STAFF PICKS: The best books we read in July

by |July 31, 2019
July Staff Picks

July was an amazing month for book releases! There were new books from wonderful authors like Tara June Winch, Kate Forsyth, Lisa Taddeo, and Aaron Blabey – so many that we were practically spoilt for choice for what to read next.

This month, we read a wonderful mix of novels – big meaty sagas and splendid high fantasy adventures – and compelling non-fiction books speaking to some important issues.

Scroll down to check out the best books we read in July!

Olivia Fricot – Senior Content Producer

The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead

July Staff Picks - The Nickel Boys

Why I loved it: Colson Whitehead’s short and punchy new novel is so good that I devoured it in a day. It’s set in Florida in a reform school for boys held firmly in the grip of the Jim-Crow-era, where two young black boys, Elwood and Turner, must grapple with hellish abuse as they try to come to some understanding of what it means to not only live, but survive. Based on the very real and horrific Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys, Colson Whitehead has written a philosophical story of survival with the same disturbing potency that characterises his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Underground Railroad. I couldn’t get this book out of my head for days.

Buy it here.

Jo Lewin – Head of Trade Books

The Eighth Life by Nino Haratischvili, (translated by Charlotte Collins and Ruth Martin)

July Staff Picks - The Eighth Life

Why I loved it: I was lucky enough to receive an advance reading copy of this weighty tome and I’ll be honest with you – I am only 350 pages through this 944 page behemoth of a novel. Originally published in German but set in Georgia, the novel follows members of a middle class family through the end of the Tsarist years, the Russian revolution, two World Wars, Stalinism, and… well I’m not sure how much more, but I’ll let you know next month!

Fascinating historical detail is expertly interwoven with the angst of family relationships in a novel that is both sweeping in its scope and intensely personal.

Buy it here.

Ben Hunter – Fiction Category Manager

The Weekend by Charlotte Wood

July Staff Picks - The Weekend

Why I loved it: This might sound like a familiar story, but I’ve never seen it approached like this before. Three friends head up the coast the weekend before Christmas, not for a holiday but to clean out the summer home of their now dead friend, Sylvie. These three women, a once-famous restaurateur, a multi-published intellectual, and a renowned actress long since out of work, find their decades-old bonds not tightened by mutual loss but severely endangered by it.

As long held prejudices, private anxieties, and recriminations bubble up to the fore, we’re left to wonder what it is that keeps such relationships from falling apart completely. Charlotte Wood’s brevity and precision are showcased like never before in this novel – an evolution of her hilarious and caustic style. Flawless.

Buy it here.

Joel Naoum – Non-Fiction Category Manager

The Prettiest Horse in the Glue Factory by Corey White

July Staff Picks - The Prettiest Horse in the Glue Factory

Why I loved it: This is the heartfelt, tragic, uplifting and hilarious memoir by comedian Corey White. It’s beautifully written – dark, but ultimately optimistic, which is an extremely difficult balance to strike. Even though it’s a memoir, in that sense it reminds me of one of the most successful fiction books of the last couple of years, Trent Dalton’s Boy Swallows Universe.

Buy it here.

Sarah McDuling – Kids & YA Category Manager

Angel Mage by Garth Nix

July Staff Picks - Angel Mage

Why I loved it: I remember first hearing about this book a few years ago and thinking that it sounded like pure gold. Garth Nix + angels + a fantasy world inspired by 17th century France? Okay, yes please and thank you! Like many readers around the world, I knew that Angel Mage was going to set my brain on fire in the greatest possible way. And sure enough, it did precisely that. Actually, it sort of burst into my brain like a dazzling fireworks display. I really can’t wait to read it all over again! (Read the full review here!)

Buy it here.

Shanu Prasad – Lifestyle Category Manager

Marriage of Flavours by Scott Pickett

July Staff Picks - Marriage of Flavours

Why I loved it: This to me is the best kind of cookbook – beautifully designed, with recipes that are achievable but clearly of a fine dining standard. The addition of Chef’s notes, drink pairing recommendations, and market tips really adds value to each of the recipes. I can see myself making delicious food from this book for years to come!

Buy it here.

Robert O-Hearn – Academic & Professional Category Manager

Who’s Minding the Farm? by Patrice Newell

July Staff Picks - Who's Minding the Farm?

Why I loved it: This book is a passionate and urgent call for regenerative agriculture, a personal and direct argument to change our destructive farming methods in the face of the climate emergency. All our food production relies on a few centimetres’ depth of topsoil spread unevenly across the planet’s surface. Patrice Newell argues we have a shared responsibility to protect and enrich this soil by ceasing devastating tech-intensive farming methods and heavy chemical usage, and working to repair ecosystems. All of us, from producer to consumer, are implicated, and all of us stand to lose if changes are not enacted. Elegantly written and very informative, this book weaves together many strands of earth, society, business, and ethics. Who’s minding the farm? We are.

Buy it here.

Bronwyn Eley – Social Media Coordinator

Widow’s Welcome (Tales of Fenest: Book 1) by D.K. Fields

July Staff Picks - Widow's Welcome

Why I Loved It: It’s a captivating and emotional fantasy crime story that follows a hardened and fascinating detective on a mission to solve a horrifying murder. The authors have created a really interesting world in which nation states have to tell the most engrossing and powerful story in order to win elections. Caught between politics and murder, our protagonist Cora has her work cut out for her!

Buy it here.

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About the Contributor

Olivia Fricot is the Editor of the Booktopian Blog. After finishing a soul-crushing law degree, she decided that life was much better with one's nose in a book and quickly defected to the world of Austen and Woolf. You can usually find her reading (obviously), baking, writing questionable tweets, and completing a Master's degree in English literature. Just don't ask about her thesis. Olivia is on Twitter and Instagram @livfricot - follow at your own risk.

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