14 books your favorite authors are reading

(María Alconada Brooks/The Washington Post)
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August is a month of transition — but a sluggish one at that. The month’s unbearably hot days and summer slowdowns can feel like a slow march toward new school years and the eventual descent of winter. It’s a particular ennui some have called the August blues, or August anxiety. Others have likened it to the Sunday scaries: a feeling of restless dread as you prepare for what’s to come.

But if August is the Sunday of months, it must also be true that the best way to spend it is tucked away with a good book — better yet if it’s recommended by someone you admire.

With this in mind, we asked some of our favorite authors what they’re reading through the rest of this year. Their recommendations include a poetry collection lauded by U.S. poet laureate Ada Limón; a graphic novel about hair; and an unexpected memoir about family secrets.

Whatever you’re feeling in this season of life, from late-summer joy to the “August scaries,” we hope these books are good companions.

Responses have been lightly edited for clarity.

1

‘All the Flowers Kneeling,’ by Paul Tran

Recommended by Ada Limón, U.S. poet laureate and author of “The Hurting Kind.”

“I love this book. There’s a heightened sense of music and a marvelous attention to form and voice. A true powerhouse of a debut.” — Ada Limón

Buy it here.

2

‘Wash Day Diaries,’ by Jamila Rowser and Robyn Smith

Recommended by Tillie Walden, author of the newly released graphic novel “Clementine.”

“I read this on my couch in one sitting. It follows four best friends in their routine with their hair and with one another. Not only did the beautiful art keep me looking back to each page, but the writing is such that it reminds you about the joy and meaning in the everyday moments in our lives.” — Tillie Walden

Buy it here.

3

‘Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow,’ by Gabrielle Zevin

Recommended by Celeste Ng, author of “Little Fires Everywhere” and “Our Missing Hearts” (out Oct. 4).

“I recently read this book and loved it — it’s the story of a friendship that waxes and wanes and evolves over the years, the kind that seldom gets depicted in fiction. Plus, it’s a love letter to video games, the stories they tell and the way we use art to try to make meaning in our lives.” — Celeste Ng

Buy it here.

4

‘Why Didn’t You Tell Me?: A Memoir,’ by Carmen Rita Wong

Recommended by Xochitl Gonzalez, author of “Olga Dies Dreaming.”

“I read this right before it was published to see if I would blurb it, and I did, because I could not put it down. I keep giving it to people so that we can all talk about it. For that reason, I can’t think of a better book to recommend.

“It is at once scandalous and a page turner, yet rich in depth and provocative about larger questions concerning mothers and children, race, family and secrets: What is Whiteness and American-ness, and what is success? It feels like a really deep dinner conversation with an old friend where you dig into stuff you usually skirt around. And did I mention that it’s a page turner? Which, for me personally, is one of the best qualities of a summer read.” — Xochitl Gonzalez

Buy it here.

5

‘The Guest List,’ by Lucy Foley

Recommended by Zakiya Dalila Harris, author of “The Other Black Girl.”

“Celebrity weddings are deliciously messy on their own, but when you add a murder, some very shady attendees and an eerie remote island, you get a whole new level of drama. This fun whodunit held me hostage during my summer vacation, and I loved every minute of it.” — Zakiya Dalila Harris

Buy it here.

6

‘Love in the Big City,’ by Sang Young Park; translated by Anton Hur

Recommended by Mary H.K. Choi, author of “Yolk” and “Emergency Contact.”

“I absolutely loved this book. It was long-listed for the International Booker Prize, so I feel a bit silly being like, ‘Hey, this widely lauded, runaway success is good.’ But it’s also such a large, chaotic mood that super hits the spot if you’re feeling emotionally specific. It’s shimmering, dark, lonely, absolutely hilarious and chronicles life as a gay man in Seoul while also heavily featuring an intense Korean mom, so it really basically has everything. It’s perfect for when you’ve got the mean reds that are really just a stand-in for big cries.” — Mary H.K. Choi

Out Nov. 15 in the United States. Preorder it here.

7

‘Moonrise Over New Jessup,’ by Jamila Minnicks

Recommended by Robert Jones Jr., author of “The Prophets.”

“I’m both sad that the general public will have to wait until Jan. 10 to read this novel and excited that they will have an extraordinary piece of literature to look forward to reading in the new year. I’m not exaggerating when I say that it’s a masterpiece and Jamila Minnicks is one of the best new writers to come along in a generation.” — Robert Jones Jr.

Out Jan. 10. Preorder it here.

8

‘The Cartographers,’ by Peng Shepherd

Recommended by Sabaa Tahir, author of All My Rage” and the “An Ember in the Ashes” quartet.

“This is a thriller about a young, down-on-her-luck cartographer who is pulled into a complex conspiracy centering on the very map that led to the destruction of her career. As a lover of maps and mysteries, I enjoyed every twist and turn in this wonderful tale. Best enjoyed with a cup of tea and a cozy blanket. Background summer storm is a bonus!” — Sabaa Tahir

Buy it here.

9

‘The Women Could Fly,’ by Megan Giddings

Recommended by Jessamine Chan, author of “The School for Good Mothers.”

“I had the pleasure of reading an early copy of this novel, and it’s become one of my main obsessions this year. This was the novel I was reading when [Supreme Court Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr.’s] draft opinion was leaked. At a time when all I wanted to do was scream, this book provided a home for my rage against the patriarchy. I imagine that reviews will emphasize the urgency of a feminist dystopian novel about autonomy, motherhood and surveillance, but here I’d like to tell readers that this novel is about witches and it’s incredibly entertaining. If only we could all be witches.” — Jessamine Chan

Out Aug. 9. Preorder it here.

10

‘Empire of Wild,’ by Cherie Dimaline

Recommended by Mariko Tamaki, author of “This One Summer” and a writer for both Marvel Comics and DC Comics.

“This is one of my favorite books. Dimaline is one of my favorite writers, probably best known for her young adult book ‘The Marrow Thieves,’ which is also amazing. She is such an incredible storyteller. It’s impossible not to get lost in her books.” — Mariko Tamaki

Buy it here.

11

‘Now Is Not the Time to Panic,’ by Kevin Wilson

Recommended by Courtney Summers, author of “Sadie” and the forthcoming thriller “I’m the Girl” (out Sept. 13).

“This is a wildly funny, wonderfully sincere — and a little bit devastating — story of art, our limitless past, future nostalgia and all those perfectly imperfect ways we continually come of age. Kevin Wilson’s books are so full of heart. They’re utterly indelible.” — Courtney Summers

Out Nov. 8. Preorder it here.

12

‘You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine,’ by Alexandra Kleeman

Recommended by Dana Schwartz, author of “Anatomy: A Love Story” and “Immortality: A Love Story” (out March 7).

“The best novels are the ones that leave you feeling something at the end of them. Just … something. Different. Alexandra Kleeman’s debut novel, which I went back to after I devoured her latest, is strange and sometimes a little surreal, and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since I finished.” — Dana Schwartz

Buy it here.

13

‘Birds of California,’ by Katie Cotugno

Recommended by Elissa Sussman, author of “Funny You Should Ask” and the “Once More With Feeling” (out in April).

“Katie Cotugno’s genius is in the details. In her adult debut, she lets us into the messy, complicated lives of Fiona St. James and Sam Fox, two former teen stars thrown back together by opportunity. Cotugno is a master observer, and her skill for specificity shines on every page of this delightfully sexy novel.” — Elissa Sussman

Buy it here.

14

‘Matrix,’ by Lauren Groff

Recommended by Malinda Lo, author of “Last Night at the Telegraph Club” and the forthcoming companion novel “A Scatter of Light” (out Oct. 4).

“This was the first novel I read this year, and ever since then I’ve been thinking about her representation of womanhood, power and faith in this fictionalized life of Marie de France, a 12th-century nun. Groff’s Marie blurs gender boundaries, claims power and has sexual relationships with women in a time and place where identity was both more rigid than today and also more fluid. ‘Matrix’ was wholly immersive and beautifully rendered and gave me so much to think about when it comes to writing historical fiction.” — Malinda Lo

Buy it here.

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