If You’re Going to Read One Book In July, Make It This One

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Nothing ignites the travel bug like summer. But with soaring gas prices and inflation in general, it can be a little harder to adventure long distances this year. Luckily, books allow travel at a relatively low cost (or free, if you utilize your local library or swap with friends). So dive into a new land with one of July’s fabulous new releases.

One book to take note of this month is “Pina,an incredible work of anti-colonial fiction and the English-language debut of Tahitian author Titaua Peu. A groundbreaking novel in the world of Polynesian literature, “Pina” is the winner of the 2017 Eugène Dabit Prize and the 2019 French Voices Grand Prize.

Peu introduces readers to Pina, a nine-year-old girl who lives with her family in the desolate, rural neighborhood of Tenaho, far from the tourist-friendly beaches of Tahiti. Struggling with the legacy of colonialism through the daily experiences of poverty and destitution, Pina’s family is further devastated after her alcoholic father is involved in a tragic accident. This sets off a series of events that reveals the profound trauma and secrets that have determined the paths of Pina and her siblings. Translated from French by award-winning translator Jeffrey Zuckerman, “Pina” traces the history of a family, a culture, and an island in one moving piece of work.

Here are a few more July book choices:

Following the success of her romantic short story collection, “Love in Color,” internationally bestselling author Bolu Babalola is back, now with her debut novel. Staying in the romance realm, “Honey & Spice” follows a young Black British woman in university whose fake relationship quickly turns into something hot and steamy. Warning, you may be blushing if reading in public.

This isn’t your typical ghost story. Instead, Nell Stevens’ latest debut novel is a rousing queer romance, where a teenage ghost named Blanca, who died in 1473, falls in love with French writer George Sand. The kicker is that Sand, who has recently moved to the village of Mallorca with her lover, Frederic Chopin, and two children in hopes that the simple living and fresh air will cure Chopin’s ill health, doesn’t know that Blanca exists.

From spilling tea to family riffs, through the ups and downs of four best friends — Kim, Tanisha, Davene, and Cookie — Jamila Rowser and artist Robyn Smith’s beautiful graphic novel is a heartwarming celebration and tribute to life, friendships, and black hair. “Wash Day Diaries” expands on Rowser and Smith’s critically acclaimed mini-comic Wash Day, which offered a look into the everyday lives of the four vibrant characters they created and the universal-yet-personal experience of Black women’s hair care.

From the author of the 2020 literary scene hit “Bestiary” comes this collection of short but impactful stories. With the sensuality and striking mastery of language that captivated readers in her debut, “Gods of Want” dives deeper into the startling juxtapositions — erotic and grotesque — that give Chang’s work a hypnotic quality.

For fans of Madeline Miller’s “Circe” and Jennifer Saint’s “Ariadne,” Rebecca Stott’s much-anticipated return to fiction imagines the aftermath of the Roman Empire, where sisters Isla and Blue are forced to flee their home and end up joining a secret community of women rebel women. Expect a lush, rich world that marries magic, history, fantasy, and folklore.

In early 2021, Angie Hockman’s debut novel, “Shipped,” took the romance scene by storm and put her on the map as a writer to watch. Now, she returns with a new rom-com perfect for readers of Christina Lauren and Rebecca Serle. In “Dream On,” a woman wakes up from a car accident with memories of a boyfriend she’s never met, and while she knows the man is all in her head, she still just has this feeling… Then a year later, she runs into him.

We all know the ingredients for a good apocalyptic story: the world is thrown into chaos, alliances are formed, and the tougher, smarter man comes out on top through trial and tribulation. But what if the stronger woman came out on top? What would a matriarchal post-apocalyptic world look like? Enter “Into the Mist,” which delivers a thrilling and a feminist future, fantastic for fans of “The Power” by Naomi Alderman and Stephen King’s “The Stand.”

“Sweetbitter” meets “Russian Doll” with a dash of “Butterfly Effect” in this addictive summer read set amongst the bright lights of the big city just post-9/11. Centered around an NYC bartender named Jean who discovers passages and time warps between bars and tunnels in the city, Jean soon must address past traumas and loss when eventually, the side effects from this time travel couple with the strange connection of a missing friend.

And in case none of the above releases caught your eye, here are a few more noteworthy July releases:

“Upgrade” by Blake Crouch: From the mind of thrilling sci-fi reads “Recursion” and “Dark Matter” comes a new thrilling page-turner centering on biology and the nature of humanity.

“Groupies” by Sarah Priscus: Find drama, sex, drugs, and rock and roll in this glittery coming-of-age debut, perfect for fans of “Daisy Jones & The Six” and “The Final Revival of Opal & Nev.”

“Venomous Lumpsucker” by Ned Beauman: In this dystopian read, author Ned Beauman explores the grim possibilities of the near future and the surprises it may still hold — if we only search for them.

“Total” by Rebecca Miller: A return to short stories from the author of “Personal Velocity,” “The Private Lives of Pippa Lee,” and more, the seven stories in this collection touch on family, intimacy, and relationships.

“Poukahangatus” by Tayi Tibble: Through visceral and entertaining poems, Tayi Tibble makes her American debut; Her language is striking and stripped back, and touches on life as a modern Indigenous woman in New Zealand.

“Fire Season” by Leyna Krow: Calling all Western fans: this debut novel follows three misfits in 1889 American West who lives end up on the same path after a fire destroys the city of Spokane Falls.

Jordan Snowden

Contributor

Jordan Snowden is a freelance writer based in Pittsburgh whose work has been published in The Seattle Times, Pittsburgh City Paper and elsewhere. She also runs @jord_reads_books, a book-focused Instagram account where she connects with other bookworms. In her free time Jordan can be found with a book in her hand or DIYing something with her husband.

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