Is there anything better than discussing books with your friends? We certainly don’t think so. To help ensure your July book club meeting is packed with literary conversation, we’ve rounded up six of this month’s must-read books.
Want recs to last the whole summer? Check out our Summer Previews for a look at the best books of the season.
Does your book club love talking about the complexities of relationships and desire? If so, Three Women by Lisa Taddeo will keep you talking long into the night. In it, Taddeo draws on years of intense reporting to tell the stories of three very different women. One, named Sloane, is figuring out how to be happy in an open marriage. Another named Lina is beginning an affair to cope with her husband’s loss of interest in intimacy. Maggie goes to court and tells her community about a relationship she had with her high school teacher when she was his student. We’ve already named Three Women one of the season’s must-read books, and your club can check out our interview with Taddeo here.
Fair warning: You may find yourself triple-checking the locks on your doors after reading Helen Phillips’ unsettling novel. Paleobotanist Molly Nye is home with her two children when she thinks she hears a sound in the living room. Earlier that week Molly came across a strange discovery while in the field, and she’s exhausted from dealing with the aftermath. Unsure if the sound is real or imagined, she takes shelter in the bedroom with her kids. It’s there she comes face-to-face with an intruder wearing a gold deer mask her husband bought her for her birthday. We don’t want to spoil the plot by saying much more about the twists and turns this novel takes, but if your book club gets hooked on reads where the truth seems uncertain, this is the perfect pick for you.
Colson Whitehead’s latest takes readers to a 1960s reform school in the South called the Nickel Academy. Teenager Elwood Curtis finds himself there following an accidental run-in with the law. Nickel Academy is a brutal and racist place where every student is abused in a multitude of ways. In order to get through the daily horrors, Elwood teams up with another black student named Turner. Your book club will be aghast at the treatment students face (especially since Whitehead drew on information from real-life Florida reform schools of that era), but you’ll also find plenty to discuss and think about.
One of Bookish’s must-reads of the summer, Chuck Wendig’s latest kicks off with a comet shooting over the American West Coast. The next day an artificial intelligence known as Black Swan contacts Benji Ray, a former CDC epidemiologist, to let him know of an epidemic. A mysterious sleeping illness begins spreading across America, causing those affected to sleepwalk towards an unknown destination. Shana, whose little sister is one of the sleepwalkers, joins other shepards to try to protect their loved ones as society as they know it begins to disintegrate. In a starred review Publishers Weekly called it, “[a] blockbuster apocalyptic novel, which confronts some of the darkest and most divisive aspects of present-day America with urgency, humanity, and hope.“ Book clubs hankering for a dystopian tale won’t want to miss out.
This book will have your entire club wanting to join the Supper Club. In Lara Williams’ novel, this group of women meets to shed society’s expectations about their shapes, sizes, and appetites and lean into their hunger in a joyful way. Roberta and Stevie are the ringleaders of the club, and their gatherings give their guests a safe space to be themselves and enjoy some great food. In a starred review, Kirkus wrote: “Mixing together insights about food and friendship, hunger and happiness, and the space women allot themselves in the world today, Williams writes with warmth, wit, and wisdom, serving up distinctive characters and a delectably unusual story.”
Is the summer heat getting to be too much? Cool off with this chilling YA thriller. Sarah Lyu’s debut introduces readers to Remy Tsai, who is left reeling after her boyfriend Jack is shot and killed by her best friend, Elise Ferro. Remy thought that she and Elise shared a bond like no other. Their friendship was intense and consuming from the start, only faltering when Elise grew jealous over the time Remy spent with Jack. Did the fear of being replaced in Remy’s life drive Elise to murder, or was it something more? The police want answers, and so does Remy. If your book club enjoys discussing toxic friendships and deadly secrets, you’ll love this book.