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The Waterstones Round Up: August's Best Books

Posted on 22nd August 2019 by Martha Greengrass
As British summer creeps to its end, August brings a selection of reading to make even the most hardened sun-worshipper look forward to curling up inside with a good book. With treats including novels from Val McDermid, Philippa Gregory and Colson Whitehead, not to mention a brand new Jamie Oliver cookbook, dive into our selection of late summer's highlights.

Fiction

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Throbbing with righteous anger and visceral prose, The Nickel Boys takes the real-life Florida reform school as a jumping off point to explore the tensions inherent in the US Civil Rights movement. Powerful and incendiary, The Nickel Boys cements Whitehead’s formidable reputation as one of the greatest living American writers.
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The mercurial Deborah Levy returns with a time fracturing, genre bending novel about one man’s very unhappy relationship with Abbey Road and the bizarre and colourful characters that drop into his narrative. Bold and enthralling, The Man Who Saw Everything is unlike anything else you willl read all year.
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Obreht’s first novel since 2011’s Orange Prize-winning The Tiger’s Wife is a rapturous reimagining of the American West. Invoking the superstitions of a bygone age and melding them to a rich study of character and place, Inland is a mighty piece of work that even manages to surpass her stellar debut.
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The first of an evocative new series from the Queen of historical fiction, Tidelands is set in a seventeenth-century England caught in the maelstrom of civil war and obsessed with the prevalence of witches. In Alinor, Gregory crafts yet another vibrant, captivating heroine who must learn to survive in a world that is implacably opposed to her very existence.
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The debut adult novel from the author of side-splitting memoirs such as The Tent, the Bucket and Me harnesses all of Kennedy’s pitch-perfect comic writing and allies it to a tender, emotionally complex story about estranged families and the half-truths of the past. Sublime and uplifting.
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From the author of the brutally brilliant The Gallows Pole comes an altogether different kind of historical novel. Set during the aftermath of the Second World War, The Offing recounts a tender story of love and friendship between a teenage miner and an eccentric older woman, with all the immersive detail and fulsome characterisation of Myers’ previous work.
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Crime & Thrillers

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Scintillatingly structured and cast in the kind of whip-smart prose that made the original trilogy so compelling, David Lagercrantz’s third contribution to Stieg Larsson’s Millennium series may well be his most gripping yet.
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A mesmerising new thriller from the author of Apple Tree Yard, Platform Seven is narrated by a corpse desperate to discover the connection between her death on the eponymous Peterborough platform and that of a man in the same place eighteen months later. Utterly unique and thoroughly engrossing, this is a thriller for the ages.
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The dynamic detecting duo at the heart of The Way of All Flesh returns to investigate more nefarious deeds in the shadowy backstreets of Victorian Edinburgh. A spate of unexplained patient deaths set apprentice medic Will Raven and feisty housemaid Sarah Fisher on a quest to clear Raven’s employer’s name. A wickedly atmospheric period- crime treat.
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BBC newsreader Alagiah brings his natural authority and wealth of current affairs experience to this gripping, pacy thriller about corruption and homicide in South Africa. The depth of characterisation and political nuance add weight and credibility to a skillfully woven narrative that exudes just as much compassion as it does excitement.
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A textbook example of meticulously crafted plotting and incremental dread, The Family Upstairs unspools its labyrinthine story of mystery and intrigue in set-piece reveals of the highest calibre. Further proof that Lisa Jewell is unrivalled when it comes to narrative pyrotechnics and heart-in-mouth cliff-hangers.
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Reuniting Tony Hill and Carol Jordan in a grisly tale of buried remains and disturbing secrets, How the Dead Speak is vintage McDermid. Unfailingly gripping and meticulously plotted, this is another one-sitting crime thriller from an acknowledged titan of the genre.
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A disturbing psychological thriller very much of our times, The Perfect Wife examines the nightmarish consequences of artificial intelligence and big tech in the most domestic and intimate of settings.
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Both a jet black satire of modern consumerism and a chilling depiction of a ravaged future world, The Warehouse offers kinetic thrills and thought provoking dialogue on every page. Built around the concept of a global retailer with a messiah complex, Hart’s electrifying novel fizzes with ideas and heart-pounding set-pieces.
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Science Fiction & Fantasy

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Fresh from the Wayfarers series, Becky Chambers launches into another intricately rendered and utterly convincing future world. Set in a universe where astronauts respond to their interplanetary environment, To Be Taught if Fortunate addresses existential issues at the same time as weaving a gripping sci-fi adventure yarn. This is speculative fiction that truly transcends its genre.
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Turning the tropes and themes of Snow White on their head, Neil Gaiman pens a dark, sinuous graphic novel that plays with the fairytale form with flinty grace. Accompanied by sumptuous art deco illustrations from Colleen Doran, Snow, Glass, Apples is a work of exquisitely gothic beauty.
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Entertainment & Sport

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By any stretch of the imagination Eni Aluko is a formidable, multi-talented figure. Whether as sporting hero, UN ambassador or newspaper columnist, she has achieved at the highest level and against considerable odds. They Don’t Teach This is a dynamic, inspirational memoir aimed at instilling the confidence to succeed in a new generation of young women.
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One of the most accomplished stand-ups on the circuit, Acaster is also carving out a niche as a bittersweet yet wildly funny memoir writer. Perfect Sound Whatever is a love letter to music and how it managed to turn a blighted year around, and purrs with his bone dry wit and hilarious turn of phrase.
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Home & Lifestyle

Veg
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The king of quick and easy, yet delicious, cuisine returns with some inventive and accessible meat-free recipes. Bursting with Jamie Oliver’s trademark charm and culinary pizzazz, Veg is a brilliant addition to the ever-expanding world of vegetarian recipe books.
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Beautifully produced and bursting with colour and vitality, Meera Sodha’s collection of vegan recipes from the East is the must have cookbook of the summer. Boasting a wide range of dishes from India to Thailand to Japan and a host of other countries, this is a celebration of Asian cuisine like no other.
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Bold, bright and absolutely delicious, Kim-Joy’s sweet treats are a visual as well as gastronomic delight – in fact, some you may find just too cute to eat! From panda-madeleines to choux bun turtles, the recipes within this adorable collection comprise the most fun you can have in a kitchen this autumn.
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Biography

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A blazingly funny memoir about the depths of depression, I Never Said I Loved You is Rhik Samadder’s unflinchingly frank account of his mental health issues and subsequent empowerment. Mining a rich seam of gallows humour, this is wickedly perceptive and bracingly unsentimental autobiography of the highest order.
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A funny book with serious intent, Sex Power Money interrogates this contentious triptych and examines the links between the three. Asking uncompromising questions about the sex industry, objectification and the erotic allure of immense wealth, Pascoe offers a splenetic, incisive and frequently hilarious account of the modern condition.
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An elegy for a vanished cityscape and a profound meditation on the unexpected avenues of change, Going Home is Raja Shehadeh’s bittersweet tour of Ramallah, his hometown and tinderbox of the West Bank. Required reading for anyone keen to understand the beating human heart amidst the power-plays and rhetoric of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
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The weird and wonderful lot of an independent bookseller is documented in all its quirky, surreal and beguiling glory in Bythell’s affectionate memoir. The subject of a forthcoming television series, Wigtown’s premier bookshop will make you fall in love with literature all over again.
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History, Politics & Philosophy

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Stirring and provocative, How to be an Antiracist skewers smug self-satisfaction about liberal credentials by stating that we are all complicit in racist incidents. Only by assertive ‘antiracism’ can such appalling abuse and attack begin to be curbed. An incendiary polemic from an acknowledged authority on the subject.
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Nothing less than a wholesale reinterpretation of the nature of existence, acclaimed Swedish philosopher Martin Hagglund has produced the year’s most significant intellectual masterwork. This Life probes the theories and teachings of numerous trailblazing thinkers, reaching radical conclusions that represent a humanist game-changer for modern philosophical debate.
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From the pen of one of the most accomplished modern children’s writers comes an extended essay about the benefits of reading children’s literature into adulthood. Infinitely wise and thought provoking, Rundell’s short book is a perfect one-sitting read.
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Popular Science & Nature Writing

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From Stone Age flints to Georgian clay pipes, Laura Maiklem has dredged up this bounty and more from the Thames in an incredible fifteen year career ‘mudlarking.’ A quixotic and enlightening volume, this record of the river, its contents and the people who abandon their possessions beneath the waves is an absolute joy.
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Traversing the world to eke out the stories of seven natural objects that the metropolitan West regards as luxury items, Harvest illuminates the incredible journeys that these substances undergo. From Iceland and Borneo to bustling urban centres, Posnett deftly sketches both the lives of indigenous harvesters and the transformation of nature into commodity.
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A treasure trove of great cultural and intellectual opinion from the BBC archive, Remarkable Minds showcases seventy years of the iconic Reith lectures. From science to politics, art to technology, these pieces span the decades and the disciplines with rigour, energy and pioneering spirit.
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