructed to monitor their own behavior for “signs of magical expression,” and unmarried women are forced to register for government surveillance by the age of 30. Josephine, who is black, bisexual, single, and 28 years old, knows time is ticking, but she is forced to put all of that on hold to embark on one last search, as dictated by her missing mother’s will . For a book about witches The women could fly feels quite gritty and grounded and has a lot to say about the normal old dystopia we’re stuck in. (Amistad, $26.99, Aug 9)

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Perhaps more than any other branch of science, quantum physics has a gibberish problem. His concepts are often quite abstract, his lyrics so inscrutable, and his terminology too easily hijacked by vendors of crystals and snake oil. In her popular YouTube videos, and now in this engaging and funny new book, physicist Sabine Hossenfelder wants to give the quantum world a shot by making it simple and personal. Chapters include “Has physics ruled out free will?”, “Does the past still exist?”, “Why doesn’t anyone ever get younger?”, etc. (Viking, $28, August 9)

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James Hemings – notoriously influential chef and brother of Sally Hemings – escapes slave master Thomas Jefferson and takes on a band of righteous revolutionaries in this “counterfactual” historical adventure novel. Each member of his eclectic crew exists outside of the mainstream emerging United States (queer, non-white, fugitive, or a combination thereof); and they quickly learn to rely on each other as they challenge the power structure and seek to change the course of history. Start the whole world captivates with fast storytelling and vivid depictions of sensual meals and forbidden desires. (AK Press, $17, August 23)

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In this witty and powerful fictional memoir, young Trey Singleton III eschews his affordable Midwestern upbringing to explore his queerness and blackness in 1980s New York. What he finds is freedom, kinship, sex, poverty, the AIDS crisis and a community worth fighting for. My government wants to kill me is so detailed, so plausibly sewn into the fabric of history, that its footnotes sometimes become a character in their own right, comically casting doubt on what you’ve just read. So when Trey says he met legendary civil rights leader Bayard Rustin in a Harlem bathhouse or was groped by conservative bigwig William F. Buckley at a snooty Manhattan cocktail party, the unseen editor asks you to take it with a grain of salt. This book should make its way onto many lists of the best books of the year. (Flatiron, $27.99, August 23)

➡️ Buy it now at | Borrowing from the Free Library

Also this month:

In this gripping, inspirational, and darkly humorous memoir, Nietfeld tells of a life that took her from homelessness and foster care to Harvard and Google, yet left her unsatisfied with the American Dream. (Penguin Press, $27, available now)

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Investigative journalist Trincia unravels Italy’s infamous Devils of the Bassa Modenese case from the late ’90s. Is it a tale of murder, child abuse and the occult? bad science? mass hysteria? All of the above? Attention true crime fans. (Amazon Crossing, $24.95, available now)

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Sadie Jones, author of the 2012 bestseller The uninvited guests, tells the story of two best friends growing up together on a community farm in the English countryside that isn’t as idyllic as it seems. (Harper, $25.99, Aug 16)

Buy it now at | Borrowing from the Free Library

The author of the critically acclaimed Room returns with a lofty survival story about three men in seventh-century Ireland searching for a tiny island in the Atlantic on which to establish their monastery. (Small, Brown, $28, August 23)

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Subtitled “a memory and a mystery” Diary of an outsider chronicles the author’s own journey as a queer Southerner while also delving into the life of a small-town Louisiana country singer from a different era, who was classified as a woman at birth but lived as a man. (Button, $29, Aug 30)

➡️ Buy it now at | Borrowing from the Free Library


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