10 books to add to your reading list this July

Covers for 10 books to read in July.
Scribner; Little, Brown; Harper; W.W. Norton; Catapult; Del Rey; Doubleday
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On the Shelf

10 books for your July reading list

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Critic Bethanne Patrick recommends 10 promising titles, fiction and nonfiction, to consider for your July reading list.

Caveat lector: Failing to peruse this list of July releases may result in a severe deficit of variety in your vacation reading. Among these summer scorchers are a luscious photo book of old-school Hollywood stars, a pair of tender memoirs and two slam-dunk action-packed crime novels. Just because you’re lying on a pool chaise doesn’t mean the characters you read about have to sit still. Enjoy!


Owner of a Lonely Heart: A Memoir
By Beth Nguyen
Scribner: 256 pages, $27
(July. 4)

Nguyen (“Stealing Buddha’s Dinner”) has spent less than 24 hours with her mother since age 19 — and before that, the last time she saw her was when Nguyen was 8 months old and about to flee Saigon for the United States with her father and other family members. Her thoughtful look at how her identity as a refugee intertwines with that of a motherless daughter speaks to feelings both specific to the displaced and familiar to anyone afflicted with loneliness.

book cover for 'The Heat Will Kill You First' by Jeff Goodell features a sunset.
(Little, Brown)

The Heat Will Kill You First: Life and Death on a Scorched Planet
By Jeff Goodell
Little, Brown: 400 pages, $29
(July 11)

The accomplished journalist, having covered climate change for many years, can back up his alarming title with enough data to terrify even the most casual reader. Hotter days and longer warm seasons aren’t accidents of nature; they’re the result of the deliberate choice to continue relying on fossil fuels. The author shows how much worse things already are in parts of the world Americans often overlook. His analysis of perhaps the greatest health threat posed by climate change is a wake-up call with no snooze button.

Lydia Millet, whose latest novel, “A Children’s Bible,” tackled climate change, reads new fiction on climate and argues against calling it a genre.

July 7, 2021

Bogie & Bacall: The Surprising True Story of Hollywood’s Greatest Love Affair
By William J. Mann
Harper: 656 pages, $40
(July 11)

She was 19 and he was 45 (and thrice divorced) when they met, yet Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart‘s romance endured through his death in 1957. Not that their storied romance was by the storybook; biographer Mann details the tumult in this comprehensive examination of how two people with dazzling star power faced cameras while also raising children, having affairs and fighting wildly. The volume includes dozens of photos as well as new archival material.

 book cover for 'Muscle' by Roy A. Meals features a body at the muscle level
(W. W. Norton)

Muscle: The Gripping Story of Strength and Movement
By Roy A. Meals
W.W. Norton: 288 pages, $29
(July 25)

Orthopedic surgeon Roy A. Meals has already published “Bones: Inside and Out,” so naturally he’s moving to news you can use about human muscles. Meals delineates muscle types and mechanics — from those in the fingers typing these words to those helping your eyes read them — and gives a micro-course in muscle development plans throughout history, his professional expertise matched by his personal passion for his subject.

In ‘The Baby on the Fire Escape: Creativity, Motherhood, and the Mind-Baby Problem,’ Julie Phillips looks to 20th century artist-mothers for answers.

April 20, 2022

Contradiction Days: An Artist on the Verge of Motherhood
By JoAnna Novak
Catapult: 256 pages, $26
(July 25)

Novak, an accomplished fiction writer and poet, finds herself while pregnant slipping into depression and suicidal ideation. Her consideration of painter Agnes Martin, who had paranoid schizophrenia, leads her to think carefully about women’s bodies versus women’s bodies of work — and what it takes for an artist to continue creating while gestating. The book’s lyrical structure suits its emotive material.


Good Fortune
By C.K. Chau
HarperVia: 416 pages, $30
(July 11)

Given the many reimaginings of “Pride and Prejudice,” it’s about time one was set in Chinatown — the one in Manhattan, in this case. Elizabeth Chen will meet Darcy Wong as the two clash over the gentrification of a beloved community center. Of course readers know how the story will end, but debut novelist Chau brings in the modern concerns of immigrant strivers as well as a wholly fresh twist that will delight Janeites and others.

book cover for 'Ripe' by Sarah Rose Etter shows an open pomegranate and its seeds

By Sarah Rose Etter
Scribner: 288 pages, $25
(July 11)

Cassie lives in Silicon Valley, where great privilege cohabits with poverty and despair, and works at a start-up that promises her the world. Never has luxury looked so tantalizing or felt so terrifying, because Etter’s protagonist knows, as we all do, that it could all come crashing down at any second. When Cassie learns she’s pregnant, she has a big choice to make. Which takes precedence, the professional or the personal? Or is there no difference?

L.A.’s 16 essential works of literary fiction, from ‘The Day of the Locust’ to ‘If He Hollers Let Him Go,’ ‘Play it as it Lays’ to ‘Interior Chinatown.’

April 11, 2023

All-Night Pharmacy
By Ruth Madievsky
Catapult: 304 pages, $27
(July 11)

Madievsky, a published poet, melds an array of genres into her fiction debut, a wild L.A. story in which plot and prose are both turned up to the max. An unnamed narrator’s unhealthy relationship with her thrill- and drug-seeking sister culminates in the latter’s disappearance, leading to a search that goes sideways into unexpected terrain, including a tender queer love story and a deep dive into the inherited trauma of immigrants (like Madievsky) from the former Soviet Union.

book cover for 'Silver Nitrate' by Silvia Moreno-Garcia features eyes wide open on red frontground
(Del Rey)

Silver Nitrate
By Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Del Rey: 336 pages, $28
(July 18)

A magical movie, a ghostly girlfriend, an evil occultist. Moreno-Garcia, who specializes in turning genres on their heads (“Mexican Gothic,” “Velvet Was the Night”), has done it again with a fantastically atmospheric horror story set in 1990s Mexico City. When Montserrat and her unrequited love, Tristán, discover that his neighbor is cult director Abel Urueta, they wind up in a world where reality provides no escape.

The Mexican-Canadian author of bestsellers ‘Mexican Gothic’ and ‘Velvet Was the Night’ was born and raised to be a genre-hopping, storytelling dynamo.

July 14, 2022

Crook Manifesto
By Colson Whitehead
Doubleday: 336 pages, $29
(July 18)

Ray Carney, last seen in the supremely talented Whitehead’s 1960s caper “Harlem Shuffle,” returns in this ’70s sequel, set in uptown Manhattan among a panoply of small-time crooks. Over the course of five years leading up to the nation’s bicentennial, Ray, partner-in-crime Pepper and long-suffering wife Elizabeth struggle to cope with change and hold their community together as their streets get cleaner, but the powers behind them only grow more corrupt.