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Our 16 Most Anticipated New Reads of July 2020

by  | June 30
The Only Good Indians with forget background

Our July most anticipated list has something for every reader. For genre, we cover horror, intimate essay collections, rom-com, memoir, and historical fantasy, to name a few. For characters, they run the gamut as well, from supernatural assassins to dysfunctional family members to forensic psychologists, and more! For even more recommendations, check out Simon & Schuster’s summer reading guide to keep your BookCation game going strong.

One Year of Ugly

One Year of Ugly

by Caroline Mackenzie

Leila’s Pick

If you think your family is driving you crazy right now, meet the Palacios. Yola Palacio and her family are in isolation, not because of a pandemic, but because they are being blackmailed by a local gangster named Ugly, who was owed a great debt from Yola’s beloved deceased Aunt Celia. In order to pay her debts, they must take in and shelter Venezuelan refugees, just like themselves, and try not to lose their minds with each other while they’re at it. Trinidad-based author Caroline Mackenzie brings us an uproarious tale about how quickly familial ties can deepen during the unlikeliest of circumstances. Through her biting, witty narration, Mackenzie also shines a light on the oft-underreported Venezuelan refugee crisis affecting the West Indies today. With the romance of Crazy Rich Asians and the humor of Where’d You Go, Bernadette, One Year of Ugly is a poignant reminder that no matter what form of ugly crosses your path, there’s always a way to laugh through it.

Publication date: July 7

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Craigslist Confessional

Craigslist Confessional

by Helena Dea Bala

Justin’s Pick

Helena Dea Bala’s odyssey into the deep, dark, and concealed corners of other people’s lives began after she put an ad on Craigslist with the subject line, "Tell me about yourself." More than half a decade later, the former Washington lobbyist and attorney is making a living by lending a compassionate ear to complete strangers through her blog. For Craigslist Confessional, the author has compiled 40 intimate, heart-wrenching, and acutely human confessions for her collection, on topics such as loss, love, and identity. While not always an easy read (you’ll likely need to take a breather between stories), this book is an engaging call for empathy. It confronts us with the struggles and truths that strangers reveal about their day-to-day lives and, in so doing, asks us to be a little bit kinder to—and more understanding of—everyone we encounter.

Publication date: July 7

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Trouble the Saints

Trouble the Saints

by Alaya Dawn Johnson

Sara’s Pick #1

Exploring systemic racism through the lens of fantasy is nothing new—shake the fantasy section of your local bookstore and you'll find your fair share of books that fit that description. But what Trouble the Saints brings to the literary table is a nuanced story of characters who experience that racism at different levels. Phyllis, a supernaturally gifted knife-wielding mob assassin in alternate-WWII Harlem, is an African American woman whose skin is light enough that she can pass for white. It's through her perspective that we see the stark divide in how people are treated. Half-Indian cop Dev also feels this divide as he is kept at arm's length by the department and people he serves as he takes on an undercover assignment. As fates and lives intertwine amid the backdrop of racial injustices and a looming war, Alaya Dawn Johnson builds a world of curses and confinement—complexities of both the magical and human variety—to challenge her charismatic characters. A great read for those looking to blend history and fantasy.

Publication date: July 21

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Dear Emmie Blue

Dear Emmie Blue

by Lia Louis

Courtney’s Pick

There are so many amazing books coming out this summer, but Dear Emmie Blue is the one I am recommending to all my friends to read first. I read this story pre-publication last October, and I’ve been obsessed with it ever since. It’s one of those books I wish I could read for the first time again. Author Lia Louis is a beautiful writer, and I was swept up in Emmie Blue’s journey. Her story begins with putting a secret and her email address inside a balloon and sending it across the English Channel—only for it to be found by a boy in France, named Lucas Moreau. Fast-forward fourteen years and Emmie is in love with Lucas, convinced the big question he has to ask her will reveal his love for her. But when things don’t go as planned, Emmie realizes she has neglected other aspects of her life (from her relationship with her mother to her career) in favor of Lucas, and that it’s time to make a change. I love all these characters, and by the end, I felt like I knew them personally. The novel is such a perfect hope-filled rom-com, I’d honestly be disappointed if it wasn’t adapted into a Netflix movie. This is one book you don’t want to miss.

Publication date: July 14

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When She Was Good

When She Was Good

by Michael Robotham

Heather’s Pick #1

This summer may not involve as much traveling as I’d planned, but you couldn’t tell by my TBR pile! I’m loading up on absorbing, fast-paced reads that I know will be just as riveting from my couch as on a plane, train, or automobile. In Michael Robotham’s thriller When She Was Good, forensic psychologist Cyrus Haven works to uncover the true identity of the girl he knows as Evie Cormac. He’s sure that the troubled teen, who was the sole surviving witness to a horrific crime seven years ago and possesses a sixth sense for when people are lying, won’t be able to move on until she faces her past. But what if the answers Cyrus seeks could land them both in even more danger?

Publication date: July 28

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Big Friendship

Big Friendship

by Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman

Emily’s Pick #1

Call Your Girlfriend is the podcast I turn on when I miss my friends and need a mood lift. Long-distance besties Ann Friedman and Aminatou Sow have such great chemistry—which only truly enduring friends can have—that they make me feel like my own bffs are whispering sweet words of wisdom into my ear. In each episode they dish out everything from professional victories to advice on relationships, all with quick wit and a feminist angle. I can’t wait to read the first book the two hosts have written together, Big Friendship, for its deep dive into the ups and downs of their impressively long-lasting friendship, and a necessary reminder that your true friends will always be there to help you through heartbreaks, and cheer the loudest at your success.

Publication date: July 14

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Florence Adler Swims Forever

Florence Adler Swims Forever

by Rachel Beanland

Sharon’s Pick

Florence Adler Swims Forever has all the trappings of unforgettable historical fiction. Rachel Beanland sets her absorbing story in Atlantic City, “America’s Playground,” during the summer of 1934. Her memorable characters—including a woman who is training to swim the English Channel; her bedridden, pregnant sister; and a mysterious young woman recently emigrated from Nazi Germany—are all cramped together in an apartment above a bakery. To top it off, tragedy strikes, and the characters become embroiled in a series of secrets and lies. Did I mention that the book is based on a true story, and that it’s Beanland’s debut novel?

Publication date: July 7

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The Only Good Indians

The Only Good Indians

by Stephen Graham Jones

Sara’s Pick #2

What does it mean to bear responsibility? That sounds like an easy question, but what you owe to others might end up being more than you bargained for. When four American Indian teens kill a pregnant deer, they set themselves and their loved ones on a dark and deadly path. Stephen Graham Jones is known for surreal horror that shakes you to your core, usually in more ways than one. The Only Good Indians is not only filled with terrifying imagery and heart-stopping twists, it’s also laden with social commentary on masculinity, the trauma of systematic oppression, and the ongoing negotiation between identity and culture. If you need a read that'll send chills down your spine in the summer heat, this story should be in your beach bag (virtual or otherwise).

Publication date: July 14

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Lady Romeo

Lady Romeo

by Tana Wojczuk

Heather’s Pick #2

We twenty-first-century women owe a massive debt to the many “radical” ladies who came before us. By breaking the mold of what constituted “acceptable” behavior in their times, they created a more equitable existence for all of us. Charlotte Cushman, the subject of Tana Wojczuk’s biography, Lady Romeo, is one such admirable historical figure, and I can’t wait to read her story. A nineteenth-century queer actress who became one of America’s first celebrities, Charlotte rose to fame with her scene-stealing portrayal of Lady Macbeth, then took her show on the road and made headlines all across the country. I’m already a fan.

Publication date: July 7

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Utopia Avenue

Utopia Avenue

by David Mitchell

Sara’s Pick #3

As a big David Mitchell fan (I absolutely adored Slade House), I was wondering just what kind of story he'd be putting out next. While I certainly wasn't expecting it to be about a rock band, the story has that familiar enchanting quality of the author’s that can't help but draw you in. Utopia Avenue is a very strange rock band—comprised of band members from eclectic music backgrounds—who release two LPs before their blaze of glory is snuffed out in 1968. The story follows the band members as they climb the charts and then watches as it all comes crashing back to earth. Filled with references to, and appearances by, the rock legends of the era, it's a great read for music fans. Mitchell's all-consuming prose is just as strong as in his other works, and each member of the band provides their own perspective on the world of sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll in a kind of mini-character study. This might not be what Mitchell fans were expecting, but it's a groove I can get behind.

Publication date: July 14

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Bonnie

Bonnie

by Christina Schwarz

Emily’s Pick #2

I love any fast-paced story that also manages to slip in a bit of history too—and Bonnie by Christina Schwarz does just that! If you haven’t already guessed from the title and book cover, the novel tells a fictional version of the infamous love affair between Bonnie and Clyde, from Bonnie’s POV. It describes her Dallas upbringing of limited opportunities and details how the pull of young love led her and Clyde down their spiral of lawbreaking and recklessness. Most people think they know the story of Bonnie and her infamous death (from the 1967 Bonnie and Clyde movie), but this fictionalized retelling of her life reveals a girl with sky-high ambitions and the heartbreakingly desperate decisions she made in an attempt to reach them.

Publication date: July 7

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Kings County

Kings County

by David Goodwillie

Morgan’s Pick #1

If you’re missing the hustle and bustle of NYC, I feel you. I am as well. To help with this nostalgia, I highly suggest you pick up a copy of Kings County. Why? This incredibly immersive story will throw you onto the streets of NYC in the 2000s, from the protests of Occupy Wall Street to the parties of Bushwick, Brooklyn. Audrey Benton arrives in New York City on a bus from nowhere, but she soon finds a home for herself amid the burgeoning indie rock scene. She also finds an unlikely match in Theo Gorski, a shy but idealistic mill-town kid who’s struggling to establish himself in the world of publishing. But when a secret emerges from Audrey’s past, it threatens to tear down everything she and Theo have created together. This love story is at once gritty and hopeful. You won’t want to put it down!

Publication date: July 28

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The Book of Lost Names

The Book of Lost Names

by Kristin Harmel

Molly’s Pick 

I have been looking forward to the publication of Kristin Harmel’s newest book, The Book of Lost Names, ever since I read The Winemaker’s Wife. I love Kristin’s writing—it’s smart, evocative, and utterly engrossing. These qualities will no doubt extend to The Book of Lost Names, which is based on a true story from World War II about a young woman who helped hundreds of Jewish children flee the Nazis with her knack for forgery. I’m always interested in reading true stories about WWII, because inevitably the hero of the story was once a regular citizen who does extraordinary, courageous things; it reminds us all of what we can do in the face of such unfathomable circumstances. If you enjoyed The Light Over London, The Alice Network, or The Nightingale, be sure to read The Book of Lost Names.

Publication date: July 21

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Filthy Beasts

Filthy Beasts

by Kirkland Hamill

Morgan’s Pick #2

Are you as obsessed with memoirs as I am? Then you must add Filthy Beasts to your TBR. Kirk is eight years old when his family moves from New York’s upper-class society to his mom’s native Bermuda after his parents divorce. He and his brothers are left to fend for themselves as their mother succumbs to alcoholism. After eventually leaving his mother’s dysfunctional orbit for college in New Orleans, Kirk begins to realize just how different his family was—and how his upbringing has been—from those of his friends and peers. Filthy Beasts is both a gripping riches-to-rags story and the unforgettable journey of a man coming to terms with his family’s flaws and his own buried truths.

Publication date: July 14

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The Need

The Need

by Helen Phillips

Sienna’s Pick

New in paperback this July, The Need is an unsettling, yet captivating story of one woman’s tenuous hold on keeping her head above water as she juggles work, motherhood, and family. Molly is a paleobotanist who spends her days working at a fossil quarry and has recently unearthed a controversial Bible that has attracted media and tourist attention. At night, she struggles to take care of her two children, four-year-old Viv and one-year-old Ben, on her own while her husband is away on a musical tour. One night, she discovers an intruder in her house, wearing an eerie deer mask. After confronting the masked figure, she realizes that the interloper knows everything about her and her family. When Molly learns who the trespasser actually is, she begins questioning her grip on reality.

New in paperback: July 7

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Three Women

Three Women

by Lisa Taddeo

Morgan’s Pick #3

Yes, it’s true: the book every single person on your Insta feed was talking about last summer is finally coming out in paperback! Three Women tells the story of the sex lives of three real American women: Maggie, Lina, and Sloane. An exploration of female desire that delves into the intimate details documented in journalist Taddeo’s eight years of research, it’s unlike any book I’ve ever read. It’s a blazing reminder that women’s stories are worth telling. This is not just a must-read. This is a MUST-READ RIGHT NOW. And a must-discuss. You will actively need to talk it out with your book club or your best friend or your mom or whomever you most trust. If you have not yet read it, now is the time.

New in paperback: July 7

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