August Staff Picks

Here’s five books we’re lov­ing this month.

It’s August, and time for anoth­er chap­ter of staff read­ing recs! Peruse our picks and click on a title to place a request (or request all five if, like us, you’re total­ly lack­ing shelf control). 

Want even more curat­ed recs from our staff? Check out our Read­ing Rec­om­men­da­tions page, or com­plete a short form and we’ll email you a list of per­son­al­ized recommendations.

The Hen­na Artist by Alka Joshi

Celeste says:

I real­ly enjoyed The Hen­na Artist, the first vol­ume in Alka Joshi’s tril­o­gy about an inde­pen­dent young woman who escapes her abu­sive mar­riage and becomes an in-demand hen­na artist to the rich in 1950s Jaipur. (The Secret Keep­er of Jaipur and The Per­fumist of Paris, which com­plete the tril­o­gy, are also great.) Joshi’s char­ac­ters feel very real and her lan­guage brings the coun­try to life. I’ve nev­er been to India, but I feel like I’ve been there, thanks to this book!”

Child of God by Cor­mac McCarthy

Dan says:

Cor­mac McCarthy’s third nov­el fol­lows Lester Bal­lad, a mis­an­throp­ic dweller of the Appalachi­an Moun­tains of Ten­nessee, as he strug­gles to sur­vive and com­mits hor­ren­dous acts of vio­lence. Not as dense as McCarthy’s ear­ly works like The Orchard Keep­er, nor as sparse as The Road, the prose is beau­ti­ful and mov­ing even as we learn to loathe – and, on some lev­el, pity – the pro­tag­o­nist. McCarthy remains a true mas­ter, and his recent death is a pro­found loss for Amer­i­can literature.”

Check­out 19 by Claire-Louise Bennett

Jim­my says:

Is it a nov­el or a mem­oir? Are they short sto­ries or essays? It does­n’t mat­ter, because these semi-con­nect­ed auto-fic­tion­al pieces pro­vide the per­fect can­vas for Ben­net­t’s wild imag­i­na­tion and poet­ic med­i­ta­tions to ful­ly play out, fol­low­ing her train of thought off the rails to their ridicu­lous (but fit­ting) ends. A book that breaks open the bound­aries of genre to exam­ine the inner work­ings of mem­o­ry and the cre­ative process.”

The Actu­al Star by Mon­i­ca Byrne

Kady says:

This book became my entire per­son­al­i­ty for about a month after I read it; all I want­ed was for some­one to dis­sect it with me. Since I could­n’t find any­one to do that, I’m here to rec­om­mend it to all of DeKalb Coun­ty. A sprawl­ing sci-fi epic, told in three inter­twin­ing time­lines reach­ing as far back as the 10th cen­tu­ry and as far into the future as the 30th cen­tu­ry, The Actu­al Star vis­its three civ­i­liza­tions on the brink of cat­a­clysmic change to ask the big ques­tions about iden­ti­ty, belong­ing, and what unites and divides us as humans.”

We All Want Impos­si­ble Things by Cather­ine Newman

Mandy says:

At first glance, We All Want Impos­si­ble Things is not an uplift­ing read. One of the two main char­ac­ters – Edith – is dying from ovar­i­an can­cer, and spend­ing her last days in a hos­pice facil­i­ty near Ash­ley, her best friend for more than 42 years. The book is a cel­e­bra­tion of their friend­ship and is both remark­ably fun­ny and heart­break­ing. The messi­ness of life is on full dis­play … I loved it!”