July 2022 Reads for the Rest of Us

The Feminist Know-It-All: You know her. You can’t stand her. Good thing she’s not here! Instead, this column by gender and women’s studies librarian Karla Strand will amplify stories of the creation, access, use and preservation of knowledge by women and girls around the world; share innovative projects and initiatives that focus on information, literacies, libraries and more; and, of course, talk about all of the books.

Each month, I provide Ms. readers with a list of new books being published by writers from historically excluded groups.

The aims of these lists are threefold:

  1. I want to do my part in the disruption of what has been the acceptable “norm” in the book world for far too long—white, cis, heterosexual, male;
  2. I want to amplify indie publishers and amazing works by writers who are women, Black, Indigenous, Latinx, APIA/AAPI, international, queer, trans, nonbinary, disabled, fat, immigrant, Muslim, neurodivergent, sex-positive or of other historically marginalized identities—you know, the rest of us; and
  3. I want to challenge and encourage you all to buy, borrow and read them! 

As I write this, we are learning about the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

We are furious. We are heartbroken. We are not surprised. We are determined. 

At times like this, it seems like anything other than the fight is extraneous. But as I’ve said in this column before, books (and music and art, etc.) provide us not only with necessary information but also with the respite we need from the constant labor of securing our rights and humanity in all the ways they are under attack. 

I hope of the 33 books here, you’ll find one that inspires, relaxes or distracts you for a little while. 

Let’s stand together and continue to fight.  

Amanat: Women’s Writing from Kazakhstan

Edited by Zaure Batayeva and Shelley Fairweather-Vega. Gaudy Boy Translates. 296 pages. Out July 1.

Amanat is a brave, chilling and enlightening collection of 24 works by Kazah women writers. This is a groundbreaking volume of stories, conversations and women’s voices.


1,000 Coils of Fear: A Novel

Written by Olivia Wenzel and translated by Priscilla Layne. Catapult. 288 pages. Out July 5.

Playwright and musician Olivia Wenzel has written a debut novel as layered and melodic as any symphony or opera. Based on her own life, the story centers a Black German woman during the 2016 U.S. presidential election.  

The Earthspinner: A Novel

By Anuradha Roy. HarperVia. 224 pages. Out July 5.

In this mythical epic, acclaimed writer Anuradha Roy presents themes of change and (d)evolution, love and community, and how we respond to uncertainty and precarity.

Joan: A Novel of Joan of Arc

By Katherine J. Chen. Random House. 368 pages. Out July 5. 

In this compelling novel, Katherine J. Chen presents her vision of Joan of Arc: one of courage, resilience, vulnerability and passion. This is a beautifully written novel that will have you thinking about this iconic woman in new and complex ways.  

Life Ceremony: Stories

Written by Sayaka Murata (@sayakamurata) and translated by Ginny Tapley Takemori. Grove Press. 256 pages. Out July 5.

If you loved Convenience Store Woman, Sayaka Murata will wow you again with her first collection of short stories to be translated from Japanese. In her signature strangeness, Murata writes 12 stories of relationships, humanity, ethics and individuality.   

Night of the Living Rez

By Morgan Talty (Penobscot) (@morgan_j_talty). Tin House Books. 296 pages. Out July 5.

This is a remarkable debut collection of stories exploring Penobscot identity and community, hardship and survivance, roots and legacies. 

Our Gen: A Novel

By Diane McKinney-Whetstone (@Dianemckwh). Amistad. 256 pages. Out July 5. 

In The Gen, an upscale community outside of Philadelphia for active women over 55 years old, three women are having the time of their lives until they aren’t. When memories come to the fore, secrets are exposed and all bets are off.

Self-Portrait with Ghost: Short Stories

By Meng Jin (@jinittowinit). Mariner Books. 224 pages. Out July 5.

This sharp and compelling short story collection centers themes of isolation, memory, relationships, intimacy, anger and the complexities of living in the U.S. as a woman during the previous presidential administration.

Wash Day Diaries

By Jamila Rowser (@jamilarowser) and Robyn Smith (@robrosmo). Chronicle Books. 192 pages. Out July 5.  

Readers will adore this strikingly illustrated graphic ode to Black women, their relationships, their hair, their lives and their loves. 

Big Girl: A Novel 

By Mecca Jamilah Sullivan (@mecca_jamilah). Liveright. 320 pages. Out July 12.

Of this novel centering Black girlhood, Kiese Laymon has said: “I know I have just read and reread a new American classic that we as a culture and country desperately need.”

Body Language: Writers on Identity, Physicality, and Making Space for Ourselves

Edited by Nicole Chung (@nicolesjchung) and Matt Ortile (@ortile). Catapult. 336 pages. Out July 12.

This essential anthology includes a wide array of essays from Catapult magazine, all focused on bodies. Writers such as Destiny O. Birdsong, Forsyth Harmon, Maggie Tokuda-Hall, s.e. smith and Kayla Whaley explore topics of race, gender, sex, disability, size, health, class and more. 

Crying in the Bathroom: A Memoir

By Erika L. Sánchez (@erikalsanchez). Viking. 256 pages. Out July 12. 

Bestselling author Erika L. Sánchez has written this unique yet relatable memoir in essays that will have you crying from laughter and heartbreak. Keep the tissues nearby!  

Dancing for Our Tribe: Potawatomi Tradition in the New Millennium

By Sharon Hoogstraten (Citizen Potawatomi Nation). Shikaakwa Press. 304 pages. Out July 12. 

This stunning collection of over 150 portraits of modern Potawatomi citizens in their traditional regalia honors their history, spirit, legacies and survivance.

Gods of Want: Stories

By K-Ming Chang (@kmingchang). One World. 224 pages. Out July 12. 

From the author of the acclaimed novel Bestiary comes this original, queer, hilarious and brave collection of stories centering the lives, loves, labors and longings of Asian American women.

Half Outlaw

By Alex Temblador (@alex_temblador). Blackstone Publishing. 350 pages. Out July 12.

Raqi was raised by her uncle Dodge and his bigoted motorcycle club until after her parents died. As an adult, Raqi must contend with her past, its haunts and hurts in order to heal. This is an outstanding adult debut.

Harry Sylvester Bird

By Chinelo Okparanta. Mariner Books. 320 pages. Out July 12.

Harry Sylvester Bird was raised by racist parents in a racist town in Pennsylvania. As soon as he could, he left for NYC and fell in love with a Nigerian woman. Over time, Harry is forced to reckon with his past in this wry, incisive examination of race in the U.S. 

House of Hearts

By Francesca Lia Block (@francescablock). Rare Bird Books. 232 pages. Out July 12.

Veteran writer Francesca Lia Block is used to book banning threats like those happening of late, especially with her renowned Weetzie Bat series. Block’s latest book demonstrates she’s got more to say and I am here for it. 

In Transit: Being Non-Binary in a World of Dichotomies

By Dianna E. Anderson (@diannaeanderson). Broadleaf Books. 178 pages. Out July 12.

Thank goodness Dianna E. Anderson has written this essential exploration into non-binary identity, history and theory. Not only is it informative, but it’s personal, accessible and compassionate.

The Man Who Could Move Clouds: A Memoir 

By Ingrid Rojas Contreras (@ingrid_rojas_c). Doubleday. 320 pages. Out July 12.

Contreras’ 2018 debut, Fruit of the Drunken Tree, was one of my favorites of the year, so I look forward to reading the memoir that R.O. Kwon calls “the work of a genius.”

Sister Mother Warrior: A Novel

By Vanessa Riley (@vanessariley). William Morrow. 480 pages. Out July 12.

Riley writes historical fiction that is both well-researched and page-turning. Her latest is based on two real-life women and their crucial participation in the Haitian Revolution.

Talk to My Back

Written by Murasaki Yamada and translated by Ryan Holmberg (@mangaberg). Drawn & Quarterly. 368 pages. Out July 12.

Murasaki Yamada (1948-2009) was one of the most acclaimed and groundbreaking women working in manga. Talk to my Back, serialized between 1981 and 1984, challenged domesticity, patriarchy and women’s roles in Japanese society. 

We Lie Here: A Thriller

By Rachel Howzell Hall (@rachelhowzell). Thomas & Mercer. 416 pages. Out July 12. 

If you haven’t read Rachel Howzell Hall yet, now’s the time. She’s a master of the twisty, suspenseful crime thriller. And she just keeps getting better.

Women’s Work: From feminine arts to feminist art

By Ferren Gipson (@ferrengipson). Frances Lincoln. 224 pages. Out July 12. 

This extraordinary collection celebrates the lives and works of groundbreaking artists who have challenged, reimagined and redefined “women’s” art.  

The Daughter of Doctor Moreau 

By Silvia Moreno-Garcia (@silviamg). Del Rey. 320 pages. Out July 19.

This Island of Doctor Moreau retelling is set in 19th-century Mexico and written by the bestselling author of Mexican Gothic

Do the Work!: An Antiracist Activity Book

By W. Kamau Bell (@wkamaubell) and Kate Schatz (@kateschatz). Workman Publishing Company. 176 pages. Out July 19.

This is exactly what it sounds like: an actual workbook for white people to examine white supremacy and antiracism. It isn’t the only thing we can do to learn about and practice antiracism, but it’s one thing; so get to it!

Kaandossiwin: How We Come to Know: Indigenous Re-Search Methodologies

By Kathleen E. Absolon (Minogiizhigokwe). Fernwood Publishing. 304 pages. Out July 19. 

If you are a researcher in academia or the community, this volume is indispensable. Now in its second edition, Kaandossiwin explains Indigenous epistemologies, methods and more.  

Other Terrors: An Inclusive Anthology

Edited by Vince A. Liaguno (@vinceliaguno) and Rena Mason (@RenaMason88). William Morrow. 368 pages. Out July 19. 

This collection includes original horror stories by historically excluded writers who center “the other” in some terrifying ways. Some of your favorite writers have contributed, such as Tananarive Due, Ann Dávila Cardinal, Larissa Glasser, Christina Sng, Alma Katsu and more.


By Sasha Laurens (@sasha_laurens). Razorbill. 416 pages. Out July 19. 

Lesbian vampires? Yes, please! At boarding school? Check! Paranormal romance? It’s here! Relationship drama and themes of social justice? It’s all here! Youngblood is a fantastic summer read. 

Calling for a Blanket Dance

By Oscar Hokeah (Cherokee/Kiowa/Mexican) (@oscarhokeah). Algonquin Books. 272 pages. Out July 26. 

Oscar Hokeah’s debut novel centers young Ever as he explores his identity, family, community and place in the world. Told from a variety of voices, this story is one of love, loss, growth, tradition and evolution. Not to be missed.

How to Read Now: Essays

By Elaine Castillo (@_elainecastillo). Viking. 352 pages. Out July 26.

Elaine Castillo has a big voice, one to reckon with. Whether it’s her acclaimed debut novel, America is Not the Heart, or this breathtaking collection of essays, Castillo is one to watch (and read). 


Written by Titaua Peu and translated by Jeffrey Zuckerman. Restless Books. 320 pages. Out July 26.

Available for the first time in English, this powerful novel centers a Tahitian girl trying to hold her family together in the face of the struggles wrought by colonialism.

This Goes Out to the Underground: A Mother, Her Daughter, and How We All Rise Together

By Pardis Mahdavi (@pardismahdavi). Hachette Books. 288 pages. Out July 26. 

In this commanding memoir, Iranian-American journalist Pardis Mahdavi tells the story of her terrifying journey to find her two-year-old daughter, whom she feared had been kidnapped. Fierce and feminist, it reads like a manifesto illustrating women’s power to change the world. 

When Stars Come Out

By Scarlett St. Clair (Muscogee) (@authorscarlettstclair). Bloom Books. 416 pages. Out July 26. 

Full confession: I’m at the point now where I will read anything Scarlett St. Clair writes. Full of fantasy, darkness, action and intrigue, this YA crossover offers an arresting start to another new St. Clair series. 

Up next:


Karla J. Strand is the gender and women’s studies librarian for the University of Wisconsin. She completed her doctorate in information science via University of Pretoria in South Africa with a background in history and library science, and her research centers on the role of libraries and knowledge in empowering women and girls worldwide. Tweet her @karlajstrand.