Resistance Is Beautiful: 34 Great New Reads for June

We know we’re preaching to the choir here, but the corporate behemoths don’t need your money and they certainly don’t actually read the books they try to sell you. A primer on all the other reasons (and there are many) to resist the algorithmic overlords is but one of the nearly three dozen hand-picked books on Musing this month, courtesy of our indefatigable booksellers — who’ve been reading, shelving, packing and pretty much breathing books every day. You want recommendations with real people behind them? Look no further.

Recommended by Karen

Swimming Back to Trout River: A Novel Cover ImageSwimming Back to Trout River: A Novel

Linda Rui Feng pulls you in with four intertwined stories, starting during China’s Cultural Revolution in the ’60s and ending up in America in the ’80s. You will love these characters and be moved by the storytelling in this engrossing debut.

Recommended by Lindsay

The Other Black Girl: A Novel Cover ImageThe Other Black Girl: A Novel

Zakiya Dalila Harris’ debut novel is a searing satire of race relations in the workplace. Nella is a young editorial assistant at a publishing house where she’s the only Black employee — until Hazel shows up. With Hazel’s arrival, Nella finds herself navigating between kinship and rivalry before suspecting something more sinister might be happening.

Recommended by Chelsea

One Last Stop Cover ImageOne Last Stop

Heartfelt, hilarious and tender, McQuiston’s sophomore novel is a splendid summer read for 2021. The prose is perfection, and I dare you not to fall in love with the characters.

Recommended by Rae Ann

Our Woman in Moscow: A Novel Cover ImageOur Woman in Moscow: A Novel

This is a complex spy story of two sisters caught in the web of Cold War espionage. Full of family drama and high stakes decisions.

Recommended by Chelsea

Malibu Rising: A Novel Cover ImageMalibu Rising: A Novel

Malibu Rising is an engrossing read about siblings, their bond and shared trauma, and the desire to escape it all. Reid masterfully alternates between previous decades and one day in 1983, and her attentiveness to detail and character instantly transports readers.

Recommended by Hannah

The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot: A Novel Cover ImageThe One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot: A Novel

From the very first page of this stunning debut, I was charmed by these vivacious characters. Appropriately doleful but ultimately uplifting, this novel is both a celebration of friendship and a meditation on legacy — all framed by beautiful prose.

Recommended by Erin

A Peculiar Combination: An Electra McDonnell Novel (Electra McDonnell Series #1) Cover ImageA Peculiar Combination: An Electra McDonnell Novel (Electra McDonnell Series #1)

Weaver has written a pitch-perfect opener for a new historical mystery series set in WWII London. When Ellie and her uncle get picked up after a little late-night larceny, they’re offered a choice: go to prison, or help stop a traitor working with the Germans. I’m already looking forward to the next adventure of Ellie, her family of patriotic crooks, and the upright (and uptight) Major Ramsey.

Recommended by Marcia

Mary Jane: A Novel Cover ImageMary Jane: A Novel

If you lived in the 1970s, but especially if you grew up in the ’70s, you will relate to this coming-of-age of novel. Mary Jane finds her best self in a neighborhood family who is nothing like her own strict family. This book, which comes with its own playlist (search for the author on Spotify), will take you right back to the grooviest decade!

Recommended by Kathy

The Night Always Comes: A Novel Cover ImageThe Night Always Comes: A Novel

Willy Vlautin made me care so much about Lynette and her mother trying to earn a living wage and stay in their rental home while all around them Portland is becoming gentrified and more “progressive,” pushing out individual homeowners and small business. Watch out, Nashville, it’s coming — or already here!

Recommended by Sissy

That Summer: A Novel Cover ImageThat Summer: A Novel

A young woman’s experience with sexual assault grips her with anxiety and fear for years. Will she be able to take her power back and reclaim the coast she wants to call home?

Recommended by Sissy

Bewilderness Cover ImageBewilderness

Irene and Luce are best friends in rural North Carolina. Their young lives are a whirlwind of poverty, grief, heartbreak and NA meetings. This is a decidedly unsentimental yet beautiful novel about the opioid epidemic.

Recommended by Patsy

An Unlikely Spy: A Novel Cover ImageAn Unlikely Spy: A Novel

Evelyn is recruited by MI5 following her graduation from Oxford with a degree in German in 1939. She is able to infiltrate a group of Nazi sympathizers in London for love of country, though her duplicity clashes with her loyalties to those dear to her. This twisting tale of the weight of our choices makes a great summer read for LeCarré fans.

Recommended by Kathy

The Plot Cover ImageThe Plot

Should a writer steal a plot of his former (now dead) writing student and claim it as his own? Jake Bonner does, to best-seller success. But someone knows he did it and threatens his life and reputation. An unusual and mesmerizing thriller ensues, as Jake tries to figure out his antagonist and their agenda before they ruin him. I couldn’t put this one down.

Recommended by Sarah

A World Between Cover ImageA World Between

It’s Pride Month, so I wanted to bring back one of my favorite LGBTQ+ books from last year. Picture Normal People, but with two queer women of color on a roller coaster of a relationship from the moment they meet in college. You’ll be thinking about Eleanor and Leena for a long time to come.

Recommended by RJ

The Album of Dr. Moreau Cover ImageThe Album of Dr. Moreau

Introducing a bite-sized mystery about a boy band of half-human half-animal hybrids who all become murder suspects when their manager turns up mauled in a Las Vegas hotel room. The quirky premise is executed perfectly, with just the right balance of intrigue, angst and humor.

Recommended by Chelsea

Hang the Moon: A Novel Cover ImageHang the Moon: A Novel

Filled with some of my favorite tropes — there’s only one bed and formal clothes meet body of water — Bellefleur’s sophomore novel is a sweet, sexy must-read for the summer. I especially love that rom coms play their own part in Brendon’s plan to woo his sister’s best friend. Bellefluer has moved onto my automatic read list!

Recommended by Heath

The Prettiest Star Cover ImageThe Prettiest Star

In 1986, a young man with AIDS leaves New York and moves back with his family in small-town Ohio. Told from the points of view of the main character Brian, his mother, and his sister, The Prettiest Star does a good job of evoking the time period and lack of knowledge people had about the disease. And while this is a sad story, it is compulsively readable. For fans of Rebecca Makkai’s The Great Believers.

Recommended by Andy

Under the Wave at Waimea Cover ImageUnder the Wave at Waimea

Acclaimed travel writer and author Paul Theroux delivers the best beach read of the year. Following an aging surf champion Joe Sharkey around the globe is right in Theroux’ wheelhouse. After an unfortunate accident, Sharkey is forced to examine his place as an aging veteran in a young man’s sport.

Recommended by Ann

The Book of Delights: Essays Cover ImageThe Book of Delights: Essays

Where have I been? This little book that considers the small delights in any given day has been out two years. I read a little bit every night before falling asleep. Sweet dreams.

Recommended by Karen

How to Resist Amazon and Why: The Fight for Local Economics, Data Privacy, Fair Labor, Independent Bookstores, and a People-Powered Future! (Real World) Cover ImageHow to Resist Amazon and Why: The Fight for Local Economics, Data Privacy, Fair Labor, Independent Bookstores, and a People-Powered Future! (Real World)

Congress has been investigating the monopoly power large tech corporations have over their many marketplaces. Amazon in particular controls layers of multiple business sectors, blocking out competition and making it hard for entrepreneurs to introduce their products to the world. This book is a great primer in the reasons you should support your legislators in breaking up Amazon.

Recommended by Lindsay

Somebody's Daughter: A Memoir Cover ImageSomebody’s Daughter: A Memoir

Like many others, I’ve been following Ashley Ford’s writing online for years and hoping for a book-length project from her. I’m so glad it’s finally here! Ford’s memoir tells the story of her relationship with her family, including her father who has been incarcerated most of her life. I’m confident this will be the memoir everyone’s talking about this summer, so put it on your TBR list now!

Recommended by Steve

House of Sticks: A Memoir Cover ImageHouse of Sticks: A Memoir

By Ly Tran

Ly Tran’s coming of age memoir centers on growing up in an immigrant family, working long hours doing piece work in an unheated New York City apartment and the aftershocks of intergenerational trauma. It’s a hard won story with a novelistic sensibility, heartbreaking and beautifully told.

Recommended by Ben

Lost In Summerland: Essays Cover ImageLost In Summerland: Essays

I appreciate the intelligence, patience, and humor on these pages. Ranging from the dusky Midwest to Florida’s octogenarian coast, Lost in Summerland explores masculinity, ecological and political reality, spiritualism, and how to connect with others when we’ve moved past grand collective narratives. Fans of Ben Ehrenreich and David Foster Wallace will find much to admire here.

Recommended by Patsy

World Travel: An Irreverent Guide Cover ImageWorld Travel: An Irreverent Guide

Ah, a final taste of Bourdain’s astute observations, sardonic wit and acerbic commentary for the gastrotourist and armchair traveler alike. Longtime assistant Laurie Woolever intersperses practical travel, lodging and dining tips, while his friends and family contribute essays about passing time with him in some near and many far-flung destinations. I devoured it!

Recommended by Sissy

Sunshine Girl: An Unexpected Life Cover ImageSunshine Girl: An Unexpected Life

I had no idea what to expect — I just knew I loved Margulies and wanted to know more about her. What a unique upbringing she had! You’ll finish this book in one night.

Recommended by Hannah

The Anthropocene Reviewed (Signed Edition): Essays on a Human-Centered Planet Cover ImageThe Anthropocene Reviewed: Essays on a Human-Centered Planet

In his first work of nonfiction, John Green thrills readers with sage, witty, delightful essays reviewing facets of the human experience on a five-star scale. From viral meningitis to Diet Dr. Pepper, Green unpretentiously demonstrates how a steady gaze, if held long enough, can reveal the beauty (and complexity) in anything.

Recommended by Becca

Yearbook Cover ImageYearbook

If you are looking to take a break from being bummed out and just want to read some funny stories about celebrities from a slightly stoned celebrity, this is absolutely the book to pick up! As a side note, Rogen apparently enlisted 80 of his friends as guests on his audiobook, delaying the release by a few weeks, so be sure to download that from if you need an entertaining road trip soundtrack!

Recommended by Becca

Bress 'n' Nyam: Gullah Geechee Recipes from a Sixth-Generation Farmer Cover ImageBress ‘n’ Nyam: Gullah Geechee Recipes from a Sixth-Generation Farmer

James Beard Award winner Matthew Raiford celebrates his home and highlights the history of his family in this beautiful exploration of the history of Gullah Geechie cooking, and the tremendous impact that it had on what we, as southerners, still eat today. I have used the Mess o’ Greens recipe so many times already this spring, and even gifted a copy of this to my mom for Mother’s Day!

Recommended by Jordan

Period. End of Sentence.: A New Chapter in the Fight for Menstrual Justice Cover ImagePeriod. End of Sentence.: A New Chapter in the Fight for Menstrual Justice

An Oscar-winning 2019 documentary follows Indian women fighting the stigma of menstruation. Co-producer Melissa Berton tells the audience, “A period should end a sentence, not a girl’s education.” Berton collaborated with bestselling author Anita Diamant on this essay collection to inspire period activism and illuminate the many ways menstrual injustice dehumanizes and limits opportunities.

Recommended by Patsy

Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest Cover ImageFinding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest

The daughter of generations of loggers, Simard, now a leading forest ecologist, weaves her memoir of growing up in the forests of British Columbia with her compelling research on communicative forest life. From managing forest land to eradicating pine beetles, Simard demonstrates the social nature of the forest. Fans of Rachel Carson will enjoy this book.

Recommended by Andy

Rodney Scott's World of BBQ: Every Day Is a Good Day: A Cookbook Cover ImageRodney Scott’s World of BBQ: Every Day Is a Good Day: A Cookbook

James Beard Award-winning pitmaster Rodney Scott shares his love of BBQ. From his humble beginning at his parents restaurant to his now legendary joint in Charleston, Scott shares his love of life and BBQ. The book is written for novices and experienced pitmasters alike.

Recommended by Andy

Facing the Mountain: A True Story of Japanese American Heroes in World War II Cover ImageFacing the Mountain: A True Story of Japanese American Heroes in World War II

As with The Boys in the Boat, Brown sheds light on the valor and heroic deeds an lesser known group of Americans. He writes of the Japanese American soldiers of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. While their parents were being held in internment camps, these men fought on the battlefields of Europe. In riveting fashion, Brown reveals an aspect of the Second World War that is too often forgotten.

Recommended by Ann

Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude (Pitt Poetry Series) Cover ImageCatalog of Unabashed Gratitude (Pitt Poetry Series)

Follow up Ross Gay’s The Book of Delights with his award-winning book of poetry, Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude. If you haven’t read a book of poetry in awhile, this is the one you’ll want.

Recommended by Ben

Twice Alive Cover ImageTwice Alive

Drawing upon the landscape of his native California and the aesthetics of India’s Sangam poetry, Gander is playfully inventive with form and formatting, while pondering how our human intimacies transform (like lichen) as they intermingle and combine with others. Organic and mycelial, serpentine and sensual, this is an assured follow-up to his Pulitzer-Prize winning collection Be With.

First Editions Club: June Selection

Great Circle: A novel Cover ImageGreat Circle: A novel

Dear Friends,

It’s summer, friends, and time to kick back with a sweeping epic that will no doubt be the Big Book of the season. Maggie Shipstead’s Great Circle has something for everyone. There’s a modern-day movie star dealing with the fallout of, shall we say, a poor decision, and a scrappy female aviator who’s determined to overcome the hand life dealt her by charting a course through history. If that’s not enough, there’s a bootlegger, an artist, a stealthy guide, a ship’s captain, a bad mother-in-law, and a drunken uncle, and that’s just for starters. This book features pretty much the entire globe. There are so many people covering such a wide swath of time and space you’ll wonder what kind of polymath Shipstead must be to have written so convincingly about all of them. You also may wonder how they’ll tie together, but trust me, they do. Sentence by sentence this book is snappy, fresh, delightful. Get on board the plane and take a spin.

Ann Patchett

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.