July is a great time for reading. Publishers are filling the shelves with great summer reads. Nights are light for evening reading. The summer holiday is hopefully just around the corner. So as July approaches, we take a look at some great reads for the upcoming month, all connected by the theme of July.

Published in July 2019

David Nicholls, Sweet Sorrow (11th July 2019). It is five years since Nicholls published bestselling Us, and according to the first reviews, Sweet Sorrow is worth the wait: it is ‘breath-taking’, ‘beautiful’ and ‘life-enhancing’ according to Nina Stibbe. Set in 1997, It tells the story of Charlie Lewis, a fairly average teen, who spends his time looking after his father and dreading what the future holds. But when he meets Fran Fisher, everything changes. In love for the first time, Charlie finds himself doing whatever it takes to impresses her, even if it means leaving everything about his old life behind. Fancy meeting the author himself? Nicholls will be joining us at Booka on the 17th July. (And if you haven’t read his One Day yet, that is set on a series of July the 15ths over twenty years!)

A Character Called July

Andrea Levy, The Long Song (2010). Being strict here – Julia is not allowed, it had to be July! Orange prize-winning Levy (Notes from a Small Island) set The Long Song in a 19th-century Jamaican sugar plantation. July is a former slave, writing her memoir, covering her years of slavery, the abolition and her life afterwards. Much of the novel is concerned with a ménage à trois between July, her mistress Caroline, and Caroline’s abolitionist pastor husband Robert. All the characters are drawn with human flaws, and July herself is no exception. The landscape of Jamaica is vividly evoked and what can at times be a very dark story, is told with humour and a lively eye for detail. You will be entertained, educated and moved by this powerful story.

July in the Title

Joe R. Lansdale, Cold in July (1989). Protagonist Richard Dane wakes one July night to find an intruder in his home. He kills him in self-defence, but this is only the beginning of his problems. The father of the men he killed tracks him down, seeking vengeance for his son’s death. But was it really his son who died? The plot twists and turns, taking both killer and father on a terrifying journey into corruption, betrayal, and the ‘snuff’ film industry. This crime novel inspired the successful 2014 film of the same name. You might be glad of the light July nights after reading this horrific crime thriller.

Born in July in the 19th Century

Fancy a classic this July? Many great writers were born in this month:

3rd July 1883, Franz Kafka

4th July 1804, Nathaniel Hawthorn

18th July 1811, William Makepeace Thackery

21st July 1889, Ernest Hemmingway

24th July 1802, Alexandre Dumas

28th July 1866, Beatrix Potter

30th July 1818, Emily Bronte

If you fancy a more modern author born in July, this fantastic website is worth a look too.

Non-Fiction in July

If the 4th July passes you by every year and you know it is something do with American Independence, but are a bit hazy on the details, this could be the year to change that. If you are only going to read one non-fiction book about the 4th of July, it makes sense to go for the best. David McCollough’s John Adams (2002) won the Pulitzer Prize and was later adapted into an HBO mini-series. This compelling narrative charts the rise of John Adams, the second US president, his friendship and fallout with Thomas Jefferson, the life-long love of his wife and adviser Abigail, and Adam’s role in the battle for the US’s independence from Britain. If America’s current situation is unfathomable, you can at least make a start by better understanding its history.

July Wildcard

With Katherine Rundell encouraging us to read more children’s books, could July be the time to (re)discover Harry Potter (1997-2007)? Almost without exception, each book begins and ends in July. Harry celebrates his birthday (31st July – same as author J.K. Rowling) at the start of the book and finishes with the end of yet another school year at Hogwarts the following July. Harry Potter can be polarising, but success on Rowling’s scale is undeniable. Every year, a whole new group of children become old enough to read Harry Potter, and though the later books are perhaps scarier, and deal with more adult themes, it hasn’t stopped millions of children (and adults) devouring them.

July is a great time for planning your summer reading. We hope we have given you some promising ideas for this upcoming month. As well as David Nicholls, we have three other exciting events on in July in Booka. On the 10th July, bestseller Claire Mackintosh joins us to talk about her latest novel After the End. As mentioned, David Nicholls joins us on the 17th July. Shari Lapena visits to talk about her crime noir thriller Someone We Know on the 22th of July. Two greats of contemporary fiction join us in conversation on the 24th July, Jo Baker and Anna Hope, discussing their latest novels, The Body of Lies and Expectation. Mike Parker rounds off a fantastic month on the 31h of July discussing his On the Red Hill. We are always adding new events and as always, you can subscribe to us to make sure you are up to date with everything coming.

Enjoy a great July of reading and do come and see us at Booka soon to pick up your summer reads!