It's August, which means that time to sit in the sun and enjoy a good book is dwindling. Here are 7 nonfiction and fiction books that should be on your list this month. You can find links to purchase them here:
  1. A Manual for Cleaning Women: Selected Stories, by Lucia Berlin: Her thinly factionalized, widely traveled stories include a post-funeral Mexican vacation; an Oakland cleaner's life meted out in bus routes; a woman remembering her journey across the El Paso border for an abortion; and over 70 more.
  2. Street Poison: The Biography of Iceberg Slim, by Justin Gifford: Before there was rap, there was pulp -- mainly the work of Robert Beck, a.k.a. Iceberg Slim, the criminal who would write the best-selling memoir 'Pimp' and other niche novels. This biography assesses that wildlife story with clear eyes and an understanding of its true cultural scope.
  3. Flood of Fire, by Amitav Ghosh: If ever a book series deserved an HBO mini-series, it's the one that concludes here, with the first Opium War and Britain's 1874 seizure of Hong Kong.
  4. A Window Opens, by Elisabeth Egan: Diving headfirst into the territory where having-it-all quandary meets the roman à clef, Egan draws on her suburban life, her job at Glamour, and her brief stint at Amazon for a funny and surprisingly wise story about Alice Pearse, who juggles family troubles and a new job at a sort of Starbucks-Amazon hybrid.
  5. Eileen, by Ottessa Moshfegh: Told in one chapter per day, the novel's pitiable antiheroine remembers the Christmas week during which her Northern Gothic existence gave way to a strange crime and a final escape.
  6. The Incarnations, by Susan Baker: It's 2008 and the Olympics are coming to Beijing, when a taxi driver with his own tortuous past finds himself stalked by a correspondent claiming to recount their six intertwined past lives.
  7. The Last Love Song: A Biography of Joan Didion, by Tracy Dougherty: The past biographer of Donald Barthelme and Joseph Heller, Daugherty has the confidence to write an unauthorized book on a loving person that trawls not just for gossip, but for connection and, ultimately, meaning.