The Wedding Party
Neither Maddie nor Theo thought it could happen, but you know what they say: opposites attract. Though they both have a dear friend in common, Alexa (whom you might remember from Guillory’s other work), each has never understood what she sees in the other. One night, though, they end up sleeping together. A mistake, of course, but then again, it’s not like either of them is seeing anyone else right now, and it was fun, so… well, why not? As they keep their affair secret but consistent, they begin to share more than the physical.
The Nickel Boys
When Elwood Curtis goes off to college, he’s the kind of kid every parent wants: he reads encyclopedias, works hard at his after-school job, is law-abiding. But Elwood doesn’t quite get to college. Instead, a chance encounter unjustly leads him to a juvenile reform school. Nickel Academy—based on a real reform school—is no educational institute but rather a racist, abusive system that terrorizes its youth before spitting them out, if they’re lucky enough to survive. Though Elwood believes in Dr. King’s message, the realities inside require him to shift his thinking if he wants to live.
Lock Every Door
From the author of Final Girls comes a new novel about a woman who may or may not become a final girl herself. Jules is broke and broken up with when she accepts a job that seems too good to be true. For several thousand bucks, she begins housesitting an apartment in a historic Manhattan building whose tenants are largely rich and famous. She’s not allowed to talk to any of them, though, or have guests over, or spend a night away from the place. When her only friend there—another sitter—disappears, Jules starts to fear the worst.
True-crime enthusiasts and even laypeople know the names of the most notorious serial killers, from Jack the Ripper in 19th century England to Ted Bundy in the 20th. But few know the 21st-century serial killer who avoided capture for over a decade. Israel Keyes, Alaska-dweller and devoted father, flew across the country time after time, buried kits full of what he’d need, broke into random people’s houses, abducted and killed them, and disposed of them within hours. How and why did it take so long for him to get caught? Journalist Maureen Callahan dives deep into that question.
The Other Mrs. Miller
Phoebe Miller isn’t just bored, though she is that. Monied and comfortably living in a mansion, she’s also being harangued by her husband about potential babies she’s not that interested in. Plus, there’s the public shame of her father having been discovered to be not only a womanizer but a rapist. And then there’s the car sitting outside her house day after day, watching—but why? When new neighbors move in, Phoebe is at least finally blessed with a drinking buddy, whose son isn’t bad-looking either. When a body turns up, no one—including you—will know who to blame.
We Went to the Woods
Mack is bumming around at home in Ithaca after being kicked out of her anthropology PhD program when she meets four beautiful young adults planning an adventure. Invited to join them, Mack jumps at the opportunity to leave her parents’ house, and she, Louisa, Beau, Chloe, and Jack all move onto the farmland Louisa’s family is letting her take over. Intending to unplug and return to the land—with no training or understanding of how to survive an upstate New York winter without plumbing—they nevertheless make a valiant effort, even as the group begins to unravel.
The Chelsea Girls
Hazel and Maxine met during their time touring with the USO, but now that World War II is over, it’s time for them to think about their own careers. Hazel, never good at center-stage stuff, becomes a playwright and director, and Maxine, whose star-stuff has been clear for a while, plans on being her hotshot lead. But when they—along with a bunch of other entertainment industry folk—find themselves in the crosshairs of the House Un-American Activities Committee, things begin to get scary. McCarthy is eager to stamp out the Reds, but Hazel and Maxine just want to make art.
The Gifted School
Four moms in the fictional Crystal, Colorado, get together every week to take a run. They met years ago, when their kids were in baby swim class, and much as changed since then, with death, divorce, and money disrupting their lives. When an elite school opens that accepts kids via application and test scores, the four families’ reactions lose all sense of scale as the chance to shine becomes paramount. In a case of life imitating art imitating life, this timely novel of parents fulfilling ambition through their children’s successes is sure to remind you of various recent news scandals.
When Rachel sleeps with her professor, the brilliant and renowned Pakistani author Zahid Azzam, she has no idea what can of worms she’s opened. Not for Zahid—he’s going home to Pakistan for a while, and Rachel gets to dog-sit for him. Instead, it’s Rachel’s own family that she sends into disarray, especially once Zahid comes back and stays with Rachel and her mom, Becca, for a while. Becca is lonely, and her husband has just left her, and Zahid is not just gorgeous but smart and kind. A mess—of the most hilarious sort—ensues.
Whether or not it was the cause, after the comet passed a little too close to earth, the sleepwalking began. People everywhere are sleepwalking without waking or stopping. Some of them are accompanied by friends and family, shepherds of a kind, who follow their movements in an attempt to protect them. Meanwhile, a government AI believes it knows who holds the key to the strange phenomenon, but society is already crumbling in confusion and fear. Will humanity survive, or destroy itself in the attempt?
When world-famous chef René Redzepi’s Copenhagen restaurant, Noma, got hit with an outbreak of Nora virus, everything seemed ready to crumble. In the end, it couldn’t have come at a better time, because Redzepi was ready to move on and discover something new. Gordinier, an editor at Esquire at the time, was invited to go along with Redzepi and his entourage to discover flavors, cuisines, and markets as far apart as Norway, Australia, and Mexico. In this vivid mix of memoir, travelogue, and portrait-of-a-chef, Gordinier will make your mouth water and your feet itch for adventure.
Home for Erring and Outcast Girls
When Cate Sutton begins working as assistant librarian at the University of Texas, she’s ready to move on from her past. Instead, she finds herself gripped by a different past, that of the Berachah Industrial Home, an early 20th-century shelter for “wayward” girls and women—in other words, those pregnant out of wedlock, sex workers often forced into the job by lack of other options, and those who’ve been abused or cast out of their homes. Two women in particular catch her attention, Mattie and Lizzie, whose complex narratives play out alongside Cate’s as the novel unfolds.
Marilou Is Everywhere
Sarah Elaine Smith
Cindy and her brothers have been living alone ever since their mom up and left them. When her older brother’s occasional girlfriend, Jude, goes missing, Cindy watches as he takes up the mantel of caring for Jude’s mother, Bernadette, who, within her alcoholic fog, is unable—and unwilling—to grasp the reality of her daughter’s disappearance. When she mistakes Cindy for Jude one day, though they look nothing alike, Cindy accepts the role and begins to play her part, discovering what it feels like to have a mother who loves and cares for her. But the fantasy can’t last forever, can it?
Tell Me Everything
Malin is usually shy, an introvert at heart, but when she goes off to college, she decides she wants to have a group for once. She finds best-friend material in Ruby and joins her tight-knit clique. Malin, Ruby, Gemma, Max, John, and Khaled are inseparable during the rest of their college career, moving in together as sophomores, but as with any group of friends, there’s drama. Malin, a keen observer of those around her, has long seen the cracks forming, able to suss out the others’ weaknesses, but as senior year draws to a close, the stakes steeply rise.
America's Reluctant Prince
Steven M. Gillon
It’s been 20 years since John F. Kennedy Jr., son of President JFK, died in a tragic plane accident. The eventual lawyer, journalist, and publisher of George magazine—which had the forethought to recognize politicians as a celebrity class, well in advance of Twitter and Instagram personas—had a slow start, historian and casual friend Gillon explains here. In this comprehensive biography, find out what made JFK Jr. tick, his complex upbringing amidst one of the foremost U.S. political dynasties, and even some of the gossip suppressed during his lifetime.
Dapper Dan: Made in Harlem
Daniel R. Day
Daniel R. Day, more familiarly known as Dapper Dan (which is also the name of his Harlem clothing boutique), has styled many of the most beloved and well-known Black artists of the past few decades, from Salt-N-Pepa to Beyoncé. But how did he become a tastemaker? In this memoir, 74-year-old Day shares his early life in Harlem before the heroin and crack epidemics, and the development of systemically oppressive housing projects that created the circumstances for rising crime. Hustling his way through that time, Day kept on his toes but always paid attention to power.
Raised in Captivity
In Chuck Klosterman’s newest work, 34 short stories (or pieces of fictional nonfiction, as the master of irony has subtitled the book) will wow you with reactions from eyebrow raises to guilty giggles to out-loud laughter, especially since there’s something recognizable of our time in each. In one story, a band’s hit song is co-opted by white supremacists; in another, a husband considers taking on his wife’s labor pains; in a third, coin tosses, which statistically should have 50/50 odds, are off-balance, and a government agency investigates the phenomenon. There’s something here for everyone.
The Bookish Life of Nina Hill
Nina Hill has the perfect millennial introvert life: a job at a bookstore, a detailed planner, one cat, and a trivia team (for socializing). It’s all neat and tidy, until, that is, her mystery dad dies—her single mom always said she didn’t know who he was—and a mess of siblings, aunts, uncles, nieces, and nephews appears. In other words, a whole bunch of strangers she has no interest in getting to know. Still, plucky and curious despite herself, Nina slowly begins to come out of her shell, even snubbing the totally-not-cute captain of the rival trivia team.
Death and Other Happy Endings
Jennifer is only 43 when she gets news that she has three months to live. In an attempt to say what she’s never had the guts to before, she writes letters to her ex-husband (who cheated), her ex-boyfriend (who also cheated), and her sister (who might have helped with some of that cheating) and tells them with deep, candid truth what she thinks and feels about them. While they try to make amends with a dying woman, Jennifer keeps moving, trying to have a last hurrah before her death. But what if she’s not dying after all?
Delayed Rays of a Star
Amanda Lee Koe
In 1928, three women whose careers will make a mark on the world happen to meet at the social event of the season in Berlin, where they’re photographed together. The futures of Marlene Dietrich (actress, cabaret performer, famous bisexual icon), Anna May Wong (first internationally known Chinese-American Hollywood star), and Leni Riefenstahl (actress, director, Hitler’s protege, and creator of Triumph of the Will) unfold in alternating chapters, their voices coming through and complicating their stories, ideologies, and what is expected of women who make a mark.
July is almost over, but don’t worry—we’ve got you covered. Whether you’re going on vacation or just dreaming about it, whether you’re 9-to-5-ing it or juggling a few jobs, everyone needs an escape. From the heat, from the news, from everyday life. And where better to get it than in books? So check out our favorite picks of this month’s incredible new book releases.