Best Book Club Picks for July 2020

by Heather Caliendo
must read book club picks for july 2020 - book club chat
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Time to take a closer look at the best book club picks for July 2020!

2020 is a strange year. But it’s going by fairly fast—can’t believe it’s almost July! I looked at the calendar and thought, “I need to get my July picks up ASAP!!” 

June was all about the thrillers. July is more of a variety. Such as the latest book from Kevin Kwan of Crazy Rich Asians fame to the highly anticipated release of A Star is Bored, which is loosely based on the author’s time assisting the late great Carrie Fisher. 

BTW, if you need more recommendations, check out my summer book club list as well as my huge book club picks list for the year.

Time to get into the best book club picks for July 2020!


Sex and Vanity by Kevin Kwan 

I’ve been looking forward to this latest one from Kevin Kwan since I first heard about it a year ago! I really enjoyed the Crazy Rich Asian series and if you’ve only seen the movie, I highly recommend you check out all three books! He has a really fun writing style and it definitely will be perfect escapism fiction. Here’s the synopsis:

On her very first morning on the jewel-like island of Capri, Lucie Churchill sets eyes on George Zao and she instantly can’t stand him. She can’t stand it when he gallantly offers to trade hotel rooms with her so that she can have a view of the Tyrrhenian Sea, she can’t stand that he knows more about Casa Malaparte than she does, and she really can’t stand it when he kisses her in the darkness of the ancient ruins of a Roman villa and they are caught by her snobbish, disapproving cousin Charlotte. “Your mother is Chinese so it’s no surprise you’d be attracted to someone like him,” Charlotte teases.

The daughter of an American-born Chinese mother and a blue-blooded New York father, Lucie has always sublimated the Asian side of herself in favor of the white side, and she adamantly denies having feelings for George. But several years later, when George unexpectedly appears in East Hampton, where Lucie is weekending with her new fiancé, Lucie finds herself drawn to George again.

Soon, Lucie is spinning a web of deceit that involves her family, her fiancé, the co-op board of her Fifth Avenue apartment building, and ultimately herself as she tries mightily to deny George entry into her world–and her heart. Moving between summer playgrounds of privilege, peppered with decadent food and extravagant fashion, Sex and Vanity is a truly modern love story, a daring homage to A Room with a View, and a brilliantly funny comedy of manners set between two cultures.

You can order the book on Amazon here. The book publishes on June 30. 


Speaking of Summer by Kalisha Buckhanon

So Speaking of Summer by Kalisha Buckhanon actually published last year but on July 7 the paperback will be released. Going forward, I want to make sure and highlight when books come out in paperback in case you missed it last year. Also, I know some people just prefer paperbacks in general. This one sounds so fantastic. Here’s the synopsis:

On a cold December evening, Autumn Spencer’s twin sister, Summer, walks to the roof of their shared Harlem brownstone and is never seen again. The door to the roof is locked, and the snow holds only one set of footprints. Faced with authorities indifferent to another missing Black woman, Autumn must pursue the search for her sister all on her own.

With her friends and neighbors, Autumn pretends to hold up through the crisis. But the loss becomes too great, the mystery too inexplicable, and Autumn starts to unravel, all the while becoming obsessed with the various murders of local women and the men who kill them, thinking their stories and society’s complacency toward them might shed light on what really happened to her sister.

In Speaking of Summer, critically acclaimed author Kalisha Buckhanon has created a fast-paced story of urban peril and victim invisibility, and the fight to discover the complicated truths at the heart of every family.

You can order the book on Amazon here.  The paperback is released on July 7.


One to Watch by Kate Stayman-London

If you’re a Bachelor/Bachelorette fan (or used to be like me), you’ll definitely be interested in One to Watch by Kate Stayman-London! The story is about how a plus-size bachelorette brings a fresh look to a reality show. It sounds like a fun premise and another good escapism read for the summer. Here’s the synopsis:

Bea Schumacher is a devastatingly stylish plus-size fashion blogger who has amazing friends, a devoted family, legions of Insta followers—and a massively broken heart. Like the rest of America, Bea indulges in her weekly obsession: the hit reality show Main Squeeze. The fantasy dates! The kiss-off rejections! The surprising amount of guys named Chad! But Bea is sick and tired of the lack of body diversity on the show. Since when is being a size zero a prerequisite for getting engaged on television?

Just when Bea has sworn off dating altogether, she gets an intriguing call: Main Squeeze wants her to be its next star, surrounded by men vying for her affections. Bea agrees, on one condition—under no circumstances will she actually fall in love. She’s in this to supercharge her career, subvert harmful beauty standards, inspire women across America, and get a free hot air balloon ride. That’s it.

But when the cameras start rolling, Bea realizes things are more complicated than she anticipated. She’s in a whirlwind of sumptuous couture, Internet culture wars, sexy suitors, and an opportunity (or two, or five) to find messy, real-life love in the midst of a made-for-TV fairy tale. In this joyful, wickedly observant debut, Bea has to decide whether it might just be worth trusting these men—and herself—for a chance to live happily ever after.

You can order the book on Amazon here. The book will publish on July 7.


Florence Adler Swims Forever by Rachel Beanland 

Florence Adler Swims Forever by Rachel Beanland sounds fascinating and unique. I received an Advanced Reader’s Copy and I have to say this features one of the most beautiful covers I’ve seen. It truly should be a painting! Here’s the synopsis: 

Atlantic City, 1934. Every summer, Esther and Joseph Adler rent their house out to vacationers escaping to “America’s Playground” and move into the small apartment above their bakery. Despite the cramped quarters, this is the apartment where they raised their two daughters, Fannie and Florence, and it always feels like home.

Now Florence has returned from college, determined to spend the summer training to swim the English Channel, and Fannie, pregnant again after recently losing a baby, is on bedrest for the duration of her pregnancy. After Joseph insists they take in a mysterious young woman whom he recently helped emigrate from Nazi Germany, the apartment is bursting at the seams.

Esther only wants to keep her daughters close and safe but some matters are beyond her control: there’s Fannie’s risky pregnancy—not to mention her always-scheming husband, Isaac—and the fact that the handsome heir of a hotel notorious for its anti-Semitic policies, seems to be in love with Florence.

When tragedy strikes, Esther makes the shocking decision to hide the truth—at least until Fannie’s baby is born—and pulls the family into an elaborate web of secret-keeping and lies, bringing long-buried tensions to the surface that reveal how quickly the act of protecting those we love can turn into betrayal.

Based on a true story and told in the vein of J. Courtney Sullivan’s Saints for All Occasions and Anita Diamant’s The Boston Girl, Beanland’s family saga is a breathtaking portrait of just how far we will go to in order to protect our loved ones and an uplifting portrayal of how the human spirit can endure—and even thrive—after tragedy.

You can order the book on Amazon here. The book will publish on July 7. 


The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue

I’m sure when Emma Donoghue got the idea to set her latest novel during the height of the Great Flu in 1918, she didn’t expect our current reality to be dealing with a coronavirus pandemic. But her books are impactful and I imagine this one will be even more so with what’s happening in our world. Here’s the synopsis: 

In an Ireland doubly ravaged by war and disease, Nurse Julia Power works at an understaffed hospital in the city center, where expectant mothers who have come down with the terrible new Flu are quarantined together. Into Julia’s regimented world step two outsiders — Doctor Kathleen Lynn, a rumoured Rebel on the run from the police , and a young volunteer helper, Bridie Sweeney.

In the darkness and intensity of this tiny ward, over three days, these women change each other’s lives in unexpected ways. They lose patients to this baffling pandemic, but they also shepherd new life into a fearful world. With tireless tenderness and humanity, carers and mothers alike somehow do their impossible work.

In The Pull of the Stars, Emma Donoghue once again finds the light in the darkness in this new classic of hope and survival against all odds.

You can order the book on Amazon here. The book will publish on July 21. 


A Star is Bored by Byron Lane 

I have been talking about A Star is Bored by Byron Lane for MONTHS! I can’t wait for this book. I’m just going to say get those pre-orders in now. 

Charlie Besson is tense and sweating as he prepares for an insane job interview. His car is idling, like his life, outside the Hollywood mansion of Kathi Kannon, star of stage and screen and People magazine’s worst dressed list. She needs an assistant. He needs a hero.

Kathi is an icon, bestselling author, and an award winning actress, most known for her role as Priestess Talara in a blockbuster sci-fi film. She’s also known in another role: crazy. Admittedly so. Famously so. Fabulously so, as Charlie quickly discovers.

Their three year odyssey is filled with late night shopping sprees, last minute trips to see the aurora borealis, and an initiation to that most sacred of Hollywood tribes: the personal assistant. But Kathi becomes much more than a boss, and as their friendship grows, Charlie must make a choice. Will he always be on the sidelines of life, assisting the great forces that be, or can he step into his own leading role?

Laugh-out-loud funny, and searingly poignant, Byron Lane’s A Star is Bored is a novel that, like the star at its center, is enchanting and joyous, heartbreaking and hopeful.

You can order the book on Amazon here. The book will publish on July 28.

Hope you enjoyed my best book club picks for July 2020! Happy reading! 

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