Summer is finally upon us, folks, and it’s bringing an abundance of great new books with it. Readers across the U.S. are finalizing their
summer reading lists, trying to decide which books to take on vacation, whether in a carry-on or a beach bag. But If no recently released book has tickled your vacation-reading fancy so far, one of July’s hot new releases is sure to hit the spot.
The best books hitting stores this month include rom-coms from
Jasmine Guillory and Sonali Dev, memoirs from Precious Brady-Davis and Shiori Ito, thrillers from Liv Constantine and Karin Slaughter, and speculative novels from Elizabeth Lim and Shelley Parker-Chan — among many, many more. There’s something for everyone landing in stores this month, and Bustle has pulled together a list of the month’s biggest and brightest new titles for you to check out.
Presented below for your reading pleasure, the 43 most anticipated books of July 2021.
We only include products that have been independently selected by Bustle’s editorial team. However, we may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.
I Have Always Been Me
Raised in a midwestern Pentecostal church, Precious Brady-Davis — as a biracial trans girl in the foster-care system — never felt as if she fit in. Little did she realize, she was born to stand out instead. In
I Have Always Been Me, Brady-Davis revisits her childhood in Omaha, Nebraska, her college drag career, and her transition journey.
The Seven Day Switch
No one would ever expect Celeste and Wendy to be friends. One’s a crunchy, hands-on supermom, the other’s a workaholic who unapologetically prioritizes her career — and neither has anything good to say about the other. But when a booze-filled party lands them in a
Freaky Friday-style body swap, Celeste and Wendy find out just how similar their lives really are, in Kelly Harms’ The Seven Day Switch.
Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead
After she answers an ad for free therapy at a local Catholic church, Gilda, an atheist lesbian, is mistaken for a job applicant. She soon finds herself working as the replacement for the church’s recently deceased receptionist, Grace, and fielding emails from Grace’s old friend — who doesn’t seem to know the woman is dead — in Emily Austin’s darkly funny debut.
The Very Nice Box
Years after the unexpected death of her girlfriend, Ava spends her days working at STÄDA. Her job at the Brooklyn furniture store provides her with a much-needed distraction from her lingering pain, but everything changes when she meets Mat. Her new boss is handsome and charming, and as they strike up an unanticipated relationship, things seem to be looking up for Ava. When she finds out the secret Mat’s been keeping from her, however, Ava’s life jerks into another surprise twist
The Stranger in the Mirror
From the author of
The Last Mrs. Parrish comes The Stranger in the Mirror, an all-new psychological thriller in which two narrative threads — one about a missing wife and mother, the other regarding a bride-to-be with no memory of her past — become hopelessly tangled.
Incense and Sensibility
Traumatized by a hate crime that hurt a close friend, Yash Raje is forced to put his campaign for Governor of California on hold. Yash’s family arranges for him to take lessons in stress management from his childhood friend, India Dashwood. Unbeknownst to them, Yash and India had a brief, but passionate, affair 10 years ago. It’s a secret that could put a stop to Yash’s political aspirations for good… but could it still be worth revealing?
Dear Miss Metropolitan
When two women are rescued from their captor’s Queens residence, a neighboring newspaper columnist can’t help but be drawn into their mystery. As the two survivors navigate life on the other side of captivity, and wrestle with the salvation that never came for their still-missing friend, Miss Metropolitan finds herself questioning how she missed the clues about the women’s plight, hidden under her nose for years.
Four years after the
police forced her to reenact her assault before telling her that her assailant, Noriyuki Yamaguchi — then a prominent journalist with the Tokyo Broadcasting System — could not be prosecuted for rape, Shiori Ito — who was a Thomson Reuters intern at the time of the assault — won a civil suit against Yamaguchi, when a judge ruled that she “had not consented to the act” in 2019. Hailed as “the memoir that sparked Japan’s #MeToo movement,” Black Box tells the story of Ito’s quest for justice.
Rise to the Sun
You Should See Me in a Crown author Leah Johnson returns to stores this month with Rise to the Sun. Two heartbroken, queer Black girls, Toni and Olivia, connect at a weekend music festival. One’s mourning the loss of her father, and the other’s still reeling from a bad breakup — and they’re both about to get so much more out of this getaway than they ever imagined.
The Belle Époque: A Cultural History, Paris and Beyond
Moulin Rouge fans, take note! If you’ve ever wanted to know more about Christian and Satine’s world, Dominique Kalifa’s The Belle Époque is here to give you all the juicy details about life and love in turn-of-the-century France.
Six Crimson Cranes
Spin the Dawn author Elizabeth Lim is back with an all-new YA adventure this month. This retelling of “The Wild Swans” transports readers to Kiata, where a young princess resorts to magic to avoid her upcoming wedding, setting off a disastrous series of events. After her stepmother discovers Shiori’s hidden magical talents, she curses all of her stepchildren, turning the princess’ six brothers into cranes and warning Shiori that she must remain silent, or else the cranes will die. As the exiled princess searches for answers, it soon becomes clear that her former intended may be the only ally she has in the coming battle.
An unsuspecting pilot must make a terrible choice in
Falling, the debut novel from former flight attendant T.J. Newman. After taking off from LAX on a flight to JFK, Captain Bill Hoffman learns that his wife and children have been kidnapped… and that’s not even the worst part. Not only will these criminals murder Bill’s family if he speaks up, but the captors are also threatening to kill their victims unless Bill goes through with the unthinkable: intentionally crash his plane.
Fox and I: An Uncommon Friendship
Catherine Raven’s always been drawn to the wilds, and she’s never longed for companionship from other humans. But when a fox began visiting her off-the-grid Montana home at the same time every day, Raven couldn’t help but be curious about what he wanted. So begins the story of their “uncommon friendship,” recounted here in
Fox and I.
The Brilliant Abyss: Exploring the Majestic Hidden Life of the Deep Ocean, and the Looming Threat That Imperils It
Our oceans’ deepest depths are home to creatures that seem downright alien, even when compared to their counterparts in shallower zones. Helen Scales brings these sea-dwellers, as well as the fascinating features of their native environments, to light in
The Brilliant Abyss.
The Startup Wife
The trajectory of one brilliant woman’s life changes entirely in Tahmima Anam’s
The Startup Wife. After falling into a whirlwind romance with her childhood crush, Asha gives up on pursuing her doctorate, marries Cyrus, and follows him to work at a tech incubator. There, she develops a new app that could change the world, replacing all religious rituals with personalized, virtual faith practices. But when credit that should be Asha’s begins to trickle away, can she and Cyrus survive the coming storm?
It Happened One Summer
Cut off from their wealthy family’s coffers after one’s party-girl lifestyle grows too chaotic, sisters Piper and Hannah find themselves stuck in Westport: a tiny fishing town in the Pacific Northwest, where their late father died when the girls were young. It doesn’t take long for one of the locals, a prickly sea captain named Brendan, to make it clear: no one in Westport thinks pampered Piper can cut it in the Washington wilds. Little does Brendan know that Piper is headstrong enough to prove him wrong, if only out of spite.
We Were Never Here
Long-distance BFFs Kristen and Emily reunite every year to vacation together. But when two people close to them die in two years, Emily begins to wonder if Kristen is telling her the truth about what happens when Emily isn’t looking. Things don’t get any easier to process when Kristen shows up at Emily’s door for an unscheduled visit. Now, Emily has to decide how far she’s willing to go to protect a friend who may not have her best interests at heart, in Andrea Bartz’s
We Were Never Here.
From the author of
In the House Upon the Dirt Between the Lake and the Woods comes Appleseed: a sprawling cli-fi novel that probes humanity’s relationship to nature across time. Moving from the wilds of 18th century Ohio, to a near-future moment in which a Monsanto-esque company has monopolized necessities, and on to a far-future ice age, Appleseed is a gripping and timely read for 2021.
Well, This Is Exhausting
GQ’s Sophia Benoit examines contemporary womanhood in her debut essay collection, Well, This Is Exhausting. For anyone who’s grappling lingering impostor syndrome, looks like they have it all figured out but are still foundering in some unseen area of life, or has tried to be a flawless feminist in the new millennium, this
A Psalm for the Wild-Built
Record of a Spaceborn Few author Becky Chambers begins a new series with A Psalm for the Wild-Built. Centuries after robots gained sentience and left human civilization behind to live in the world’s forests, one robot emerges from obscurity to ask one question of a tea monk: What do people need? What begins as a simple question soon turns into a philosophical journey, as Sibling Dex teaches Mosscap about their way of life.
Amanda gives up a career in Silicon Valley to follow her husband, a Fulbright Scholar, to live near his family in Namibia. There, she falls in with Persephone: another American woman who suspects that her (fake) husband, a diplomat, is actually a C.I.A. operative. As their lives in Namibia become more strained, both Amanda and Persephone find themselves questioning why they are where they are, in Katie Crouch’s
The Taking of Jake Livingston
As one of the few Black students at a majority-white prep school, Jake already feels isolated from most of his peers — and that’s not to mention his ability to speak with the dead. His life gets infinitely more complicated when he meets Sawyer: the ghost of a local boy who killed himself and six other students in a recent shooting at another school. Sawyer wants something from Jake, but will the living survive this game with the dead?
The Right Side of Reckless
Regan always does what her parents expect, and right now, they expect her to stay away from Guillermo: the new kid in town, who’s on parole and doing community service for his past mistakes. When they inevitably meet, the two teens have instant chemistry, but Regan’s already in a relationship, and Guillermo is one misstep away from having his freedom revoked…
While We Were Dating
Romance queen Jasmine Guillory returns to stores this month with a Hollywood romance.
While We Were Dating centers on Anna, an actor looking for her next big role, and Ben, the ad man running the campaign that Anna’s starring in. They’re on opposite sides of the camera, but when Ben steps up to help Anna in a crisis, they must decide whether to take their relationship public… or keep it away from the media’s prying eyes.
The Final Girl Support Group
Six women who survived their brushes with brutal killers gather together regularly to discuss what happens after the interviews and docuseries stop. But when one of them suddenly disappears, her 22-year-old groupmate, Lynette, discovers that their tight-knit clan of final girls is under attack. Will one of them become a final girl twice over, or can these survivors band together to weather the coming storm?
Such a Quiet Place
Harper was the one who found the bodies: Brandon and Fiona Truett, killed by carbon monoxide poisoning from a car left running in the garage. Photographic evidence pointed to Harper’s roommate, Ruby, as the culprit, and the good people of Hollow’s Edge all came out to testify against her. Fourteen months after Ruby went to prison, she’s returned to Hollow’s Edge to live with her old roomie again. But when threats against Harper begin to trickle in, it becomes clear that the Truetts’ killer may have never been brought to justice at all… and they might be ready to kill again.
A Touch of Jen
Beth Morgan takes on social media and para-social relationships in this twisty debut novel. Remy and Jen worked together, once upon a time. Jen’s now a wildly successful jewelry designer, by all accounts, while Remy is still stuck in regular-job drudgery with his far less perfect girlfriend, Alicia. Alicia idolizes Jen, and her relationship with Remy hinges on their shared fantasies of a woman they barely know. When Jen invites Remy and Alicia to stay with her clique in the Hamptons, it’s a dream come true. Too bad that dream’s about to turn into a nightmare.
Enrolled in a new, arts-focused school after moving to South Korea with her family, Korean American cellist Jenny doesn’t expect to see any familiar faces. Imagine her surprise when she runs into Jaewoo: the guy who ghosted after their one adventurous night in L.A. As it turns out, he’s one of the hottest K-pop idols around, and that means dating — for Jaewoo — is strictly off-limits. Jenny’s always had a good head on her shoulders, but will she risk her future cello career to pursue a forbidden love?
Seek You: A Journey Through American Loneliness
Kristen Radtke’s graphic nonfiction book digs into America’s loneliness epidemic, which was already raging before the pandemic put everyone’s lives on hold. In
Seek You, Radtke examines our uniquely American ways of dealing with what we lack from others, whether that’s social interaction, affection, or assistance.
The Comfort of Monsters
The Comfort of Monsters centers on Peg, a woman still grieving the loss of her sister, Dee, who disappeared in Milwaukee in 1991 — around the time of Jeffrey Dahmer’s final murder spree and arrest. In a bid to help Peg’s dying mother find peace, the family enlists the aid of a psychic to determine what happened to Dee, and Peg finds herself haunted by the memories of that fateful summer. What does she remember, and — more importantly — what if her memories are wrong?
Isn’t It Bromantic?
The fourth installment in Lyssa Kay Adams’ Bromance Book Club series centers on Vlad: a Nashville-based Russian American hockey player stuck in a loveless marriage to his childhood friend, Elena. He desperately wants his wife to fall for him, and joining a book club based around romance novels seems to be the best way to figure out what women want. But the skeletons in Elena’s closet are about to cross an ocean to find her in America, and Vlad’s love may not be enough to keep her safe.
When they couldn’t figure out how to help her cope with depression and substance abuse, Elizabeth Gilpin’s parents agreed to send their daughter to a boot camp for troubled teens. Abducted and abandoned in Appalachia by people who were supposed to be helping her, Gilpin soon found herself attending a boarding school rife with abuse. In
Stolen she recounts the trauma of her teenage years, including the self-harm and addiction issues that continued to plague her peers from the program.
Fresh out of college and desperate to fit in with New Yorkers, Luca, the newest hire at an established magazine, finds himself surrounded by magnetic influences. Set in the early days of the Trump administration,
Virtue follows Luca as he bonds with his only Black co-worker, Zara, who presses their bosses to do more to combat the administration’s policies. Luca is also compelled to befriend white creatives Jason and Paula, a married couple living a picture-perfect life in the city. But Luca’s alliances are about to be tested in ways he does not anticipate, and he’s about to learn that hindsight is, unfortunately, 20/20.
A Separation author Katie Kitamura comes Intimacies. The novel follows an unnamed translator for the International Court as she balances personal relationships — including an affair with a married man, and friendships with both a witness to a crime and the sister of its victim — with what she hears and says at work. She has the power to dictate, quite literally, what some of the world’s most powerful people hear. The question is, what is the best and most moral use of that power?
She Who Became the Sun
A grieving orphan assumes her late brother’s identity and fortune, seeking shelter in a monastery. Disguised as a boy, Zhu is always one misstep away from losing her place among the monks, but her strong will to live sustains her through yet another tragedy: the destruction of her new home. With occupying Mongol forces threatening to destroy everyone and everything she loves, Zhu takes up a warrior’s mantle to mount her own resistance.
The Book of Accidents
Years after they endured horrific traumas there, a married couple returns to their hometown — in a deeply haunted corner of Pennsylvania — with their young son in tow. When the sensitive Oliver becomes the new focus of the town’s dark attentions, his parents recognize the signs. But can they step in before it’s too late for Oliver?
In Rachel Yoder’s sharply observant debut novel, a frustrated stay-at-home mom finds herself shifting into a canine form. No one, not even her husband, believes her when she tells them about the changes to her body and mind, but Yoder’s protagonist soon finds refuge in a strange book —
A Field Guide to Magical Women — and an MLM clique that may have something much weirder than a pyramid scheme in the works.
Fierce Little Thing
Twenty years after her commune days, Saskia begins receiving anonymous threats, ordering her to return to Maine… or else. The blackmailer knows what Saskia and the others did all those years ago, but what will going back to Home mean for any of them? As Saskia and her estranged found-family return to their old haunts, their mettle will be tested one last time
They’ll Never Catch Us
From the author of
They Wish They Were Us comes this new novel about three high-school girls — sisters Ellie and Stella, and a rival newcomer named Mila — locked in a fierce competition to impress cross-country scouts. Drawn separately into Mila’s orbit, Ellie and Stella soon find themselves taking big career risks with their new friend. But Mila’s about to disappear, leaving Ellie and Stella in the worst kind of spotlight.
The Love Songs of W.E.B. DuBois
A girl who understands DuBois’ concept of the “Double Consciousness” all too well takes center stage in this tender story. Dividing her time between the north and south, Ailey is haunted by messages from her ancestors. In order to appreciate them, she’ll have to dive into centuries of her family’s history, uncovering painful truths about their past and America’s legacy.
Not a Happy Family
The Couple Next Door author Shari Lapena comes Not a Happy Family: a tense whodunnit centering on one ultra-wealthy clan. Someone murdered Fred and Sheila Mercer on the night of a family gathering, and each of their three children had a motive to kill. But was a member of the Mercers’ unhappy family responsible, or someone else with an axe to grind?
Decades ago, Leigh helped her kid sister, Callie, murder the man she babysat for — a man who was raping Callie and selling videotapes of the evidence. The stiff’s son was in the house at the time, but a little boy doped up on NyQuil couldn’t possibly remember what those girls did… could he? Now, that boy’s a man on trial for rape, and he wants Leigh, now a prominent defense attorney, to represent him. Leigh’s sure that Andrew knows what happened that night, and now she’ll have to get Callie out of town, if she wants to keep her carefully constructed life intact.
Hold Fast Through the Fire
K.B. Wagers’ second NeoG novel is out this month, and sci-fi fans won’t be disappointed. The story here centers on the crew of the
Zuma’s Ghost; fresh out of a roster rotation, the little family find themselves in the line of fire, thanks to a secret one of their new crewmates has brought onboard. The Zuma’s Ghost is attracting a lot of unwanted attention, and it might spell the end of the whole crew’s careers .