If You’re Going to Read One Book In June, Make It This One
Summer reading doesn’t have to end with graduation. This June, there’s such an incredible lineup of new books making their way into the world that it’s probably best to take a note from libraries and schools and make your own summer reading program. Select a few genres and books, make a list, and reward yourself (with… wine?) for spending a *little* less time on TikTok.
One book to take note of this month is “The Final Strife” by Saara El-Arifi. El-Arifi’s lively debut novel weaves her cultural heritage together for a visionary story that combines classic fantasy adventure with timely themes of colonialism, power, and privilege. The novel, which is the first in a trilogy, follows three women — Sylah, Anoor, and Hassa — living in a strict empire that places its citizens in classes based on the color of their blood. There’s the Embers, which are red-blooded and elite; the Dusters, the middle class with blue blood; and the Ghostings, a clear-blooded servant class with no rights. But when Sylah, Anoor, and Hassa band together, you better settle in for a groundbreaking revolution.
With its fast-paced storytelling, relatable characters, and compelling romance (spoiler alert: a female/female enemies-to-lovers relationship), “The Final Strife” is a twisty, vicious read that will hook you from beginning to end. Perfect for those who enjoy authors like Tomi Adeyemi and Pierce Brown or anyone looking for a new dark, epic fantasy world to get lost in.
Here are a few more fabulous June releases:
What would Pippi Longstocking’s life look like if her story was set in New Orleans? That’s what author Alex Jennings asked himself when he began writing “The Ballad of Perilous Graves.” With a goal to capture the whimsy sense of adventure in Pippi’s stories, but to also show that violence has consequences and darkness can’t be ignored or wished away, Jennings has crafted a world that is warm, strange, loud and colorful, and brimming with magic and heart — this is New Orleans as you’ve never seen before.
Following a bright young woman as a teenager in the ’90s and later as she becomes a teacher herself, this is a witty, incisive novel exploring how women are conditioned to hide their suffering, even (and perhaps especially) from themselves. A fabulous choice for fans of “Pen15”, “I May Destroy You”, and authors like Mona Awad, Raven Leilani, and Melissa Febos.
“Cult Classic” is a page-turning work of literary fiction that was already a cult classic in the book influencer world. The novel combines Sloane Crosley’s signature humor with a provocative core, and a surprising mashup of genre elements — mystery, romance, conspiracy, and… mind control? This deliciously satisfying novel is tough to talk about without giving anything away. Still, in short, “Cult Classic” follows Lola, who, for some reason, keeps running into her ex-boyfriends in New York City…
“Saint X” author Alexis Schaitkin welcomes you to the small town of Alpina. Here, options for women are cut and dry: girls are to become wives and wives are to become mothers. But then some women simply vanish. So what will come of the main character Vera? This exquisitely written work of speculative fiction has been called Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” meets Margaret Atwood, and it’s one you’ll be thinking about long after its final sentence.
Fans of the sensuous, droll obscenity of Melissa Broder’s “The Pisces,” exhilarating transgressiveness of Alissa Nutting’s “Tampa”, uncanny sense of unease in Ottessa Moshfegh’s “Eileen,” and claustrophobic domesticity of Lucia Berlin’s “A Manual for Cleaning Women” will find a lot to love in Rebecca Rukeyser’s debut novel. Inspired by the author’s own experiences working in the Alaskan tourism industry, “The Seaplane on Final Approach” is a bristling, lusty coming-of-age tale about a sex-obsessed young woman seeking out experience on a remote Alaskan homestead.
With a biting and honest, razor sharp voice, Salma El-Wardany’s “These Impossible Things” examines womanhood, sex, and cultural expectations with humorous yet heartbreaking precision. Lifelong trio Malak, Kees, and Jenna are graduating from college and venturing into adulthood together until one night breaks them apart. They are cast adrift to navigate the complexities and contradictions of their lives, faith, and families, discovering that life’s sweetest things can also be the most fraught.
And a few more noteworthy June books, in case none of the above releases caught your eye:
“Tracy Flick Can’t Win” by Tom Perrotta: This deliciously funny new novel from Tom Perrotta brings back Tracy Flick, the iconic protagonist from his 1998 novel “Election.” Yes, that same Tracy Flick from the Academy Award-nominated film adaptation starring Reese Witherspoon.
“Greenland” by David Santos Donaldson: This novel-within-a-novel blends fact and fiction — in it, a young author writes about a secret love affair between E.M. Forster and Mohammed el Adl.
“Ghost Lover” by Lisa Taddeo: The award-winning author of “Three Women” returns with an absorbing collection of nine short stories that explores desire and society’s toxic view of womanhood.
“My Life in the Sunshine” by Nabil Ayers: A fascinating memoir from the son of famous Black jazz musician Roy Ayers that starts with an attempt to connect with his barely-there father and ends with a new understanding of family and race.
“The Catch” by Alison Fairbrother: An electric, absorbing debut novel about family secrets, how we’re shaped by the people we love, and the vulnerability it takes to find ourselves.
“Lucie Yi Is Not a Romantic” by Lauren Ho: This romance novel asks how we honor family expectations while staying true to our desires for happiness, independence, and love.
“Body Grammar” by Jules Ohman: A coming-of-age, queer love story set in the world of international modeling.
“Flying Solo” by Linda Holmes: From the bestselling author of “Evvie Drake Starts Over”, “Flying Solo” features a sexy librarian love interest and a heist plotline inspired by Linda Holmes’s own pandemic binge-watching of Antiques Roadshow.
“The Girls in Queens” by Christine Kandic Torres: An intoxicating debut that explores race, coming-of-age, sexual assault, and more as readers follow two Latinx women growing up in Queens, New York.
“The Lifestyle” by Taylor Hahn: This “Emma” retelling is a seductive rom-com focusing on not one but three relationships while also tackling career, motherhood, sex, and power dynamics.
“The Lies I Tell” by Julie Clark: If you’re looking for an electrifying cat-and-mouse story about two women on an unwavering quest to get revenge—or is it justice?—look no further than this new thriller from Julie Clark.