10 new books to read in August

August 1, 2021, 12:00 PM UTC

A deep dive into understanding the student debt crisis in America; an examination of what went wrong in Afghanistan amid the longest war in U.S. history; and a lesson about understanding your power in the workplace and how anyone can bring about real change.

Here is a selection of new books being published this month.

The Debt Trap: How Student Loans Became a National Catastrophe by Josh Mitchell

Available August 3

For many people with student loans, this journalistic work might read more like a horror story that hits too close to home. The current dilemma surrounding student loans in the U.S. has not been around forever. But it has been building up for decades to the point where it blew up during the financial crisis and continues to beleaguer a generation with a $1.5 trillion cloud hanging over their heads. Wall Street Journal reporter Josh Mitchell traces the crisis back to its origins—as far back as 1957 amid the launch of Sputnik (really)—following how it spiraled out of control and also paralleled the housing crisis of the 2000s.

Book Roundup-Shallow Waters
‘Shallow Waters: A Novel’
Courtesy of Atria/Black Privilege Publishing

Shallow Waters by Anita Kopacz

Available August 3

In her debut novel, Anita Kopacz draws on the Yoruban legend of Yemaya, a Black mermaid deity who watched over enslaved African people as they were kidnapped and shipped across the Atlantic. Separated from her family and unaware of her divine destiny, the sixteen-year-old sets off on a journey in search of Obatala, a young man with whom she shares a deep connection. Rooted in history as well as Afro-Caribbean legend, the fantastical novel follows Yemaya as she travels from the Middle Passage to the Underground Railroad, iconic historical figures—including Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass.

Summer 2021 Books-Edge Case
‘Edge Case’
Courtesy of Ecco Press

Edge Case by YZ Chin

Available August 10

Edwina is the sole female employee at the tech startup where she works—a miserable experience on its own. To make matters worse, her husband suddenly disappears—prompting not only a search to find him but to also comprehend why he left at all, whether it was due to the struggle of trying to get a green card, problems with their respective parents, or something else altogether.

Book Roundup-Hell of a Book
‘Hell of a Book: A Novel’
Courtesy of Dutton Books

Hell of a Book by Jason Mott

Available August 10

In this novel about what it can mean to be Black in America, the book opens on a Black author setting out on a cross-country book tour to promote his bestselling novel. Simultaneously, the novel looks back in the recent past toward a character referred to as The Kid—presumed to be the author on his tour (or maybe not)—and Soot, a young Black boy living in a rural town. Ultimately, the story wrestles with the nation’s obsession with a tragic police shooting playing over and over again on the news within the book—and, in the real world, the nation’s reckoning with the never-ending instances of police violence and brutality against the Black community.

Summer 2021 Books-King of Infinite Space
‘The King of Infinite Space’
Courtesy of G.P. Putnam’s Sons

The King of Infinite Space by Lyndsay Faye

Available August 10

A queer take on Hamlet set in modern-day New York City, Ben Dane (yes, that is his name) is devastated after his Broadway baron father is suddenly dead. But this isn’t simply an adaptation with similar names and moved to another country and time period. The most intriguing story line could be that of Ophelia’s counterpart: Lia, whose mental illness and addictions are examined in a more enlightened, feminist mindset.

Book Roundup-Sometimes I Trip
‘Sometimes I Trip on How Happy We Could Be: Essays’
Courtesy of Grand Central Publishing

Sometimes I Trip on How Happy We Could Be by Nichole Perkins

Available August 17

In this series of essays from writer and podcast host Nichole Perkins, we follow her journey to self-realization through the lens of American pop culture, social media, dating, and southern culture. Sometimes I Trip explores her search for identity in a world constantly telling her who she should be, while also celebrating female sexuality by deconstructing stereotypes about gender, love, and sex.

Book Roundup-Velvet Was the Night
‘Velvet Was the Night: A Novel’
Courtesy of Del Rey Books

Velvet Was the Night by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Available August 17

Following her bestseller and lauded 2020 release Mexican Gothic, novelist Silvia Moreno-Garcia returns, this time jumping into 1970s Mexico City amid a time of social unrest and student protests consuming the capital. Told in similar noir style to Mexican Gothic, Maite—a secretary who likes to escape the never-ending stream of bad news in the real world through romance stories and magazines (which doesn’t sound too off base from how many of us handled the last year)—our protagonist finds herself searching for a missing woman and journeying deeper into a secret life of student radicals and dissidents.

Book Roundup-Seeing Ghosts
Courtesy of Grand Central Publishing

Seeing Ghosts: A Memoir by Kat Chow

Available August 24

Kat Chow, NPR reporter and a founding member of the popular podcast Code Switch, admits in her new memoir that she’s unusually obsessed with death. But when her mother died unexpectedly from cancer, Chow learned what came after: grief. Chow examines the brutal levels of grief: from her father’s debilitating loneliness to tracing those lost along the way (and those who survived them) when her family emigrated from China and Hong Kong to Cuba and the United States. The result is a portrait of grief over the course of three generations, asking who we become after we’ve experienced loss.

Book Roundup-Afghanistan Papers
‘The Afghanistan Papers: A Secret History of the War’
Courtesy of Simon & Schuster

The Afghanistan Papers: A Secret History of the War by Craig Whitlock

Available August 31

Washington Post reporter and three-time Pulitzer Prize finalist Craig Whitlock conducted more than 1,000 interviews for this new look at the 20 years of the war in Afghanistan. While the original goals of the conflict seemed clear in 2001, after thousands of deaths and billions in spending, it’s troubling to even begin to come up with an answer to the question as to what went wrong.

Power, for All: How It Really Works and Why It’s Everyone’s Business by Julie Battilana and Tiziana Casciaro

Available August 31

Power is a tricky topic. Most people don’t want to talk about it or acknowledge it—especially those who have it. This goes double for women, as ambition and power among women are often perceived to be negative qualities. But power doesn’t only apply to professional or leadership positions; we have to navigate power in all of our relationships and interactions in society. Researchers Julie Battilana and Tiziana Casciaro elaborate that power—and as a byproduct, influence—is derived from having access to valued resources, which anyone can have, regardless of income or status in life. The authors posit that everyone has a resource to offer, so everyone has access to power. You just have to know how to wield it.

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