Five Books to Read in July

We may live in challenging times, and there's no better escape than through a good book. From new novels from beloved writers to compelling non-fiction examinations of our modern world, 2018 has already delivered some excellent reads. Here are five great books to read in July from my Esquire column. 

HOW TO BE FAMOUS BY CAITLIN MORAN

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Remember the mid-'90s obsession with the rising wave of Britpop, when all you wanted was an Oasis CD? When a Clinton was president, Mandela was freed, and the Berlin Wall came down—in other words, when the world felt hopeful? Nostalgic or not, Moran’s newest novel, the hilarious sequel to the soon-to-be adapted How to Build a Girl will transport you to grungy and gritty London during this time, as seen through the eyes of witty and willful Woverhampton-native Johanna Morrigan. Johanna, under her pen name Dolly Wilde, has transformed herself into a fearless music journalist whose unapologetic writing (and sex life) ends up catapulting her to fame in her own right with explosive consequences.

A TERRIBLE COUNTRY BY KEITH GESSEN

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What is everyday life like under Putin’s rule? Russian-born Gessen, founding editor of n+1 magazine, draws on his first-hand experiences to paint a vivid picture of Moscow circa 2008. His big-hearted second novel chronicles the adventures and mishaps of young Russian-American academic Andrei, who leaves his life in New York on the eve of the financial crisis to care for his Russian grandmother, who still lives in the apartment Stalin gave her. In Moscow, he falls for a young activist, gets entwined with a group of leftists, and is forced to confront what it is to be shaped by two radically different societies.

SEXOGRAPHIES BY GABRIELA WIENER

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In the first essay by Peruvian journalist Gabriela Wiener, she recalls being invited to spend two nights at an unspecified location in Lima with polygamist guru of sex, Ricardo Badani, and his six wives. Her aim? To explore what she calls his “recycled but revolutionary formula for happiness.” Besides being a controversial and somewhat reviled figure in Lima, he and his wives run a successful lingerie store, where the clothing tags read: “Badani, instruments of seduction.” Wiener is instructed to bring white marshmallows for toasting, and upon arrival has her “honesty aura” read by one of Badani’s wives. Thus begins this collection of essays that open on the outskirts of Lima, jumps to a swinger’s party in Barcelona, and next a squirt expert’s apartment. This book can feel psychologically hazardous to read; it pushes you to answer the questions Wiener asks herself: Would I? Could I? Will I?

BROTHER BY DAVID CHARIANDY

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The Canadian brothers in Chariandy’s coming-of-age novel grow up poor in a Toronto neighborhood in the '90s. Born to a Trinidadian mother and absent “Indian” father, they navigate the world as a protective duo whose camaraderie and love buffers them, somewhat, from the hostility of police officers and racism they face on a daily basis. But when Michael loses his older brother Francis, his all-consuming grief is compounded by the injustice of his brother’s premature death.

YOU’RE ON AN AIRPLANE: A SELF-MYTHOLOGIZING MEMOIR BY PARKER POSEY

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Arguably one of the most beloved actresses of her generation—Posey opens up about her iconic film roles and her extraordinary life in this candid memoir that includes intimate reflections of her Southern childhood, mediations on the absurdity of fame, her favorite recipes, and original collages. Once again, she proves to be as original, refreshing, and funny as her most recognizable characters.

talley carlston