Amazon's Best Books of July: Today's Releases

VitaminToday's releases include something for speculative fiction fans, gripping nonfiction about a series of mysterious arsons that terrorized a community on the rural Virginia coast, and two impressive debuts--including Goodbye, Vitamin. In it, a young sonogram technician quits her job to take care of her father who has Alzheimer’s. Sound like a drag? It’s quite the opposite. Senior Editor Seira Wilson says that "author Rachel Khong finds the humor in painful moments without diluting their importance and brings insight into the absurdity of trying to find balance when even our own minds may send us spinning in circles."

Learn more about today's best books of the month releases below, or browse all of our favorites for July here.

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When the English Fall by David Williams
When the English Fall is a fascinating, dystopian novel that uses journal entries to recount the unraveling of present day society from the point of view of an outsider community. The journal’s author is an Amish man named Jacob, who firmly believes in his religion’s dedication to peace, family, and community. It is in his words that the story begins and ends, as day by day Jacob records his family’s life on their Pennsylvania farm and their interactions with the English. When an unprecedented disaster brings nearby cities to a grinding halt, the cities’ inhabitants turn to the Amish farmers for help; but they also intrude upon them with violence. As lawlessness and acts of savagery intensify, Jacob’s peaceful community is forced to make hard decisions. Author David Williams grants us access into a closed society, a reminder of how reliant the rest of us are on technology to sustain our way of life—and that even the most steadfast will struggle in the face of chaos. When the English Fall is a gripping story, with an ending that made me want to go back and read it all again…--Seira Wilson
 

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American Fire by Monica Hesse
A passionate love affair is often described as an “inferno,” but in 2012 and 2013, boyfriend and girlfriend Charlie Smith and Tonya Bundick turned the metaphor into reality as they lit 70-plus fires in derelict buildings across Virginia’s Accomack County. Monica Hesse’s spare but memorable prose sketches the true story of a once-prosperous county now in sharp economic decline, its derelict buildings easy targets for Smith and Bundick. But Accomack County’s plunging fortunes is the simplistic explanation for the arson epidemic, and Hesse pushes that aside to plumb the complicated personal relationships, the tight-knit community, and the stories told in small towns that can shape a person’s destiny just as surely as one’s actions. When Smith and Bundick set fire after fire—sometimes several a night—the exhausted volunteer firefighters in Accomack County band together to stop the arsonists putting a match to their way of life. Hesse can do with a handful of words what other writers do with paragraphs, and as she traces the intersecting paths of the amateur arsonists and the authorities determined to capture them, she reveals that every crime has its own personal, sometimes inscrutable DNA. --Adrian Liang
 

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What We Lose by Zinzi Clemmons
In its simplest form, What We Lose tells a story of a young African American woman coming to terms with adulthood and the death of her mother. As Thandi tries to process the truths that cannot possibly be, she swings from gut emotion—“She’s gone. But she’s here, I can feel her. I can see her that day they told us that everything was going to be all right. But she’s not here. But I can feel her arms around me. It feels like the breeze coming off the river…it smells like her breath.”—to searing observations about the word in which we live: “I’ve often thought that being a light-skinned black woman is like a being a well-dressed person who is also homeless...you have nowhere to rest, nowhere to feel safe.” The novel weaves in and out of the past and present, from memories of childhood to Thandi’s own pregnancy and love affairs, to visits to her mother's childhood home in Johannesburg. There are photographs, graphs, drawings, pages filled with a single line that infuse the story with an immediacy. Through Thandi’s pain and process, she (re)constructs her identity from the memory of her mother, family, her experiences, and the reality of the world that surrounds her. A breathtaking novel. --Al Woodworth
 

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