Need a break from your Fourth of July preparations or a respite from the unrelenting midsummer heat? Curl up by the A.C. or snag a chair near the pool and enjoy these great book club books for July. These reads are page-turners that promise to prompt engaging conversation on topics as diverse as sex tapes, suburbia, and American notions of celebrity. With recommendations ranging from beloved favorites like Rainbow Rowell to promising debut authors like Mira Jacob, we’ve got you and your book club covered.
I’ll [try to] be there for you
Adulthood—what’s that? In Friendship, a new novel by former Gawker editor and, one might argue, Lena Dunham-predecessor Emily Gould, best friends Bev and Amy are muddling through their early thirties together when they learn that Bev is pregnant. Following the news, financial hardships, anxiety over growing apart, and general existential crisis hijinks play out. Some of Bev and Amy’s struggles might feel a little too real if you are, or know any twenty- or thirty-somethings still transitioning to adulthood, but Gould certainly strikes a cultural nerve with this depiction of two women battling to forge their identities at a time when even being thirty doesn’t necessarily equate to being a grown-up.
Hits shelves: July 1
Fame is a fickle friend
Where did Eddie Hartley go wrong? Good question. He was supposed to become a famous actor—everyone thought so—but instead, he’s a washed-up drama teacher whose married life isn’t panning out as expected, either. In a moment of desperation, Eddie decides to sell a sex tape he made with a now-famous ex, and his fifteen minutes of fame (and infamy) ensue. In Arts & Entertainments, Christopher Beha ( The Whole Five Feet) paints a searing picture of Americans’ obsession with celebrity and the intricacies of a marriage that must weather a tremendous blow.
Hits shelves: July 1
What’s past is prologue
The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing, a debut novel from Mira Jacob, is already making a splash: Kirkus predicts, “Comparisons of Jacob to Jhumpa Lahiri are inevitable.” Like Lahiri, Jacob tells a story that spans decades and continents, and illustrates a family’s struggle to come to terms with how its past is influencing its future. Having arrived in America from India, the Eapen family must learn to cope with Thomas Eapen’s strange malady that makes him believe he is speaking with dead relatives. The book is sweeping in scope, humorous in tone, and generous in its depictions of the complicated ties between family members. If your book club loved The Namesake, this novel is sure to be a crowd-pleaser.
Hits shelves: July 1
Together we shall overcome
After her father dies, 12-year-old Ibby Bell is unceremoniously dropped off on her grandmother Frannie’s New Orleans doorstep. Yet the Big Easy is anything but. Hidden behind the closed doors of her grandmother’s mansion are family secrets begging to be unveiled, while out in the open, racial tensions spike after the Civil Rights Act is passed. As Ibby slowly begins to unlock her grandmother’s mystery, she finds home and family in the Frannie’s black cook, Queenie, and her daughter, Dollbaby. These four lives are woven together in Dollbaby, Laura Lane McNeal’s poignant and heart-warming story of growing up and living on opposite sides of a racial divide.
Hits shelves: July 3
Call me maybe
What if you found a phone that allowed you to make calls to the past? Who would you call? What would you say? This is the situation in which Georgie McCool finds herself in Rainbow Rowell’s fourth novel Landline. Georgie knows that it hasn’t been smooth sailing with her husband Neal for a very long time. So when she finds herself alone over the holidays after skipping a trip to see Neal’s parents in Omaha, she feels like things are coming to a head. Here, Rowell’s love story is more nuanced and ambiguous than her notoriously big-hearted YA works, but her distinctive voice continues to shine through the prose.
Hits shelves: July 8
Down the rabbit hole
Oh, suburbia. This novel by Susan Coll, the author of Beach Week, finds tennis player Lars and corporate executive Bella (plus their disgruntled pet rabbit, Dominique) trying to sell their home in suburban Maryland. They decide to hire a stager, Eve, to come makeover the home and render it more appealing to potential buyers. But Eve is quickly sucked into the comedic misadventures and marital disputes of the quirky couple, and one very odorous rabbit. You’ll laugh, but The Stager will also prompt more serious discussion of marriage, fidelity, narcissism, and the trope that is suburbia.
Hits shelves: July 8
Multigenerational Magical Realism
Fans of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ One Hundred Years of Solitude are sure to enjoy Tiphanie Yanique’s debut, Land of Love and Drowning. A saga chronicling three generations on the Virgin Islands, Yanique paints a vivid cast of characters who struggle with magical gifts, love affairs, and life’s hardships against the backdrop of an evolving world. Readers will be captivated by the intricate and resonating history of St. Thomas. And Yanique, named one of National Book Foundation’s 5 Under 35 in 2010, proves that she’s a writer we should keep our eyes on.
Hits shelves: July 10
Pretty PTA Liars
If there’s a secret to writing nuanced characters and tantalizing portrayals of suburban life gone wrong, bestseller Liane Moriarty is keeping it close to her chest. The Husband’s Secret author returns to suburbia with Big Little Lies, a witty and dark mystery that unravels after an accidental-but-possibly-on-purpose death at an elementary school parents’ night. The book retreats six months to kindergarten orientation, leaving the reader to suss out who they think the victim is and who done it. Suspects include: Madeline, the mother who feels smothered by her ex-husband’s seemingly perfect life; Celeste, a beautiful bombshell hell-bent on reigning high in the hierarchy of the school parent body; and single mom Jane, a newcomer with big secrets and little know-how when it comes to navigating schoolyard scandal. Moriarty is at her best, sure to have your book club laughing and swapping theories through the entire read.
Hits shelves: July 29