From "Intimacies" to "Island Queen."

Elizabeth Ann Entenman
Jul 06, 2021 @ 3:15 pm
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best july books to read
Credit: Raven Ishak, HelloGiggles

This is an exciting summer for many reasons. Our to-do list includes, in no particular order: see family, hug friends, travel, attend in-person events, and go on a million dates. Our schedules are jam-packed with reunions, happy hours, and dinner reservations, but there's always time for another one of our favorite activities: summer reading.

After all, you're going to need a solo activity to decompress after all that socializing. When it's time to escape the real world, get lost in the 10 best July books you'll want to read this month.

1. Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead by Emily R. Austin, out July 6th

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You know how some days your anxiety seems to make decisions for you? That's how it is for Gilda, a twenty-something woman obsessed with death. She accidentally takes a job as a receptionist at a Catholic church, even though she actually was there looking for free therapy. She accidentally becomes fascinated with Grace, the deceased woman whose job she took—and accidentally strikes up an email correspondence with Grace's friend, pretending to be Grace. Which is how Gilda accidentally finds herself involved in the police investigation around Grace's death. Thanks, anxiety. It's a wildly entertaining story.

2. Island Queen by Vanessa Riley, out July 6th

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This dazzling historical novel tells the incredible story of Dorothy Kirwan Thomas. Dolly was born into slavery in the Caribbean, outsmarted the system, escaped, and became one of the wealthiest landowners in the colonial West Indies. Don't miss this opportunity to learn about a powerful woman missing from our history textbooks. Dolly's story, and Vanessa Riley's writing, will take your breath away.

3. While We Were Dating by Jasmine Guillory, out July 13th

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A new installment in Jasmine Guillory's The Wedding Date series is always caused for celebration. Her latest rom-com is about Ben (psst: he's Theo's brother!), an advertising man and a serial bachelor, and Anna, a movie star who books a campaign with his agency. Read along with glee as they mix business with pleasure against the backdrop of Hollywood. In this, our horniest summer on record, Guillory's steamy scenes will get you all hot and bothered.

4. The Startup Wife by Tahmima Anam, out July 13th

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Asha and Cyrus are a husband-and-wife team that creates a platform designed to replace religious rituals. Asha, a whip-smart coder, writes the algorithm, and Cyrus, her high school crush, is the brains and the face of the business. The app is a hit and the more the company grows, the more pressure mounts on their marriage. With elements of feminism, race, religion, sci-fi, and satire, The Startup Wife is incredibly thought-provoking.

5. A Touch of Jen by Beth Morgan, out July 13th

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Welcome to a little genre we like to call "influencer culture fiction." A Touch of Jen is about Jen, an Instagram-famous jewelry designer who always seems to be on vacation, and Remy and Alicia, the people obsessed with following her every update. When they run into Jen, they wind up going to the Hamptons with her, and things start to get weird. Like, really weird. Pick up this thrillingly bizarre book that takes more turns than a doorknob.

6. Don't Let It Get You Down: Essays on Race, Gender, and the Body by Savala Nolan, out July 13th

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Savala Nolan has spent her life in the in-betweens: black and white, fat and thin, rich and poor. These essays are her sharp, moving reflections on never fitting neatly into a box. Don't Let It Get You Down is necessary intersectional reading on race, class, gender, wealth, identity, and body image.

7. Ghost Forest by Pik-Shuen Fung, out July 13th

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This is the story of a Chinese-Canadian "astronaut" family (one parent staying behind to work while the rest of the family moves to a new country). When the protagonist's father passes away, she reflects back on her childhood, their complicated relationship, and how to grieve in an immigrant family that doesn't talk about feelings. Pik-Shuen Fung's emotional, lyrical prose is stunning.

8. Virtue by Hermione Hoby, out July 20th

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Luca is trying to find his place in New York City, unsure of himself in his new surroundings. He tries to fit in at his magazine internship, but he feels like a fish out of water. As he gets drawn into the world of an artist couple, his desire to be part of their world takes a dangerous turn. Virtue is another knockout from Hermione Hoby.

9. For Your Own Good by Samantha Downing, out July 20th

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No one writes a twisted character quite like Samantha Downing. Her latest page-turning thriller is set at a private school and follows Teddy, a teacher who just won Teacher of the Year. Never mind that a school parent recently mysteriously died, or that no one's heard from Teddy's wife in a while. This is not about that. This is about Teddy being a dedicated teacher who will do anything, and we mean anything, for his students. Especially if he thinks they need to learn a lesson. (Gulp.)

10. Intimacies by Katie Kitamura, out July 20th

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Intimacies tells the story of an interpreter who arrives at the International Court in The Hague. She's looking to get away from New York and make a true home for herself, but by nature of her work, she's naturally drawn into the lives and troubles of those she speaks for—and must do so without showing emotion. It's an incredibly thoughtful read.