Best Books of the Month: Literature and Fiction

Erin Kodicek on August 02, 2018
Share

Here are a handful of our favorite fiction titles for August. See more of our literature and fiction picks, and all of the Best Books of the Month.

Shop on Amazon
Print Book | Kindle Book

Meet Me at the Museum by Anne Youngson

Anne Youngson’s debut novel, Meet Me at the Museum, is a book you might sit down with for a moment but then find yourself finishing in one go. The correspondence that makes up this epistolary novel begins as somewhat of an accident, but later seems more like destiny’s hand at work. Mrs. Tina Hopgood is an English farmer’s wife, and Kristian Larsen a widowed curator at the museum in Denmark where the Tollund Man resides. Though a common interest in the Tollund Man brings them together, Kristian and Tina soon begin sharing increasingly personal stories and thoughts from their lives, including some never spoken of before. It is touching and uplifting to follow along as their relationship develops solely through their letters, particularly when Kristian notes “we have both arrived at the same point in our lives. More behind us than ahead of us. Paths chosen that define us. Enough time left to change.” There is much to be charmed by here, and Meet Me at the Museum is sure to find a welcome home beside bestsellers like The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry. –Seira Wilson

Shop on Amazon
Print Book | Kindle Book

Fruit of the Drunken Tree by Ingrid Rojas Contreras

While this autobiographically-inspired novel vividly summons the turmoil of 1990s Colombia, it’s more a story of private intimacies than national history. Nine-year-old Chula Santiago becomes obsessed with her family’s new housekeeper, Petrona, a 13-year-old of few words who lives far from Chula’s comfortable neighborhood. Chapters told from Petrona’s perspective offer a glimpse into a mirror-world of Bogotá where breakfast varies based on what soda she pours over stale bread for her many siblings. What starts as a lyrical domestic portrait turns increasingly tense as we’re forced to chart the collision course between two sweetnesses in Petrona’s life: her first boyfriend, and her growing closeness to the Santiago family. The civil war underway shimmers menacingly within the perspectives of both narrators: there’s an assassination, a car bombing at a mall, and of course the infamous Escobar manhunt that breathes a narco-haze over the country. There’s magical realism here, but it’s not García Márquez’s; it vines up from the distortions introduced by childhood: the naiveté, overheard adult conversations, the wildness of unsupervised outdoor play during the apagones (electricity rationing), and the lead blanket of first promises. --Katy Ball

Shop on Amazon
Print Book | Kindle Book

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Although this is Delia Owens’ first novel, she long ago distinguished herself as a gifted writer. In the mid-80s, Owens co-wrote with her husband Cry of the Kalahari, which was a best-selling, nonfictional account of traveling and researching Africa’s Kalahari Desert. One of the joys of that book was the Owens’ description of the natural world, and Where the Crawdads Sing is immersed in the natural world as well. The story is set in the 1950s and revolves around a young woman named Kya Clark, who is from extremely rural North Carolina. Known by others as the Marsh Girl, she lives alone in nature—but the draw of other people, and specifically love, brings her into contact with the greater world. This novel has a mystery at its core, but it can be read on a variety of levels. There is great nature writing; there coming of age; and there is literature. Crawdads is a story lovingly told—one that takes its time in developing its characters and setting, and in developing the story. You’ll want to relax and take your time as well, and when you’re done you will want to talk about it with another reader. – Chris Schluep

Shop on Amazon
Print Book | Kindle Book

The Air You Breathe by Frances De Pontes

A deep, complicated love between two very different women lies at the heart of Frances De Pontes Peebles’ new novel, The Air You Breathe. Dores and Graça grow up on the same sugar-cane plantation in Northern Brazil, but while Dores is the plain but clever daughter of a lowly worker, Graça is the spoiled, lovely daughter of the house, who demands that Dores become her playmate and accomplice. Their unequal friendship continues as the girls’ passion for samba takes them to Rio and eventually, Los Angeles, where Graça’s voice and Dores’s songs bring them international fame – for a time. Peebles’s story, inspired in part by the lives of Carmen Miranda and lesbian songwriter Chavela Vargas, lightly traces the history of Brazil from the 1930s to the 1950s as well as Hollywood’s prevailing attitudes toward foreign (and female) artists. Her sensitive, poetic writing evokes Brazil’s rough beauty and the sensual lure of the music that shapes Dores and Graça’s lives. This is a gorgeous, immersive novel about a bond so strong that it “is like air – you can forget it exists, and that it is essential to your life.” --Sarah Harrison Smith

Shop on Amazon
Print Book | Kindle Book

Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon

84-year-old Florence has fallen and she can’t get up. While waiting for rescue from the floor of her assisted living facility, she begins recounting the mystery of its newest resident, a man who looks and acts suspiciously like someone she was glad to see die sixty years ago. Aided by two unbelievably charming and loyal friends, Florence is determined to find out why he’s resurfaced. With dementia setting in, her mind isn’t as sharp as it once was, and the clues are hard to keep straight -- but she refuses to stop until the secrets are uncovered. Pick this up if you love a mystery told by an unreliable narrator, but stay for the friendship story. The bond between this senior citizen trio is heartwarmingly enviable. --Sydney Dale


Lists + Reviews

Best Books Literature + Fiction Nonfiction Kids + Young Adult Mystery, Thriller + Suspense Science Fiction + Fantasy Comics + Graphic Novels Romance Eating + Drinking

Authors

Interviews Guest Essays Celebrity Picks

News + Features

News Features Awards Podcast

Editors

Omnivoracious, The Amazon Book Review

Feeds Facebook Twitter YouTube