Parnassus Staff Presents: 27 New Reads for August

One of our favorite things about being booksellers is getting the chance to share the books we love most with all of you. We usually reach for new books to recommend for our monthly staff picks, but lately we’ve been feeling like we aren’t giving older books all the love they deserve. So we’re excited to present to you… drumroll please…. the Classics & Backlist section! Scroll down below Nonfiction each month to check out a new selection of not-so-new books that we love a whole lot. Without further ado, we present to you our staff picks for August!

Recommended by Karen

Still Life By Sarah Winman Cover ImageStill Life

Ulysses is a young soldier stationed in Tuscany during WWII when he meets a much older art historian, Evelyn Skinner. They form an immediate friendship that lives on in their memories after they return to England. When Ulysses receives an unexpected inheritance taking him back to Florence, it also sets into motion the reuniting of these two. This book has an eccentric cast of characters you will love.

Recommended by Lindsay

Our Wives Under the Sea: A Novel By Julia Armfield Cover ImageOur Wives Under the Sea: A Novel

In Julia Armfield’s surreal and gorgeous debut novel, a woman returns from a deep-sea expedition and something is… not quite right about her. Our Wives Under the Sea is equal parts unnerving and unfathomably beautiful—imagine Jeff VanderMeer’s Annihilation meets the poetry of Adrienne Rich, with a dash of Carmen Maria Machado.

Recommended by Cheryl

Mercury Pictures Presents: A Novel By Anthony Marra Cover ImageMercury Pictures Presents: A Novel

The story begins in the early 1940s in a small Hollywood movie studio. Laugh-out-loud wittiness changes to stories of trying circumstances that the employees had to endure in Europe prior to coming to the US. This novel is rich in its balance of humor and heart-wrenching survival.

Also loved by Ann and Elyse!

Recommended by RJ

A Prayer for the Crown-Shy: A Monk and Robot Book (Monk & Robot #2) By Becky Chambers Cover ImageA Prayer for the Crown-Shy: A Monk and Robot Book

A gentle exploration of utopian ideals and community, this sequel to A Psalm for the Wild-Built continues Becky Chamber’s track record for making some of the most beautiful, feel-good scifi around. I’m always excited for another glimpse into this world.

Recommended by Kathy

The Foundling: A Novel By Ann Leary Cover ImageThe Foundling: A Novel

By Ann Leary

Young Mary Engle comes to work at the Nettleton State Village Home for Feebleminded Women of Childbearing Age. She accidentally discovers shocking things that go on there and sets about trying to help despite danger to herself and a friend trapped there. Kept me spell-bound until the end!

Recommended by Sissy

Just Like Home By Sarah Gailey Cover ImageJust Like Home

A woman returns home after a long absence to care for her dying mother. Why is their relationship so tense? Is the house haunted? Fans of Shirley Jackson will love the slowly building horror in this novel.

Recommended by Sarah

Patricia Wants to Cuddle By Samantha Allen Cover ImagePatricia Wants to Cuddle

This one was WEIRD, y’all, and I loved every second. Here’s how I can best describe it: Campy satire + reality TV + comedic horror + queer romp = Patricia Wants to Cuddle. Just trust me on this one.

Recommended by Chelsea

The Daughter of Doctor Moreau By Silvia Moreno-Garcia Cover ImageThe Daughter of Doctor Moreau

Drawing inspiration from the famous H. G. Wells novel, Moreno-Garcia has penned a novel that defies genre, mixing elements of historical fiction and sci-fi with a dash of romance. The heroine’s character development from obedient daughter to independent badass was particularly enrapturing, as was the role of the hybrids. I eagerly await Moreno-Garcia’s next project.

Recommended by Jenness

The Displacements: A Novel By Bruce Holsinger Cover ImageThe Displacements: A Novel

The world’s first Category 6 hurricane devastates South Florida and the Gulf Coast, creating a new diaspora across America. Equal parts family drama and social commentary, this novel is a riveting tale of loss and reclamation, privilege and humanity – an inspiration to take better care of our planet and our fellow humans.

Recommended by Jake

An Honest Living: A Novel By Dwyer Murphy Cover ImageAn Honest Living: A Novel

This modern update on the pulpy detective story is as clever as it is enthralling. Following a lawyer who finds himself drawn into the shady underworld of antique book sales, along the way he encounters messy marriages, nefarious schemes, vast conspiracies, colorful characters, and twists and turns aplenty. Masterfully subverting many genre clichés, this title is sure to appease any and all mystery fans.

Recommended by Ashby

The It Girl By Ruth Ware Cover ImageThe It Girl

By Ruth Ware

I didn’t see it coming! When they were students at Oxford, Hannah’s “it girl” roommate April was murdered. The convicted killer proclaimed his innocence until he died. Now, Hannah is pregnant and married to April’s boyfriend. Solving the crime involves reconnecting with the past and coming to terms with who her roommate really was. Page-turner!

Recommended by Chelsea

The Last to Vanish: A Novel By Megan Miranda Cover ImageThe Last to Vanish: A Novel

Abby manages an inn in the mountain town of Cutter’s Pass, infamous for the disappearances of hikers. When the brother of the last disappearance arrives, he and Abby start to follow leads that threaten to unravel the town’s darkest secrets. Suspenseful and claustrophobic, The Last to Vanish will not disappoint thriller fans.

Recommended by Patsy

Stories from the Attic By William Gay Cover ImageStories from the Attic

Gay’s posthumous volume places him squarely in the world of Southern Gothic fiction, echoing Flannery O’Connor and Cormac McCarthy. His gritty short stories of well-developed characters from the far side of the tracks had me turning the pages with a bit of trepidation, but I couldn’t stop reading. Longtime fans of his novels will appreciate the sections of memoirs and fragments included.

Recommended by Jenness

Acts of Violet By Margarita Montimore Cover ImageActs of Violet

Ten years after famous magician Violet Volk’s mid-act disappearance, her estranged sister Sasha is still trying to hold her life together and make sense of it all. A quick and enjoyable journey driven by the power of magic, the bond of sisterhood, and the legacy of what we leave behind.

Recommended by RJ

D'Vaughn and Kris Plan a Wedding By Chencia C. Higgins Cover ImageD’Vaughn and Kris Plan a Wedding

D’Vaughn and Kris are strangers, but if they’re going to win $100,000 on reality TV, they’ll have to convince both their families they’re madly in love and getting married in six short weeks. This romcom features some of the most delightful family antics I’ve read in a while, not to mention the romantic chemistry between the leads. This is pure fun and joy.

Recommended by Chelsea

The Hookup Plan (The Boyfriend Project #3) By Farrah Rochon Cover ImageThe Hookup Plan

I have been waiting for London’s story since she was introduced in The Boyfriend Project, and this was everything I hoped for and more. With academic-rivals-to-lovers and a focus on empowering female friendships, you’ve got a romance novel that will not disappoint.

Also loved by Katie!

Recommended by Hannah

Every Summer After By Carley Fortune Cover ImageEvery Summer After

Reading this book feels like summer sunshine warming your skin. Perfect for fans of childhood friends to lovers and/or second-chance romance, it’s an excellent beach-read with just enough emotional angst to balance it out.

Recommended by Jordan

Adult Assembly Required By Abbi Waxman Cover ImageAdult Assembly Required

If you are in need of a quirky and charming story with lovable characters, I cannot recommend Abbi Waxman’s books enough. Her latest novel, Adult Assembly Required, feels like a hug from a dear friend.

Recommended by RJ

A Caribbean Heiress in Paris: A Historical Romance By Adriana Herrera Cover ImageA Caribbean Heiress in Paris: A Historical Romance

This historical romance is a gem, with a feisty business-savvy heroine, a high stakes marriage of convenience, and immersive historical details. Equal turns smart, steamy, and sweet, I looked forward to seeing what’s next for this promising series.

Recommended by Lindsay

The Crane Wife: A Memoir in Essays By CJ Hauser Cover ImageThe Crane Wife: A Memoir in Essays

By CJ Hauser

I’ve been anticipating this collection since CJ Hauser had a stunning essay about a broken engagement go viral a few years ago—I’m glad to report that The Crane Wife lives up to the hype! This essay collection is gorgeous and heartfelt.

Recommended by Jennifer

The Light We Give: How Sikh Wisdom Can Transform Your Life By Simran Jeet Singh Cover ImageThe Light We Give: How Sikh Wisdom Can Transform Your Life

Singh’s memoir walks readers through his life as a Sikh in the United States. Despite the racism and prejudices he has experienced, Singh finds the courage– and helps inspire his readers– to live a life guided by love and light. Singh uses his Sikh values as a foundation for promoting change and unity in our broken world.

Recommended by Sissy

Evangelical Anxiety: A Memoir By Charles Marsh Cover ImageEvangelical Anxiety: A Memoir

Marsh, a preacher’s son and professor of religious studies at UVA, explores the personal cost of an evangelical upbringing and a medical diagnosis of generalized anxiety disorder. He’s a book nerd like us, so lovers of literature will especially appreciate this memoir.

Recommended by Katie

Ariadne: A Novel By Jennifer Saint Cover ImageAriadne: A Novel

I cannot pass up a Greek mythology retelling and Jennifer Saint’s debut did not disappoint. This is a beautiful story that gives a larger voice to the Princess of Crete, Ariadne, and her struggle to find her footing in a world in which both men and gods have other plans. If you loved Madeline Miller’s Circe or Natalie Hayne’s A Thousand Ships you’ll love Ariadne.

Recommended by Lindsay

Crush (Yale Series of Younger Poets) By Richard Siken, Louise Gluck (Foreword by) Cover ImageCrush

By Richard SikenLouise Gluck (Foreword by)

When those late summer storms start rolling in, I always find myself reaching for some lush, dramatic poetry. Richard Siken’s Crush is my go-to. Grab a copy now so you have it on hand the next time it starts pouring rain.

Recommended by Hannah

Persuasion By Jane Austen, Gillian Beer (Editor), Gillian Beer (Introduction by), Gillian Beer (Notes by) Cover ImagePersuasion

Widely acknowledged as Austen’s most mature work, Persuasion is a nuanced drama with acute social commentary and second-chance romance. Trust me: don’t waste your time watching Netflix’s new adaptation – stick with the original masterpiece.

Recommended by Elyse

This Is Happiness By Niall Williams Cover ImageThis Is Happiness

A funny and poignant story about a teenage boy sent from Dublin to a small Irish village to live with his grandparents. Coming of age, old and new loves, the arrival of electricity, along with a loveable and quirky cast of characters I absolutely adored! The writing was so beautiful, I kept re-reading passages. The book brought me such happiness!

Recommended by Katie

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (Wayfarers #1) By Becky Chambers Cover ImageThe Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet

Cozy space travelers on a delightful adventure. This book is a treasure and the rest of the books in the series deliver as well. The perfect book for when you can’t deal with your current planet and are ready to trade it in.

First Editions Club: August Selection

Mercury Pictures Presents: A Novel By Anthony Marra Cover ImageMercury Pictures Presents: A Novel

By Anthony Marra

Dear friends,

Anthony Marra is someone I root for. His books are ambitious and complex, tackling subjects that lesser novelists are wise to stay away from. Take, for example, his first novel, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, which deals with the Russian war in Chechnya, or his second book, The Tsar of Love and Techno, short stories that start out in Stalin’s Russia and go on to more places than you can imagine. Marra has been compared to Nabokov, Kafka, and Orwell. The word “brilliant” gets used in pretty much all of his reviews.

So needless to say, expectations were high for Mercury Pictures Presents, the novel he’s been working on for seven years. Clearly, the work has paid off. The story runs from Mussolini’s Italy to 1940s Hollywood, and is full of history, comedy, and horror. It is that thing we’re always looking for at Parnassus: a great literary read.

One of the fun things about reading all of one author’s work is that you can start to see patterns emerging: Marra loves to write about people being erased. Watch for it.

And enjoy.

Ann Patchett

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.