The 10 Books You Should Be Reading This July
Including deep dives into cults, psychedelics and the metaverse
As the temperatures rise outside, what are your reading plans? July’s books cover a lot of ground, from immersive nonfiction about the natural world and its technological counterpart to thoughtful fiction wrestling with the big questions of today. Here are our picks for 10 books due out this month that might make you see the world in a new light.
Matthew Ball, The Metaverse: And How It Will Revolutionize Everything (July 19)
It is entirely possible that you’ve spent the last few years reading about the potentially transformative effects of the metaverse and wondering, “Okay, but what exactly is the metaverse?” Cue the arrival of Matthew Ball’s new book on the scene, which offers a comprehensive look at what the metaverse could be capable of doing and what its effects on the world of technology might be.
Teddy Wayne, The Great Man Theory (July 12)
Teddy Wayne has a talent for exploring the lives of troubled men in memorable detail. He’s an adept chronicler of complex social situations and a perceptive comic novelist; his novels have offered portraits of everyone from frustrated writers to world-famous pop stars. His latest novel is about an academic frustrated with modern technology, and the unexpected places this worldview takes him.
Grant McCracken, Return of the Artisan: How America Went from Industrial to Handmade (July 12)
If you follow certain avenues of American habits over the years, you might notice a shift from the mass-produced to the bespoke. What does that say about modern society, and what might it be heralding for our future? Cultural anthropologist Grant McCracken’s Return of the Artisan grapples with these questions and many more.
Rick Emerson, Unmask Alice: LSD, Satanic Panic, and the Imposter Behind the World’s Most Notorious Diaries (July 5)
If you’re of a certain age, you might remember the 1971 book Go Ask Alice, held up as a cautionary tale about the dangers of drug use or its subsequent movie or stage adaptations. The book has had a sizable cultural footprint since its release, which makes the more controversial elements about its creation all the more egregious. Rick Emerson’s Unmask Alice is an unsettling look at the book’s evolution and its impact over the years.
K-Ming Chang, Gods of Want (July 12)
K-Ming Chang’s debut novel Bestiary arrived on the scene last year to critical acclaim. Now, she’s following that up with a collection of short stories, Gods of Want. Looking for fiction abounding with family secrets, visceral images, and unlikely connections? Look no further.
Elvia Wilk, Death by Landscape (July 19)
We live in a changing world — and one that’s transforming in a number of aspects. Who are the writers and thinkers we can turn to in times like these? Elvia Wilk’s Death by Landscape offers readers a heady take on some of the novelists, thinkers and artists whose work reflects the world outside our window — and what they can teach us as we venture into the future.
Michael Pollan, This Is Your Mind on Plants (July 19)
In recent years, the debate over psychedelics and psychoactive substances has extended to more and more avenues of everyday life. With his book This Is Your Mind on Plants, out in paperback this month, Michael Pollan offers his own salvo in that debate. Pollan’s detailed narrative provides a focus on the history, usage and future of opium, caffeine and mescaline — and it might change how you think about one or all of them.
Isabel Kaplan, NSFW (July 5)
What happens when a workplace dynamic crosses the line from combative into outright toxicity? That’s among the questions at the heart of Isabel Kaplan’s new novel NSFW. It explores a young woman working in entertainment who becomes aware of unpleasant truths within her workplace — and chronicles how she reacts when ignoring them is no longer an option.
Max Cutler with Kevin Conley, Cults: Inside the World’s Most Notorious Groups and Understanding the People Who Joined Them (July 12)
You might know Max Cutler as the founder of Parcast, the company that produces the podcast Cults. Now, in collaboration with Kevin Conley, he’s brought what he learned there into the pages of a new book — a comprehensive look at some of the world’s most prominent cults, along with an exploration of what leads people to become entangled in cults to begin with.
Alec Wilkinson, A Divine Language: Learning Algebra, Geometry, and Calculus at the Edge of Old Age (July 12)
Longtime New Yorker contributor Alec Wilkinson made an unexpected decision in middle age — which is to say, he decided to immerse himself in the world of mathematics. A Divine Language is both a celebration of the process of learning and an ode to the compelling mysteries he found along the way as he began his studies.
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