Even as August begins,
summer’s going to keep shining on for a while yet. If you’re stuck indoors avoiding the sweltering heat, consider this the perfect time to pick up one best new books out this August. Thrillers, romances, and memoirs abound, so trust us when we say that at least one perfect-for-you read is landing in stores this month.
By far, the most talked-about book out this month is
Afterparties: the posthumous debut story collection from Anthony Veasna So, who tragically passed away last December at the age of 28. The child of Cambodian American parents who immigrated during the Khmer Rouge regime, So described his debut as “post-khmer genocide queer stoner fiction.”
Also on this month’s must-read list are a number of sequels, including Kira Jane Buxton’s
Feral Creatures, Charlotte Nicole Davis’ Sisters of Reckoning, and Linden A. Lewis’ The Second Rebel. On top of that, much-anticipated new releases from Mona Awad, Melissa Broder, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, and Stephen Graham Jones are hitting stores.
Below, the 42 most anticipated books of August 2021.
We only include products that have been independently selected by Bustle's editorial team. However, we may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article. 1 The Reading List by Sara Nisha Adams Aug. 3
After teenage library worker Aleisha escapes from her less-than-perfect home life by working her way through a stranger’s book list, she passes the reading recommendations on to Mukesh — a widowed library patron who desperately wants to connect with his bookish granddaughter. The list turns out to be just what these readers needed to heal their broken hearts.
2 All’s Well by Mona Awad Aug. 3
Staging a production of
All’s Well That Ends Well was supposed to be Miranda’s comeback — a way to triumph over the play that, years ago, ended her acting career and left her with chronic pain. Her cast’s determination to do the Scottish play instead may mean curtains for the theater professor, however. So when a mysterious trio offers her the chance to get her revenge — on her actors, the play, and everyone who ever distrusted her — how can Miranda possibly say no? 3 Clark and Division by Naomi Hirahara Aug. 3
Seven months after Rose was released from Manzanar, her sister and parents are headed to Chicago for a long-awaited reunion. But tragedy waits in the wings for the Japanese American family, as Rose is killed by a train ahead of their arrival. When the coroner decides that Rose took her own life, it’s up to her grieving kid sister, Aki, to figure out what really happened
. 4 Shallow Waters by Anita Kopacz Aug. 3
The Yoruba Orisha of the sea takes center stage in Anita Kopacz’s debut. Set in the United States in the mid-19th century,
Shallow Waters follows Yemaya on a tumultuous journey through the Middle Passage and the Underground Railroad, as she finds her powers and seeks out the man who sacrificed his freedom for her own. 5 We Are the Brennans by Tracey Lange Aug. 3
Sunday Brennan hasn’t spoken to her family in five years, but when she wakes up hospitalized after an at-fault DUI accident in California, she travels back to New York looking to reconnect — and to reconcile. The reunion is neither easy nor universally desired, however, and things only grow more complicated when one of the skeletons in Sunday’s closet resurfaces.
6 A Lesson in Vengeance by Victoria Lee Aug. 3
At an elite private school where five students — all rumored to be witches — have died in a decade, two girls join forces to investigate the sinister mystery. One’s still reeling from the death of her girlfriend, and the other is a precocious writer looking for inspiration. Will the Dalloway School give up its ghosts... or claim two more?
7 Agatha of Little Neon by Claire Luchette Aug. 3
Four nuns have their bucolic life upended when they’re relocated to Little Neon, a halfway house in Woonsocket, Rhode Island. Agatha, in particular, reaches a crossroads: she became a nun while she was still a teenager, but when she takes a teaching job at a local Catholic school for girls, she begins to question whether she’s chosen the right path.
8 Horse Girls: Recovering, Aspiring, and Devoted Riders Redefine the Iconic Bond, edited by Halimah Marcus Aug. 3
Halimah Marcus edits this essay collection, which
features essays from beloved authors and fresh faces alike, all about what it means to be a “horse girl.” The stereotype of the little girl who grew up obsessed with horses — drawing them, reading books about them, and, yes, riding them — has existed for some time. But as Marcus and these writers argue, that narrow trope obscures the breadth of girls’ experiences. (Read a sample here.) 9 Once There Were Wolves by Charlotte McConaghy Aug. 3 Migrations author Charlotte McConaghy returns to stores this month with Once There Were Wolves. Alaskan twins Inti and Aggie journey to the Scottish Highlands with a team of researchers and 14 gray wolves, whom they hope to reintegrate into the ecosystem. When a local farmer is killed, Inti fears for the wolves’ safety; she begins investigating the man’s death, while also working to protect the animals in her care. 10 When the Reckoning Comes by LaTanya McQueen Aug. 3
Mira, a Black girl, and her white best friend, Celine, formed an odd pair in Kipsen, North Carolina — a heavily segregated town, deeply haunted by the ghosts of its racist past. Now, more than 10 years after she left Kipsen behind, Mira’s set to return for Celine’s wedding at the local Woodsman plantation, which has been restyled as an idyllic southern retreat. But Mira’s seen the plantations’s ghosts for herself, and knows they aren’t done with the people of Kipsen.
11 So We Meet Again by Suzanne Park Aug. 3
From the author of
Loathe at First Sight comes this Persuasion-esque story about an investment banker forced to return home and start over when her company lays her off for racist and sexist reasons. Living in Tennessee once again, Jess is back in the orbit of her childhood rival, Daniel, who’s now a mergers and acquisitions lawyer and video game streamer. Daniel helps Jess revive her old YouTube hustle, but when it goes viral, she must field a buyout offer from her old employer... whose general counsel is none other than Daniel himself. 12 The Last Nomad: Coming of Age in the Somali Desert by Shugri Said Salh Aug. 3
After traveling across the Somali desert with her grandmother, who lived a traditional nomadic life, Shugri Said Salh returned to her city-dwelling family with new insights into her culture and heritage. But when her family was later forced to flee Somalia as refugees, the author faced a different challenge: navigating the difficult terrain of American life.
13 Afterparties by Anthony Veasna So Aug. 3
Up-and-coming fiction author Anthony Veasna So passed away last year at age 28, just months ahead of the release of his highly anticipated first book, which is finally out this month. The stories in
Afterparties examine the lives of young Cambodian Americans, with particular focus on queer and immigrant experiences. 14 Savage Tongues by Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi Aug. 3
When she inherits her estranged father’s apartment in Spain, Arezu, an Iranian American woman, returns to Europe with her Israeli American best friend in tow. While visiting Arezu’s old haunts, the two women begin to unearth the long-ignored details of her first stint in Spain, including her age-inappropriate relationship with her father’s 40-year-old step-nephew.
15 Fresh by Margot Wood Aug. 3
Elliot doesn’t care about declaring a major in her freshman year: she’s too busy having fun and enjoying the freedom of college life. But when life begins to catch up with her, Elliot is forced to think long and hard about what she wants... and who she wants to be.
16 Superdoom by Melissa Broder Aug. 10
From the author of
The Pisces and Milk-Fed comes Superdoom: a collection of previously out-of-print poems that toe the line between the surreal and the subversive. Containing verses previously found in When You Say One Thing but Mean Your Mother, Meatheart, The Scarecrone, and Last Sext, Melissa Broder’s new book is not to be overlooked. 17 Spirits Abroad by Zen Cho Aug. 10
Originally published in 2014, Zen Cho’s debut story collection is getting a rerelease this August. Now including nine additional stories, including Cho’s Hugo Award-winning tale, “If at First You Don't Succeed, Try, Try Again,”
Spirits Abroad is a must-read book for any sci-fi or fantasy fan. 18 The Sisters of Reckoning by Charlotte Nicole Davis Aug. 10
The story begun in Charlotte Nicole Davis’ 2019 novel,
The Good Luck Girls, continues in this all-new sequel, The Sisters of Reckoning. After helping her sister and fellow sex workers escape bondage and cross the border, Aster’s back in Arketta with a new liberation plot. The serfs known as “dustbloods” need some help to start new lives, and the old Good Luck Girls are ready and willing to lend a helping hand. 19 The Perfect Family by Robyn Harding Aug. 10
From the author of
Her Pretty Face and The Swap comes this new novel about a seemingly perfect family who suddenly find themselves on the receiving end of vandalism and violence. Thomas and Viv have everything their neighbors want, but they’ve certainly never done anything to attract unwanted attention... right? 20 The Almost Legendary Morris Sisters: A True Story of Family Fiction by Julie Klam Aug. 10
Part memoir, part family history, Julie Klam’s new book takes a look at the truth behind a fascinating legend. According to family lore, the four Morris sisters immigrated to the United States from somewhere in Eastern Europe, and were abandoned at an orphanage by their California-bound father after their mother died in childbirth. The Morrises eventually overcame adversity to build successful lives on Wall Street. But when Klam set out to research her four distant relatives, she found just one problem: most of the stories she’d heard as a child were false.
21 Never Say You Can’t Survive: How to Get Through Hard Times by Making Up Stories by Charlie Jane Anders Aug. 17
Bestselling author Charlie Jane Anders offers aspiring writers catharsis and hope in
Never Say You Can’t Survive. Full of poignant reflections and inspiring calls-to-action, Anders’ new book is perfect for anyone who’s found themselves unable to write during the pandemic. 22 Gordo by Jaime Cortez Aug. 17
The stories in author and artist Jaime Cortez’s debut collection weave their way through the lives of migrant workers living in California in the 1970s. A boy grows up and into his own, a teenage artist disappears with her mother’s partner and belongings, and a man is gravely injured in a brawl with his twin, in
Gordo. 23 Cazadora by Romina Garber Aug. 17
The second installment in Romina Garber’s Wolves of No World series,
Cazadora follows Manu — a half-human werewolf — as she goes on the lam, desperately trying to evade the authorities who will force her to be someone she isn’t. 24 Baby Girl: Better Known as Aaliyah by Kathy Iandoli Aug. 17
In August 2001, a flight from the Bahamas to Miami, Florida nosedived almost immediately after takeoff, killing nine aboard — including 22-year-old pop sensation Aaliyah. The peculiarities surrounding the crash were many, and questions persist to this day. Journalist Kathy Iandoli purports to have uncovered the truth in her new book,
Baby Girl. 25 Velvet Was the Night by Silvia Moreno-Garcia Aug. 17
Set in 1970s Mexico City, Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s noir centers on one young woman’s disappearance and the efforts of two people — her thriller-reading neighbor and an organized crime goon — to find her before it’s too late.
26 Sometimes I Trip on How Happy We Could Be by Nichole Perkins Aug. 17
In the November pick for Roxane Gay’s Audacious Book Club, Nichole Perkins winds her way through two decades of pop culture. From
Frasier to Prince to the ’00s internet, Sometimes I Trip on How Happy We Could Be probes a tenuous time in the lives of young Gen-Xers and elder Millennials. 27 Center Center: A Funny, Sexy, Sad Almost-Memoir of a Boy in Ballet by James Whiteside Aug. 17
In this memoir-in-essays, American Ballet Theatre principal dancer James Whiteside traces his journey to ballet stardom, from his days as an aspiring star — he recalls attending his future company’s spring gala at age 12 — to breaking free from the ballet mold with his pop star and drag queen alter-egos.
28 Against White Feminism: Notes on Disruption by Rafia Zakaria Aug. 17
From the author of
Veil comes this exquisite takedown of white feminism — that is, feminism by and for upper-middle-class, neoliberal white women in the West, at the expense of all others. 29 The Paris Connection by Lorraine Brown Aug. 24
A young woman spends an unexpected, unstructured day in Paris in Lorraine Brown’s heartfelt debut. After boarding an overnight train to Amsterdam on the eve of his sister’s wedding, Simon and his girlfriend, Hannah, are separated when their train divides, sending Hannah to Paris while Simon and all of their shared belongings continue on to Amsterdam. Stuck in the City of Lights for one nerve-wracking day with another train passenger, Leo, Hannah finds herself wondering if she ever wants her life to go back to the way it once was.
30 Feral Creatures by Kira Jane Buxton Aug. 24
In this follow-up to
Hollow Kingdom, Kira Jane Buxton continues her black-feathered protagonist’s adventures through the post-apocalyptic world. While liberating former pets left behind by their owners, Cheeto-munching crow S.T. and his best friend, a bloodhound named Dennis, stumble upon the last remaining hope for humanity — and vow to protect it . 31 Seeing Ghosts by Kat Chow Aug. 24
In her debut memoir, former NPR reporter Kat Chow examines the role of grief in her life. Born two years after her infant brother died, Chow felt the sting of loss for herself as a young child when her mother died of cancer. Tracing her family’s subsequent journey from East Asia to North America, Chow’s memoir questions the dynamics of family, grief, and forward movement.
32 Where I Left Her by Amber Garza Aug. 24
One woman is plunged into every parent’s worst nightmare when she arrives to pick her daughter up from a sleepover, only to be told by the homeowners that neither the girl, nor her friend, has ever been there. As she looks for her daughter, Whitney uncovers Amelia’s secret double life... and finds some connections to the skeletons in her own closet, to boot.
33 Bad Witch Burning by Jessica Lewis Aug. 24
A teenager supports her family by communicating with her clients’ deceased friends and loved ones, but gets the shock of her life when she accidentally raises a spirit back to life. Planning to cash in on her newfound ability as a means to escape poverty, she continues raising the dead for money, only to find that she’s attracted the wrong kind of attention
. 34 The Second Rebel by Linden A. Lewis Aug. 24
The second book in Linden A. Lewis’ First Sister trilogy finds a deprogrammed member of the Sisterhood working to defeat the organization from the inside, as her compatriots in the resistance fight their own uphill battles, all against a sweeping background of space opera.
35 The Madness of Crowds by Louise Penny Aug. 24
In her 17th book following Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, author Louise Penny follows him as he takes a job protecting Professor Abigail Robinson, an academic set to deliver a speech at the local university. But when Gamache speaks out against the Robinson’s beliefs, he finds himself accused of censorship and goes adrift in a post-COVID world where her ideas are contagious.
36 Forestborn by Elayne Audrey Becker Aug. 31
The first installment in Elayne Audrey Becker’s new series,
Forestborn centers on Rora, a shifter who uses her powers in service to the king. When the prince falls ill with the same plague that’s ravaging the rest of his father’s lands, it’s up to Rora to go on the hunt for the legendary panacea. 37 A Slow Fire Burning by Paula Hawkins Aug. 31 The Girl on the Train author Paula Hawkins’ new thriller centers on three people caught up in a murder investigation. In the aftermath of a grisly killing, three women — the victim’s aunt, one-night stand, and next-door neighbor — are each embittered enough to attract the police’s attention. 38 My Heart Is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones Aug. 31
Stephen Graham Jones’ new thriller follows 17-year-old Jade, a half-Indian girl who deals with her abandonment and ostracism by studying horror movies down to their last detail. That knowledge comes in handy when a killer begins to stalk through town, and Jade is the only one who knows who will die next.
39 Several People Are Typing by Calvin Kasulke Aug. 31
An epistolary novel for the 2020s, Calvin Kasulke’s
People Are Typing centers on a PR firm employee whose consciousness has been unceremoniously deposited inside his employer’s Slack. Gerald’s co-workers are distrusting, but he’ll need their help to figure out where his body went, and how to get it back, in this send-up of contemporary work culture. 40 Take Me With You When You Go by David Levithan and Jennifer Niven Aug. 31
A runaway girl and her younger brother narrate this new tearjerker from David Levithan and Jennifer Niven. Bea doesn’t tell Ezra she’s leaving, because she can’t take him with her. United only by a secret email address, Bea and Ezra work to maintain a strong bond as she builds a new life... and he struggles to survive their old one.
41 In the Watchful City by S. Qiouyi Lu Aug. 31
An extrasensory human responsible for surveilling ær fellow city-dwellers finds ærself longing for more in S. Qiouyi Lu’s
In the Watchful City. Anima has always been content with ær job in Ora, but when a stranger saunters into town with gifts from the outside world, Lu’s protagonist begins to wonder how much of the world — and the dangers that lie within it — æ is missing. 42 Dark and Shallow Lies by Ginny Myers Sain Sep. 7*
Six months after Elora vanished on the bayou, a boy comes out of the mire, pulling all of their town’s sordid history up with him. As Grey fights to unravel the mystery of her missing friend, she begins to discover that everyone she loves has a potentially deadly secret — secrets that are hard to protect in the so-called Psychic Capital of the World
. * Release date changed from Aug. 31 to Sep. 7.