26 New Reads for June

Our monthly staff picks are here, as always, to point you to what our booksellers have been reading. Of course, these come at a particularly difficult moment, and we hope that in addition to these titles you’ll check out our anti-racist books list, read more black authors, and work to help bring about real change.

Recommended by Karen

A Children's Bible: A Novel Cover ImageA Children’s Bible

This allegorical and satirical novel depicts adults that have abdicated all responsibility, dangerous storms, infectious diseases and children that have to take the reins of responsibility for their own lives.

Recommended by Karen

A Burning: A novel Cover ImageA Burning

Jivan is a young woman working hard to make life better for her family and others, when she is falsely accused of a terrorist attack in a crowded train station in India. The debut novel is written from three points of view and is by turns funny and tragic. Just remarkable.

Recommended by Kathy

Conjure Women: A Novel Cover ImageConjure Women

A novel that explores the secrets and relationships between a mother and daughter who are slaves and healers, and the white plantation owner’s daughter in a remote part of the South during the Civil War. The author avoids stereotypes and predictable plot lines to make this such a good read.

Editor’s note: Also recommended by Madeline Miller!

Recommended by Kim

Rodham: A Novel Cover ImageRodham

Maybe you like Hillary Rodham Clinton. Maybe you don’t. Either way, you’re going to want to read this novel that re-imagines the life of Hillary Rodham if she had never married Bill Clinton. A fascinating story of a smart, independent woman who rises through the ranks in both her career, and American politics. Gen X women, your book of the summer is here.

Recommended by Kathy

Redhead by the Side of the Road: A novel Cover ImageRedhead by the Side of the Road

Who doesn’t know a man like Micah? He’s a well-meaning but slightly insensitive tool who lives in his own world, except when he doesn’t. I laughed my way through this short novel, and who doesn’t need that today? The best Anne Tyler novel in a long time.

Recommended by Sissy

Pretty Things: A Novel Cover ImagePretty Things: A Novel

Two women share the spotlight in this thriller. One of them has a history of lying low in order to take from people with “too much” while the other is an Instagram star who seems to have everything. Their lives collide more than once with disastrous, life-changing consequences. Janelle Brown has drawn vivid, sympathetic characters, women isolated in a world where we’re all on display all the time.

Recommended by Ben

Sorry for Your Trouble: Stories Cover ImageSorry for Your Trouble: Stories

These short stories are brief yet deep dives into his characters’ internal lives. Set in places like New Orleans, Chicago, Maine, Paris, and Ireland, these snapshots illuminate the power of old loves and defining friendships, loss and grief, the uncertainties and ambiguities of our lives, the almost-ness of connection. A poignant new collection from a fine writer.

Recommended by Sissy

The Stone Girl: A Novel Cover ImageThe Stone Girl: A Novel

If you liked The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, you’ll love this thriller. There’s less romantic interest and more friendship, but plenty of brain-power, fighting, and survival. While a few scenes take place in Paris, the majority of the action is set in the Adirondacks. Sexual assault has fractured all the main characters, and they are dead-set on justice.

Recommended by Chelsea

Beach Read Cover ImageBeach Read

This definitely lives up to its title! January and Augustus were college rivals, successful authors of opposite genres, and unexpected next-door neighbors both dealing with writer’s block. A bet to write in each other’s style fuels their competitive side and forces them to spend time together. This delightful enemies-to-lovers tale also deals some emotional depth as January and Augustus must come to terms with recent events in their lives. Now if only there was a beach in Nashville to read this on.

Recommended by Sissy

Take Me Apart: A Novel Cover ImageTake Me Apart: A Novel

These days when I pick up a thriller, I’m almost expecting an unreliable narrator. I was pleasantly surprised with all the twists in this novel! I never knew what was coming next. A woman arrives at a dusty old house to inventory a dead photographer’s belongings … what could go wrong?

Recommended by Kathy

Old Lovegood Girls Cover ImageOld Lovegood Girls

The power of friendship between two women at a Southern college in 1958 and how it resonates throughout their lives. The novel made me examine my own college friendships and wonder how good a friend I’ve been to those I cared about many years ago.

Recommended by Karen

Dirt: Adventures in Lyon as a Chef in Training, Father, and Sleuth Looking for the Secret of French Cooking Cover ImageDirt: Adventures in Lyon as a Chef in Training, Father, and Sleuth Looking for the Secret of French Cooking

I actually listened to this book on audio. Love it when the author reads their own work and Buford is a very good reader. Who doesn’t want to be transported to France and immersed in a foreign culture at this moment in time? Buford is an obsessive about the details, frustrations and joys of learning a new cuisine. Great Father’s Day gift.

Love to listen? Get yours through our audiobook partner Libro.fm and your purchase can support Parnassus. They also have an anti-racist book list.

Recommended by Cat

The Dragons, the Giant, the Women: A Memoir Cover ImageThe Dragons, the Giant, the Women: A Memoir

This is a powerhouse of a memoir in which Moore tells the story of her family’s escape from their home in Monrovia, Liberia during a civil war and her upbringing in the U.S. She manages to write about all the various aspects that make up her identity in a way that is stunning but doesn’t shy away from the difficult and damaging.

Our First Editions Club pick this month — see more below!

Recommended by Sissy

Stray: A Memoir Cover ImageStray: A Memoir

Danler perfectly describes the way addicts take over and change our lives, whether we give them permission to do so or not. Even after healing, the aftershocks of an addicted love one shake our lives. I loved the tone of this memoir as it was full of hope, full of mistakes, full of tears and also laughter.

Read our interview with Stephanie Danler here!

Recommended by Heather

Fire in Paradise: An American Tragedy Cover ImageFire in Paradise: An American Tragedy

Growing up, my grandparents lived in Paradise. Although they’ve been gone for many years, news of the fire there hit me hard. That idyllic little town, the gates my grandfather built, their little house couldn’t be gone. The book captures the lives of many who fought through the horror and of the environmental changes that made this fire possible — and likely to happen again.

Recommended by Sissy

Trumpocalypse: Restoring American Democracy Cover ImageTrumpocalypse: Restoring American Democracy

Frum imagines what America needs once Trump is gone: “After we evict the squatter, we must repair the house he trashed.” Clear, precise, hopeful words from a guy who’s not running for office. I loved it.

Recommended by Andy

The Hour of Fate: Theodore Roosevelt, J.P. Morgan, and the Battle to Transform American Capitalism Cover ImageThe Hour of Fate: Theodore Roosevelt, J.P. Morgan, and the Battle to Transform American Capitalism

The assassination of President McKinley sets up a monumental clash between J.P. Morgan and Theodore Roosevelt. Roosevelt is convinced that the influence of the wealthy had to be checked in order to save the country. Richly told by Susan Berfield, lessons that were learned during this tumultuous period in our history are just as applicable today.

Recommended by Jordan

Weird but Normal: Essays Cover ImageWeird but Normal: Essays

This hilarious and relatable collection of essays unpacks what it means to be a human while navigating racial identity, gender roles, workplace dynamics, and all the things that truly are weird but normal. Mia Mercado is here to make you laugh and feel seen with essays about the dumb screen names we all had in middle school, horribly awkward pre-teen pagents, dealing with unwanted body hair, and more. Read this one if you want to laugh out loud.

Recommended by Andy

Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America Cover ImageStamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America

Kendi effectively argues that racism is alive and well in America and that if we are ever to confront this insidious problem we must understand how these thoughts are enshrined in the American experience.

(Also part of our anti-racist reading list.)

Recommended by Heather

100 Drives, 5,000 Ideas: Where to Go, When to Go, What to Do, What to See Cover Image100 Drives, 5,000 Ideas: Where to Go, When to Go, What to Do, What to See

I’ve spent a lot of time during the pandemic thinking about going somewhere. This book came out just as the country shut down and has been a great resource. I’ve shared it with family and we talk about where to go, what to see along the way, and what to eat. This book provides solid information — I had already been on several of their suggested routes and they nailed it! — and plenty of ideas for new places to visit.

Recommended by Ben

The Museum of Whales You Will Never See: And Other Excursions to Iceland's Most Unusual Museums Cover ImageThe Museum of Whales You Will Never See: And Other Excursions to Iceland’s Most Unusual Museums

Did you know Iceland has museums dedicated to phallology, sorcery, herring, and sea monsters? Well now you do! As she explores the country’s most peculiar museums, her observations contain the best aspects of travel writing: curiosity, whimsy, fascination, wit. She befriends curators, muses on the meaning of displaying objects, ponders why we tell the stories we do. It’ll make you want to visit Iceland, and open your eyes to the marvels all around.

Recommended by Kim

The Chiffon Trenches: A Memoir Cover ImageThe Chiffon Trenches: A Memoir

A must-read for anyone who loves New York City, Paris, and nineties fashion. ALT gives readers an unfiltered, behind-the-scenes look at fashion, Vogue, and of course, Anna Wintour. If you saw the documentary, don’t worry about overlap. This memoir is full of new stories and details. Come for the gossip, stay for the fashion.

Recommended by Erin

Enemy of All Mankind: A True Story of Piracy, Power, and History's First Global Manhunt Cover ImageEnemy of All Mankind: A True Story of Piracy, Power, and History’s First Global Manhunt

Before Blackbeard and Calico Jack terrorized the high seas, Henry Every was already a pirate legend. His savage attack of an Indian treasure ship sparked a diplomatic crisis, prompting the first global manhunt. One of history’s most lucrative crimes, it helped launch the East India Company’s ascendancy, the Golden Age of Piracy, and the British popular press. (And a Disney ride and billion-dollar film franchise.)

Recommended by Kim

Nothing Is Wrong and Here Is Why: Essays Cover ImageNothing Is Wrong and Here Is Why: Essays

A book so smart and funny, I wanted to clap at the end. Do yourself a favor and just read the table of contents. You’ll laugh at the essay titles alone. A great, quick read for all of us with news fatigue.

Recommended by Andy

In Praise of Walking: A New Scientific Exploration Cover ImageIn Praise of Walking: A New Scientific Exploration

Walking is a uniquely human endeavor that provides obvious physical benefits. Moreover, Shane O’Mara argues that besides those physical benefits, walking makes us happier and smarter. Although wonky at times as he describes the biomechanics of walking, he demonstrates the impact on our cities, our culture and our lives that walking provides.

Recommended by Steve

Brown Album: Essays on Exile and Identity Cover ImageBrown Album: Essays on Exile and Identity

Writing as “a spokesperson for my people, a role I never dreamed of and never asked for,” as she puts it, Khakpour details her Iranian American experience and in the process carves out something both personal and political.

In-person Book Club is on hold for the moment.

First Editions Club: June Selection

The Dragons, the Giant, the Women: A Memoir Cover ImageThe Dragons, the Giant, the Women: A Memoir

When Wayétu Moore turns five years old, her father and grandmother throw her a big birthday party at their home in Monrovia, Liberia, but all she can think about is how much she misses her mother, who is working and studying in faraway New York. Before she gets the reunion her father promised her, war breaks out in Liberia. The family is forced to flee their home on foot, walking and hiding for three weeks until they arrive in the village of Lai. Finally, a rebel soldier smuggles them across the border to Sierra Leone, reuniting the family and setting them off on yet another journey, this time to the United States.

Spanning this harrowing journey in Moore’s early childhood, her years adjusting to life in Texas as a black woman and an immigrant, and her eventual return to Liberia, The Dragons, the Giant, the Women is a deeply moving story of the search for home in the midst of upheaval. Moore has a novelist’s eye for suspense and emotional depth, and this unforgettable memoir is full of imaginative, lyrical flights and lush prose. In capturing both the hazy magic and the stark realities of what is becoming an increasingly pervasive experience, Moore shines a light on the great political and personal forces that continue to affect many migrants around the world, and calls us all to acknowledge the tenacious power of love and family

More about our First Editions Club: Every member receives a first edition of the selected book of the month, signed by the author. Books are carefully chosen by our staff of readers, and our picks have gone on to earn major recognition including the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and the PEN/Faulkner Award. Plus, there’s no membership fee or premium charge for these books. Build a treasured library of signed first editions and always have something great to read! Makes a FABULOUS gift, too.