Well Read: 5 Books You Won't Be Able To Put Down This August

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Reading is undeniably a key wellness practice—and one that many of us have ignored for far too long. It’s proven to build empathy, reduce stress, and even lessen sugar cravings (yes, really!). With that in mind, we’re excited to share Well Read, a column that curates the absolute best fiction and narrative nonfiction picks of the month. Here’s what you should read this August. (Want more book inspo? Here are the picks for June and July.)

JELL-O Girls: A Family History by Allie Rowbottom

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In 1899, Allie Rowbottom's great-great-great-uncle bought the patent to JELL-O from its inventor for $450. This memoir, about Rowbottom's family and JELL-O as a product, is at once an intimate and sweeping portrayal of American commerce and feminism. Rowbottom also talks about the "JELL-O curse," the traumatic illnesses that have plagued the family for more than 100 years. Using the lens of JELL-O, Rowbottom shines a light on the historical problems that continue to haunt America. JELL-O Girls: A Family History by Allie Rowbottom (July 24)

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Fly Girls: How Five Daring Women Defied All Odds and Made Aviation History by Keith O'Brien

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This breathtaking book by Boston Globe journalist Keith O’Brien covers the little known "Fly Girls" who took to the air in the 1920s and '30s. While, yes, Amelia Earhart is in here, she's by no means the only groundbreaker (skybreaker?) of the times, despite the common belief among men that women were too emotional to be pilots. There's plenty of action here—air travel was not exactly safe in the early 20th century—and the book provides a compelling history of aviation in addition to the women's tales. Taking place primarily around the unfortunately named "Powder Puff" race, this is a page-turner that will make you appreciate just how soaring the spirit of women has always been. Fly Girls by Keith O’Brien (August 7)

Nothing Good Can Come From This: Essays by Kristi Coulter

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In recent years, the sobriety movement has become a large part of the wellness world (booze-free alcohol was even one of this year's food trends). In her debut book of essays, Kristi Coulter examines the sober life through a sharp and wit-filled lens—think David Sedaris noticing what it's like to be the only sober one at a drunken bar. This book will make you laugh out loud, but it will also make you question the role of alcohol in your own life. This is a great one to read with friends (sober book club, anyone?). Nothing Good Can Come From This by Kristi Coulter (August 7)

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Severance by Ling Ma

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The book opens with Candace Chen, a self-described "Millennial Drone" (wants to be rich but doesn't know how or why, thinks she's brilliant but isn't keen to prove it) who is so caught up in her own life that she fails to notice a plague sweeping New York City. The Shen Fever eventually turns the city into a post-apocalyptic wasteland, and Chen is forced to grapple with notions of her own identity in a future that seems uncertain. If satirist Gary Shteyngart wrote his version of 2015 end-of-world breakout Station Eleven, it would be this compulsively readable book. Severance by Ling Ma (August 14)

The Third Hotel by Laura van den Berg

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After her husband dies in an accident, Clare goes to Havana, Cuba, to attend a film festival he'd been particularly excited about—and when she's there, she starts seeing his ghost everywhere. While this is undoubtedly a horror book, it's also a meditation on grief, our relationships to ourselves and others, and how we change in the face of tragedy. van den Berg also brings Cuba to life with vibrant, energetic language that will make you want to book a flight ASAP (ghosts or no ghosts!). The Third Hotel by Laura van den Berg (August 7)

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