There are so many great books hitting the shelves in July that even if you read one every single day, you couldn’t get through them all. But how great is that?! An abundance of riches in the form of stories, novels, essays, memoirs, literary fiction and humor. We all deserve to relax this summer, don’t we? Collectively we’ve survived a lot. If there was ever a time for us to kick back, relax and read our hearts out, it’s now.
Luckily, many fantastic authors have delivered and given us dozens of options. Now the only question is which book to start first? I hope you’ll devour this list with as much excitement and eagerness as I felt curating it. Now go get reading already! I’ll race you.
‘Easy Crafts for the Insane: A Mostly Funny Memoir of Mental Illness and Making Things’ by Kelly Williams Brown
New York Times bestselling author of “Adulting,” Kelly Williams Brown now tackles what happens after learning to “adult” and reveals what life is like coping with mental health issues. She should know. After her bestselling book came out, she got divorced, broke three limbs, dealt with her father’s cancer diagnosis and managed an oppressive depression. What got her through? Juvenile crafting efforts — and writing about how it helped.
‘The Stranger in the Mirror’ by Liv Constantine
The sister-duo authors of bestseller “The Last Mrs. Parrish” return with another addictive, psychological thriller. This one is about two key characters — and the role of memory in identity. The first is Addison, who on the verge of her wedding day, can’t get over the fact that she lost her memory two years earlier after an accident left her bleeding next to a New Jersey highway; and Julian, her husband at the time of the accident, and father to their 7-year-old daughter, who never figured out how his beloved wife (really named Cassandra) could have just vanished without a trace. This twist-packed narrative is insanely good and makes us question what it really means to remember.
‘Shoulder Season’ by Christina Clancy
Set in 1981, “Shoulder Season” traces the trajectory of a 19-year-old Wisconsin young woman, adrift after the deaths of her parents, as she becomes a Playboy bunny, living in the “bunny hutch.” Soon after moving in and getting wrapped up in the stiletto lifestyle, she becomes embroiled in a scandal that will haunt her for the next four decades.
‘Dear Miss Metropolitan’ by Carolyn Ferrell
An exploration of grief and rage, “Dear Miss Metropolitan” chronicles the aftermath of the abduction of three young girls by a monstrous man in Queens, New York. A local newswoman can’t believe she missed this crime right under her nose — and no one can figure out what happened to the third girl, after the other two were freed. An examination of trauma and the truly terrible, this book will stay with you.
‘The Comfort Book’ by Matt Haig
Author of the New York Times bestseller “The Midnight Library,” Matt Haig spent years collecting many notes to his future self. His reassurances and reminders of how to get through life, even anxiety and depression, will help all who might need them. Don’t we all?
‘The Paper Palace’ by Miranda Cowley Heller
Set in Cape Cod, “The Paper Palace” is a memorable, literary, family drama with a hint of revenge centered around a shocking tragedy. Wife and mother Elle Bishop survived an unspeakable childhood tragedy. Now she has to decide between staying with her husband or taking up with the man who would have been her childhood amour — if things had played out differently.
‘London’s Number One Dog-Walking Agency: A Memoir’ by Kate MacDougall
A memoir by a former Sothebys junior staffer who decided to turn over a new leaf and start a dog walking business in London, this book shows how much we can all learn from dogs — and their owners.
‘Fox & I: An Uncommon Friendship’ by Catherine Raven
Those in the publishing world eagerly awaited the launch of Spiegel & Grau’s first title under their new imprint. Now insiders have realized that the combined power and expertise of these two women co-founders, both industry veterans, truly make great things come to life. Their first title, “Fox & I” is a thoughtful, measured, literary meditation, as told through biologist Catherine Raven’s observations as she studies and interacts with a fox in her backyard, even reading him books out loud. Her reflections shine a spotlight on the path out of loneliness, reminding us all that nature itself will ensure none of us are ever truly alone.
‘Together We Will Go’ by J. Michael Straczynski
Twelve strangers come together to end their lives in this epistolary novel full of text messages, emails, letters, and more. The magic school bus of suicide collects passengers, like one woman with severe and unbearable chronic pain, across the country, prompting some to check off bucket list items on the way, and inspiring others to reclaim their lives. Written by notable screenwriter, Hollywood veteran and comic author, J. Michael Strazynski, this novel challenges form and function and presents the meaning of life in a new, original way.
‘Praying with Jane Eyre: Reflections on Reading as a Sacred Practice’ by Vanessa Zoltan
Memoir meets literature classic in this relatable memoir about finding oneself through scripture, even if that scripture is “Jane Eyre.” Chaplain Vanessa Zoltan, who was raised Jewish with four Holocaust survivors as grandparents (they met in Auschwitz, she meets guys on dating apps, she jokes) explores how to give a sermon through the words of Charlotte Bronte, J.K. Rowling, F. Scott Fitzgerald and other literary legends, not necessarily through the Bible. An homage to the power of books to transform lives, this story will captivate you — and make you want to sit and listen to Vanessa’s “sermons” forever.
‘Well, This is Exhausting: Essays’ by Sophia Benoit
Humorist, Twitter star and GQ columnist Sophia Benoit tracks her journey from classic good girl to feminist as she examines how to be “good” these days. (I mean, do any of us really know?!) Weaving in anxiety, dating, reality TV and more, these essays pack a memoir-istic punch.
‘Bring Your Baggage and Don’t Pack Light: Essays’ by Helen Ellis
Masterful wit and bestselling author of “American Housewife” and “Southern Lady Code,” Helen Ellis shares 12 humorous yet poignant essays chronicling issues faced by her friends and herself as they wade into their fifties. During a reunion on “the Redneck Riviera,” the women dish about middle-aged married sex, family, careers, double chins, mammograms, poker, and more. You’ll laugh — and, perhaps, cry — along with them in this slim collection.
‘I Couldn’t Love You More’ by Esther Freud
A family saga that takes the reader on an emotional voyage set in Ireland and London, Esther Freud’s latest immersive narrative follows one family and its intergenerational secrets including an unwanted pregnancy, an older man, an adoption, an alcoholic and more.
‘Yoga Pant Nation’ by Laurie Gelman
Kansas mom of two Jen Dixon, the protagonist of “Class Mom” and “You’ve Been Volunteered,” is back in the third email-filled missive, full of capers, classrooms, and complications. What happens when she’s tapped to chair the class fundraiser? What should she do when her husband’s ex-wife starts going to her Spinning class? High-class problems, perhaps?? Who cares! “Yoga Pant Nation” is guiltily entertaining and pokes fun at the craziness of modern motherhood.
‘While We Were Dating’ by Jasmine Guillory
Bestselling author Jasmine Guillory, author of “The Proposal,” spins a delectable tale about an ad exec, Ben Stephens, and the movie starlet, Anna Gardiner, who hires his firm to enhance her image. When Ben comes to the rescue in Anna’s personal life, they learn more about each other — including how they both feel about being in the spotlight.
‘Carry On: Reflections for a New Generation’ by John Lewis
Late Congressman John Lewis championed the Civil Rights Movement as an iconic political leader and universal hero. When battling cancer during his final days, he wrote exclusive pieces containing his beliefs and advice. Now collected here in one special volume, his words live on to inspire and motivate us all to keep fighting for what’s right.
‘Count the Ways’ by Joyce Maynard
Bestselling author Joyce Maynard follows a fractured family, as split as the tree that marks their New Hampshire farm becomes in a freak lightning storm. Dissecting the what ifs of young motherhood and how relationships suffer as a side effect of intense caregiving, Joyce Maynard examines the effects of a childhood accident on a family forever, one child’s gender transition, and the affair that ended things.
‘The Last Letter From Your Lover: Movie Tie-In Edition’ by Jojo Moyes
“The Last Letter From Your Lover,” a double love story by #1 bestselling author Jojo Moyes, is set to become a major motion picture directed by Augustine Frizzell, premiering on Netflix July 23 with Felicity Jones, Callum Turner, Joe Alwyn, Nabhaan Rizwan and Shailene Woodley. The story? In 2003, a young journalist, Ellie, discovers a letter while doing research and becomes consumed with finding the writer and recipient of it. Meanwhile, the narrative flashes back to 1960 to another young woman, Jennifer, who wakes up from a car accident in the hospital not remembering how she got there but realizing shortly thereafter that she had been in a relationship with someone else, not her husband. These two stories intersect in a powerful way both in prose and on screen. (I had to stop watching the trailer so it wouldn’t give away the ending!)
‘Don’t Let it Get You Down: Essays or Race, Gender, and the Body’ by Savala Nolan
In this beautifully written collection of 12 essays, Savala Nolan explores the many sides of her multilayered identity as the daughter of a Black and Mexican father and white mom, her struggles with weight and body image, and her experiences on all ends of the wealth spectrum. Each essay tackles another element of her life from being a descendant of slave owners to trying to date white boys, and how she has learned to live in the in-between.
‘China Room’ by Sunjeev Sahota
In 1929 Punjab, three sisters marry three brothers without knowing their identities and work all day in a “china room,” only to be matched in the dark with their husbands at night. One of the sisters isn’t liking this arrangement so much and uncovers a clue that changes everything. In 1999, a young English man arrives in Punjab to battle his addiction and uses the “china room” to weather the storm. An examination of power and gender, “China Room” will make you reexamine a culture across time.
‘What is a Dog?’ by Chloe Shaw
“What is a Dog?” is a collection of stories about of one girl’s life as told through her dogs, starting with her childhood in Brooklyn, a Scottish Terrier, and a tendency for OCD behavior. Chloe actually wanted to have her dog’s body instead of her own to simply escape. But this coping strategy didn’t work as well when Chloe grew up and became a wife and mother, that is until she learned some lessons from the dogs in her life.
‘There Will Be Lobster: Memoir of a Mid-Life Crisis’ by Sara Arnell
Debut author Sara Arnell, the widely-acclaimed advertising guru, shares her midlife reckonings with self-deprecating humor and true insight, peeling back the curtain on what seemed like the perfect life and family, but wasn’t. Coping with a tumor and a cancer diagnosis took Sara on an unexpected path during an uncertain time, including many stops along the way to truly finding herself.
‘Over It: How to Face Life’s Hurdles with Grit, Hustle, and Grace’ by Lolo Jones
Three-time Olympian and world champion hurdler and bobsledder Lolo Jones is best known for the millisecond mistake that cost her a gold medal. In her long-awaited (well, by me at least!) memoir, she writes candidly about how to overcome challenges like the ones she had faced in her own life: growing up with a father who was in prison, shoplifting to have enough to eat as a child, and sleeping in the Salvation Army.
‘How to Raise Kids Who Aren’t A**holes: Science-based Strategies for Better Parenting — from Tots to Teens’ by Melinda Wenner Moyer
Isn’t this the main goal of parenting — aside from keeping our kids alive?! But how do we make sure our kids are simply nice people? This science-based, funny, easy-to-use guidebook with specific strategies to help parents raise great kids should be on everyone’s list.
‘When We Were Young’ by Richard Roper
A story of male friendship, Richard Roper’s latest book follows Joel, a successful TV writer, and Theo, recently evicted from his parent’s shed. Years earlier, they’d vowed to walk 184 miles together on the Thames Path. Reunited, their journey takes them places neither of them expected. Author of recent debut hit “Something to Live For” (formerly named “How Not To Die Alone”), Richard Roper writes with wit, soul, and beautiful prose.
‘False Witness’ by Karin Slaughter
Written during the pandemic, “False Witness,” a standalone thriller by bestselling author Karin Slaughter, tackles many issues exacerbated and spotlighted during Covid like food insecurity, the housing crisis, inmate treatment in prison, racism, misogyny, and the overwhelming demands on women. Leigh, a female defense attorney whose latest client’s engagement wasn’t exactly a coincidence and, in fact, requires her to get him acquitted or risk her own secrets being exposed, will surely find her own place on the screen like the protagonist of Slaughter’s bestselling novel “Pieces of Her,” coming soon to Netflix.
‘A Woman of Intelligence’ by Karin Tanabe
Native New Yorker Katharina Edgeworth bounces from her post-Ivy-League-college days of being a swinging single in the 1940s and working as a translator at the U.N. to becoming a housewife and mother of two on Fifth Avenue in the 1950s. But despite her privilege, Katharina longs for more and accepts the invitation of the FBI to become a spy. Will her new secret job ruin everything she has taken for granted?!
‘A Farewell to Garbo and Mercedes’ by Rodrigo Garcia
A memoir by the son of one of the most acclaimed authors of the 20th century, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, this story is an intimate personal tale of love and loss as Rodrigo recounts his father’s last days and the impact of his illness and loss on the family.
‘A Song Everlasting’ by Ha Jin
National Book Award-winning author of “Waiting,” Ha Chin tackles what it means to be an artist — and never give up — in this narrative about a Chinese singer, Yao Tian, whose performance in New York jeopardizes his safety and the relationship between China and Taiwan.
‘New Teeth’ by Simon Rich
Silly. Satirical. Humorous. Absurd. Hilarious. Simon Rich’s work everywhere from the New Yorker to “Saturday Night Live,” inspires effusive praise in its unique depiction of life. This collection of stories includes one about two pirates who find a child stowaway and are forced to balance pillaging with co-parenting; another about a woman raised by wolves preparing for her parents’ Thanksgiving visit. In “The Big Nap,” a tired toddler detective struggles to figure out life. Revealing Simon’s new status as a dad, these tales show what’s really needed to build a family: humor.
‘Safe in My Arms’ by Sara Shepard
The New York Times bestselling author of “Pretty Little Liars” dives back into the school years, this time in an exclusive California preschool. (Think: Big Little Lies.) Three new moms who don’t quite fit the mold in the community — and all have secrets — explore what it means to be a good mom (I mean, really, is that even a thing?). But does someone in the school already know what they each have to hide!? When the principal gets attacked, guess who gets blamed?
‘Goldenrod: Poems’ by Maggie Smith
Acclaimed poet Maggie Smith returns after the success of her bestselling collection “Keep Moving” to delve into the everyday moments that make up family, love, and, ultimately, life.
‘The Great Peace’ by Mena Suvari
Yes, that Mena Suvari. Star of “American Pie,” “American Beauty” and “Six Feet Under,” Mena shares her powerful Hollywood coming-of-age story with the classic pitfalls young actors face: sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll. (OK, maybe not rock ‘n roll.) An abuse survivor, Mena bares her soul on the page to show others that there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel — even her own.
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