It’s August, and while some people see this as summer winding down, I see it as plenty of time to keep enjoying the sunshine and longer days, and of course, more time to keep reading! Especially when it’s super hot out and you want to avoid the hottest parts of the day? Perfect time to stay inside and dig into a new release! Lucky for you (everyone, really), there are so many great nonfiction books coming out this month to keep us busy — and you’ll find eight of them in this list.
There’s a graphic memoir about a family road trip to bring a grandfather home; memoirs exploring disability justice, family conflict and history, and the model minority myth; an exploration of America’s culture of toxic achievement; historical nonfiction about Middle Eastern horsewomen, and much more. This summer has been fabulous for nonfiction releases, so if you haven’t read some that came out earlier in the summer, it’s not too late! I recommend The Supermajority: How the Supreme Court Divided America by Michael Waldman, From Here by Luma Mufleh, Quantum Supremacy by Michio Kaku, and The Heat Will Kill You First: Life and Death on a Scorched Planet by Jeff Goodell.
Grab your favorite cold drink and snack, and read on to discover some new nonfiction!
(And don’t forget — you can always check out the New Release Index to stay up-to-date with what’s coming out soon. It’s organized by date and genre for easy browsing!)
Mexikid by Pedro Martín (August 1)
Graphic novels are a favorite genre of mine, especially when it’s a graphic memoir. In this book, Martín writes about hearing that his grandfather is coming to live with his family and the road trip to go pick him up from Mexico to bring him back. Though he’s heard stories about his heroic abuelito, who was in the Mexican Revolution, he has eight siblings and thinks the house is crowded enough! The road trip they all take to bring his grandfather home will be one he never forgets — not to mention the connection that Martín forges with his grandfather.
Sipping Dom Pérignon Through A Straw: Reimagining Success as a Disabled Achiever by Eddie Ndopu (August 1)
Ndopu, a global humanitarian, was born with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), a degenerative motor neuron disease, and was not expected to live past 5 years old. But he surpassed that, and grew up a pop music lover, succeeded at school, where he was the only wheelchair user, and became a speaker on disability justice as a teenager. He received a scholarship to Oxford University, where he was then faced with exclusion and discrimination while at the same time succeeding socially and professionally. He explores these contradictions, exposes the lack of disability accommodations and accessibility, and confronts ableism at the school.
Holler Rat: A Memoir by Anya Liftig (August 15)
Liftig, a performance artist, has crafted a fascinating memoir. Her mother came from an impoverished, rural upbringing, and her father came from an upper-middle-class Jewish household. She grew up in both worlds, spending the school year in an affluent Connecticut community and her summers in the holler, and struggles with reconciling the two. The book explores growing up in the midst of the tensions between the two sides of her family, her search for a place to belong, and her struggle to figure out who she truly is.
Never Enough: When Achievement Culture Becomes Toxic—and What We Can Do About It by Jennifer Breheny Wallace (August 22)
Everyone needs to read this one: parents, caregivers, teachers, administrators…I’m not sure there’s anyone who wouldn’t benefit from reading it. We live in a culture that prizes achievement above all, that has confused learning with achievement and accomplishment. Our kids and teens are more stressed than ever, and yet the message is to do more, achieve more, push harder, win it all. Wallace explores the history and roots of this toxic achievement culture, how it’s infiltrated our society, and how children are absorbing the message that they are their accomplishments. She goes on to provide practical ways to change the focus and push back against societal messages, and I hope people take this book to heart.
Book of Queens: The True Story of the Middle Eastern Horsewomen Who Fought the War on Terror by Pardis Mahdavi (August 22)
There are so many pockets of history that haven’t been widely written about in popular culture, and this is one of them — until now. Mahdavi explores the stories of Middle Eastern women warriors, going back to the Persian Empire through the present day, even weaving in her grandmother’s story. Women who have been left out of history, whose work has been ignored and overlooked. She traces the history of Caspian horses and their legacy, and how they’ve saved women’s lives. It’s a sprawling, fascinating look at how these women saved both horses and people, and the instrumental roles they played in freedom and survival.
Writing for Their Lives: America’s Pioneering Female Science Journalists by Marcel Chotkowski LaFollette (August 22)
Science journalism is often thought of as a “man’s world,” and women are often left out of the histories of science and journalism — and science journalism. LaFollette looks at the women of this field from the 1920s to the 1950s, and their contributions to newspapers, books, weekly stories, and more. But she also looks at the lives of these individuals and their personal stories and struggles. It’s a compelling, important historical book that also reinforces how important science journalism is right now.
Daughter of the Dragon: Anna May Wong’s Rendezvous with American History by Yunte Huang (August 22)
Wong was a Chinese American actress who pushed boundaries and entertained viewers. In this book, Huang details her life story, the historical figures and places she knew and visited, the racist perceptions of her as an Asian woman, and the misogyny and ageism that were present as well. The book looks at the boxes Hollywood placed her in, her struggles against that, and really places her story within the larger societal and political climates of her time. It’s a nuanced, multi-faceted look at Wong’s life and work.
They Called Us Exceptional: And Other Lies That Raised Us by Prachi Gupta (August 22)
Gupta writes an incisive memoir about growing up in an Indian American family, and how the model minority myth negatively impacted familial relationships. While her parents were successful — her father was a doctor, and her mother was an involved parent who encouraged her children to succeed — there was always pressure to fit in, and she captures the tightrope she and her siblings walked, dealing with being the children of immigrants and various traumas, while at the same time, being seen as “living the American dream.” It’s a personal, insightful, and thoughtful look at family secrets, mental health, and intergenerational trauma, but also of hope and connection.
With so many amazing nonfiction books coming out this month, which one will you choose first?