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The Best New Book Releases Out July 11, 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_.

As the North American summer scorches on, so does this fire new book releases schedule! Nonfiction-wise, you can add When Crack Was King to your list of books that demystify major historical moments, as you can Promise, a historical fiction novel about two Black sisters in coastal Main in the late ’50s. A couple others on this list detail the dark sides of success, and things are rounded out by a cute romcom.

The books out this week are educational, surreal, and even a little sinister, but also have sweet moments of levity.

cover of Promise by  Rachel Eliza Griffiths

Promise by Rachel Eliza Griffiths

Here’s a reminder of the far-reaching tendrils of American racism outside of the South. In Promise, the Kindred sisters experience a childhood full of love, but the summer of 1957 brings about a change. Suddenly, as their bodies and minds start to change, so too does the country — nationwide, there are calls for freedom that become known as the Civil Rights Movement. Now their family and the only other Black family in their coastal Maine town are being looked at with suspicion by white people. Even by those they once considered friends. 

The Sea Elephants Book Cover

The Sea Elephants by Shastri Akella

In this ’90s novel set in India, a gay boy comes of age.

After the deaths of his twin sisters, Shagun tries to flee from home — where his abusive and homophobic father is— by attending an all-boys boarding school. But he finds only more abuse there, and it isn’t until he comes across a traveling theater troupe that he starts to feel like he truly belongs. Through the troupe, he finds his natural acting talent, as he embodies the Hindu deities from the stories of his youth. He even finds a little boo thing.

cover of The Centre by Ayesha Manazir Siddiqi 

The Centre by Ayesha Manazir Siddiqi 

This is a darkly funny and, at times, surreal look at language translation and success. In it, Anisa hopes to translate “great works of literature” one day, but instead subtitles Bollywood movies (which is also important!) while talking mess with her bestie. When she meets a ridiculously successful translator named Adam, she gets him to spill on how he’s able to master languages so quickly. Turns out he goes to an elite, invite-only place called the Centre, which guarantees fluency in anything in a little over a week. Anisa, though a little doubtful, enrolls and undergoes the odd and isolating Centre program. But she finds out the dark truth of how the Centre functions and has to ask herself if her success is worth it.

cover of Play to Win by Jodie Slaughter

Play to Win by Jodie Slaughter

Miriam is in a rut — she’s stuck in the same job she’s had since she was a teenager and sleeping in a tiny bed at her mom’s house. But a lottery ticket run to her favorite corner store sees her winning the jackpot. Thing is, she technically has a husband who has a legal claim to her money, but in true romcom fashion, she works out a solution. She proposes that Leo, the husband who she hasn’t spoken to in eight years, takes a lump sum of money and finally signs the divorce papers so they can be done with each other for good. Only Leo sees this as a chance to win her back.

cover of Ripe by Sarah Rose Etter

Ripe by Sarah Rose Etter

The horrors of capitalism are on full display in Ripe. Cassie has gotten her dream job at a Silicon Valley startup but is also seriously regretting it. The people she works with are toxic, entitled, and downright criminal — and once her bosses start requiring she engage in illegal activity, too, the black hole that’s always been with her, that gets stronger through her depression and anxiety, feels closer than ever.

cover of When Crack Was King: A People's History of a Misunderstood Era by Donovan X. Ramsey

When Crack Was King: A People’s History of a Misunderstood Era by Donovan X. Ramsey

The narrative around substance abuse issues and addiction have certainly changed since the ’90s, haven’t they? Ramsey’s meticulously researched account of the era, which personalizes that part of history by blending in the voices of survivors, will help explain the change as well as demystify an era in U.S. history that is still misunderstood, even today.

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!