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10 books to add to your reading list in July

LA Times logo LA Times 6/30/2022 Bethanne Patrick
(Scribner; Atria Books; Penguin Press; Viking; Bloomsbury; William Morrow; Mariner; Knopf; Del Rey; Little, Brown.) © (Scribner; Atria Books; Penguin Press; Viking; Bloomsbury; William Morrow; Mariner; Knopf; Del Rey; ... (Scribner; Atria Books; Penguin Press; Viking; Bloomsbury; William Morrow; Mariner; Knopf; Del Rey; Little, Brown.)

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

Beach reads, more than ever, are in the eye of the beholder. An uncommonly thoughtful and fun romance? Sure. An old-fashioned novel about land preservation in Maine, or a creepy retelling of “The Island of Dr. Moreau”? Why not. How about a deep dive into the life and crimes of Harvey Weinstein? Or the tribulations of a Hasidic woman with an internet-porn habit? Whatever your taste or mood, July offers something to meet you where you are — or wherever you want to be.

FICTION

Honey & Spice

By Bolu Babalola

Morrow: 368 pages, $28

(July 5)

This smart, sexy summer read, which hits your brain and your romance buttons in one shot, features Kiki Banjo, whose “Brown Sugar” radio show at a British university keeps her busy in the shadows — until she agrees to a fake relationship with new a student and discovers that overexposure can be even worse than obscurity.

Fellowship Point

By Alice Elliott Dark

Scribner/Marysue Rucci: 592 pages, $29

(July 5)

Longing for an old-fashioned 19th century novel — but without the time travel? “Fellowship Point” earns its nearly 600 pages with a quietly complex structure, starring two octogenarian women whose long friendship is entangled with their families’ landholdings in coastal Maine. As they seek to save the acreage from development, Agnes Lee and Polly Wister must also confront their past choices and find some peace in the present.

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow

By Gabrielle Zevin

Knopf: 481 pages, $28

(July 5)

Zevin (“The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry”) conjures up a novel about game designers that has little to do with gaming — and a story about fierce love between two people that has nothing to do with romance. Sam Masur and Sadie Green created their first blockbuster game, Ichigo, while still in their 20s. Now incredibly rich, they still must figure out how to live a life richly, and their bond informs every step of a narrative that feels, in fact, a lot like a game.

Shmutz

By Felicia Berliner

Atria: 272 pages, $27

(July 19)

Step aside “Mrs. Fletcher.” Take a seat, women of “Unorthodox.” It’s Raizl’s turn. Raizl — Hasidic Jew, college student, internet-porn addict — is supposed to study for her accounting degree and prepare for an arranged marriage; instead she stays up at night watching steamy sites on mute so as not to awake sister Gitti. Transgressive and hilarious, Raizl’s story questions everything we think we know about women, desire and religious faith.

The Daughter of Doctor Moreau

By Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Del Rey: 320 pages, $28

(July 19)

Moreno-Garcia has rewritten the gothic (“Mexican Gothic”), the noir (“Velvet Was the Night”) and now the sci-fi in this take on the 1896 H. G. Wells classic, “The Island of Doctor Moreau.” Carlota Moreau lives in the Yucatán with her father and his human/animal “hybrids.” Between the increasingly meddlesome patron Hernando Lizalde, his son Eduardo and a newly arrived hard-drinking English mayordomo, things are about to change for Carlota in surprising ways.

NONFICTION

Invisible Storm: A Soldier’s Memoir of Politics and PTSD

By Jason Kander

Mariner: 224 pages, $28

(July 5)

PTSD can flare up months or years after the experience of trauma, as it did for Kander, a former Army officer whose first memoir, “Outside the Wire,” described his active-duty experiences. “Invisible Storm” details Kander’s long depression after he pursued a political career, leading up to what he hoped would be a 2020 presidential bid. Will Kander try again for public office? He doesn’t say here, but he does indicate he’s working to heal, and for now, perhaps that’s enough.

Hollywood Ending: Harvey Weinstein and the Culture of Silence

By Ken Auletta

Penguin Press: 480 pages, $30

(July 12)

Auletta first wrote about Harvey Weinstein in the New Yorker two decades ago, portraying him then as a nasty piece of work professionally — but it wasn’t until the last decade, during which women came forward and their stories of sexual abuse and rape culminated in his 2017 arrest, that Auletta was able to conduct and compile the interviews that make up this comprehensive and horribly painful look at what makes monstrous behavior possible.

Normal Family: On Truth, Love, and How I Met My 35 Siblings

By Chrysta Bilton

Little, Brown: 288 pages, $29

(July 12)

This remarkable and wise book is actually two memoirs, braided together with such tendresse that readers will come to believe the ironic title in earnest. Born via turkey baster to a lesbian mother with countless connections and even more schemes, Chrysta and her younger sister didn’t learn until decades later that their family secrets included one that would change everything, including their definition of “family.”

Crying in the Bathroom: A Memoir

By Erika L. Sánchez

Viking: 256 pages, $27

(July 12)

She’s already an award-winning poet, essayist and novelist, with an acclaimed YA book, “I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter,” being adapted into a film by America Ferrera. Now Sánchez is a memoirist too, her smart and spiky voice enlivening connected essays on growing up brown and depressed — but also obsessed with comedy. You’ll yearn for a sequel before you’ve even turned the last page.

Dirtbag, Massachusetts: A Confessional

By Isaac Fitzgerald

OUP: 496 pages, $30

(July 19)

Is a dirtbag a place, a person or even a profession? Fitzgerald, whose stations in life have ranged from working-class deprived to boarding-school privileged to sex-worker jaded, doesn’t just tell us about these things and more. He reflects on how his journey has both formed him as a man and helped to change his views of masculinity, race and identity. And while his recollections are pervaded by considerations of manliness, he never shuts out other genders or ways of being.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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