Books

Best new books of August: essential reads for summer

Posted by
Cathy Rentzenbrink
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Lots of books get compared to One Day and Me Before You but few pass muster. Miss You by Kate Eberlin certainly does and I’d highly recommend you make it your summer read of choice. I promise you’ll be sobbing all over your sun lounger and will feel all the better for it.

The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83 ¼ years old by Hendrik Groen and The Nakano Thrift Shop by Hiromi Kawakami are both full of off-beat charm and quirky characters.

For short, intense books packed with unlikable but rather addictive people try Love in Central America by Clancy Martin or A Beautiful Young Wife by Tommy Wieringa. Two very different journeys feature in To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey and The Lauras by Sara Taylor, who gives us 13-year-old Alex, my protagonist of the month and I loved The New Mrs Clifton by Elizabeth Buchan, a story of post-war adjustment which sets up a mystery on the first page.

On to non-fiction. A Smell of Burning by Colin Grant is a history of epilepsy infused with the author’s own experience, and The War on Women by Sue Lloyd-Roberts is a tough but necessary read, and sadly useful if you ever need reminding how equality is still far beyond our reach.

Happy reading.

Visit Cathy's page for her picks of the best books of the year so far

  • Miss You by Kate Eberlin

    Tess and Gus keep almost meeting but fate intervenes. Can they ever be together? I picked this up meaning only to read a couple of pages but could not stop, often laughing and crying at the same time.

    Perfect summer reading, and so very wise about love and grief.

    Get it here

  • The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83 ¼ years old by Hendrik Groen

    “As long as there are plans, there’s life.” 

    Hendrik decides to write a diary to create a record of a year in the life of the residents of a care home in Amsterdam.

    He may be getting older and weaker but the excitements of the Old But Not Dead Club and the intriguing new resident, Eefje, keep him on his toes.

    Get it here

  • The Nakano Thrift Shop by Hiromi Kawakami

    The shop where Hitomi works is full of interesting objects with stories but it is the people who most pique her interest.

    The owner, Mr Nakano, is a bit of a ladies man, his sister, Masayo, has her own secrets and Hitomi finds herself strangely drawn to her co-worker, Takeo. Charming.

    Get it here

  • Love in Central America by Clancy Martin

    “Cheating on your husband is like doing cocaine. It’s rarely pleasurable but try quitting.”

    I like a short, intense novel about bad behaviour. Brett is happily married and has been sober for two years when she meets Eduard and embarks on a dizzying, booze soaked affair.

    Get it here

  • A Beautiful Young Wife by Tommy Wieringa

    A brutally precise examination of how life unravels for Edward Landauer, a well-respected microbiologist whose marriage to beautiful, younger Ruth changes beyond recognition when they have a baby who won’t stop crying. After trying everything else, Ruth decides that the baby is allergic to Edward…

    Get it here

  • To The Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey

    The author of The Snow Child looks again to her native Alaska for inspiration in this tale of an expedition up the Wolverine River in the winter of 1885 by Lieutenant Colonel Allen Forrester who has to leave his pregnant wife, Sophie, behind as he ventures into unmapped territory.

    Get it here

  • The Lauras by Sara Taylor

    People always want to know whether 13-year-old Alex is a boy who looks like a girl, or a girl who looks a boy but Alex isn’t telling.

    When Alex’s mother decides she’s had enough of marriage and whisks them off on a road trip across America, Alex will encounter new dangers but also possibilities galore.

    I loved this story of a mother sharing her past with her child.

    Get it here

  • The New Mrs Clifton by Elizabeth Buchan

    1945: When Gus returns home from Berlin with a German wife, his sisters are appalled. Can they learn to understand each other’s suffering and forge a life out of the wartime ruins?

    A pageturner with a big heart, suffused with the sadness of the aftermath of war.

    Get it here

  • A Smell of Burning by Colin Grant

    What do Joan of Arc, Graham Greene, Julius Caesar and Vincent Van Gogh have in common?

    They all had epilepsy, according to this fascinating book which weaves history with the author’s own experiences of the condition, first as a medical student and then when his brother, Christopher, began to have seizures.

    Get it here

  • The War on Women by Sue Lloyd-Roberts

    Difficult but essential reading, here, as the author tells stories from her 40-year career as a journalist championing voices that would otherwise not be heard.

    Sex trafficking, forced marriage, FGM and the way rape is used as a weapon are among the subjects covered. Read and weep.

    Get it here

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Author

Cathy Rentzenbrink

Cathy Rentzenbrink is an author, self-confessed bookworm, books editor at The Bookseller and director of Quick Reads. She tweets here @CathyReadsBooks and blogs here. Her memoir The Last Act of Love about the heartbreaking death of her brother is out now from @picadorbooks

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