12 of the Best New Books in July

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From Roberto Saviano’s investigation of the international cocaine trade to Mia Couto’s tale of predatory lionesses in Mozambique, this month’s new releases will take you on thrilling adventures across the globe. We’ve rounded up the 12 books we were most excited to read, including six novels, three short story collections and three nonfiction titles.

Check out our picks below, then leave a comment describing the books you want to read.

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1. The Last Pilot by Benjamin Johncock

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Release Date: July 7th from Picador
Why You’ll Love It: A test pilot pushing the sound barrier. A husband consoling his childless wife. An astronaut training for the impossible. A father left helpless after a tragedy. In Benjamin Johncock’s debut novel, protagonist Jim Harrison is all of those men. Spanning the aftermath of World War II to the ‘60s, The Last Pilot offers a heart-wrenching tale of loss and discovery during the infamous Space Race. —Frannie Jackson
Description:Jim Harrison is a test pilot in the United States Air Force, one of the exalted few. He spends his days cheating death in the skies above the Mojave Desert and his nights at his friend Pancho’s bar with his wife, Grace. She and Harrison are secretly desperate for a child-and when, against all odds, Grace learns that she is pregnant, the two are overcome with joy.

But when his family is faced with a sudden and inexplicable tragedy, Harrison’s instincts as a father and a pilot are put to test. As a pilot, he feels compelled to lead them through it—and as a father, he fears that he has fallen short. The turns the Harrisons take together are at once astonishing and recognizable; their journey, both frightening and full of hope.

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2. Love and Other Wounds by Jordan Harper

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Release Date: July 7th from Ecco
Why You’ll Love It: Casual lit fans will find a gateway to crime fiction in Jordan Harper’s lean Love and Other Wounds. The short story collection follows a spread of U.S. citizens at the end of their own ropes, from California white trash to Detroit dog fighters to the globetrotting men who clean up celebrity PR nightmares. Harper’s stories have all the grit of good crime yarns, but his subjects are never too glamorous—or unpunished. —Tyler R. Kane
Description: In the hard-edged tradition of Hubert Selby Jr., Daniel Woodrell, and Donald Ray Pollock, and with the fresh, complex humanity of Breaking Bad and Reservoir Dogs, this blistering debut collection unsparingly confronts the brutal parts of the human heart. Crackling with cinematic energy, raw and disquieting yet filled with pathos and a darkly vital humor, Love and Other Wounds is an unforgettable debut from an electrifying new voice.

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3. The Unnoticeables by Robert Brockway

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Release Date: July 7th from Tor Books
Why You’ll Love It: Let’s take in the full picture: Celestial beings—think angels, only more demonic—are watching our every move, meticulously picking out repeating patterns in day-to-day existence. They see our lives as a math problem waiting to be solved, reduced and streamlined. This could be sci-fi, horror or something else entirely—which is no surprise coming from Robert Brockway, who’s exhibited a keen sensibility for a range of genres through his essays and columns for Cracked.com. —Jeff Milo
Description: There are angels, and they are not beneficent or loving. But they do watch over us. They watch our lives unfold, analyzing us for repeating patterns and redundancies. When they find them, the angels simplify those patterns, remove the redundancies and the problem that is you gets solved. We are, all of us, well and truly screwed.

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4. Confession of the Lioness by Mia Couto

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Release Date: July 14th from Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Why You’ll Love It: Set in the isolated village of Kulumani in Mozambique, Confession of the Lioness tells the haunting tale of the “ghostlike lionesses” killing the women of the village. Mia Couto weaves the chilling story through diary entries, alternating between one of the surviving women and the hunter hired to save them. Combining suspense and traditional folklore, this novel based on true events in 2008 will hook you from the first page. —Frannie Jackson
Description: Mariamar, a young woman from the village, finds her life thrown into chaos just as the marksman hired to kill the lionesses, the outsider Archangel Bullseye, arrives in town. Mariamar’s sister was recently killed in one of the attacks, and her father has imprisoned her in his home, where she relives painful memories of past abuse and hopes to be rescued by Archangel. Meanwhile, Archangel attempts to track the lionesses out in the wilderness, but when he begins to suspect there is more to these predators than meets the eye, he slowly starts to lose control of his hands. The hunt grows more and more dangerous, until it’s no safer inside Kulumani than outside it. As the men of Kulumani feel increasingly threatened by the outsider, the forces of modernity upon their culture and the animal predators closing in, it becomes clear that the lionesses might not be real lionesses at all, but rather spirits conjured by the ancient witchcraft of the women themselves.

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5. Dylan Goes Electric! by Elijah Wald

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Release Date: July 14th from Dey Street Books
Why You’ll Love It: There are words for Bob Dylan’s 1965 appearance at the Newport Folk Festival that are more accurate than “performance.” Rebellion, betrayal, revolutionary—and for many folk-minded fans, Hank Hill’s signature bwaahhhh would do just fine. But while some Dylan fanatics thought they were witnessing a trainwreck in progress, Elijah Wald documents the historical significance of the songwriter’s grand statement. It’s a tale that’s been told many times, but diehard music junkies still can’t get enough of it. —Tyler R. Kane
Description: Elijah Wald explores the cultural, political and historical context of the seminal event at the Newport Folk Festival in Dylan Goes Electric! He delves deep into the folk revival and its intersections with the civil rights movement, the rise of rock and the tensions between traditional and groundbreaking music to provide new insights into Dylan’s artistic evolution, his special affinity to blues, his complex relationship to the folk establishment (and his sometime mentor Pete Seeger) and the ways he reshaped popular music forever. Breaking new ground on a story we think we know, Dylan Goes Electric! is a sharp appraisal of the controversial event at Newport and a nuanced analysis of why it matters.

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6. Racing the Rain by John L. Parker, Jr.

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Release Date: July 14th from Scribner
Why You’ll Love It: It took decades before the literary community caught up with John L. Parker, Jr.’s mandatory running tale, Once a Runner. Parker spent years selling the book out of his car’s trunk at races after he couldn’t find a publisher in the late-‘70s. But in 2009, the novel (as well as its sequel, Again to Carthage) finally found a home at Simon & Schuster.

Racing the Rain marks another tale of world class runner Quenton Cassidy, Once a Runner’s protagonist. Detailing Cassidy’s origins in 1950s coastal Florida, the novel provides an excuse to carb-load and marathon-read another runner story. —Tyler R. Kane
Description: From the author of the New York Times bestselling Once a Runner comes that novel’s prequel, the story of a world-class athlete coming of age in the 1950s and ‘60s on Florida’s Gold Coast. The novel vividly captures how a runner is formed and the physical endurance, determination and mindset he develops on the way to becoming a champion.

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7. ZeroZeroZero by Roberto Saviano

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Release Date: July 14th from Penguin Press
Why You’ll Love It: Gomorroah, Roberto Saviano’s exposé of the Neapolitan mob, made him an internationally bestselling author. It also placed him in the crosshairs of the mob, requiring Saviano to live under 24-hour police protection for more than eight years. He devoted that time to further “broadening his perspective” into the world of crime, specifically investigating the global cocaine trade. The result is an explosive account of violence and corruption, cementing Saviano as one of the best journalists of our time. —Frannie Jackson
Description: In many countries, “000” flour is the finest on the market. It is hard to find, but it is soft, light, almost impalpable—like the highest quality grade of cocaine. ZeroZeroZero is also the title of Roberto Saviano’s unforgettable exploration of the inner workings of the global cocaine trade—its rules and armies, and the true depth of its reach into the world economy and, by extension, its grasp on us all.

The result is a truly harrowing and groundbreaking synthesis of intimate literary narrative and geopolitical analysis of one of the most powerful dark forces in our economy. Saviano tracks the shift in the cocaine trade’s axis of power, from Colombia to Mexico, and relates how the Latin American cartels and gangs have forged alliances, first with the Italian crime syndicates, then with the Russians, Africans and others. On the one hand, he charts a remarkable increase in sophistication as these criminal entities diversify into many other products and markets. On the other, he reveals the astonishing increase in the severity of violence as they have fought to protect and to extend their power.

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8. A Cure for Suicide by Jesse Ball

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Release Date: July 21st from Pantheon
Why You’ll Love It: With A Cure for Suicide, Jesse Ball has successfully launched an intriguing sci-fi story arc while establishing a series of thematic questions: the nature of communication, the meaning behind names and the purpose of life itself. After the final page, the question that remains is a heavy one indeed: Would you choose to start over? If pain, regret and despair reached high enough, would you actually erase yourself and walk into a new life? —Eric Swedlund
Description: A man and a woman have moved into a small house in a small village. The woman is an “examiner,” the man, her “claimant.” The examiner is both doctor and guide, charged with teaching the claimant a series of simple functions: this is a chair, this is a fork, this is how you meet people. She makes notes in her journal about his progress: He is showing improvement yet his dreams are troubling. One day the examiner brings the claimant to a party, where he meets Hilda, a charismatic but volatile woman whose surprising assertions throw everything the claimant has learned into question. What is this village? Why is he here? And who is Hilda?

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9. Lovers on All Saints’ Day by Juan Gabriel Vásquez

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Release Date: July 21st from Riverhead Books
Why You’ll Love It: All Saints’ Day—that curious 24 hours between Halloween and All Soul’s Day, overlapping with the Mexican Day of the Dead. It’s a day for remembrance, which is a common theme in Juan Gabriel Vásquez’s short story collection. Published for the first time in English this month, Lovers on All Saints’ Day weaves tales of love and loss across Europe in an utterly captivating book. —Frannie Jackson
Description: A Colombian writer is witness to a murder that will mark him forever. A woman waits for her husband to return from an expedition to find wood for their stove, while he lies in another woman’s bed a few miles away. In this collection of short stories, there are love affairs, revenge, troubled pasts and tender moments that reveal a person’s whole history in a few sentences.

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10. New American Stories by Ben Marcus

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Release Date: July 21st from Vintage
Why You’ll Love It: The best thing about talking with Ben Marcus is his infectious passion for stories. Reading fiction is his lifeblood—the part of living he cherishes. He’s the sort of person you’d gravitate toward for book recommendations, making the author and professor the ideal editor for Vintage’s collection of New American Stories. The hefty tome includes 32 short stories from celebrated authors like Deborah Eisenberg and George Saunders to rising voices like Wells Tower and Rivka Galchen, delivering a literary feast that will appeal to every palate. —Mack Hayden
Description: In New American Stories, the beautiful, the strange, the melancholy and the sublime all comingle to show the vast range of the American short story. Ben Marcus has corralled a vital and artistically singular crowd of contemporary fiction writers—practitioners of deep realism, mind-blowing experimentalism and every hybrid in between. Nothing less than the American short story renaissance distilled down to its most relevant, daring and unforgettable works, New American Stories puts on wide display the true art of an American idiom.

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11. The Fall by R.J. Pineiro

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Release Date: July 28th from Thomas Dunne Books
Why You’ll Love It: If you’re afraid of heights, you probably won’t enjoy this novel. But for everyone else, there’s plenty of adventure in Pineiro’s other-worldly tale of Jack Taylor, a man who jumps from the upper part of the atmosphere and winds up on an alternate earth. While it’s a concept based on pure adrenaline, The Fall’s meat lies in Taylor weighing two worlds—and ultimately choosing his own reality. —Tyler R. Kane
Description: Jack Taylor has always been an adrenaline junkie. As a federal contractor, he does dangerous jobs for the government that fall out of the realm of the SEALS and the Marines. And this next job is right up his alley. Jack has been assigned to test an orbital jump, and if it works, the United States government will have a new strategy against enemy countries.

Then comes the day of Jack’s big jump. He doesn’t burn up like some predicted—instead, he hits the speed of sound and disappears.

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12. On Writing by Charles Bukowski

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Release Date: July 28th from Ecco
Why You’ll Love it: Before blogs existed, Charles Bukowski was the reigning shit-talking king of the literary community. He trashed novelists, poets, artists and musicians throughout his bibliography, maybe most frequently when character Henry Chinaski was on book tours throughout the novel Women. Most critics point to quantifiable things—characters, language, description, plot—but for Bukowski, writing wasn’t any of the above. Good work had style, baby, and plenty of heart. Though the book will no doubt turn into a bible for countless Li’l Bukowskis, it’ll be interesting to see how these collected essays show a method behind his typewriter-banging madness. —Tyler R. Kane
Description: On Writing reveals an artist brutally frank about the drudgery of work and uncompromising about the absurdities of life—and of art. It illuminates the hard-edged, complex humanity of a true American legend and countercultural icon—the “laureate of American lowlife” (Time)—who stoically recorded society’s downtrodden and depraved. It exposes an artist grounded in the visceral, whose work reverberates with his central ideal: “Don’t try.” Piercing, poignant and often hilarious, On Writing is filled not only with memorable lines but also with Bukowski’s trademark toughness, leavened with moments of grace, pathos and intimacy.