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A&E Book Club: Three Books to Read in August

Embrace the summer heat with these female-led best sellers

<p>Each of these best sellers feature strong female protagonists that will give you the confidence to have your own hot girl summer.</p>

Each of these best sellers feature strong female protagonists that will give you the confidence to have your own hot girl summer.

The lack of assigned readings makes summer the perfect time to catch up on the books you might have missed while cramming for exams or pretending to pay attention in Zoom classes. This month, Arts & Entertainment brings you three fiction novels with hot, summery settings that are perfect to read while soaking up the sun. As a bonus, each of these best sellers feature strong female protagonists that will give you the confidence to have your own hot girl summer.

“Circe” by Madeline Miller

Madeline Miller’s stunning follow-up to her first best seller “The Song of Achilles” centers on the mythological story of Circe, the daughter of sun god Helios. Neglected by her parents for her plainness, Circe turns to mortals for comfort, but when she discovers she possesses the power of witchcraft, Zeus banishes her to a deserted island. There, Circe’s powers grow as she befriends beasts, learns to use the island’s nature to her benefit and meets many familiar mythological figures.

Miller’s poetic prose perfectly blends the rich pre-existing subject material with her own more modern imaginings of the personal life of this female character barely explored in traditional mythology. For those of us who won’t have our own tropical vacation this summer, the tropical island setting of “Circe” makes for a perfect escapist summer read. 

“The Four Winds” by Kristin Hannah

Kristin Hannah’s “The Four Winds” also centers on a woman neglected in childhood. While Circe finds her strength from her powers, Hannah’s protagonist, Elsa, derives courage through the traditional route of motherhood. Set in Texas during the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression, “The Four Winds” is a deeply American and surprisingly relevant story of struggling through national hardship. Faced with poverty, hunger, thirst and raging dust storms, Elsa must fight to protect the family that she loves.

Hannah’s prose is as beautiful as ever, capturing the strength of a particularly sympathetic protagonist and vividly portraying the dust storms that threaten that protagonist’s livelihood. The novel — which gets depressingly bleak at times — is an ideal summer read, especially when taking sun breaks or mixing it in with lighter beach reads. And if you’re feeling a little hot this summer, the dry heat that Elsa faces through much of the novel will make you feel cool in comparison.

“Seven Days in June” by Tia Williams

As the title suggests, “Seven Days in June” is set in summer, but the steamy Brooklyn setting is no match for the heat of the novel’s central relationship. Protagonist Eva is a single mother and author who battles chronic migraines. One day, at a Black author panel, Eva runs into old flame Shane, who is in town for one week. “Seven Days in June” alternates their next seven days together with flashbacks of the seven days Eva and Shane spent together 15 years ago as high schoolers.

Williams thoughtfully covers many heavy topics, including racism, abuse and disability, but prevents the novel from ever becoming too dark by mixing these topics with humor, joy and romance. Even though it only came out in June, Eva and Shane’s romance has already won over thousands of readers, including Reese Witherspoon, who chose it as her June 2021 book club pick. Even if you don’t have your own summer romance, “Seven Days in June” is sure to heat up your August. 

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