TBR 7.20

Black lives matter! If you haven’t yet, check out this post where I’ve rounded up and explained a number of ways to help the movement, or just go straight here to do your part.


I have two main reading goals for July: to continue reading and reviewing books by Black authors, and to catch up on some of my previous TBRs and book lists that I’ve fallen behind on. A lot of those list books are white, so my aim is to alternate between reading those books and reading the books by Black authors that I pulled from my shelf last month or have purchased since. Because I set a rule for myself this year not to repeat TBR books, my July TBR is instead going to focus on the Black-authored half of my planned reading.

Here’s the list:

  1. The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates. This is magical realism historical fiction that I’m hoping I’ll love as much as Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad. I’ve been meaning to read Coates’ work for years; I’m actually more interested in his nonfiction and I have Between The World and Me on order to arrive in July, but since I already own this fiction title I want to cross it off my list first.
  2. Black Girl Unlimited by Echo Brown. I believe this one’s either a YA urban fantasy or magical realism novel (I think I’ll have to read it to see which way I lean on categorization). I’ve been seeing rave reviews for it and have been missing YA content in my reading this year! I had such a good time with my last book for younger readers, Akwaeke Emezi’s Pet, that I’m eager to check out another.
  3. A Lucky Man by Jamel Brinkley. A short story collection written by an Iowa Writer’s Workshop grad who taught one of my undergrad classes. There are so many reasons I want to read this one, not the least of which is that I had a goal to pick up more short story collections this year! I have a buddy read for a white-authored collection in the works as well, so this one will provide balance.
  4. How To Be An Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi. Another of my goals for this year was to read more non-fiction, which I’ve been utterly failing at. Wanting to educate myself on modern racism seems like a great way to increase my non-fiction reading, as with this book which I believe is part memoir, part antiracism guidebook. I’ve ordered a handful of non-fiction books on racism, but since there was such a surge in demand for them they haven’t all shipped yet, much less arrived. So I’ll be starting here. I’ve actually read a few pages already and am looking forward to finishing the rest!
  5. Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge. Another non-fiction book about racism, though this one’s UK based. I want to start with something a little more applicable to the US since that’s where I’m at, but I also want to make sure I’m branching out and taking a broader world view. This seemed like a good place to start to achieve that goal, and I’m sure some of it will echo what’s going on closer to (my) home as well.


June has been an excellent reading month for me, mostly (wrap-up coming soon!), so it feels plausible right now that I could expect to read all 5 of these AND make a dent in previous TBR books that have fallen by the wayside. But if 2020 has taught me anything, it’s that anything can happen and plans may change in an instant, so we’ll see how this goes. Because I’m aiming to make every other read a Black-authored book in July, those should make up 50% of my reading no matter how far through the lists I get.


Before I close, here are the new releases coming out in July that I’ve got my eye on:

  • Mother Daughter Widow Wife by Robin Wasserman. Adult mystery in which a woman steps off a bus in Philadelphia with no ID and no memory of who she is or how she got there. An exploration of the self and the obligations of womanhood.  (This is actually my current read, I was lucky enough to snag an ARC from The Library Hotel earlier this year!) Out July 7th
  • Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron. YA LGBTQ+ fantasy Cinderella retelling in which girls attend a ball where they are either chosen as wives or never heard from again- at least, until two best friends who’d rather marry each other decide to topple the king’s regime. Out July 7th
  • The Beauty in Breaking by Michele Harper. Memoir of healing the self by healing others, following an African American woman’s experience as an emergency room physician, a profession predominantly comprised of white men. (I was thrilled that BOTM was able to put this on my radar for July! Since I talked extensively about the current BOTM situation here, a little update: it looks like half of the authors featured in their July line-up (5 books, one co-authored) are by POC. That’s a step up for BOTM, although I wouldn’t have minded the predictable white-authored thriller and romance selections to be… something else. Still, I’m sure they select their books months in advance and I think a 50% turn-out for non-white authors shows that they made some quick and meaningful changes in the wake of controversy earlier in June. To be honest I think the next few months will be more telling as to their overall efforts. I’m cautiously hopeful, based on July!) Out July 7th
  • Notes on a Silencing by Lacy Crawford. Memoir of a woman who reports in adulthood her story of sexual abuse in a private school at age 15; the focus is on the ways that the school, police, and other authority figures actively worked against her case when she was a minor, to protect the school’s reputation. Out July 7th
  • Burn Our Bodies Down by Rory Power. This one’s a YA horror in which a teen girl goes searching for her family history and is shocked by what she finds. Out July 7th
  • Betty by TIffany McDaniel. Betty is part of a mixed-race (Cherokee and white) family with eight children and some deep dark secrets; she lives with poverty and violence, but also has a fierce imagination that provides a means for escape. Out July 14th

Any new releases I’m missing that are on your can’t-wait-for-it list? 🙂


The Literary Elephant

18 thoughts on “TBR 7.20”

  1. I just added A Lucky Man to my TBR too!! i *love* short story collections and i cant wait to see what you think of it ☺ also interested to hear what you think of The Water Dancer! ive seen sone mixed reviews of it so ive been hesitant to pick it up but i absolutely loved Coates’s Between the World and Me when i read it a few years back and his writing is beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Ooh, great additions! I hadn’t heard of The Wild Laughter but it sounds excellent… adding to my TBR! And The Island Child was an oversight, I bought the UK edition earlier this year and switched to it in GR so it didn’t come up under July releases for me, even though you’re right that its US release is coming this month and it’s definitely worth getting excited about! I (shamefully) haven’t actually read it yet, but am very much looking forward to it, and to seeing upcoming reviews! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, somehow I missed your first message, sorry! I’m excited to see what you think of A Lucky Man too, it doesn’t seem to be very popular but the reviews I saw were so promising! As for The Water Dancer I have seen some mixed reviews also but am hoping that making it my first Coates read will help… I’m SO excited to try his nonfiction, I’ve heard nothing but good things!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race is a great introductory text, especially for anyone less familiar with the UK context, but for me it was a little too journalistic. If you enjoy it, I’d definitely recommend Afua Hirsch’s Brit(ish) as a follow-up!

    I’ve read Between The World and Me, which is excellent, but I have no idea how Coates fares as a fiction writer. Looking forward to your thoughts on The Water Dancer!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the recommendation! I’ll make note of that and add Brit(ish) to my list. I’m glad to hear Why I’m No Longer… should be a decent starting point but it is great to have further reading in mind!

      I’m so looking forward to Between the World and Me, and trying to channel that excitement into reading The Water Dancer. I’ve seen a few mixed reviews but am cautiously optimistic after the first chapter. Hopefully I’ll have a review to post soon! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I know Mexican Gothic was published today, so that’s great! For some reason, ALLLL I’ve been reading lately is nonfiction. I have no idea why I leaned that way, but it happened. I can’t wait to get into some fiction.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yay, I’m really looking forward to Mexican Gothic! My copy just shipped. Tracking shows expected arrival on the 9th, but I’m fairly confident it won’t take that long. Ever since lockdowns started I’ve been prepared to wait for longer shipping times but weirdly, things have been arriving much earlier than usual!


      1. The shipping has picked up just lately, possibly because people are more willing to go to the store and buy that weight lifting bench instead of asking Amazon to send it.

        If my library copy isn’t ready by the time yours gets here, I’ll just buy an e-book copy. Do you have a date you’d like to have the novel read and reviewed by?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Shipping speeds have been great here since April! I have noticed that companies will take longer to put the order together, but once it’s in the mail I’m getting much faster delivery times than I did pre-pandemic. Nothing I’m ordering is emergent so I really hope the delivery people are putting safety above speed! I’d like to leave a little note in the mailbox saying ‘take your time,’ but I know it’s a bigger system than the guy who brings my packages to my door in that last step of delivery.

        I’m in no rush, you don’t have to buy a copy to read with me! I’m happy to pick it up whenever your library copy comes in. Do you have an idea of when it might be? Or a preference for when to finishing reading/reviewing? My schedule is flexible!


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