Exactly what constitutes a beach read has inspired much debate—but perhaps the answer is no more complicated than whether a book is easy to get lost in. The best July books will be ideal for the beach or on an airplane. Isabel Kaplan’s novel NSFW, for example, is an intoxicating exploration of male-dominated workplaces, and Bolu Babalola’s Honey & SpiceYour sunglasses will be steamy. The Wives of the Sea: Our Wives, by Julia Armfield, is a claustrophobic story centered on a queer couple’s fraying marriage after an undersea expedition goes wrong. All these books, plus many more, will take you on a journey that will distract, transport, and absorb this summer. These are the top nine books you should read this July.
Honey & SpiceBolu Babalola, July 5,
Kiki Banjo is a young Black woman running a college radio show about women’s empowerment, dating, and relationships—a tad ironic, since she tends to avoid romantic attachments herself. After condemning a new student as a playboy over the airwaves, Kiki accidentally—and very publicly—ends up kissing him. They decide to pretend they are in a relationship, saving their reputations. Bolu Babalola (pop-culture scholar, who also wrote the short story collection) will be releasing his debut novel. You can expect to find sexy chemistry and well-developed characters. Colors are the color of love
Get it now Honey & Spice Bookshop | Amazon
Fellowship PointAlice Elliott Dark (July 5).
Agnes and Polly are octogenarians who have been best friends for their entire lives, though they’ve each made different choices: Agnes is a popular author who never married, while Polly’s identity revolves around being a wife and mother. They come together at Fellowship Point, a retreat in Maine—but the future of that land is now in limbo, and the women don’t agree on what should happen to it. When a pushy editor urges Agnes to write a memoir, long-buried secrets are unearthed, further testing Agnes’ and Polly’s friendship. Fellowship Point is long—nearly 600 pages—but an utterly engrossing, sweeping work.
Get it now Fellowship Point Bookshop | Amazon
NSFWIsabel Kaplan (July 5).
The unnamed female narrator in Isabel Kaplan’s adult debut—following the YA novel Hancock Park—recently graduated from Harvard and landed a coveted job at a TV network. Readers are dropped into the protagonist’s life as she realizes that her workplace exemplifies misogyny, and sexual misconduct is rampant. As she weighs what to do, she’s also balancing unhealthy relationships with food and with her mother. NSFWIt is very gripping and has a lot of information to go through, which makes it a great book club read.
Get it now NSFW Bookshop | Amazon
Night of the Living RezMorgan Talty, (July 5).
Morgan Talty grew up as part of the Penobscot Indian Nation, a small community in Maine—and that’s where the 12 stories in his debut collection are set. Night of the Living RezIt offers an enticing glimpse into the daily lives of those who are trying to find meaning in their lives after enduring inherited tragedies. There’s pain and addiction in these stories, but there’s also friendship and family, beautifully tinted with both sadness and humor.
Get it now Night of the Living Rez Bookshop | Amazon
The Wives of the Sea: Our WivesJulia Armfield (12 July)
Marine biologist Leah’s submarine recently sank—and though she survived, she’s irreparably changed. Leah’s wife, Miri, who had assumed herself a widow, is desperate to understand what happened in that vessel. As the relationship between the two women deteriorates, Julia Armfield—the author of the short-story collection Salt Slow—alternates between two voices: Leah’s, in the form of journal entries she wrote while stranded in the deep, dark sea, and Miri’s, in the present day.The Wives of the Sea: Our Wives This is an evocative, haunting novel which juxtaposes horrors below the waves with life on the land.
Get it now The Wives of the Sea: Our Wives Bookshop | Amazon
Hollywood is ending: Harvey Weinstein & the Culture of Silence, Kevin Auletta (July 12)
Ken Auletta, a journalist who wrote this article 20 years ago and before 2017’s MeToo movement was born in the United States, published a New Yorker profile that exposed some of Harvey Weinstein’s violent and volatile tendencies. In this nearly 500-page biography, Auletta goes even deeper into the Hollywood mogul’s life, examining the forces that allowed him to become a convicted sexual abuser. Hollywood Ending—Auletta’s 13th book, following titles like World War 3.0: Microsoft & Its Enemies—is a difficult but important read.
Get it now Hollywood Ending Bookshop | Amazon
Another FamilyEleanor Brown (July 12, 2009)
Four biological children were adopted by three sets of parents. They pledged to stay in touch with their siblings as much as they could. It’s as complicated as it sounds. In Eleanor Brown’s novel, each of the adoptive mothers is dealing with her own insecurities and expectations about parenting when the group goes on a summer vacation to Aspen. While there, the kids’ birth mother calls with the news that she’s pregnant again, so the parents begin sorting through applications from potential adopters to figure out who will join their makeshift family. Brown is a former writer The Weird SistersAnd Paris’ LightA character study about belonging and boundaries is presented by.
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Big Girl, Mecca Jamilah Sullivan (July 12)
Mecca Jamilah Sullivan’s debut novel transports readers to 1990s Harlem, where Malaya—an 8-year-old, obese Black girl—is longing for lots of things: to be able to eat what she wants instead of being dragged to Weight Watchers meetings; to fit in at her predominantly white Upper East Side prep school. It doesn’t matter how she looks. Malaya develops over the next 10 years and is constantly striving to get out of the body’s limitations.
Get it now Big Girl Bookshop | Amazon
A Blanket Dance is requiredOscar Hokeah (July 26, 2007)
Each chapter in Oscar Hokeah’s debut novel is told through the point of view of a family member—one of several generations of Native people whose lives are deeply intertwined. Ever Geimausaddle is the central character of this novel. He’s a young, angry man who has a tendency to violence. Hokeah skillfully recreates the years leading up to and following Ever’s birth, capturing the traumas and complexities that shaped him into who he is and may determine who he becomes.
Get it now A Blanket Dance is required Bookshop | Amazon
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