8 Books You Need to Read This August
5 Books | by Vulture
Lights On, Rats Out
“A harrowing, beautiful, searching, and deeply literary memoir. In these pages, we watch Cree LeFavour evolve from a wounded (and wounding) lost girl to a woman who can at last regard her existence with a modicum of mercy and forgiveness...a story of true self-salvation and transformation.”—Elizabeth Gilbert As a young college graduate a year into treatment with a psychiatrist, Cree LeFavour's began to organize her days around the cruel, compulsive logic of self-harm: with each newly lit cigarette, the world would drop away as her focus narrowed to an unblemished patch of skin calling out for attention and the fierce, blooming release of pleasure-pain as the burning tip was applied to the skin. Her body was a canvas of cruelty; each scar a mark of pride and shame. In sharp and shocking language, Lights On, Rats Out brings us closely into these years, allowing us to feel the pull of a stark compulsion taking over a mind. We see the world as Cree did—turned upside down, the richness of life muted and dulled, its pleasures perverted. The heady, vertiginous thrill of meeting with her psychiatrist, Dr. X—whose relationship with Cree is at once sustaining and paralyzing—comes to be the only bright spot in her mental solitude. Her extraordinary access to and inclusion of the notes kept by Dr. X during treatment offer concrete evidence of Cree’s transformation over 3 years of therapy. But it is her own evocative and razor-sharp prose that traces a path from a lonely and often sad childhood to her reluctant commitment to and emergence from a psychiatric hospital, to the saving refuge of literature and eventual acceptance of love. Moving deftly between the dialogue and observations from psychiatric records and elegant, incisive reflection on youth and early adulthood, Lights On, Rats Out illuminates a fiercely bright and independent woman’s charged attachment to a mental health professional and the dangerous compulsion to keep him in her life at all costs.
Dying: A Memoir
"Bracing and beautiful . . . Every human should read it." —The New York Times A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice At the age of sixty, Cory Taylor is dying of melanoma-related brain cancer. Her illness is no longer treatable: she now weighs less than her neighbor’s retriever. As her body weakens, she describes the experience—the vulnerability and strength, the courage and humility, the anger and acceptance—of knowing she will soon die. Written in the space of a few weeks, in a tremendous creative surge, this powerful and beautiful memoir is a clear-eyed account of what dying teaches: Taylor describes the tangle of her feelings, remembers the lives and deaths of her parents, and examines why she would like to be able to choose the circumstances of her death. Taylor’s last words offer a vocabulary for readers to speak about the most difficult thing any of us will face. And while Dying: A Memoir is a deeply affecting meditation on death, it is also a funny and wise tribute to life.
Stay with Me
A New York Times Notable Book The New York Times’ Critics’ Top Books of the Year Named a Best Book of the Year by San Francisco Chronicle, National Public Radio, The Economist, Buzzfeed, Paste Magazine, Southern Living, HelloGiggles, and Shelf Awareness Huffington Post’s Best Feminist Books of the Year The New York Post’s Most Thrilling and Fascinating Books of the Year The New York Public Library’s Ten Best Books of the Year"A stunning debut novel." —Michiko Kakutani, The New York TimesThis celebrated, unforgettable first novel (“A bright, big-hearted demonstration of female spirit.” –The Guardian), shortlisted for the prestigious Women's Prize for Fiction and set in Nigeria, gives voice to both husband and wife as they tell the story of their marriage--and the forces that threaten to tear it apart. Yejide and Akin have been married since they met and fell in love at university. Though many expected Akin to take several wives, he and Yejide have always agreed: polygamy is not for them. But four years into their marriage--after consulting fertility doctors and healers, trying strange teas and unlikely cures--Yejide is still not pregnant. She assumes she still has time--until her family arrives on her doorstep with a young woman they introduce as Akin's second wife. Furious, shocked, and livid with jealousy, Yejide knows the only way to save her marriage is to get pregnant. Which, finally, she does--but at a cost far greater than she could have dared to imagine. An electrifying novel of enormous emotional power, Stay With Me asks how much we can sacrifice for the sake of family.
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Leftovers and Little Children comes a penetrating and hilarious new novel about sex, love, and identity on the frontlines of America’s culture wars. Eve Fletcher is trying to figure out what comes next. A forty-six-year-old divorcee whose beloved only child has just left for college, Eve is struggling to adjust to her empty nest when one night her phone lights up with a text message. Sent from an anonymous number, the mysterious sender tells Eve, “U R my MILF!” Over the months that follow, that message comes to obsess Eve. While leading her all-too-placid life—serving as Executive Director of the local senior center by day and taking a community college course on Gender and Society at night—Eve can’t curtail her own interest in a porn website called MILFateria.com, which features the erotic exploits of ordinary, middle-aged women like herself. Before long, Eve’s online fixations begin to spill over into real life, revealing new romantic possibilities that threaten to upend her quiet suburban existence. Meanwhile, miles away at the state college, Eve’s son Brendan—a jock and aspiring frat boy—discovers that his new campus isn’t nearly as welcoming to his hard-partying lifestyle as he had imagined. Only a few weeks into his freshman year, Brendan is floundering in a college environment that challenges his white-dude privilege and shames him for his outmoded, chauvinistic ideas of sex. As the New England autumn turns cold, both mother and son find themselves enmeshed in morally fraught situations that come to a head on one fateful November night. Sharp, witty, and provocative, Mrs. Fletcher is a timeless examination of sexuality, identity, parenthood, and the big clarifying mistakes people can make when they’re no longer sure of who they are or where they belong.
The stunning new novel from the prizewinning author of The Wake Beast plunges you into the world of Edward Buckmaster, a man alone on an empty moor in the west of England. What he has left behind we don’t yet know. What he faces is an existential battle with himself, the elements, and something he begins to see in the margins of his vision: some creature that is tracking him, the pursuit of which will become an obsession. This short, shocking, and exhilarating novel is a vivid exploration of isolation, courage, and the search for truth that continues the story set one thousand years earlier in Paul Kingsnorth’s bravura debut novel, The Wake. It extends that book’s promise and confirms Kingsnorth as one of our most daring and rewarding contemporary writers.