Oprah gave August reading a jolt this week when she chose Colson Whitehead’s much-anticipated The Underground Railroad as her latest book club pick. Why? Because the announcement coincided with the book’s surprise release, a month earlier than scheduled. This story of American slavery and freedom caps off a surprisingly strong and serious month in books. As the dog days of summer stretch on and we start to anticipate election season this fall, here are ten more new books — both fiction and non-fiction — that will get you through the sweltering slog. “Beach reads,” absorbing novels and urgent nonfiction on race and activism make our list, touching on political hot topics, steamy romances, and the call of the wilderness.
The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead (August 2)
Surprise! This hotly-anticipated novel from Sag Harbor author and MacArthur genius Whitehead is available to read right now, which is good news for anyone who’d been counting the days until its release. Its conceit — the metaphorical railroad becoming a literal one — may be fantasy, but the brutality and hope it describes delve into the dark reality of America’s past. Critics are raving.