10 New Books To Read This August

From the return of literary genius Deborah Levy to a new book focused on all-things pop music, this month offers beach books and powerful autobiographies in equal measure…

Fangirls by Hannah Ewens

From Beatlemania in the early 1960s to the Directioners and Beyhive of today, female music fans have long propelled the objects of their affection to the dizzying heights of life-changing fame. But these fan groups are never given appropriate credit. Frequently derided, their worlds and communities are self-contained and rarely investigated by cultural historians and commentators. In Fangirls: Scenes From Modern Music Culture, journalist Hannah Ewens is on a mission to give these individuals their rightful dues. A dedicated music lover herself, she has spoken to hundreds of fans from the UK to Japan to trace their path through recent pop and rock history. She's found the untold stories behind important events and uncovered the ups, the downs and the lengths fans go to, celebrating the camaraderie and lifelines their fandoms can provide.

“Fangirls is a warm and vivid portrait of the elation and devastation felt by female music fans and a place in which the passions and anxieties of young girls are really listened to and understood.” – The Guardian.

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Our Stop by Laura Jane Williams

We loved both LJW’s memoirs – Becoming and Ice-Cream For Breakfast – so were thrilled to learn she was publishing her first novel. In Our Stop, Nadia gets the 7.30am train every day without fail. Well, except if she oversleeps or wakes up at her friend Emma’s after too much wine. Daniel really does get the 7.30am train every morning, which is easy because he hasn’t been able to sleep properly since his dad died. One morning, Nadia’s eye catches sight of a post in the daily paper: ‘To the cute girl with the coffee stains on her dress. I’m the guy who’s always standing near the doors… Drink sometime?’ And so begins a not-quite-romance of near-misses and the search for true love. A refreshingly romantic and relatable read, devoid of all the genre’s clichés.

“Laura Jane Williams combines sharp, relatable wit and bold, joyful sincerity.” – Dolly Alderton, author of Everything I Know About Love.

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What Happens Now? by Sophia Money-Coutts

After eight years together, Lil Bailey thought she’d already found ‘the one’ – that is, until he dumped her for a blonde 20-something colleague. So she does what any self-respecting singleton would do: swipes right, puts on her best bra and finds herself on a first date with a handsome mountaineer called Max. What’s the worst that can happen? First Max ghosts her and then, a few weeks later, Lil discovers she’s pregnant. She’s single, 31 and living in a thimble-sized flat in London: it’s hardly the happily-ever-after she was looking for. Following hot on the heels of her hilarious debut book, The Plus One, last year, What Happens Now? has made Sophia Money-Coutts one of our favourite new authors.

“So funny. And the sex is amazing – makes me feel like a nun!” – Jilly Cooper, author of Riders

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Trick Mirror by Jia Tolentino

In her new collection of nine original essays, Jia Tolentino delves into the forces that warp our vision, demonstrating an unparalleled stylistic potency and critical dexterity. Trick Mirror is an enlightening, unforgettable trip through the river of self-delusion that surges just beneath the surface of our lives. This is a book about the incentives that shape us, and about how hard it is to see ourselves clearly through a culture that revolves around the self. In each essay, Tolentino writes about a cultural prism: the rise of the nightmare social internet; the advent of scamming as the definitive millennial ethos; the literary heroine’s journey from brave to blank to bitter; the punitive dream of optimisation, which insists that everything, including our bodies, should become more efficient and beautiful until we die. Filled with humour, Trick Mirror is an instant classic in millennial criticism.

“This is a whip-smart, challenging book that will prompt many of us to take a long, hard look in the mirror. It filled me with hope.” – Zadie Smith, author of White Teeth

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Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane

Gillam, upstate New York: a town of ordinary, big-lawned suburban houses. The Gleesons have recently moved there and soon welcome the Stanhopes as their new neighbours. Lonely Lena Gleeson wants a friend but Anne Stanhope – cold, elegant, unstable – wants to be left alone. It's left to their children to find their way to one another and to form a friendship whose resilience and love will be almost broken by the fault line dividing both families, and by the terrible tragedy that will engulf them all. A story of love and redemption, faith and forgiveness, Ask Again, Yes reveals the way childhood memories change when viewed from the distance of adulthood. If you enjoy Celeste Ng, Elizabeth Strout and Ann Patchett, then you’ll love this. 

“'I absolutely adored Ask Again, Yes. I'll read everything she writes.” Liane Moriarty, author of Big Little Lies

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I Never Said I Loved You by Rhik Samadder 

On an unlikely backpacking trip, Rhik and his mother find themselves speaking openly for the first time in years. Afterwards, the depression that has weighed down on Rhik begins to loosen its grip for a moment – so he seizes the opportunity: to own it, to understand it, and to find out where it came from. Through this begins a journey of investigation, healing and recovery. Along the way Rhik learns some shocking truths about his family, and realises that, in turn, he will need to confront the secrets he has long buried. I Never Said I Loved You is the story of how Rhik learned to let go, and then keep going. With humour and honesty, he has created a powerfully rich, funny and poignant exploration of the light and dark in all of us.

“This mind-blowingly wonderful memoir had me convulsing with laughter even while my heart was breaking. It's utterly effing beautiful.” – Marian Keyes, author of Rachel’s Holiday

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The Yellow House by Sarah M. Broom 

In 1961, Sarah Broom’s mother Ivory Mae bought a shotgun house in the then-promising neighbourhood of New Orleans East and built her world inside of it. Widowed, Ivory Mae remarried Sarah’s father Simon; their combined family would eventually number 12 children. But after Simon died, six months after Sarah’s birth, the Yellow House would become Ivory Mae’s 13th and most unruly child. A book of great ambition, this tale tells a hundred years of Broom’s family and their relationship to home in a neglected area of one of America’s most mythologised cities. Located in the gap between the ‘Big Easy’ of tourist guides and the New Orleans in which Broom was raised, The Yellow House is a brilliant memoir of place, class, race, the seeping rot of inequality, and the internalised shame that often follows. 

“Sarah Broom’s sweeping memoir is epic in scope, all of this shot through with reverence, longing and abiding love.” – Ayana Mathis, author of The Twelve Tribes of Hattie

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Careful What You Wish For by Hallie Ephron 

Emily Harlow is a professional organiser who helps people declutter their lives and yet she’s married to man who can’t drive past a yard sale without stopping. He’s filled their basement, attic and garage with his finds. The larger his ‘collection’ becomes, the deeper the distance grows between the pair. Luckily, Emily’s got new clients to distract herself: a young wife whose husband won’t allow her stuff into their house. Emily’s initial meeting with the woman takes a detour when, after too much wine, the women end up fantasising about how much more pleasant life would be without their collecting spouses. But the next day Emily finds herself in a mess that might be too big for her to clean up.

" Careful What You Wish For is a cautionary tale for the spark joy moment – a tidy nightmare of a story that won't be contained. A compulsive page-turner that sparks anxiety." – Lori Rader-Day, author of Under a Dark Sky

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The Man Who Saw Everything by Deborah Levy

Already nominated for the 2019 Booker Prize – and it’s not even out yet – this is an unmissable new novel about old and new Europe and old and new love, from the twice-Booker-shortlisted author of Hot Milk and Swimming Home. In 1988 Saul Adler, a narcissistic, young historian, is hit by a car on the Abbey Road. He is apparently fine; he gets up and goes to see his art student girlfriend, Jennifer Moreau. They have sex then break up, but not before she has photographed Saul crossing the same Abbey Road. Slipping slyly between time zones and leaving a spiralling trail, Deborah Levy's electrifying book examines what we see and what we fail to see, the grave crime of carelessness, the weight of history and our ruinous attempts to shrug it off.

“Levy writes on the high wire, unfalteringly.” – Marina Warner, author of Alone Of All Her Sex 

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My Name Is Why by Lemn Sissay

How does a government steal a child and then imprison him? How does it keep it a secret? This story is how. At the age of 17, after a childhood in a foster family followed by six years in care homes, Norman Greenwood was given his birth certificate. He learned that his real name was not Norman. It was Lemn Sissay. He was British and Ethiopian. And he learned that his mother had been pleading for his safe return to her since his birth. This is Lemn's story: a story of neglect and determination, misfortune and hope, cruelty and triumph. Here, poet Sissay reflects on his childhood, self-expression and Britishness, and in doing so explores the institutional care system, race, family and the meaning of home. 

“I have never read a memoir like it. A blistering account of a young life in the hands of neglectful authorities. It’s a quest for understanding, for home, for answers. Grips like a thriller. Astounding.” – Matt Haig, author of How To Stay Alive

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