R29 Reads: The Books We’re Picking Up This August

·4 min read

With restrictions now at their most lax since March 2020, many people are spending the last month of summer running all over the country, from clubs to gigs to weddings. However, if you're taking things slow this August (or you like to read on your party bus), we're here to inform you that this month has a whole new selection of captivating books to keep you entertained.

Last month, Team R29 worked its way through a variety of thought-provoking reads, including Katherine Angel’s Tomorrow Sex Will Be Good Again, which explores what female desire and intimate relationships look like in the post #MeToo era. Other literary hits on the list included Caitlin Wahrer’s crime novel Damage and Emily Austin’s exploration of mortality, Everyone In This Room Will Someday Be Dead.

This month, the team is turning its attention to a host of new reads, exploring everything from shapeshifting women to war-torn countries. To take a peek at all the books we’re reading this August, click through the slideshow ahead...

At Refinery29, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team. If you buy something we link to on our site, Refinery29 may earn a commission.

<strong>Katy Thompsett, Sub Editor</strong><br><br><strong>Book: </strong><em>Nightbitch</em> by Rachel Yoder<br><br><strong>Why is it your August read? </strong>Who is Nightbitch? An especially sassy queen from the most recent series of <em>Drag Race</em>? The latest superhero to join the MCU? Your best mate’s drunken alter ego? Nightbitch is none of these. She's a young mum, trapped at home with a 2-year-old son who will not sleep. One day she notices a strange patch of hair at the nape of her neck; sharper, pointier teeth; the beginnings of what might be a tail. Something is happening to her body... Rachel Yoder’s much-hyped debut about contemporary motherhood joins a long literary tradition of women transforming and metamorphosing inside the pressure cooker of domesticity. If you’re a fan of Angela Carter, Miranda July or Charlotte Perkins Gilman, you won’t want to miss this. <br><br><strong>Rachel Yoder</strong> Nightbitch, $, available at <a href="https://www.waterstones.com/book/nightbitch/rachel-yoder/9781787302648" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Waterstones" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Waterstones</a>
Katy Thompsett, Sub Editor

Book: Nightbitch by Rachel Yoder

Why is it your August read? Who is Nightbitch? An especially sassy queen from the most recent series of Drag Race? The latest superhero to join the MCU? Your best mate’s drunken alter ego? Nightbitch is none of these. She's a young mum, trapped at home with a 2-year-old son who will not sleep. One day she notices a strange patch of hair at the nape of her neck; sharper, pointier teeth; the beginnings of what might be a tail. Something is happening to her body... Rachel Yoder’s much-hyped debut about contemporary motherhood joins a long literary tradition of women transforming and metamorphosing inside the pressure cooker of domesticity. If you’re a fan of Angela Carter, Miranda July or Charlotte Perkins Gilman, you won’t want to miss this.

Rachel Yoder Nightbitch, $, available at Waterstones
<strong>Sadhbh O’Sullivan, Health & Living Writer</strong><br><br><strong>Book: </strong><em>The View Was Exhausting</em> by Onjuli Datta and Mikaella Clements<br><br><strong>Why is it your August read?</strong> This is a real Shake Off The Cobwebs book – a summer romance that follows Win (an A-list British Indian actress) and Leo (a jet-setting playboy) as they fake their relationship for mutual benefit. While you can probably guess where the plot is going, the writing of Datta and Clements (the married co-authors) brings otherwise tired plot beats to life. As we live through the summer of Bennifer 2.0, <em>The View Was Exhausting</em> is the perfect companion novel about fame, Hollywood, performance and, of course, love.<br><br><strong>Mikaella Clements, Onjuli Datta</strong> The View Was Exhausting, $, available at <a href="https://uk.bookshop.org/books/the-view-was-exhausting-their-love-story-has-fooled-the-cameras-but-what-is-real-behind-the-scenes/9781472271716" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:bookshop.org" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">bookshop.org</a>
Sadhbh O’Sullivan, Health & Living Writer

Book: The View Was Exhausting by Onjuli Datta and Mikaella Clements

Why is it your August read? This is a real Shake Off The Cobwebs book – a summer romance that follows Win (an A-list British Indian actress) and Leo (a jet-setting playboy) as they fake their relationship for mutual benefit. While you can probably guess where the plot is going, the writing of Datta and Clements (the married co-authors) brings otherwise tired plot beats to life. As we live through the summer of Bennifer 2.0, The View Was Exhausting is the perfect companion novel about fame, Hollywood, performance and, of course, love.

Mikaella Clements, Onjuli Datta The View Was Exhausting, $, available at bookshop.org
<strong>Vicky Spratt, Features Editor</strong><br><br><strong>Book: </strong><em>Little Weirds </em>by Jenny Slate<br><br><strong>Why is it your August read? </strong>The debut from comedian Jenny Slate defies explanation and categorisation. It is a book, sort of. Reading it is at once immersive and discombobulating. It’s a novel but it’s autobiographical. It contains fragments and passages of prose. Slate said she was trying to say goodbye to her ex-husband and yet the word 'divorce' appears just a few times. Intimate disclosures, which you might reasonably expect in an autobiography, are wrapped up in obscuring and whimsical rhetorical devices, making them sometimes funny and sometimes alluring. The whole thing is an abstraction. And that’s why it’s brilliant. Read if you want to be at once completely immersed and completely removed from the confusion that is being alive. <br><br><strong>Jenny Slate</strong> Little Weirds, $, available at <a href="https://uk.bookshop.org/books/little-weirds/9780349726427" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:bookshop.org" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">bookshop.org</a>
Vicky Spratt, Features Editor

Book: Little Weirds by Jenny Slate

Why is it your August read? The debut from comedian Jenny Slate defies explanation and categorisation. It is a book, sort of. Reading it is at once immersive and discombobulating. It’s a novel but it’s autobiographical. It contains fragments and passages of prose. Slate said she was trying to say goodbye to her ex-husband and yet the word 'divorce' appears just a few times. Intimate disclosures, which you might reasonably expect in an autobiography, are wrapped up in obscuring and whimsical rhetorical devices, making them sometimes funny and sometimes alluring. The whole thing is an abstraction. And that’s why it’s brilliant. Read if you want to be at once completely immersed and completely removed from the confusion that is being alive.

Jenny Slate Little Weirds, $, available at bookshop.org
<strong>Jess Commons, Managing Editor</strong><br><br><strong>Book: </strong><em>The Island of Missing Trees</em> by Elif Shafak<br><br><strong>Why is it your August read? </strong>I keep trying to get hold of Booker-nominated Shafak’s other novels on BorrowBox, the (free!) audiobook library app I use, but they’re always checked out – testament to how good the <em>10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World</em> author is, I suppose! This new novel is about Cyprus, an island whose history I’ve been wanting to learn more about ever since I ended up at a heavily armed military checkpoint in the middle of what was otherwise a sunny beach holiday. Set in 1974, Defne is Turkish Muslim while Kostas is Greek Christian and their illicit relationship evolves over delicious wine and food at the one tavern where they feel safe to meet. But the threat of the outside world is never far away – will the coming conflict prove more powerful than their love?<br><br><strong>Elif Shafak</strong> The Island of Missing Trees, $, available at <a href="https://uk.bookshop.org/books/the-island-of-missing-trees/9780241434994" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Bookshop" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Bookshop</a>
Jess Commons, Managing Editor

Book: The Island of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak

Why is it your August read? I keep trying to get hold of Booker-nominated Shafak’s other novels on BorrowBox, the (free!) audiobook library app I use, but they’re always checked out – testament to how good the 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World author is, I suppose! This new novel is about Cyprus, an island whose history I’ve been wanting to learn more about ever since I ended up at a heavily armed military checkpoint in the middle of what was otherwise a sunny beach holiday. Set in 1974, Defne is Turkish Muslim while Kostas is Greek Christian and their illicit relationship evolves over delicious wine and food at the one tavern where they feel safe to meet. But the threat of the outside world is never far away – will the coming conflict prove more powerful than their love?

Elif Shafak The Island of Missing Trees, $, available at Bookshop
<strong>Alicia Lansom, Editorial Assistant</strong><br><br><strong>Book: </strong><a href="https://uk.bookshop.org/books/afterparties/9781611856514" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Afterparties" class="link rapid-noclick-resp"><em>Afterparties</em></a> by Anthony Veasna So<br><br><strong>Why is it your August read? </strong>I’ve fallen into a bit of a reading slump so I’ve decided to try a collection of short stories to get me back on track. These bitesize tales revolve around the lives of Cambodian Americans and their individual experiences in California. Jumping between light stories of Silicon Valley romances and heavy accounts of mass shootings, the collection is tied together through its second generation characters and discusses what it means to grow up with parents who were the victims of a horrifying genocide and the concept of intergenerational trauma.<br><br><strong>Anthony Veasna So</strong> Afterparties, $, available at <a href="https://www.waterstones.com/book/afterparties/anthony-veasna-so/9781611856514" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Waterstones" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Waterstones</a>
Alicia Lansom, Editorial Assistant

Book: Afterparties by Anthony Veasna So

Why is it your August read? I’ve fallen into a bit of a reading slump so I’ve decided to try a collection of short stories to get me back on track. These bitesize tales revolve around the lives of Cambodian Americans and their individual experiences in California. Jumping between light stories of Silicon Valley romances and heavy accounts of mass shootings, the collection is tied together through its second generation characters and discusses what it means to grow up with parents who were the victims of a horrifying genocide and the concept of intergenerational trauma.

Anthony Veasna So Afterparties, $, available at Waterstones

Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?

Unbothered's Essential Summer Reading List

9 Self-Help Books That Will Actually Help You

8 Books To Bring A Bit More Queer Joy To Your Life

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting