Books | August 5, 2021 6:47 am

The 10 New Books You Should Be Reading This August

From visions of the future to an inside look at a soccer giant

August 2021 books
From cultural histories to gripping fiction, August brings the release of a number of great books.
Permuted Press/Unnamed Press/Hogarth Press

What’s on your agenda for the month of August? Maybe you’re enjoying the last weeks of summer. Maybe you’re enjoying the wonder that is air conditioning. Or perhaps you’re watching the Olympics and waiting for the European soccer calendar to resume. Whichever one of these best describes your month, we have a couple of books we’d like to recommend. They range in tone from gripping fiction to insightful cultural histories and back again. Whether you’re looking to be entertained or have your breadth of knowledge expanded, one of these books will surely do the trick.

The Barcelona Complex
“The Barcelona Complex”
Penguin Press

The Barcelona Complex: Lionel Messi and the Making — And Unmaking — Of the World’s Greatest Soccer Club by Simon Kuper (Aug. 17)

Few journalists write about modern soccer as well as Simon Kuper. (Soccer Men and Ajax, the Dutch, the War are both well worth checking out, if you haven’t already.) For his latest book, he looks at one of the world’s biggest teams, which is also home to one of the world’s best players — and how their fortunes have been intertwined, for good and for ill.

The Turnout
“The Turnout”
G.P. Putnam’s Sons

The Turnout by Megan Abbott (Aug. 3)

The novels of Megan Abbott offer readers gripping mysteries, resonant characters and tense, taut plotting. But she’s also willing to set these against backdrops you wouldn’t expect for crime fiction — including her latest, which uses the world of ballet as the setting for a story of fraught familial connections and ominous acts.

Power Play
“Power Play”
Doubleday Books

Power Play: Tesla, Elon Musk, and the Bet of the Century by Tim Higgins (Aug. 3)

In the last decade, Tesla and its founder Elon Musk have gone from cult figures to household names, and in doing so have helped make electric vehicles far more widespread across the globe. In Power Play, Wall Street Journal reporter Tim Higgins offers an inside look at the sometimes controversial rise of Tesla and the mercurial figure at its center.

Rude Talk in Athens
“Rude Talk in Athens”
Unnamed Press

Rude Talk in Athens: Ancient Rivals, the Birth of Comedy, and a Writer’s Journey Through Greece by Mark Haskell Smith (Aug. 17)

What can an ancient Greek playwright, none of whose work has survived until the present day, tell us about the current state of politics and art? Turns out the answer is “plenty.” Mark Haskell Smith’s new work of nonfiction offers a deep dive into the place where history, literature and politics converge — and shows just how fascinating it can be.

Something New Under the Sun
“Something New Under the Sun”
Hogarth Press

Something New Under the Sun by Alexandra Kleeman (Aug. 3)

Alexandra Kleeman’s previous novel, You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine, was an unnerving and satirical work, and her latest seems to offer a further distillation of those qualities. It’s a Hollywood novel that’s also an example of climate fiction — a portrait of a near future where synthetic water is all the rage and powerful people hide menacing secrets. We’re intrigued.

Nothing Compares 2 U
“Nothing Compares 2 U”
Permuted Press

Nothing Compares 2 U: An Oral History of Prince by Touré (Aug. 24)

In the years since his untimely death, Prince’s legacy has continued to grow, with the full breadth of his musical influence coming into focus. Now, acclaimed journalist Touré has assembled a comprehensive oral history of Prince and his music — offering an inside look into his life and art.

All's Well
“All’s Well”
Hamish Hamilton

All’s Well by Mona Awad (Aug. 3)

The plays of William Shakespeare have continued to resonate with viewers for centuries; that a high-profile film adaptation of Macbeth is coming this fall is but one example of this. For her new novel, Mona Awad offers a bleakly comic take on staging Shakespeare and the conflicts that can emerge from it. Whether or not the phrase “the Scottish play” resonates with you, this makes for a compelling read.

Across the River
“Across the River”

Across the River: Life, Death, and Football in an American City by Kent Babb (Aug. 10)

What happens when a high school football program responsible for sending many young men to college is threatened by gun violence? Kent Babb’s Across the River chronicles one season in the life of Edna Karr High School in Algiers, New Orleans — one where the challenges are both on the field and in the wider world.

Made in China
“Made in China”

Made in China: A Memoir of Love and Labor by Anna Qu (Aug. 3)

In her new memoir Made in China, Anna Qu wrestles with a host of emotionally wrenching subjects — including when her mother sent her to work in a sweatshop when she was a teenager. Her exploration of this moment in her life — and the way it shaped her future development — makes for a harrowing and sometimes revelatory read.

The Distance Cure
“The Distance Cure”
MIT Press

The Distance Cure: A History of Teletherapy by Hannah Zeavin (Aug. 17)

In the last year and a half, plenty of people have experienced the world of virtual therapy. But teletherapy has a long history that predates Zoom being ubiquitous, and Hannah Zeavin’s new book The Distance Cure offers a comprehensive look at that history. Technology and mental health have a long shared history, and this helps put that into perspective.