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The lazy days of summer are upon us, which means plenty of leisure time—making this month the perfect opportunity to dive into a great, absorbing book. This July, a crop of new reads promise to provide an enriching escape, whether you’re looking for something a little spooky and mysterious or a lighter beach read. From Nicole Flattery’s Nothing Special, a delicious coming-of-age romp through Andy Warhol’s Factory studio to Dwyer Murphy’s The Stolen Coast, a thrilling heist novel set in a beach town overrun with unsavory characters, to Beth Nguyen‘s heartfelt memoir Owner of a Lonely Heart, about the complexities of motherhood, there’s an option for every reader.
Here are the best new books to read this July.
How to Love Your Daughter, Hila Blum
What is the harm we’re capable of doing in the name of love? That’s the question at the heart of Hila Blum’s How to Love Your Daughter, which is translated from Hebrew by Daniella Zamir. Centering on the bittersweet ruminations of Yoella, a mother who is estranged from her only child Leah—who left home at 18 and now has two daughters of her own—the novel considers the challenges, joys, and occasional heartbreak of motherhood.
Nothing Special, Nicole Flattery
In Nicole Flattery’s debut novel, Nothing Special, a lonely but plucky teenage girl comes of age while working at Andy Warhol’s infamous studio, known as the Factory. The novel, which follows Flattery’s 2019 short story collection, Show Them a Good Time, follows Mae, a 17-year-old high school dropout with a tumultuous home life who becomes a typist for Warhol. Mae’s work consists of answering Warhol’s infamous silver telephone and documenting the conversations and antics of the artist, his muses, and his star-studded crew, a routine based on the real-life recordings of day-to-day life at the Factory that uncredited typists transcribed at Warhol’s behest, which later became his 1968 book, a, A Novel. Immersed in the notorious scene of the Factory and the rampant cultural shifts of the Swinging Sixties, Mae begins to discover the person she wants to be.
Immortal Longings, Chloe Gong
Chloe Gong is best known as a YA author, but now she’s making her adult debut with Immortal Longings, a sultry and gripping fantasy epic novel about star-crossed lovers who must choose between power and love. Inspired by Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra, the novel is about Princess Calla, a reluctant royal with anarchist beliefs who will stop at nothing to bring down the crown and its corruption—even if that means murdering her own family. Calla’s final step to topple the monarchy comes down to a set of gladiatorial games. What she doesn’t bargain for is striking a deal with—and unexpectedly falling for—her opponent, a reality that will put all her plans in jeopardy.
The Vegan, Andrew Lipstein
By all accounts, Herschel Caine, the protagonist of Andrew Lipstein’s The Vegan, has got it made: he’s a hedge fund manager who’s about to make it big, he has a beautiful wife, and he owns a townhouse in Brooklyn’s wealthy Cobble Hill neighborhood. But when a lapse in judgment leads to him playing a potentially fatal prank during a dinner party at his home, Caine begins to reevaluate his life as he knows it. Wracked with guilt and remorse, he’s inexplicably drawn to every animal he encounters—a neighborhood dog, a bird on the street, the two lizards he adopts from a pet store. Caine’s sudden affinity for animals also comes with a lifestyle change: he can no longer stomach the taste of meat and becomes a vegan. His seeming renouncement of vice has far-reaching consequences: he’s now bent on reforming the corruption in the stock trading that was going to make him obscenely rich. But, ever the finance bro, Caine now considers his path on the straight and narrow an asset—and he’s going all in.
Silver Nitrate, Silvia Moreno-Garcia
The magic of cinema meets the dark arts in Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Silver Nitrate, a neo-noir thriller that dabbles as much in film lore as it does in the occult. For Montserrat and Tristán, two best friends on the fringes of Mexico City’s horror film scene in the 1990s, it seems like a big break is impossible—until they befriend Abel, a legendary yet reclusive director, who is convinced that his unfinished film is cursed. Although the trio sets out to break the curse and complete the film, their efforts soon spin into a surreal and supernatural chain of events that defy even their wildest dreams.
The Stolen Coast, Dwyer Murphy
In The Stolen Coast, Dwyer Murphy’s thriller of a crime novel, the sleepy, seedy Massachusetts beach town where protagonist Jack Betancourt lives is a destination for unsavory characters. Betancourt knows them well—he’s a fixer of sorts, in the same line of business as his former spy father, helping vagrants and thieves vanish when trouble strikes. But things get personal when his ex-flame Elena, a lawyer whose hands are less than clean, rolls back into town and back into Jack’s life after nearly a decade away. Elena has returned to take on a heist of epic proportions, but she needs Jack’s help to pull it off.
Owner of a Lonely Heart, Beth Nguyen
In her second memoir, Owner of a Lonely Heart, Beth Nguyen (who has also written under the name Bich Minh Nguyen) ponders the nuances of motherhood and the many forms it can take. Focusing on her relationship with her own mother, whom she was separated from as an infant after the author and her father fled Saigon for the U.S. during the Vietnam War, Nguyen considers the complexities of her connection to the woman who birthed her but became a stranger to her for nearly two decades. Nguyen also traces her own journey to motherhood and reflects on the many women who shaped her throughout her life. Fiercely compassionate, the memoir is a remarkable reflection on how we define mothers and daughters, Americans and so-called foreigners, and the true meaning of family.
When Crack Was King, Donovan X. Ramsey
With When Crack Was King: A People’s History of a Misunderstood Era, Donovan X. Ramsey seeks to reframe the narrative surrounding the crack cocaine epidemic of the ’80s and ’90s by telling its history through the voices of the community who survived its racist myths and devastating consequences. Drawing on intensive research and the stories of four individuals whose lives were indelibly shaped by the drug and its criminalization, Ramsey provides much-needed critique on not only drug policy past and present, but also the system that it upholds, urgently interrogating who it protects, who it punishes—and why.
Crook Manifesto, Colson Whitehead
Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Colson Whitehead returns to Harlem with Crook Manifesto, a sequel to 2021’s thrilling Harlem Shuffle. Centering once again on Ray Carney, the furniture store owner and sometimes fence of stolen goods who’s mostly renounced his illegal side hustle, the novel follows Carney and his family’s efforts to survive amid the racial tensions and political tumult of the city in the early ’70s. Organized in three parts, the book moves through vignettes that reference everything from Blaxploitation films to rampant fires that ravaged uptown Manhattan. The result is a stunning, sobering depiction of an important chapter in New York City’s history.
Birth Control, Allison Yarrow
Consider Allison Yarrow’s Birth Control: The Insidious Power of Men Over Motherhood a searing indictment of modern medicine, its patriarchal roots, and its harrowing consequences for people who experience pregnancy and childbirth. Drawing on extensive research, interviews with experts, and an original survey of 1,300 mothers, this deeply researched work traces the history of misogyny and racism in medical care when it comes to birthing bodies, from past to present. From male doctors overtaking midwives during the 19th century to the shortcomings of contemporary medical practices and procedures, Yarrow highlights the urgent need to reform the way we think about pregnancy and birth, making the case for better maternal health care as a human right.
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