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The Books Our Editors Read and Loved in August

editors' book picks for August 2023
Design: theSkimm | Photos: Random House Trade Paperbacks, Penguin Books, Bantam
September 7, 2023

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We get sent books, buy books, check out library books, and talk about all things books all. the. time. So in this Skimm Reads series, we’re sharing a little about what we're reading and what made our TBR pile last month. Some reads old, some reads new, all reads that we deeply enjoyed. On your mark, get set, add to stack.


“The Half Moon” by Mary Beth Keane

“We recommended this book when it came out in May, but here I am to recommend it again. It takes place over the course of one week, and follows married couple Malcolm and Jess, who have just separated. Through intricate storytelling from both perspectives, we learn about their failed attempts to conceive, the ways their lives have surprised them, and how they ended up where they are. I read this in one weekend, staying up way past my bedtime to remain in this engrossing world. And I’ve thought about it a lot since as I consider how my own 30-something choices will play out in the long run. If you’re looking for something that’s easy to get into and will hold you all the way through, this is it.” –Jana Pollack, Skimm Reads editor

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“Vera Wong's Unsolicited Advice for Murderers” by Jesse Q. Sutanto

“I only have two words to describe this one from Jesse Q. Sutanto: endlessly heartwarming. Vera Wong has absolutely no mystery solving experience. But when she discovers a dead man inside her quiet tea shop in San Francisco, she decides to take the case herself (to the police’s dismay). What starts as an engaging mystery turns into a sweet story of new friendships made along the way, thanks to the characters that help her out. I couldn’t put this down, and if you’re new to the genre, add it to your fall reading list. After all, it’s now officially the best time of the year for cozy mysteries.” –Margo Ghertner, Skimm Reads editor

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Random House Trade Paperbacks

“White Cat, Black Dog” by Kelly Link

“Kelly Link has been a cult hero in the world of fantasy/slipstream/magical realism/[insert other genre encompassing hard-to-pin-down literature with a fantastical bent here] since the ‘90s, but this is the book that made me a true believer. On its surface, it’s a collection of retellings of fairy tales like Snow White, but honestly, it takes a sharp eye to pick out the parallels. The stories are best enjoyed for their jaw-dropping novelty. Link is the kind of writer whose ideas defy predictability — every sentence is a surprise. Also worth noting? These stories are funny. Case in point: One follows the son of a tech billionaire who ends up working on a weed farm run by cats. I can’t stop thinking about this collection, and I’ll be rereading it regularly.” –Caroline Goldstein, Skimm Reads editor

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“Someone” by Alice McDermott

“Alice McDermott has a new book coming out in October, ‘Absolution,’ and I’ve been screaming about it to anyone who will listen. But that’s not this rec. This is a rec to get you ready for that rec. ‘Someone’ is a beautiful little book that came out in 2013. It’s about the ordinary life of Marie, who grew up as the daughter of Irish immigrants in Brooklyn in the 1920s. Marie narrates the story from the vantage point of old age, and tells about her childhood friendships, her first love, her work in a funeral home, and eventually her own marriage and children. While simple, this story is anything but boring, and it’s the perfect thing to get you into the McDermott spirit.” –Jana Pollack

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St. Martin’s Press

“Hello Stranger” by Katherine Center

Katherine Center’s latest release is marketed as a romance, but it definitely feels more like women’s fiction with a romance side plot. Sadie Montgomery is a portrait artist doing her best to make it. She’s recently been placed as finalist in a portrait competition and she’s excited to be finally getting her big break. So when she gets into a fluke accident and develops “acquired apperceptive prosopagnosia” (aka face-blindness), her painting passion and career are turned upside down. Meanwhile, she navigates issues with her family, her adorable dog Peanut, and a gasp-worthy plot twist of a love triangle. If you’re in a reading slump, this book will be sure to get you out of it. The chapters are short, it goes quick, and Katherine Center’s writing feels like a hug.” –Margo Ghertner

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“Foster” by Claire Keegan

“‘Foster’ clocks in at fewer than 100 pages, but the story nestled within it is more fully realized than many of the door stopper novels I’ve read this year. It follows a young girl in rural Ireland in the late ‘70s or early ‘80s. Her parents, burdened with many children whom they ostensibly struggle to support, pass her off to live with friends on their farm for the summer. With her foster parents, a couple who tragically lost their own son, she finds the kind of shelter, tenderness, and care she lacks with her own family. This is painfully beautiful, the kind of story you read in a single sitting with your hand on your heart. I followed this up with her lauded novella ‘Small Things Like These’ and would recommend it with equal aplomb. –Caroline Goldstein

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Penguin Books

“All This Could Be Different” by Sarah Thankam Mathews

“One could argue that there hasn’t been a good time to graduate from college in a while — that said, the aftermath of the 2008 recession was particularly tough. That’s when this book’s protagonist, Sneha, enters the workforce. She manages to snag a job that takes her to Milwaukee, where her employer pays for her apartment (terrible landlord very much included). She commences trying to meet women to date online, going to work, and hanging out with the college buddy she brought along with her. But Sneha is alone in the US — her parents were unfairly deported back to India — and as the winter drags on, the extreme pressure to try and keep it all together begins to drag her down. This is a wonderfully unique coming-of-age story which felt, to me, like a love song to those lasting friendships we make when we still don’t know who we are.” –Jana Pollack

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“Summer Sisters” by Judy Blume

“I’ve always loved Judy Blume. Original, I know. But after watching her new documentary ‘Judy Blume Forever,’ and the latest film adaptation of ‘Are You There God It’s Me Margaret,’ I decided to re-read her work and even give some of her adult fiction a chance. The Today Show’s book club answered my prayers, because their August pick was the 25th anniversary re-release of Blume’s adult fiction novel “Summer Sisters.” I devoured it. Set in Martha’s Vineyard, it’s a coming-of-age story about two best friends navigating puberty, sexual desire, love, family, careers, mental health, and so much more. Blume is easy to read, but her writing is delightfully layered. She perfectly captures the messiness and the beauty that is the human experience. Long story short, Blume is perfect in every way…but we all already knew this.” –Margo Ghertner

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