What are the best books to read in July 2022? We’ve previously shared a list of the fantastic new book releases of July 2022 and the best beach reads of summer 2022. If you’re in search of still more ideas for what to read next, here’s our take on the 12 best books – novels and non-fiction – to read now that feel like the month of July. Not just July 2022. Any July.
recommended books that feel like the month of July
So many books, so little time! Reading can be one of life’s sweetest luxuries. But how to quickly find the next great volume to dive into?
To lend a hand, every month we share our Dandelion Chandelier Recommended Reads: books that we’ve personally read and loved – some brand new, and some published long ago. Selected to suit the season, we think they deserve a place on your nightstand. Or your e-reader. In your backpack. Or your carry-on bag. You get the idea.[white_box]
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In this edition: the best books, in our humble opinion, to read to feel July. We think these books best capture the vibe and the essential spirit of July, and will help you experience the summer joy that this month is all about.
what is the essential spirit of july?
Here at the office, we did a quick word association with the word “July,” and here’s what was top of mind for us: Blue. Beach. Lake. Boat. Fireworks. Freedom.
That pretty well sums up the mood of July: sunny, sparkling, adventurous, natural, and carefree. There’s not much shade to be had in July – and mercifully, less shade being thrown at other people, too. Even in our fractured world, most people are still mellower when the temperatures rise.
what makes for the best July reading list?
So what’s the perfect reading list for the month of July? It has to include something to make us laugh out loud. A breezy lightness of spirit needs to permeate most of what we dip our noses into in July.[white_box]
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There should also be a tale of adventure; a steamy summer love affair; a road trip; exotic travel; a beach book; a thriller set at an iconic summer vacation spot. Also, there should be something about summer camp.
perfect books – novels and non-fiction – to read that feel like the month of July
Given all of that, here’s our list of recommended reads for the month of July. Read one by flashlight in your tent after everyone has fallen asleep. Or under your beach umbrella. Or poolside. On the train home from work. In the hammock in the backyard. Before the concert starts. At sunrise. Or moonrise.
It’s July. And it’s all good. Let’s revel in it.
1. Hello Sunshine by Laura Dave.
Hello Sunshine wins the prize for “most July of all,” and it tops our list of the best novels to read in July this year. It’s clever, modern, and fun, and just serious enough to qualify as an intelligent beach read. Sunshine Mackenzie has it all – until her secrets come to light. She’s a culinary star with millions of fans, a line of bestselling cookbooks, and a devoted husband happy to support her every endeavor.
But then she gets hacked, and all her professional and personal secrets are revealed, with catastrophic results. She’s forced to return to Montauk, to the childhood home—and the estranged sister—that she’s tried hard to leave behind. Summer is the time for second chances and leaps of faith, and this one’s no exception. We anxiously await the sequel.
BUY NOW: $12.78.[white_box]
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2. Kudos by Rachel Cusk.
It’s always a joy to spend time in the presence of Rachel Cusk, and this final entry in her trilogy — the first two are Outline and Transit — is splendid. In Kudos, protagonist Faye attends a literary festival in Europe, and as in the two prior entries in this series, we listen as she probes and questions the people around her while revealing very little about herself. The writing is crystalline, the meditative tone is both soothing and provocative, and the characterizations are so vivid and natural that we keep thinking that we actually had these conversations.
In the most subtle way possible, this novel explores the dichotomy between what’s true and false; earned and undeserved; individual and universal. Between what women want and need, and what men want and need from them — and which gender can outlast and ultimately prevail over the other.
The last couple of paragraphs are a shock and a release. Perhaps the best line in a book full of them, though, is this one: “it was of course true that few notable women were ever really recognized . . . at least not until they had been judged to be no longer a public danger by having become old or ugly or dead.” It’s a deeply-felt exploration of what it means to be held captive, and what it means to become free, and how easy it is to confuse one state for the other. A perfect read in a month that celebrates both revolution and independence. Kudos to Ms. Cusk –she totally nails it.
BUY NOW: $11.19.
3. The Adventurous Foodie by Alexandre Stern.
The Adventurous Foodie: 700 Foods You Should Try From Around the World is one of the best books to read in July. What better time to dream about – or make a plan to experience – some of the most interesting foods in the world? One hundred and fifty five countries are represented in this highly engaging compilation, which is organized geographically. And don’t worry – you don’t have to eat the whole book in one sitting. Each chapter is the perfect summer snack – ideal for whatever July journey you’re on this year.
BUY NOW: $33.99.
4. Waisted by Randy Susan Meyers.
Just as swimsuit season is at its peak, Waisted is an excellent novel about what women will do to be thin. And where those pressures to be skinny come from. It sounds like a heavy subject, but in Meyers’ hands, it’s delightfully light.
A multi-racial cast of women agree to check into a mysterious weight-loss facility in Vermont, knowing that they’re being filmed for a reality TV show. What brought them there, what happens in Vermont, and the after-effects of their visit drive the plot. But what makes this book such an enjoyable read is that issues of race, gender, class, parenting, body image, self-esteem, Western culture, familial relations and courage are all fully addressed in the most natural way possible. It’s smart, funny and provocative. A perfect July read that will have you feeling a lot more confident about your body when you head for the beach. No matter what you choose to wear or who you are.
BUY NOW: $13.89.
5. The Last Laugh by Lynn Freed.
The Last Laugh is a novel about the passion-filled adventures of three women who thought they were past their prime. To escape their grown children, husbands and lovers, three self-proclaimed “old bags” head for a quiet Greek island. The plan is an idyllic year by the water. But the peace they seek doesn’t materialize. One has an affair with a poetry-writing taxi driver―who has a territorial wife. Another receives menacing phone calls from a psychotic patient. An ex-lover shows up unexpectedly. And then the children arrive. It’s good fun and a frothy reminder that its never too late to chase your dreams.
BUY NOW: $16.00.[white_box]
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6. Enchanted August by Brenda Bowen.
Enchanted August is, despite its title, a perfect July read. Four New Yorkers who don’t know each other well (or at all) agree to rent a large house on an island in Maine for a month. After arriving, they’re transformed by the salt air; the breathtaking views; the long, lazy days; and the happy routine of lobster, corn, and cocktails on the wraparound porch. By the time of the blue moon, though, real life and its complications begin to catch up with them, provoking them to question the possibilities of lives quite different from the ones they’ve been leading. It’s charming, sweet and thoughtful, and it will make you long for an authentic old-fashioned New England clambake.
BUY NOW: $16.99.
7. Traveling Black by Mia Bay.
With family vacation and road trip season in full swing, July is the perfect month to read Traveling Black: A Story of Race and Resistance. This riveting account of the story of Black mobility in America is a must-read. The author explores a fundamental question: why were travel restrictions so central to the creation of Jim Crow laws? She makes a compelling case that “traveling Black” with freedom and dignity has been at the heart of the quest for racial justice ever since.
BUY NOW: $27.37.
8. Summerlong by Dean Bakopoulos.
Summerlong is a torrid tale of summer romance in a small Midwestern town. The simmering tensions beneath the surface of a seemingly happy marriage explode in bedrooms and backyards over the course of a long, hot summer. It’s also the story of other kinds of love and loss, and by the end of the season, the chaff has been burned away, leaving what’s precious and true behind.
BUY NOW: $14.99.
9. The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer.
The Interestings is set in 1974, the summer that former President Nixon resigned, and it’s one of our favorite novels to read when we want to feel the month of July. Summer friendships. Camp. Singing under the stars. It’s got it all.
Far from the hue and cry of national politics, six teenagers at a summer camp for the arts become inseparable. Decades later the bond remains powerful. But almost everything else has changed. Jules surrenders her dreams to become an actress. Jonah, a gifted musician, stops playing the guitar and becomes an engineer. But Ethan and Ash become shockingly successful artists. Illustrating with great sensitivity the differences in the fates of this group of friends, in their true talents, and the shapes of their lives, this is a lovely read about old friends and what becomes of our summertime dreams.
BUY NOW: $12.38.[white_box]
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10. Why We Swim by Bonnie Tsui.
Any book involving water feels like a good pick for the list of best non-fiction books to read in July. And one about swimming? That sounds perfect. We swim for pleasure, for exercise, for healing. But humans, unlike other animals that are drawn to water, are not natural-born swimmers. We must be taught. Our evolutionary ancestors learned for survival; now, in the twenty-first century, swimming is one of the most popular activities in the world. In Why We Swim, New York Times contributor Bonnie Tsui, a swimmer herself, dives into the deep, from the San Francisco Bay to the South China Sea, investigating what about water—despite its dangers—seduces us and why we come back to it again and again.
BUY NOW: $16.30.
11. Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo.
Evaristo won the 2019 Booker Prize – she’s the first Black woman ever to win it – for this fluid novel set in current-day Britain. The twelve central characters in Girl, Woman, Other are all Black women living in the U.K. – and leading dramatically different lives. A playwright, a teacher, an investment banker, a housekeeper – their stories cross class, age and sexuality, each one rendered with clarity and poignancy. This novel reads in many ways like poetry, and it’s the perfect novel to get lost in. It can also be highly instructive. If you want to be a strong and effective ally of Black women, you need to get these voices inside of your head.
BUY NOW: $11.55.
12. Trick Mirror by Jia Tolentino.
Sometimes a great July read is one that you can easily dip in and out of – you know, in between naps and ice cream breaks and the like. Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion is such a book. We think it easily makes the list of the best non-fiction books to read in July. It’s an essay collection from a writer at The New Yorker, and its a smart, funny and provocative read – like engaging in a great dinner party conversation. You’ll learn some odd facts, hear a few memorable stories, and end the experience feeling surprisingly refreshed and ready for whatever crazy curve ball the world may hurl at you next.
BUY NOW: $13.79.
the best books – novels and non-fiction – to read that feel like July
What to read in July? Those are our picks for 12 books to read in July that we think beautifully capture the mood of the month and evoke the feeling of summer joy that this month is supposed to be all about. What’s on your list this month, dear reader?
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For access to insider ideas and information on the world of luxury, sign up for our Dandelion Chandelier Newsletter here. And see luxury in a new light.
This article contains affiliate links to products independently selected by our editors. As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, Dandelion Chandelier receives a commission for qualifying purchases made through these links.
Pamela Thomas-Graham is the Founder & CEO of Dandelion Chandelier. A Detroit native, she has 3 Harvard degrees and has written 3 mystery novels published by Simon & Schuster. After serving as a senior corporate executive, CEO of CNBC and partner at McKinsey, she now serves on the boards of several tech companies. She loves fashion, Paris, New York, books, contemporary art, running, skiing, coffee, Corgis and violets.