Riot Headline 10 Exciting Books to Read this Summer

The Best New Book Releases Out July 18, 2023

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Erica Ezeifedi

Associate Editor

Erica Ezeifedi, Associate Editor, is a transplant from Nashville, TN that has settled in the North East. In addition to being a writer, she has worked as a victim advocate and in public libraries, where she has focused on creating safe spaces for queer teens, mentorship, and providing test prep instruction free to students. Outside of work, much of her free time is spent looking for her next great read and planning her next snack. Find her on Twitter at @Erica_Eze_.

This week has some of this summer’s most anticipated new releases by award-winners and even a cult favorite. Colson Whitehead revisits the crooked-est part of 1970s Harlem, while genre chameleon Silvia Moreno-Garcia mixes it up with Nazi occultists in ’90s Mexico City. There’s also the unexpected queer horror by Chuck Tingle, who brought us classics like Space Raptor Butt Invasion, which explores the horrors of gay conversion camps. Self-discovery, a memoir dealing with society’s treatment of disabled bodies, and a deep-space mystery round out the list.

The best books out this week are full of crooks and occultists, and are set everywhere from Kuwait to Mexico City. And you should add them to your TBR immediately.

cover image for Crook Manifesto

Crook Manifesto by Colson Whitehead

In this follow up to Whitehead’s Harlem Shuffle, it’s 1971 in Harlem, and Ray Carney has given up the life we saw him living in the previous book. Now, he’s focused on growing his business legally — until his teenage daughter wants Jackson 5 tickets. To get them, he reconnects with crooked NYPD officer Munson, who drags Ray back into a world of stolen goods and beatdowns. In the second part of the book, it’s 1973, and Ray and his partner Pepper find themselves mixing it up with the weird world of Blaxploitation films. Finally, 1976 has the partners in crime set to find out who set a series of fires in the city, one of which hurt a young boy.

cover of Silver Nitrate by Silvia Moreno-Garcia 

Silver Nitrate by Silvia Moreno-Garcia 

If you’ve read any of Moreno-Garcia’s other books — like The Daughter of Doctor Moreau or Mexican Gothic — you know she hops, skips, and jumps around genres with ease. In her latest, she’s serving up ’90s Mexico City, the film industry, and occultism. Montserrat is being held back by a sexist film industry despite her talent as a sound editor. On top of that, she’s pining for her best friend, former soap opera star Tristán. Once Tristán gets a new neighbor — cult horror director Abel Urueta — both his and Montserrat’s lives change. Urueta enlists them to help him complete his unfinished movie about a Nazi occultist to reverse a curse, but then things get really real.

cover of Camp Damascus by Chuck Tingle 

Camp Damascus by Chuck Tingle 

Here, Hugo-nominated Tingle, whose backlist you should get into if you’re not already familiar, gives us a horror story that follows high school senior Rose. She’s neurodivergent and belongs to a Christian church known for its 100% gay conversion center in Montana called Camp Damascus. How she sees herself has always been clear to her, except when she maybe starts feeling things for a certain friend…and sees a decaying woman at the edge of the woods.

cover of Head above Water: Reflections on Illness by Shahd Alshammari 

Head above Water: Reflections on Illness by Shahd Alshammari 

Since she was a teenager, a multiple sclerosis diagnosis has made Alshammari hyper-aware of her mortality. But it was with this heightened awareness that she graduated from a school in the UK and moved back to her native Kuwait to become an English professor. Through teaching, she met Yasmeen, a former student who became a close friend and who encouraged Alshammari to put her experiences on paper. In this intricate and intimate memoir, she writes of her experiences with being a woman, a person with a disability, the personal and societal battles she’s faced, as well as the triumphs she’s celebrated.

cover of The Deep Sky by Yume Kitasei; multicolored swirl pattern over a starry black sky

The Deep Sky by Yume Kitasei 

Asuka is part of a crew of 80 people on a journey to a new planet after Earth’s environment has just about been completely ruined. The crew are graduates of an elite and competitive program that has trained them to essentially save humanity since they were 12. But before they reach the new planet, a bomb kills three people and pushes the ship off course. Now Asuka, the only surviving witness to the attack, needs to figure out what happened as the crew turns on each other — and before there is another attack.

cover of Small Worlds by Nelson Caleb Azumah

Small Worlds by Caleb Azumah Nelson

From the writer of the award-winning Open Water comes this Southeast London novel about a young British Ghanaian man struggling with exploring his passion while still pleasing his family. Stephen is a dancer — he dances at church, with friends, at basement parties — but his pursuit of this love threatens the relationship with his strict father. Told over three summers, Small Worlds is a rhythmic portrayal of one young man’s conflicting need for acceptance and independence.

Other Book Riot New Releases Resources:

  • All the Books, our weekly new book releases podcast, where Liberty and a cast of co-hosts talk about eight books out that week that we’ve read and loved.
  • The New Books Newsletter, where we send you an email of the books out this week that are getting buzz.
  • Finally, if you want the real inside scoop on new releases, you have to check out Book Riot’s New Release Index! That’s where I find 90% of new releases, and you can filter by trending books, Rioters’ picks, and even LGBTQ new releases!