The best part about the summer is undoubtedly the extra hours of daylight available to sit outside and enjoy a great read. This month we’ve read and recommended everything from mind-twisting thrillers to beautifully literary works that transport you to another land. Below are the most popular books our readers enjoyed this July.
The 10 Most Popular Books That Captivated Us This July
After orphan Odie O’Banion finds himself in trouble with the Lincoln School’s superintendent, he makes the decision to flee the cruel school that Native Americans have been forcibly sent to. Set in Minnesota in 1932, THIS TENDER LAND follows Odie and three other orphans as they run away from their pasts and embark on an adventure down the Mississippi River. In their journey, they meet various characters across the unique American landscape marked by the Great Depression.
For fans of Before We Were Yours and Where the Crawdads Sing, “a gripping, poignant tale swathed in both mythical and mystical overtones” (Bob Drury, New York Times bestselling author) that follows four orphans on a life-changing odyssey during the Great Depression, from the New York Times bestselling author of Ordinary Grace.
1932, Minnesota—the Lincoln School is a pitiless place where hundreds of Native American children, forcibly separated from their parents, are sent to be educated. It is also home to an orphan named Odie O’Banion, a lively boy whose exploits earn him the superintendent’s wrath. Forced to flee, he and his brother Albert, their best friend Mose, and a brokenhearted little girl named Emmy steal away in a canoe, heading for the mighty Mississippi and a place to call their own.
Over the course of one unforgettable summer, these four orphans will fly into the unknown and cross paths with others who are adrift, from struggling farmers and traveling faith healers to displaced families and lost souls of all kinds. With the feel of a modern classic, This Tender Land is an enthralling, big-hearted epic that is “more than a simple journey; it is a deeply satisfying odyssey, a quest in search of self and home” (Booklist).
In 1850s London, the Great Exhibition is being set up for a crowd of spectators when aspiring artist Iris and curiosity collector Silas meet. When Iris is asked to model for an artist, she agrees on the condition that he will also teach her to paint. Silas, on the other hand, has only thought of one thing since that chance meeting, and his obsession is darkening by the day.
The #1 international bestseller and The New York Times Editor’s Choice
“As lush as the novels of Kate Morton and Diane Setterfield, as exciting as The Alienist and Iain Pears’ An Instance of the Fingerpost, this exquisite literary thriller will intrigue book clubs and rivet fans of historical fiction.” —A.J. Finn, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Woman in the Window
“A lush, evocative Gothic.” —The New York Times Book Review
“This terrifically exciting novel will jolt, thrill, and bewitch readers.” —Booklist, starred review
Obsession is an art.
In this “sharp, scary, gorgeously evocative tale of love, art, and obsession” (Paula Hawkins, bestselling author of The Girl on the Train), a beautiful young woman aspires to be an artist, while a man’s dark obsession may destroy her world forever.
Obsession is an art.
In 1850s London, the Great Exhibition is being erected in Hyde Park and, among the crowd watching the dazzling spectacle, two people meet by happenstance. For Iris, an arrestingly attractive aspiring artist, it is a brief and forgettable moment. But for Silas, a curiosity collector enchanted by all things strange and beautiful, the meeting marks a new beginning.
When Iris is asked to model for Pre-Raphaelite artist Louis Frost, she agrees on the condition that he will also teach her to paint. Suddenly, her world begins to expand beyond her wildest dreams—but she has no idea that evil is waiting in the shadows. Silas has only thought of one thing since that chance meeting, and his obsession is darkening by the day.
“A lush, evocative Gothic” (The New York Times Book Review) that is “a perfect blend of froth and substance” (The Washington Post), The Doll Factory will haunt you long after you finish it and is perfect for fans of The Alienist, Drood, and Fingersmith.
Part psychological thriller and part family drama, this genre-bending novel, long-listed for the National Book Award, is deeply unsettling and incredibly compelling. One night, Molly, a scientist and mother of two, thinks she hears footsteps in the living room. She comes face-to-face with a masked intruder who knows far too much about the workings of her family. As she tries to protect her kids, she is sent on a surreal adventure and into a dark, existential spiral about motherhood.
***LONGLISTED FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD IN FICTION***
“An extraordinary and dazzlingly original work from one of our most gifted and interesting writers” (Emily St. John Mandel, author of The Glass Hotel). The Need, which finds a mother of two young children grappling with the dualities of motherhood after confronting a masked intruder in her home, is “like nothing you’ve ever read before…in a good way” (People).
When Molly, home alone with her two young children, hears footsteps in the living room, she tries to convince herself it’s the sleep deprivation. She’s been hearing things these days. Startling at loud noises. Imagining the worst-case scenario. It’s what mothers do, she knows.
But then the footsteps come again, and she catches a glimpse of movement.
Suddenly Molly finds herself face-to-face with an intruder who knows far too much about her and her family. As she attempts to protect those she loves most, Molly must also acknowledge her own frailty. Molly slips down an existential rabbit hole where she must confront the dualities of motherhood: the ecstasy and the dread; the languor and the ferocity; the banality and the transcendence as the book hurtles toward a mind-bending conclusion.
In The Need, Helen Phillips has created a subversive, speculative thriller that comes to life through blazing, arresting prose and gorgeous, haunting imagery. “Brilliant” (Entertainment Weekly), “grotesque and lovely” (The New York Times Book Review, Editor’s Choice), and “wildly captivating” (O, The Oprah Magazine), The Need is a glorious celebration of the bizarre and beautiful nature of our everyday lives and “showcases an extraordinary writer at her electrifying best” (Publishers Weekly, starred review).
For most of his life, Jasper Dean couldn’t decide whether to pity, hate, love, or murder his certifiably paranoid father, Martin, a man who overanalyzed anything and everything. But now that Martin is dead, Jasper can fully reflect on the man who raised him. As he recollects the events that led to his father’s demise, Jasper recounts a boyhood of outrageous schemes and shocking discoveries. The result is a wild roller-coaster ride from obscurity to infamy, and the moving, memorable story of a father and son whose spiritual symmetry transcends all their many shortcomings.
After a little girl is abandoned on the streets of Victorian London, she grows up to become a thief and an artist’s muse. Following her eighteenth birthday, this girl travels alongside a group of artists to the beautiful Upper Thames. But after a woman is killed and another goes missing, the truth begins to muddle, leaving everyone in uncertainty for over a century. More than 150 years later, another young woman is drawn to Birchwood Manor, and its dark secrets about the artists are finally revealed.
Successful novelist Verity Crawford has been injured and is incapable of completing her series. Her husband, Jeremy, hires struggling writer Lowen Ashleigh to finish his wife’s work. When Lowen moves into the Crawford home and begins sifting through Verity’s papers, she finds an unfinished autobiography that contains horrific and chilling recollections. As Lowen and Jeremy become closer, she decides to show the manuscript to him and reveal the truth about his wife.
Michael Robotham’s GOOD GIRL, BAD GIRL is a haunting tale about a dangerous woman with a dark past who has a peculiar ability: she can tell when people are lying. Evie Cormac was discovered in a secret room six years ago after a terrible crime had happened, but no matching DNA record or missing person file can be found. As an adult, when she demands to be set free from the secure children’s home she’s been living in for the last few years, a forensic psychologist named Cyrus Haven is put on her case to determine if she’s truly ready. At the same time, he is working on a case about the murder of pretty, popular high schooler Jodie Sheehan—and as he begins to uncover Sheehan’s secret life, he finds there is more connection to Evie than meets the eye.
Finalist for the 2020 Edgar Award for Best Novel
From the internationally bestselling author who Stephen King calls “an absolute master,” a fiendishly clever thriller about a dangerous young woman with the ability to know when someone is lying—and the criminal psychologist who must outwit her to survive.
A girl is discovered hiding in a secret room in the aftermath of a terrible crime. Half-starved and filthy, she won’t tell anyone her name, or her age, or where she came from. Maybe she is twelve, maybe fifteen. She doesn’t appear in any missing persons file, and her DNA can’t be matched to an identity. Six years later, still unidentified, she is living in a secure children’s home with a new name, Evie Cormac. When she initiates a court case demanding the right to be released as an adult, forensic psychologist Cyrus Haven must determine if Evie is ready to go free. But she is unlike anyone he’s ever met—fascinating and dangerous in equal measure. Evie knows when someone is lying, and no one around her is telling the truth.
Meanwhile, Cyrus is called in to investigate the shocking murder of a high school figure-skating champion, Jodie Sheehan, who died on a lonely footpath close to her home. Pretty and popular, Jodie is portrayed by everyone as the ultimate girl-next-door, but as Cyrus peels back the layers, a secret life emerges—one that Evie Cormac, the girl with no past, knows something about. A man haunted by his own tragic history, Cyrus is caught between the two cases—one girl who needs saving and another who needs justice. What price will he pay for the truth?
Emotionally explosive, swiftly paced, and “haunting…Robotham expertly raises the tension as the action hurtles toward the devastating climax” (Publishers Weekly, starred review).
While working in the Dead Letters Depot, William Woolf discovers a letter addressed to “My Great Love” and signed with only one name: Winter. Frustrated with his marriage to Clare, William decides this letter crossed his desk for a reason and decides to find Winter. William must follow the clues in Winter's letters to solve his most important mystery yet: the human heart.
THE AU PAIR is a summer mystery with a touch of noir. After her father’s death, twenty-five-year-old Seraphine comes across a photo of her mother smiling while holding a baby, taken on the day Seraphina and her twin brother, Danny, were born. But the day she and her brother were born, her mother threw herself off a cliff, and her older brother’s au pair disappeared. Knowing the photo is suspect, Seraphine begins to dig into the truth of that fateful day. The story follows two timelines: Seraphine in the present day and the au pair twenty-five years earlier.
Lexi, Callie, and Hanna Breaux grew up in small-town Louisiana, and have always struggled to make ends meet. For years, they’ve been playing the lottery, fantasizing about how much better life would be if they had the money. For Lexi, it means the perfect wedding; for Callie, it means having the courage to go after her career dreams; and for Hanna, it means buying a house that isn’t falling apart and sending her bullied son to private school. When the incredible happens and the Breaux sisters hit it big—$204 million dollars big—all their dreams come true. Or so they think. Because it’s actually not a cliché—money isn’t the answer to everything, and it often comes with problems of its own.
Photo Credit: Canetti/iStock