As temperatures climb across the country, it’s time to retreat indoors to the sanctuary of an air-conditioned room and book that will help you escape your sweltering surroundings. While you try to cool down, why not dive into one (or more!) of these ten titles, all new to paperback this August? Thrillers with nuanced personal portraits at their centers, unsettling literary gems, charming and breezy reads about unexpected connections: this list is sure to traffic in whichever type of book you feel most comfortable relaxing on the couch beside.
Emma is determined to finally confront her husband about his alcoholism, that is, until she discovers he has been in a fatal car crash. As she and her teenaged children attempt to rebuild their lives with the help of Emma’s two closest friends, Emma begins to uncover the shocking secrets about her husband’s last days, secrets that will change their lives forever. WISH YOU WERE GONE is a sinister domestic thriller perfect for fans of the friendship dynamics in Netflix’s Dead to Me.
This “captivating thriller full of twists and surprises” (Megan Miranda, New York Times bestselling author)—about what happens when the death of a husband and father isn’t the tragedy everyone believes—is perfect for fans of the Netflix original series Dead to Me.
Emma Walsh has finally worked up the courage to confront her husband James about his drinking—his alcoholic rages, his blackouts, and the fear his behavior has created for her and their two kids. But James never shows up to meet her as planned, and all her righteous words go unsaid. And unsaid they remain, because the next time Emma sees James, his body lies crumpled amidst the wreckage of his flashy car, which has been smashed to its final resting place halfway through the back wall of their suburban house’s roomy garage.
In the aftermath of the fatal crash, Emma and her teenage children begin to embrace life without James’s looming, volcanic presence. Buoyed by the support of her two closest friends, she struggles to deal with her grief, complicated by the knowledge that her husband’s legacy as an upstanding business owner and family man shines only because so many people, for so long, were so willing to keep his secrets—secrets that twist into new and unexpected shapes as the mysterious details of his last day of life begin to come to light.
A sinister and suspenseful domestic thriller, lauded as “stylish” by Publishers Weekly and “delicious” by Booklist, Wish You Were Gone will keep you guessing “until not just the last page, but the last paragraph” (Chandler Baker, New York Times bestselling author).
In 1954 New York, Katharina Edgeworth seems to have a perfect life living on the Upper East Side with her two beautiful children and successful husband. But she misses her days a single woman working as a translator for the United Nations. When the FBI offers her a position as an informant, she jumps at the opportunity to help bring down a man from her past who’s become a high-ranking Soviet spy. But as more and more people begin to lose their lives, Katharina will have to decide what she’s willing to risk.
Jen and Riley have been best friends their whole lives. As adults, Jen is expecting her first child and Riley is about to become one of the first Black news anchors in Philadelphia. When Jen’s police officer husband is involved in the shooting of an unarmed Black teen, Riley is offered the opportunity to cover the story. In this propulsive exploration of race in America, two friends’ relationship will be tested to its limits as they experience the personal consequences of systemic violence.
A GOOD MORNING AMERICA BOOK CLUB PICK
Named a Best Book Pick of 2021 by Harper’s Bazaar and Real Simple
Named a Most Anticipated Book of Fall by People, Essence, New York Post, PopSugar, New York Newsday, Entertainment Weekly, Town & Country, Bustle, Fortune, and Book Riot
Told from alternating perspectives, this “propulsive, deeply felt tale of race and friendship” (People) follows two women, one Black and one white, whose friendship is indelibly altered by a tragic event.
Jen and Riley have been best friends since kindergarten. As adults, they remain as close as sisters, though their lives have taken different directions. Jen married young, and after years of trying, is finally pregnant. Riley pursued her childhood dream of becoming a television journalist and is poised to become one of the first Black female anchors of the top news channel in their hometown of Philadelphia.
But the deep bond they share is severely tested when Jen’s husband, a city police officer, is involved in the shooting of an unarmed Black teenager. Six months pregnant, Jen is in freefall as her future, her husband’s freedom, and her friendship with Riley are thrown into uncertainty. Covering this career-making story, Riley wrestles with the implications of this tragic incident for her Black community, her ambitions, and her relationship with her lifelong friend.
Like Tayari Jones’s An American Marriage and Jodi Picoult’s Small Great Things, We Are Not Like Them takes “us to uncomfortable places—in the best possible way—while capturing so much of what we are all thinking and feeling about race. A sharp, timely, and soul-satisfying novel” (Emily Giffin, New York Times bestselling author) that is both a powerful conversation starter and a celebration of the enduring power of friendship.
From the master storyteller Stephen King, BILLY SUMMERS is a thriller about an Iraq war vet and one of the best snipers in the world. Billy is a killer for hire, but he only takes jobs where the target truly deserves it. While Billy is trying to get out of the business, he can’t say no to one last job. But as soon as his preparations begin, he can tell something is off. As the clock counts down to the hit, Billy grapples with what it means to try to be a good man.
Master storyteller Stephen King, whose “restless imagination is a power that cannot be contained” (The New York Times Book Review), presents an unforgettable and relentless #1 New York Times bestseller about a good guy in a bad job.
Billy Summers is a man in a room with a gun. He’s a killer for hire and the best in the business. But he’ll do the job only if the target is a truly bad guy. And now Billy wants out. But first there is one last hit. Billy is among the best snipers in the world, a decorated Iraq war vet, a Houdini when it comes to vanishing after the job is done. So what could possibly go wrong?
How about everything.
This spectacular can’t-put-it-down novel is part war story, part love letter to small town America and the people who live there, and it features one of the most compelling and surprising duos in King fiction, who set out to avenge the crimes of an extraordinarily evil man. It’s about love, luck, fate, and a complex hero with one last shot at redemption.
You won’t forget this “noirish, unputdownable thriller” (People), and you won’t forget Billy.
Mukesh lives in West London with his bookworm granddaughter Priya. After the death of Mukesh’s wife, he and Priya stay siloed in their separate corners of their home. Meanwhile Aleisha is a gifted teenager working at the local library to find an escape from troubles at home. When she finds a reading list in the back of a book, she decides to read every title on it and shares it with anxious Mukesh when he comes looking to make a connection with Priya. Together, these unexpected friends form a bond through fiction.
From New York Times bestselling author Shea Ernshaw comes a dark, fairy tale-esque story about the lies we tell ourselves. Theo, a lifelong member of a reclusive community called Pastoral, knows something isn’t right with his wife Calla or her sister Bee. When he finds an abandoned truck on the outskirts of town he wonders if the community’s worst fears have been realized. Perhaps their borders have been broached, and whoever arrived might have brought the outside world’s mysterious disease, or rot, with them.
In this “riveting, atmospheric thriller that messes with your mind in the best way” (Laini Taylor, New York Times bestselling author), three residents of a secluded, seemingly peaceful commune investigate the disappearances of two outsiders.
Travis Wren has an unusual talent for locating missing people. Often hired by families as a last resort, he takes on the case of Maggie St. James—a well-known author of dark, macabre children’s books—and is soon led to a place many believed to be only a legend.
Called Pastoral, this reclusive community was founded in the 1970s by like-minded people searching for a simpler way of life. By all accounts, the commune shouldn’t exist anymore and soon after Travis stumbles upon it…he disappears. Just like Maggie St. James.
Years later, Theo, a lifelong member of Pastoral, discovers Travis’s abandoned truck beyond the border of the community. No one is allowed in or out, not when there’s a risk of bringing a disease—rot—into Pastoral. Unraveling the mystery of what happened reveals secrets that Theo, his wife, Calla, and her sister, Bee, keep from one another. Secrets that prove their perfect, isolated world isn’t as safe as they believed—and that darkness takes many forms.
“As spine-chilling as it is beautifully crafted” (Ruth Emmie Lang, author of Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance), A History of Wild Places is a story about fairy tales, our fear of the dark, and losing yourself within the wilderness of your mind.
Aspiring novelist Aaron has been riding the rails through the pastoral American West of the 1960s. Hopping off in Denver, he meets Joanne, a painter with whom he has an instant connection. But Joanne is already involved with a professor who is involved in a cult, and a cruel businessman is trying to pull Aaron into an investigation of gruesome murders. Soon it becomes clear that this pastoral paradise has a lot to hide and to lose. From New York Times bestselling author James Lee Burke, ANOTHER KIND OF EDEN is the third installment in the Holland family saga.
New York Times bestselling author James Lee Burke brings readers a captivating tale of justice, love, brutality, and mysticism set in the turbulent 1960s.
The American West in the early 1960s appears to be a pastoral paradise: golden wheat fields, mist-filled canyons, frolicking animals. Aspiring novelist Aaron Holland Broussard has observed it from the open door of a boxcar, riding the rails for both inspiration and odd jobs.
Jumping off in Denver, he finds work on a farm and meets Joanne McDuffy, an articulate and fierce college student and gifted painter. Their soul connection is immediate, but their romance is complicated by Joanne’s involvement with a shady professor who is mixed up with a drug-addled cult. When a sinister businessman and his son who wield their influence through vicious cruelty set their sights on Aaron, drawing him into an investigation of grotesque murders, it is clear that this idyllic landscape harbors tremendous power—and evil. Followed by a mysterious shrouded figure who might not be human, Aaron will have to face down all these foes to save the life of the woman he loves and his own.
The latest installment in James Lee Burke’s masterful Holland family saga, Another Kind of Eden is both riveting and one of Burke’s most ambitious works to date. It dismantles the myths of both the twentieth-century American West and the peace-and-love decade, excavating the beauty and idealism of the era to show the menace and chaos that lay simmering just beneath the surface.
In this immersive and imaginative novel, Anita Kopacz imagines a deity of the Yoruba people, Yemaya, as a young woman in mid-nineteenth-century America grappling with the power she is just beginning to possess. Yemaya travels from Africa to America and along the Underground Railroad searching for the mysterious Obatala, a man willing to sacrifice his freedom for hers. Along the way, she must confront the evils of American history as well as the heroes of their time. SHALLOW WATERS is a spellbinding act of storytelling about Black strength and resistance.
In this “captivating” (Harper’s Bazaar) and lyrical debut novel—perfect for fans of The Water Dancer and the Legacy of Orïsha series—the Yoruba deity of the sea, Yemaya, is brought to vivid life as she discovers the power of Black resilience, love, and feminine strength in antebellum America.
Shallow Waters imagines Yemaya, an Orïsha—a deity in the religion of Africa’s Yoruba people—cast into mid-1800s America. We meet Yemaya as a young woman, still in the care of her mother and not yet fully aware of the spectacular power she possesses to protect herself and those she holds dear.
The journey laid out in Shallow Waters sees Yemaya confront the greatest evils of this era; transcend time and place in search of Obatala, a man who sacrifices his own freedom for the chance at hers; and grow into the powerful woman she was destined to become. We travel alongside Yemaya from her native Africa and on to the “New World,” with vivid pictures of life for those left on the outskirts of power in the nascent Americas.
Yemaya realizes the fighter within, travels the Underground Railroad in search of the mysterious stranger Obatala, and crosses paths with icons of our history on the road to freedom. Shallow Waters is a “riveting and heartbreaking” (Publishers Weekly) work of ritual storytelling from promising debut author Anita Kopacz.
After a horrific accident ends her acting career, Miranda is left with excruciating back pain, a failed marriage, and an addiction to painkillers. And when her attempt, as a college theater director, to stage All’s Well That Ends Well—the play that ended her career—fails at the hands of a mutinous case, she thinks her last chance at redemption is gone. But when three strange benefactors offer her the chance to go through with the production and teach her rebellious students a lesson, Miranda finds new motivation in this darkly funny, subversive novel.
From the author of Bunny, which Margaret Atwood hails as “genius,” comes a “wild, and exhilarating” (Lauren Groff) novel about a theater professor who is convinced staging Shakespeare’s most maligned play will remedy all that ails her—but at what cost?
Miranda Fitch’s life is a waking nightmare. The accident that ended her burgeoning acting career left her with excruciating chronic back pain, a failed marriage, and a deepening dependence on painkillers. And now, she’s on the verge of losing her job as a college theater director. Determined to put on Shakespeare’s All’s Well That Ends Well, the play that promised and cost her everything, she faces a mutinous cast hellbent on staging Macbeth instead. Miranda sees her chance at redemption slip through her fingers.
That’s when she meets three strange benefactors who have an eerie knowledge of Miranda’s past and a tantalizing promise for her future: one where the show goes on, her rebellious students get what’s coming to them, and the invisible doubted pain that’s kept her from the spotlight is made known.
With prose Margaret Atwood has described as “no punches pulled, no hilarities dodged…genius,” Mona Awad has concocted her most potent, subversive novel yet. All’s Well is a “fabulous novel” (Mary Karr) about a woman at her breaking point and a formidable, piercingly funny indictment of our collective refusal to witness and believe female pain.
An unsettling literary debut, THE SHIMMERING STATE follows Lucien and Sophie as they meet at the Center, a recovery facility for patients who’ve become addicted to Mem, a new experimental drug officially used to treat Alzheimer’s but frequently abused by Hollywood’s elite. Sophie, a young actress that encountered Mem while waitressing at the Chateau Marmont, and Lucien, an emerging photographer who was initially prescribed Mem as an early-onset Alzheimer’s patient, feel an immediate connection to each other. But what, exactly, is this attraction about, and what is it that truly happened in their “before”?
A “moving, astounding, and totally unsettling” (Caroline Leavitt, New York Times bestselling author) literary debut following two patients in recovery after an experimental memory drug warps their lives.
Lucien moves to Los Angeles to be with his grandmother as she undergoes an experimental treatment for Alzheimer’s using the new drug, Memoroxin. An emerging photographer, he’s also running from the sudden death of his mother, a well-known artist whose legacy haunts him.
Sophie has just landed the lead in the upcoming performance of La Sylphide with the Los Angeles Ballet Company. She still waitresses at the Chateau Marmont during her off hours, witnessing the recreational use of Memoroxin—or Mem—among the Hollywood elite.
When Lucien and Sophie meet at The Center, founded by an ambitious yet conflicted doctor to treat patients who’ve abused Mem, they have no memory of how they got there—or why they feel so inexplicably drawn to each other. Is it attraction, or something they cannot remember from “before”?
“Contemplative and wonderfully evocative, finishing The Shimmering State is like waking from a dream, where you reenter the world with fresh eyes and wonder at the frailty of your own memories” (Jessica Chiarella, author of The Lost Girls).