It’s July, and you know what that means! Yes, more time to read because it’s the summer, and yes, a brand new bundle of rom coms and fantasies to line our shelves. But it also means we have another installment of our pop culture book recs, and with the 2018 Emmy nominations having just been announced, we thought we’d make this one a special edition!
Except for the music. The music is just good music.
Every month, we come back with book recs inspired by the shows we’re watching, the movies we’re seeing, and the music we’re listening to. You can check out past months’ in the pop culture tag up top (or just by clicking here!), or scroll down to see what’s new!
Pop Culture Book Recs: July 2018
Game of Thrones (HBO)
Nine noble families fight for control over the mythical lands of Westeros, while an ancient enemy returns after being dormant for thousands of years.
FURYBORN by Claire Legrand
Wars and rivalries that span millennia, blur the lines between mythologies and history, and feature brutal, vengeance-seeking angels
When assassins ambush her best friend, the crown prince, Rielle Dardenne risks everything to save him, exposing her ability to perform all seven kinds of elemental magic. A thousand years later, the legend of Queen Rielle is a mere fairy tale to bounty hunter Eliana Ferracora…
ONYX & IVORY by Mindee Arnett
Clever, fast-paced fantasy with constantly rising stakes and incredible characters
They call her Traitor Kate. It’s a title Kate Brighton inherited from her father after he tried to assassinate the high king of Rime. Cast out of the nobility, Kate now works for the royal courier service. Only the most skilled ride for the Relay and only the fastest survive, for when night falls, the drakes come out to hunt…
Killing Eve (BBC)
A security operative hunts for an assassin as an obsessive relationship forms between the two.
CITY OF SAINTS & THIEVES by Natalie C. Anderson
A fast-paced, clever crime story with flawed characters and an astounding voice
In the shadows of Sangui City, there lives a girl who doesn’t exist. After fleeing the Congo as refugees, Tina and her mother arrived in Kenya looking for the chance to build a new life and home. But Tina soon learns that the Greyhill fortune was made from a life of corruption and crime. And it’s this very corruption that leads to her work the streets as a master thief…
MONDAY’S NOT COMING by Tiffany D. Jackson
Obsession, friendship, love—and moments that will leave you shocked
Monday Charles is missing, and only Claudia seems to notice. Claudia and Monday have always been inseparable—more sisters than friends. So when Monday doesn’t turn up for the first day of school, Claudia’s worried. When she doesn’t show for the second day, or second week, Claudia knows that something is wrong. But Monday’s mother refuses to give Claudia a straight answer…
The Crown (Netflix)
Follows the political rivalries and romance of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign and the events that shaped the second half of the 20th century.
FAWKES by Nadine Brandes
Political conspiracies, rising stakes, and a cleverly fun spin on the retelling
Keepers think the Igniters caused the plague. Igniters think the Keepers did. But all Thomas knows is that the Stone Plague infecting his eye is spreading. And if he doesn’t do something soon, he’ll be a lifeless statue. So when his Keeper father, Guy Fawkes, invites him to join the Gunpowder Plot—claiming it will put an end to the plague—Thomas is in…
FATAL THRONE by Candace Fleming
A brutal and wickedly entertaining look back at women doomed by history
Fatal Throne, a book about Henry VIII and his six wives, coordinated by Candace Fleming. Fleming and six other authors will each contribute a story from different points of view: M.T. Anderson, Jennifer Donnelly, Stephanie Hemphill, Deborah Hopkinson, Linda Sue Park, and Lisa Ann Sandell…
Stranger Things (Netflix)
When a young boy disappears, his mother, a police chief, and his friends, must confront terrifying forces in order to get him back.
SAWKILL GIRLS by Claire Legrand
Monsters, girl gangs, and a fight for survival that walks the line between wickedly fun—and completely terrifying in the best way
The story of the Sawkill Girls comes together on the island of Sawkill Rock, where gleaming horses graze in rolling pastures and cold waves crash against black cliffs. Where kids whisper the legend of an insidious monster at parties and around campfires. Where girls have been disappearing for decades, stolen away by a ravenous evil no one has dared to fight…
NYXIA by Scott Reintgen
Dark secrets and supernatural, sentient powers that are more than they seem
Emmett Atwater isn’t just leaving Detroit; he’s leaving Earth. Why the Babel Corporation recruited him is a mystery, but the number of zeroes on their contract has him boarding their lightship and hoping to return to Earth with enough money to take care of his family. Forever. Before long, Emmett discovers that he is one of ten recruits, all of whom have troubled pasts and are a long way from home. Now each recruit must earn the right to travel down to the planet of Eden…
This Is Us (NBC)
A heartwarming and emotional story about a unique set of triplets, their struggles, and their wonderful parents.
FAR FROM THE TREE by Robin Benway
An award-winning story rooted in family feelings that will make you ugly cry
Being the middle child has its ups and downs. But for Grace, an only child who was adopted at birth, discovering that she is a middle child is a different ride altogether. After putting her own baby up for adoption, she goes looking for her biological family, including Maya, her loudmouthed younger bio sister, who has a lot to say about their newfound family ties, and Joaquin, their stoic older bio brother, who has no interest in bonding…
LITTLE & LION by Brandy Colbert
An intimate look at the complex relationship between close siblings and love
When Suzette comes home to Los Angeles from her boarding school in New England, she isn’t sure if she’ll ever want to go back. L.A. is where her friends and family are (along with her crush, Emil). And her stepbrother, Lionel, who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, needs her emotional support. But as she settles into her old life, Suzette finds herself falling for someone new… the same girl her brother is in love with…
A look at the personal and professional lives of a group of women who perform for a wrestling organization in Los Angeles.
ALL OF THIS IS TRUE by Lygia Day Peñaflor
A complex, flawed cast of female characters with voices that will hook you
In this genre-defying page-turner from Lygia Day Peñaflor, four teens befriend their favorite YA novelist, only to find their deepest, darkest secrets in the pages of her next book—with devastating consequences. Miri Tan loved the book Undertow like it was a living being. So when she and her friends went to a book signing to hear the author, Fatima Ro, they concocted a plan to get close to her…
PUDDIN’ by Julie Murphy
Competition, unlikely friendships, and what it means to rep girl power in the face of all the stereotypes about it
Millie Michalchuk has gone to fat camp every year since she was a little girl. Not this year. This year she has new plans to chase her secret dream of being a newscaster—and to kiss the boy she’s crushing on. Callie Reyes is the pretty girl who is next in line for dance team captain and has the popular boyfriend. But when it comes to other girls, she’s more frenemy than friend…
Orphan Black (BBC)
A streetwise hustler is pulled into a compelling conspiracy after witnessing the suicide of a girl who looks just like her.
MIRAGE by Somaiya Daud
Double identities, brutal politics, and glitter and glamour covering a violent world
In a star system dominated by the brutal Vathek empire, eighteen-year-old Amani is a dreamer. But when adventure comes for her, it is not what she expects: she is kidnapped by the regime and taken in secret to the royal palace, where she discovers that she is nearly identical to the cruel half-Vathek Princess Maram. The princess is so hated by her conquered people that she requires a body double…
GRACE AND FURY by Tracy Banghart
Sisters fighting for their rights and survival, twists, turns, and a dark world
Serina has been groomed her whole life to become a Grace—someone to stand by the heir to the throne as a shining, subjugated example of the perfect woman. But when her headstrong and rebellious younger sister, Nomi, catches the heir’s eye, it’s Serina who takes the fall for the dangerous secret that Nomi has been hiding…
The Americans (FX)
At the height of the Cold War two Russian agents pose as your average American couple, complete with family.
NOT IF I SAVE YOU FIRST by Ally Carter
A heartracing mix of political intrigue, romance, and survival
Maddie thought she and Logan would be friends forever. But when your dad is a Secret Service agent and your best friend is the president’s son, sometimes life has other plans. Before she knows it, Maddie’s dad is dragging her to a cabin in the middle of the Alaskan wilderness. Maddie tells herself it’s okay. She has wood to cut and weapons to bedazzle. Her life is full…
BAD GIRLS WITH PERFECT FACES by Lynn Weingarten
False identities, dark narratives, and a plot that could devastate everyone
When Sasha’s best friend Xavier gets back together with his cheating ex, Ivy, Sasha knows she needs to protect him. So she poses as a guy online to lure Ivy away. But Sasha’s plan goes sickeningly wrong. And she soon learns to be careful of who you pretend to be because you might be surprised by who you become…
A family man struggles to gain a sense of cultural identity while raising his kids in a predominantly white, upper-middle-class neighborhood.
THE EDUCATION OF MARGOT SANCHEZ by Lilliam Rivera
A bold, romantic coming-of-age story about dysfunctional families and finding the courage that’s inside you
After “borrowing” her father’s credit card to finance a more stylish wardrobe, Margot
Sánchez suddenly finds herself grounded. And by grounded, she means working as an indentured servant in her family’s struggling grocery store to pay off her debts. With each order of deli meat she slices, Margot can feel her carefully cultivated prep school reputation slipping through her fingers…
PRIDE by Ibi Zoboi
A remix that features clever updates, hilarious writing, and a swoony romance
Zuri Benitez has pride. Brooklyn pride, family pride, and pride in her Afro-Latino roots. But pride might not be enough to save her rapidly gentrifying neighborhood from becoming unrecognizable. When the wealthy Darcy family moves in across the street, Zuri wants nothing to do with their two teenage sons…
The Assassination of Gianni Versace (FX)
The murder of Gianni Versace turns the eyes of the world onto Miami Beach.
NEVERWORLD WAKE by Mirsha Pessl
A stunning, heartbreaking character study with twists, turns, and murder
Once upon a time, back at Darrow-Harker School, Beatrice Hartley and her six best friends were the cool kids, the beautiful ones. Then a shocking death changed everything. A year after graduation, Beatrice is returning to Wincroft hoping she’ll get to the bottom of the dark questions still gnawing at her. Things take a turn when they learn the supposed truth: time for them has become stuck…
WHITE RABBIT by Caleb Roehrig
Murder, drama, romance, and an atmosphere that won’t let you put it down
Rufus Holt is having the worst night of his life. It begins with the reappearance of his ex-boyfriend, Sebastian—the guy who stomped his heart out like a spent cigarette. Just as Rufus is getting ready to move on, Sebastian turns up out of the blue, saying they need to “talk.” Things couldn’t get much worse, right? But then Rufus gets a call from his sister, begging for help. And then they find her, drenched in blood and holding a knife…
Based in Atlanta, Earn and his cousin Alfred are trying to make their way up in the world through the rap scene.
TYLER JOHNSON WAS HERE by Jay Coles
Writing that will wreck your emotions, family feels, and a searing look at society
When Marvin Johnson’s twin, Tyler, goes to a party, Marvin decides to tag along to keep an eye on his brother. But what starts as harmless fun turns into a shooting, followed by a police raid. The next day, Tyler has gone missing, and it’s up to Marvin to find him. But when Tyler is found dead, a video leaked online tells an even more chilling story…
THE POET X by Elizabeth Acevedo
Whip-smart verse writing, coming of age, finding independence, and balancing love for your family with a new romance
Xiomara Batista feels unheard and unable to hide in her Harlem neighborhood. Ever since her body grew into curves, she has learned to let her fists and her fierceness do the talking. But Xiomara has plenty she wants to say, and she pours all her frustration and passion onto the pages of a leather notebook—especially after she catches feelings for a boy in her bio class…
Saturday Night Live (NBC)
A famous guest host stars in parodies and sketches created by the cast of this witty show.
MY PLAIN JANE by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, & Jodi Meadows
Half retelling, half satire, this adventure is much more fun and hilarious than the original tale—but still includes all the legendary romance
You may think you know the story. Penniless orphan Jane Eyre begins a new life as a governess at Thornfield Hall, where she meets one dark, brooding Mr. Rochester—and, Reader, she marries him. Or does she?…
THREE SIDES OF A HEART edited by Natalie C. Parker
With vignettes both adorable and shocking, short stories you won’t forget
A teen girl who offers kissing lessons. Zombies in the Civil War South. The girl next door, the boy who loves her, and the girl who loves them both. Vampires at a boarding school. Three teens fighting monsters in an abandoned video rental store. Literally the last three people on the planet. But these stories all have something very important in common…
Set at the intersection of the near future and the reimagined past, explore a world in which every human appetite can be indulged without consequence.
VENGEANCE ROAD by Erin Bowman
Questionable morality in a gritty Western landscape
When her father is murdered for a journal revealing the location of a hidden gold mine, eighteen-year-old Kate Thompson disguises herself as a boy and takes to the gritty plains looking for answers—and justice…
GUNSLINGER GIRL by Lyndsay Ely
The past and future collide in this imagining of a dystopian Wild West
Seventeen-year-old Serendipity Jones inherited two things from her mother: a pair of six shooters and perfect aim. She’s been offered a life of fame and fortune in Cessation, a glittering city where lawlessness is a way of life. But the price she pays for her freedom may be too great…
The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu)
Set in a dystopian future, a woman is forced to live as a concubine under a fundamentalist theocratic dictatorship.
HEART OF THORNS by Bree Barton
A fierce, feminist fantasy in a dark kingdom touched by magic
In the ancient river kingdom, where touch is a battlefield, bodies the instruments of war, seventeen-year-old Mia Rose has pledged her life to hunting Gwyrach: women who can manipulate flesh, bones, breath, and blood. The same women who killed her mother without a single scratch. But when Mia’s father suddenly announces her marriage to the prince…
THE POWER by Naomi Alderman
A storyline that’ll give you chills amidst a gender-based dystopia
Suddenly – tomorrow or the day after – girls find that with a flick of their fingers, they can inflict agonizing pain and even death. With this single twist, the four lives at the heart of Naomi Alderman’s extraordinary, visceral novel are utterly transformed, and we look at the world in an entirely new light. What if the power to hurt were in women’s hands…
Queer Eye (Netflix)
In this reboot of the classic series, a new Fab Five set out to Atlanta to help the city’s men refine their wardrobes, grooming, diet, cultural pursuits, and home décor.
THE GREAT AMERICAN WHATEVER by Tim Federle
Self-awareness, doses of hope, and a heartbreaking backstory
Quinn Roberts is a sixteen-year-old smart aleck and Hollywood hopeful whose only worry used to be writing convincing dialogue for the movies he made with his sister Annabeth. Of course, that was all before she died in a car accident. Enter Geoff, Quinn’s best friend who insists it’s time that Quinn reenters the real world and drags him to his first college party…
SIMON VS. THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA by Becky Albertalli
Top notch humor, questions of identity, and an A+ group dynamic
Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: If he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing with, will be jeopardized…
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix)
A woman is rescued from a doomsday cult and starts life over again in New York City.
NOTES FROM MY CAPTIVITY by Kathy Parks
A one-of-a-kind, quirky story that deals with identity, friendships, and survival
Adrienne Cahill cares about three things: getting into a great college; becoming a revered journalist like her idol, Sydney Declay; and making her late father proud of her. So when Adrienne is offered the chance to write an article that will get her into her dream school about a family of hermits living in the Siberian wilderness, there’s no question that she’s going to fly across the world. Only… she isn’t prepared to find them—and be taken captive…
THE REST OF US JUST LIVE HERE by Patrick Ness
Tropes flipped upside-down, bonkers situations, and an extremely lovable cast
What if you aren’t the Chosen One? The one who’s supposed to fight the zombies, or the soul-eating ghosts, or whatever the heck this new thing is, with the blue lights and the death? Sometimes there are problems bigger than this week’s end of the world, and sometimes you just have to find the extraordinary in your ordinary life…
Fake Love – BTS
I wanna be a good man just for you
Now I don’t know me, who are you?
MORE HAPPY THAN NOT by Adam Silvera
Sixteen-year-old Aaron Soto is struggling to find happiness after a family tragedy leaves him reeling. He’s slowly remembering what happiness might feel like this summer with the support of his girlfriend Genevieve, but it’s his new best friend, Thomas, who really gets Aaron to open up about his past and confront his future…
ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES by Jennifer Niven
Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him. Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death…
Jumpsuit – Twenty One Pilots
I crumble underneath the weight
Pressures of a new place roll my way
Jumpsuit, jumpsuit cover me
MOSQUITOLAND by David Arnold
After the sudden collapse of her family, Mim Malone is dragged from her home in northern Ohio to the “wastelands” of Mississippi, where she lives in a medicated milieu with her dad and new stepmom. Before the dust has a chance to settle, she learns her mother is sick back in Cleveland. So she ditches her new life and hhttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36373298-trail-of-lightningops aboard a northbound Greyhound bus to her real home and her real mother…
TRAIL OF LIGHTNING by Rebecca Roanhorse
While most of the world has drowned beneath the sudden rising waters of a climate apocalypse, Dinétah (formerly the Navajo reservation) has been reborn. The gods and heroes of legend walk the land, but so do monsters. Maggie Hoskie is a Dinétah monster hunter, a supernaturally gifted killer. When a small town needs help finding a missing girl, Maggie is their last hope…
Miracle – CHVRCHES
We’re looking for light inside an ocean of night
But will we ever see it through?
SKY IN THE DEEP by Adrienne Young
Raised to be a warrior, seventeen-year-old Eelyn fights alongside her Aska clansmen in an ancient rivalry against the Riki clan. Her life is brutal but simple: fight and survive. Until the day she sees the impossible on the battlefield — her brother, fighting with the enemy — the brother she watched die five years ago…
I HAVE LOST MY WAY by Gayle Forman
Around the time that Freya loses her voice while recording her debut album, Harun is making plans to run away from everyone he has ever loved, and Nathaniel is arriving in New York City with a backpack, a desperate plan, and nothing left to lose. When a fateful accident draws these three strangers together, their secrets start to unravel…
Crush – Tessa Violet
But I could be your crush, like
Throw you for a rush, like
Hoping you’d text me so I could tell you I been thinking ’bout your touch like
WINDFALL by Jennifer E. Smith
Alice has never believed in luck, but that doesn’t stop her from rooting for love. After pining for her best friend Teddy for years, she jokingly gifts him a lottery ticket–attached to a note professing her love–on his birthday. Then, the unthinkable happens: he actually wins. At first, it seems like the luckiest thing on earth. But as Teddy gets swept up by his $140 million windfall and fame and fortune come between them…
THE BOYFRIEND BRACKET by Kate Evangelista
Stella has had a hopeless crush on Will, her older brother’s best friend forever. But now that Cam and Will have graduated and are going off to college, this year is her chance to really strike out on her own. Without her overprotective brother and his sidekick around, and with the help of her best friend Franklin, she comes up with the perfect plan to have a boyfriend by Christmas: The Boyfriend Bracket…
What TV shows, movies, music—anything, really—do you want to see some book recs for? Let us know in the comments below, and check back next month!