Posted June 30, 2014 by in Book Lists

10 July Books Worth Anticipating

Through websites like Goodreads, NetGalley and Edelweiss, I get a bit of a sneak peek at some of the biggest titles set for release in upcoming months. Here are ten of the books being published this July (mostly novels this time) that I’m most looking forward to:



1. Sweet as Cane, Salty as Tears by Ken Wheaton (July 1st)

I’d never heard of Ken Wheaton, even though this is his third novel. It sounds delightfully unusual, opening with what seems like a freak accident: a black rhino trampling a zookeeper in Louisiana. Except that Katherine Fontenot, a middle-aged sharecropper’s daughter, quickly realizes that this unlucky zookeeper happened to be her sister. Leaving behind her hard-won success in New York City, she returns to her family down in the bayou – and to everything she thought she needed to escape to make her own life.


last night at the blue angel

2. Last Night at the Blue Angel by Rebecca Rotert (July 1st)

Rotert’s debut novel is set in the jazz clubs of early 1960s Chicago. Naomi Hill, a single mother and singer at the Blue Angel club, has been waiting for her big break for at least a decade. Alternating between the perspectives of Naomi and Sophia, her ten-year-old daughter, this is a tender story of what happens when our expectations don’t match up to reality. Filled with music and featuring unforgettable secondary characters, Rotert says the novel was inspired by “my own mother’s magnetism.”


arts and entertainments

3. Arts & Entertainments by Christopher Beha (July 1st)

I knew Beha’s name from his book The Whole Five Feet, a memoir about reading through the 100 volumes in the Harvard Classics series in the course of one year (see our article about reading through the literary canon). His second novel promises to be a sharp critique of celebrity culture. Thirty-three-year-old Eddie Hartley has given up on his own acting career to become a drama teacher at a boys’ prep school – until a friend gives him a bright idea for making some easy money. (I was especially intrigued to see this novel highlighted in a Books & Culture article entitled “Redefining Religious Fiction.”)


how to tell toledo

4. How to Tell Toledo from the Night Sky by Lydia Netzer (July 1st)

The peculiar title is what first interested me, but the synopsis sounds even better. Like her first novel, Shine Shine Shine, this one blends science and relationships into an unforgettable and funny love story. George and Irene both work at the Toledo Institute of Astronomy, where George is looking for proof of the existence of God and Irene makes black holes. It seems they may just be fated to be together. Sounds to me like a cross between The Big Bang Theory and John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars – a great combination.


in love and war

5. In Love and War by Alex Preston (July 3rd)

I enjoyed Preston’s previous book, a dark satire about Evangelicalism called The Revelations, so I was excited to see he has a new book out. This one couldn’t be more different: it’s a historical novel set in 1930s Florence. Esmond Lowndes falls in love with both the city and with Ada, but as the war approaches he gets mired in politics, joining the Tuscan Resistance movement and finding himself on the wrong side of the Fascist secret police. Told partly through Esmond’s journals and letters, this novel should be a compelling new look at the road to World War II.


the incarnations

6. The Incarnations by Susan Barker (July 3rd)

Barker’s third novel has earned comparisons to the work of David Mitchell. Set in China, it opens just before the Beijing Olympics in 2008, with a taxi driver named Wang Jun receiving a letter from someone who claims to be his soulmate. Thus starts a dizzying quest that will span 1,000 years of Chinese history. Each of the letters forms a stand-alone short story that still contributes to the whole, as this soulmate reveals all the past incarnations in which Wang Jun has shared. Barker herself is half Chinese-Malaysian, but grew up in London.


california edan

7. California by Edan Lepucki (July 8th)

Lepucki’s debut novel is a dystopian with a difference. Cal and Frida have fled post-apocalyptic Los Angeles and now live in a shack in the wilderness, where they worry about how they will provide for the baby who’s on the way. They set out for a local settlement where they hope they will be safe, yet they remain wary about whether they can trust these strangers. The author is a graduate of Oberlin and the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. She writes for The Millions and teaches creative writing at the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program.



8. The Removers by Andrew Meredith (July 15th)

An odd memoir about Meredith’s father’s disgrace in a sex scandal and the author’s later decision to return home to Philadelphia and join him working as a “remover”: someone who comes to take away the bodies of those who die at home. Like Thomas Lynch’s nonfiction, this book grapples with the unavoidable realities of bodily existence and death, but also reaches out to find the meaning these lives have left behind.


man called ove

9. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman (July 15th)

For months I’ve been hearing good things about this debut novel from a Swedish author. The story of an old, opinionated curmudgeon who’s recently lost his wife and is aghast at the thought of a friendly young couple with two daughters moving in next door, it promises to be a feel-good read, but in the same quirky Scandinavian vein as Jonas Jonasson’s terrific The Hundred-Year Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared.


off the leash

10. Off the Leash by Matthew Gilbert (July 29th)

As a lifelong animal lover, I’m a sucker for books about dogs. Gilbert, television critic for the Boston Globe, was a first-time pet owner with Toby, his yellow lab puppy. For Gilbert and for Toby, fitting in at suburban Boston’s Amory Park was going to be a challenge. In this charming canine memoir, he describes all the eccentric pets and owners (who he labels the “pack of freaks”) he encountered at the dog park, and chronicles his own year-long transformation into a fully-fledged ‘dog person’.

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Rebecca Foster

An American transplant to Reading, England – a fitting place for a fiendish bibliophile. After six years as a library assistant, I am recklessly embarking on a freelance writing career. I review books for Kirkus Indie, The Bookbag, For Books' Sake, We Love This Book, and Bookmarks magazine, and also volunteer with Greenbelt Festival's literature program. I read everything from theology to popular science, but some favorite genres are literary fiction, biography and memoir, historical fiction, graphic novels, and nature writing. Check out all my articles.