Summertiiiime and the living reading is easy fabulous. This month brings binge-worthy non-fiction, gripping novels and short story collections that will leave you aching for more. Hang on to your hats. (No seriously, that beach wind is no joke.)
8 Books We Can’t Wait to Read in July
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1. Shmutz by Felicia Berliner
Raizl expects to find a husband through an arranged marriage in her Brooklyn Hasidic community—just like the other women. Unlike the other women, however, she has a secret computer to help her complete her college degree, a computer that leads her down the slippery slope of online pornography. The deeper she dives into the world of porn, the more her life begins to unravel. Berliner’s debut novel explores what it means to be a fully realized sexual and spiritual being caught between the traditional and modern worlds.
2. Illegally Yours: A Memoir by Rafael Agustin
When he was 16 years old, TV writer Agustin (Jane the Virgin) did what so many 16-year-olds do: decided he wanted to get his driver’s license. Unlike other teens though, this decision forced his parents to tell him that he was undocumented, a secret they’d been trying to hide. All of a sudden, a kid who modeled his entire high school career after American TV shows had no idea what to do or who he was. Illegally Yours is a heartwarming look at how Agustin’s Ecuadorian immigrant family bonded together to navigate school, work and a shared secret life as undocumented Americans, determined to make the best of their always turbulent and sometimes dangerous existence.
3. Honey & Spice by Bolu Babalola
Babalola’s debut novel (after the 2020 anthology Love in Colour) is a sweet romance about a sharp-tongued host of a popular student radio show. The host is Kiki, and her bread and butter is helping women avoid situationships, ghosters, heartbreak and all sorts of relationship drama. But when she kisses a guy she’s just publicly denounced as a player, she finds her show on the brink. When the two begin a fake relationship to try to salvage their reputations, surprisingly entertaining study sessions and intimate, late-night talks force them to look beyond their presumptions. Is Kiki ready to open herself up to something deeper?
4. Cults: Inside The World’s Most Notorious Groups And Understanding The People Who Joined Them by Max Cutler
Calling all cult-obsessed readers: This chilling book by Parcast podcaster Cutler dives deep into ten (mostly) high-profile cults and their leaders from recent decades (think: Charles Manson and David Koresh). Cutler’s fascinating debut provides insight into what attracts people to cults, the psychology of their leaders and what happens when the most vulnerable recesses of the mind are manipulated with malintent.
5. After The Hurricane by Leah Franqui
Touted as a love letter to the diaspora of Puerto Rican Americans, this compelling novel from playwright and author Franqui (America for Beginners) is about a daughter who returns to Puerto Rico to search for her brilliant but troubled father, who has gone missing after Hurricane Maria. As the mystery unfolds, so too do themes of connection, migration, striving, love and loss.
6. NightOf The Living Rez by Morgan Talty
Set in a Native community in Maine, this exciting debut collection tackles what it means to be Penobscot (an Indigenous people in North America) in the 21st century and what it means to live, to survive and to persevere after tragedy. These 12 powerful stories paint a picture of the modern Native community and range from tales of a boy unearthing a jar that holds an old curse to two friends who, inspired by Antiques Roadshow, attempt to rob the tribal museum for valuable root clubs.
7. Quarterlife: The Search For Self In Early Adulthood by Satya Doyle Byock
The concept of a midlife crisis is well documented, but what about the weird, confusing life changes that happen during quarterlife (between the ages of roughly 16 to 36)? In her fascinating new book, psychotherapist Doyle Byock provides a guide to those quarterlifers on how to navigate and thrive—rather than just survive—these odd years, attempting to answer questions like, Why do I feel stuck? What’s wrong with me? Is this all there is?
8. Nothing But The Truth by Holly James
Beach read alert: In this debut rom-com, it's the eve of Hollywood publicist Lucy Green's 30th birthday, and she’s wishing for a promotion and a proposal from her boyfriend. But he stands her up for their date, leaving Lucy alone at the bar with the handsome bartender on the other side of the counter. When she makes a rueful wish over her cocktail for a perfect birthday, it’s granted in the most unexpected way and things go awry, inspiring Lucy to get real with herself about whether this is actually the life she wants.