10 Must-Read Books for July

Hopefully you’re on a beach or in a cabin on or around the beach, maybe on a hammock, possibly by a pool, or situated right in front an air conditioner that’s blowing cold air directly at you as you sip an equally cold beverage. But however you’re dealing with the summer heat, you really need a book, or two, or ten, to help you survive the sun beating down and the fact that the cooler filled with beer will eventually run out. And the books that come out this July — maybe more than in summers past — offer readers a fine selection of titles to pick from, to accompany a relaxing seventh month of the calendar.

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Friendship, Emily Gould (July 1st)

As the title suggests, it’s about friends, sure — but Gould’s debut novel strikes at something deeper by accurately portraying the life, times, and struggles of people that toe the lines between Generation X and Y, complete with David Foster Wallace and Stevie Nicks quotes for an epigraph. With Friendship, Gould has given us something honest, moving, and important.

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Arts & Entertainments, Christopher Beha (July 1st)

With Arts & Entertainments, Beha moves in a little bit of a different direction from his superb debut What Happened to Sophie Wilder. For this second novel, he takes a more humorous and satirical route, looking at our cultural obsession with fame and money, and asking what we’d actually do to attain those things. Fans of Sam Lipsyte’s The Ask (you know, one of those books guaranteed to make you laugh) should really consider this as their next purchase.

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The Actress, Amy Sohn (July 1st)

Here is the sort of book that practically hops into your bag and says, “You will enjoy me this summer.” Sohn’s latest has all the Hollywood and old world glamour that connects the worlds of Fitzgerald and Wharton, but with a more contemporary twist (think along the lines of something like Jess Walter’s Beautiful Ruins or Emma Straub’s debut). It’s timeless, but contemporary. All that, coupled with Sohn skillfully wielding elements that in theory should always work (Hollywood, love, scandal) in a way that makes them all her own, come together to make The Actress hard to put down and, maybe most importantly, fun to read.

 

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Crystal Eaters, Shane Jones (July 1st)

Jones has been bridging the magical and somewhat whimsical with stories that can resonate with anybody, and Crystal Eaters might be his most touching and best work to date.

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The Great Glass Sea, Josh Weil (July 2nd)

Close to 500 pages, Weil’s novel bends genres, uses Russian folklore, and gives you enough little philosophical nuggets to bite on to fill your July quota for strange, but totally engrossing novels.

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Preparing the Ghost, Matthew Gavin Frank (July 7th)

Totally original and haunting in the way you’d expect a book about a real life Presbyterian clergyman and amateur naturalist from the late-19th century — and his relationship with a giant squid — to be.

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Nobody Is Ever Missing, Catherine Lacey (July 8th)

Ever think of taking off and just going somewhere totally random? Lacey’s debut introduces us to Elyria, who takes off from her stable American life to go live in New Zealand. It’s a story that jumps out at you, and is full of the type of wisdom you just don’t get from many debut novelists.

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California, Edan Lepucki (July 8th)

Stephen Colbert got the ball rolling on the Summer of Edan Lepucki, so let’s keep it going. The type of dystopian novel that is more than just your typical tale of things falling apart: Lepucki explores love and family while trying to survive in a world we will hopefully never have to truly experience in a way, depicted in a way that only Cormac McCarthy and a few new modern masters like Matt Bell have been able to achieve. California is the book where we start mentioning Lepucki along with those writers. This is the arrival of a writer you can’t ignore.

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Watching Them Be, James Harvey (July 8th)

What Harvey does with Watching Them Be is appreciate classic movies and the people who starred in them as the works of art as which he believes they deserved to be treated.

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More Curious, Sean Wilsey (July 15th)

We think we know everything there is to know about the USA because we sit on the internet for hours and watch reality television shows about people and places we might not ever get to know in real life. In this collection of essays, Sean Wisley shows that he’s excited to get to know this wonderful and weird place better — and with Jennifer Egan, George Saunders, Rachel Kushner, Jonathan Franzen, and Haruki Murakami all blurbing More Curious, you have to guess he’s on to something. We can confirm that he definitely is.