Well, Well, Well: It’s Time for August Staff Picks Already

All’s well that ends well, we know, it’s just that some … things … don’t seem to end. On another note, summer is absolutely zipping by, July is behind us and what that means right now is that we get to share with you what our booksellers have been reading! We’ve got 29 (twenty-nine!) great reads to keep the bad news at bay, commune with nature, tingle the spine, connect with solitude, escape into adventure — whatever your pleasure. Shall we begin? Might as well.

Recommended by Ann

All's Well: A Novel Cover ImageAll’s Well: A Novel

What’s harder to deal with, the person who is never well or the person who is endlessly, manically gleeful? This is a funny and spirited riff on Shakespeare, theater, and the cult of personality. I loved Awad’s three witches.

Our First Editions Club selection for August! Scroll to the bottom to read more.

Recommended by Karen

The Final Revival of Opal & Nev Cover ImageThe Final Revival of Opal & Nev

For fans of Daisy Jones and the Six, this book may at first seem similar: A dynamic female singer joins forces with a talented musician-songwriter. Keep reading. Opal is a Black rock singer in a time when that was relatively rare and the relationship between her and Nev is complicated. This is a smart, entertaining read.

Recommended by Lindsay

Intimacies: A Novel Cover ImageIntimacies: A Novel

If you’re wondering how many pages Katie Kitamura needs to take your breath away and reconfigure your entire brain, the answer is 225. Told in beautiful and precise language, this slim novel about a translator at the Hague is a slow burn that will stay with you long after its final page.

Recommended by Lindsay

The View Was Exhausting Cover ImageThe View Was Exhausting

If you love a fake-dating trope as much as I do, look no further than The View Was Exhausting. This debut follows what happens when a staged celebrity romance becomes a little too real. I got sucked in for the descriptions of lavish parties in Saint-Tropez, but I stayed for the compelling story about who gets to control their own narrative in the age of social media.

Recommended by Sissy

Something New Under the Sun: A Novel Cover ImageSomething New Under the Sun: A Novel

Protagonist Hamlin has written a book that’s being turned into a movie, and disaster ensues (on set and globally). The earth is drying up, yet the cameras keep rolling in Hollywood and people keep being terrible. Somehow, instead of remembering ANYTHING from high school or college Hamlet, I remembered every detail from the 1996 Mel Gibson movie. Anyhow, Kleeman’s dialogue is pitch perfect and she’s hilarious.

Recommended by Kathy

Falling: A Novel Cover ImageFalling: A Novel

Do you want to be riveted to your chair for a few hours with a non-stop suspense thriller? This is the one for summer 2021. Probably shouldn’t read it on a plane though. …

Recommended by Sissy

The Final Girl Support Group Cover ImageThe Final Girl Support Group

Grady Hendrix draws us in with his humor and terrifying scenes and pacing, but he keeps his fans loyal with the heart in every book. In this tale, a support group of mass-murder survivors (who all had their stories exploited in the movie industry) are still adrift and angry. Their struggle is far from over as they become targets of a killer yet again. I could not put it down! WHO is this killer? WHO will survive?

Watch our virtual event with Grady Hendrix and Adrienne King!

Recommended by RJ

So We Meet Again: A Novel Cover ImageSo We Meet Again: A Novel

When Jessie Kim is blindsided by an unexpected job loss, she moves back to her parents’ house in Nashville to reevaluate her life. Re-connecting with her love of Korean cooking sends Jessie down a whirlwind path of entrepreneurial adventure, while the re-appearance of her hated childhood rival sparks an unexpected romance. This story of food, family, and high-stakes business drama is a true delight.

Watch our virtual event with Suzanne Park!

Recommended by Kathy

Crooked Hallelujah Cover ImageCrooked Hallelujah

New in paperback, this novel-in-stories of four generations of Cherokee women in Oklahoma and North Texas in the ’70s calls to mind Valentine, my favorite book of 2020. I love the setting, the insightful writing and realistic characters.

Recommended by Ben

Ghost Forest: A Novel Cover ImageGhost Forest: A Novel

Tender and supple, this sparse novel illuminates the complicated bonds of a family who emigrate from Hong Kong to Vancouver while the father stays behind to work, eventually falling ill. Micro-chapters of memory use white space brilliantly, breathing life into the unspoken ways relatives love and grieve when there are not enough words, not enough time.

Recommended by Sissy

The Book of Accidents: A Novel Cover ImageThe Book of Accidents: A Novel

This is the best Wendig yet. There are hints from his older novels everywhere, which is fun, but this work is his most heartfelt. Generational abuse and regret scar a family who moves to the country. Escaping the city may not be the answer, but they strive for a better life. Ghosts from the past threaten them immediately. I was on the edge of my seat for the entire book, and was very surprised by the ending.

Recommended by Heather

Palm Beach: A Novel Cover ImagePalm Beach: A Novel

Money is complicated. Adkins explores the the positives and negatives, the power and influence, and what you owe to those who have it and want to “help” you in this engaging new novel. Be careful what you wish for!

Don’t miss our virtual event with Mary Adkins, in conversation with Ophira Eisenberg!

Recommended by Patsy

Waiting for the Waters to Rise Cover ImageWaiting for the Waters to Rise

By Maryse Condé, translated by Richard Philcox

Condé interweaves the lives of Babakar, a Malian doctor living alone in Guadeloupe who undertakes care of Anaïs, an orphaned child, with those of Movar, a Haitian man, and Fouad, Palestinian, as they venture to Haiti searching for the little girl’s family. This is a timely story of the effects of colonization in the Caribbean and the search for meaning and humanity in the face of loss of loved ones and places.

Recommended by Chelsea

She Who Became the Sun Cover ImageShe Who Became the Sun

This powerful, sweeping debut tracks female monk Zhu Chongba as she refuses to succumb to nothingness in 1345 Mongol-ruled China. The side characters are complex, the world building is immense, and Zhu’s quest to be great is filled with unexpected twists and turns.

Recommended by Sissy

Ghosts: A novel Cover ImageGhosts: A novel

Anyone who enjoyed Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason will enjoy this smart novel. It starts out hysterical, then mellows after a few pages into a story about growing up and loss. I loved her theme of ghosts crowding around us throughout our lives. Beautifully done.

Recommended by Becca

Survive the Night: A Novel Cover ImageSurvive the Night: A Novel

I will gladly read anything that Riley Sager writes, and Survive the Night might be my favorite Sager book yet. It’s terrifying and campy, and twisty enough to keep me guessing the entire way through. This book has a serial killer, murderous roadside diner staff, and just enough campy ’90s references to make it feel like a classic horror film.

Recommended by Marcia

Such a Quiet Place: A Novel Cover ImageSuch a Quiet Place: A Novel

The perfect slow burn of a summer murder mystery kept me eagerly turning the pages until the end that I did NOT expect! Read it at the beach or curled up on your couch — it will make you look at your neighbors twice!

Recommended by Karen

Fox and I: An Uncommon Friendship Cover ImageFox and I: An Uncommon Friendship

A Park Ranger living in solitude in the Montana wilderness crosses the bridge someone with a Ph.D. in biology is not supposed to, by becoming close to a fox living on her land. Daily at 4:15 the fox shows up and Raven makes sure she is there to greet him. This is a lovely book that makes us look closely at our relationship with nature.

Recommended by Lindsay

Seek You: A Journey Through American Loneliness Cover ImageSeek You: A Journey Through American Loneliness

Like many other people, I’ve spent the last year questioning how we differentiate between loneliness and aloneness. Kristen Radtke’s Seek You is a gorgeous fully illustrated meditation on the often stigmatized epidemic of loneliness and an investigation into how we form bonds with others. I’m so grateful that this book exists.

Recommended by Steve

Made in China: A Memoir of Love and Labor Cover ImageMade in China: A Memoir of Love and Labor

By Anna Qu

At its center Made in China is a deeply, often painfully personal story about family, upward mobility, and the thin line between a harsh upbringing and an abusive one. There are no easy answers here. I admire the detail, the patient and vulnerable way Qu trawls her memory; as she puts it, “It was terrible and surprising how things turned out.” Understated and extraordinary.

Recommended by Becca

The Way She Feels: My Life on the Borderline in Pictures and Pieces Cover ImageThe Way She Feels: My Life on the Borderline in Pictures and Pieces

In this graphic memoir, Courtney Cook writes about Borderline Personality Disorder the same way that it feels. It’s painful, awkward, hilarious, smart and heartbreaking. Though the content may be triggering, I think this is a must-read for anyone suffering from BPD, or anyone looking to understand one person’s lived experience with this debilitating disorder that affects 1.4 percent of the adult U.S. population.

Recommended by Elyse

Bring Your Baggage and Don't Pack Light: Essays Cover ImageBring Your Baggage and Don’t Pack Light: Essays

A collection of funny, touching essays for women of a certain age. In your face realities of getting older, fierce friendships, along with the gift of laughter make this book one of my favorites to pick up and read over and over again!

Recommended by Madeline

Stray: A Memoir Cover ImageStray: A Memoir

With elegant prose and heart-wrenching tales, this autobiography called many of my own California childhood memories to mind. Danler illuminates the tragedies of an L.A. life, the defiant beauty of family, and what true determination looks like as a daughter.

Watch our virtual event with Stephanie Danler!

Recommended by Ben

Conquering Jerusalem Cover ImageConquering Jerusalem

Dando-Collins chronicles the First Jewish Revolt (66-73 AD) with impressive detail and a fast-paced narrative. I learned so much — for instance, Roman commander Titus did not intend for the Second Temple to be destroyed. Both sides were brave and brutal, showing fortitude and folly, and while the moral high ground is murky, the consequences of these pivotal few years still reverberate to this day.

Recommended by Hannah

Forgetting: The Benefits of Not Remembering Cover ImageForgetting: The Benefits of Not Remembering

Who among us hasn’t lamented over lost or fuzzy memories? Small has devoted his medical career to understanding how and why our brains forget what they do, and he relays his surprisingly beneficial findings in this fascinating new book.

Recommended by Jordan

Don't Let It Get You Down: Essays on Race, Gender, and the Body Cover ImageDon’t Let It Get You Down: Essays on Race, Gender, and the Body

Nolan’s powerful essay collection focuses on the intersections of being a big-bodied mixed-race Black woman. Humorous, thoughtful, and complex, this memoir is a perfect summer read for fans of Roxane Gay and Samantha Irby.

Recommended by Heather

The Three Mothers: How the Mothers of Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and James Baldwin Shaped a Nation Cover ImageThe Three Mothers: How the Mothers of Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and James Baldwin Shaped a Nation

Tubbs chronicles the lives and influences of Louise Little, Alberta King and Berdis Baldwin on their famous sons: Malcom X, Martin Luther King Jr., and James Baldwin. This book weaves world events with political and black history to give the reader a sense of the sources of strength these women drew upon and passed along to their sons. What a gift! It is important, riveting, heartbreaking and breathtaking.

Recommended by Becca

Pretty Boys: Legendary Icons Who Redefined Beauty (and How to Glow Up, Too) Cover ImagePretty Boys: Legendary Icons Who Redefined Beauty (and How to Glow Up, Too)

Pretty Boys is combination history book and self-help guide that explores the history of beautiful men, from fashion movements to cultural icons, ranging from to Lord Byron to Frank Ocean. The book is gorgeous, with bright illustrations and sophisticated typographic treatments throughout, and an eye-catching reflective mirror set into the cover. An excellent gift pick for yourself or your most beautiful friend!

Recommended by Hannah

Goldenrod: Poems Cover ImageGoldenrod: Poems

Deeply honest and wholly accessible, Smith’s newest poetry collection turns the happenings of everyday life into art. Using deeply resonant images, she grapples with parenting in a pandemic, the current sociopolitical climate, and the many complicated feelings entangled in aging, divorce, solitude, and hope.

First Editions Club: August Selection

All's Well: A Novel Cover ImageAll’s Well: A Novel

Dear Friends,

Let me tell you upfront: this novel is a little unhinged. But, it’s 2021, and I think it’s safe to say that we all feel a little unhinged.

All’s Well tells the story of stage-actress-turned-college-professor Miranda Fitch, who really isn’t feeling great these days. While her life, career, and relationships all fall apart around her, Miranda just wants to stage a production of Shakespeare’s All’s Well That Ends Well. There are only a few hitches: her company of undergrads have threatened to mutiny against her, she’s in chronic pain that renders her unable to move most of the time, and there’s a surreal trio of men who promise that they can make all these problems go away. What follows is a story that is hilarious, unsettling, and brimming with empathy.

So, if after the last few years, you’re feeling a bit off, kind of weird, maybe even unstable, I hope you’ll find some happy company with the strange cast of characters in All’s Well. I know I did.

Yours in reading,
Lindsay Lynch

More about our First Editions Club: Every member receives a first edition of the selected book of the month, signed by the author. Books are carefully chosen by our staff of readers, and our picks have gone on to earn major recognition including the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and the PEN/Faulkner Award. Plus, there’s no membership fee or premium charge for these books. Build a treasured library of signed first editions and always have something great to read! Makes a FABULOUS gift, too.