7 Best-Reviewed Books in August 2019

  • September 3, 2019

We came, we read, we gushed. Here’s a recap of the titles that left us especially warm and swoony this past month.

7 Best-Reviewed Books in August 2019

Late Migrations: A Natural History of Love and Loss by Margaret Renkl (Milkweed Editions). Reviewed by Gretchen Lida. “Each chapter, written as a short vignette rich in imagery and the language of place, creates an immersive experience for the reader. The chapters span 1940 to 2018 and tell the stories of four generations of the author’s family. There are narratives about her grandmother, chronicles of her children, tales about herself, and various accounts starring her complex and colorful parents. Through them, we witness a coming-of-age: the joining together of the glistening, uncertain fragments that form the mosaic of Renkl’s life.”

The Weil Conjectures: On Math and the Pursuit of the Unknown by Karen Olsson (Farrar, Straus and Giroux). Reviewed by Ronald K.L. Collins. “And all of this — the philosophy, math, psychology, history, esoterica, and tantalizing impressions — is artfully offered up in the service of an original and revealing portrayal of a famous mathematician (André Weil, 1906-1998) and his even more famous philosopher-activist sister (Simone Weil, 1909-1943). Though so very different, both loved math, but for different reasons.”

Game of Snipers: A Bob Lee Swagger Novel by Stephen Hunter (G.P. Putnam’s Sons).  Reviewed by Anjili Babbar. “The cumulative effect here is of slowly but steadily introducing American readers to the idea that our 21st-century bogeyman is, after all, really just a human being — even if he has been conditioned not to act like one. Like Swagger himself, though, Hunter does not take himself too seriously. The suspenseful narrative is sprinkled with wry humor, all the more effective due to its sparseness. Like in G-Man, it includes a secondary mystery — but, in this case, the reveal is genuinely smirk-worthy.”

Endeavour: The Ship that Changed the World by Peter Moore (Farrar, Straus and Giroux). Reviewed by Mark Gamin. “The nominal subject of this splendid book had a lifespan of 14 years and several different names during that time — Endeavour being the most apt, most honorable, and best. But the essence of the story has as much to do with how she touched, albeit sometimes glancingly, various hems of human history as it does the ship itself. The subtitle of Endeavour: The Ship That Changed the World is not subservient; here, title and subtitle are equals.”

Gravity Is the Thing: A Novel by Jaclyn Moriarty (Harper). Reviewed by Sarah Trembath. “In many ways, Gravity Is the Thing is straightforward existentialist literature. (Or is it magical realism?) In nonlinear and sometimes episodic fashion, the book tells the story of Abi and Robert’s close relationship, his disappearance, their family’s attempts to find him, and their various ways of coping. This storyline arises out of life’s uncertainties, fully illustrates despair, depicts Abi’s frantic attempts at finding meaning in life, and posits being and becoming as self-creating roads to authenticity.”

The Vagabonds: The Story of Henry Ford and Thomas Edison’s Ten-Year Road Trip by Jeff Guinn (Simon & Schuster). Reviewed by Chris Rutledge. “The activities of the vagabonds have several notable parallels to our time. Then, as now, we were fascinated by the exploits of the wealthy. Just as readers swallowed up stories of Ford and Edison, today, we read excitedly about the imaginings of Elon Musk and the daredevil exploits of Richard Branson. The similarities with our time also extend to the political arena. Like many businesspeople who came after him, Ford had an interest in running for president. In fact, he had previously run for and lost a Senate seat. His dissatisfaction with Washington led him to the false impression that he could do better.”

The Darwin Affair: A Novel by Tim Mason (Algonquin Books). Reviewed by Michael McCarthy. “Along with the novel’s nail-biting pace, there’s a welcome gravitas that grounds everything. Nuanced accents from all strata of London, circa 1860, add rich flavor. Historical backstory about characters like Karl Marx (who pops into a few scenes), Dickens, and Robert Fitzroy, who captained Darwin’s HMS Beagle, provide believable context.”

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