10 promising books to add to your reading list in June

by Admin
10 promising books to add to your reading list in June

Critic Bethanne Patrick recommends 10 promising titles, fiction and nonfiction, to consider for your June reading list.

With books tied to historical anniversaries and about two driven women, June offers powerful perspectives on what and how we remember. Novelists engage with societal shunning, the ghosts of ancestors and beachside grief; nonfiction writers with overturned case law, misplaced aspirations and reclaiming the legacy of a brilliant comic.


The Future Was Color: A Novel
By Patrick Nathan
Counterpoint: 224 pages, $26
(June 4)

Nathan employs the timeless “a stranger comes to town” plot, as a gay Hungarian Jew named George Curtis gets invited to a chic Malibu house for a 1950s Hollywood heyday. However, George’s backstory in Manhattan and future in Paris bookend that bacchanalia and show how dark the shadow of McCarthyism and its “Lavender Scare” loomed over queer society — as other paranoias of the day did over other people, reminding readers that things have not changed enough.

By Joseph O’Neill
Pantheon: 288 pages, $28
(June 4)

The cover of "Godwin"

From “Netherland” to “The Dog” and now in “Godwin,” O’Neill has evinced strong interests in team sports (cricket, soccer) and colonialism (in Dubai, and Africa broadly). As protagonist Mark Wolfe, recently disgraced at work in Pittsburgh, tries to help his half sibling track down an African soccer star (the titular Godwin), the mordant humor and keen observations of late-stage capitalism give lift to the theme of how and where and when we support each other.

Tiananmen Square: A Novel
By Lai Wen
Spiegel & Grau: 528 pages, $22
(June 4)

The cover of "Tiananmen Square"

June 4 marks the 35th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre. The pseudonymous Lai Wen’s fictional account of her upbringing under communism and the friendships she forged as a student offers an important window into what spurred the Chinese student protests that ended in violence. Despite knowing the outcome, readers will be riveted by the author’s thoughtful, moving narrative of coming to political consciousness in a time of danger.

Sandwich: A Novel
By Catherine Newman
Harper: 240 pages, $27
(June 18)

The cover of "Sandwich"

With the pacing of a thriller, observations akin to poetry and real-life conflict like memoir, Newman’s novel about one family’s week on Cape Cod should find a place in your beach bag, even if your own summer vacation is in Bali. The menopausal Rocky, her husband, their two grown children (along with one’s partner), and her aged parents enjoy time-honored traditions but also have to figure out how to negotiate time’s changes on all of them.

Devil Is Fine: A Novel
By John Vercher
Celadon Books: 272 pages, $29
(June 18)

The cover of "Devil Is Fine"

Vercher’s second novel provides a startling perspective, even darker than “American Fiction,” on what it means to be a person of color operating within our nation’s book-publishing industry. As the unnamed narrator copes with parenting a teenage son, he receives an unexpected inheritance from his white mother’s family that triggers tragic visions — and allows him to at last untangle his feelings about his own identity.


Miss May Does Not Exist: The Life and Work of Elaine May, Hollywood’s Hidden Genius
By Carrie Courogen
SMP: 400 pages, $30
(June 4)

The cover of "Miss May Does Not Exist"

The 92-year-old Elaine May does exist, and Carrie Courogen’s biography of May shows her long and vibrant career — and how her particular talent for comedy writing was ignored by too many of her contemporaries. Despite her stellar, groundbreaking work with Mike Nichols, May didn’t experience career liftoff until her 50s, when she became known as a script fixer. Today, her commitment to creative control sounds an important note for women in media.

The Fall of Roe: The Rise of a New America
By Elizabeth Dias and Lisa Lerer
Flatiron Books: 448 pages, $33
(June 4)

The cover of "The Fall of Roe"

The subtitle of this new book by New York Times reporters Dias (religion) and Lerer (politics) underscores how the conservative religious faction’s far-reaching and secretive strategy of putting anti-abortion activists in the spotlight changed rights for Americans in June 2022. As the authors warn, if Democrats don’t change their own strategy, we might see an entirely different nation emerge because of a single issue.

Ambition Monster: A Memoir
By Jennifer Romolini
Atria: 304 pages, $29
(June 4)

The cover of "Ambition Monster"

Host of the “Everything Is Fine” podcast and author of “Weird in a World That’s Not,” Romolini here focuses on her own difficult upbringing and (at least early on) dysfunctional relationship with achievement and its signals, from corner office to substantial salary. Even after she earned all of those, she wasn’t fulfilled. This highly personal narrative documents how the author detached from her inner fears to find a more authentic path.

When the Sea Came Alive: An Oral History of D-Day
By Garrett M. Graff
Avid Reader Press: 608 pages, $33
(June 4)

The cover of "When the Sea Came Alive"

June 4 also marks the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings at Normandy, and Graff’s collection of 700 participants’ stories provides a compelling window into the kind of military maneuvers few living Americans can remember. The surprise landing of over 150,000 Allied troops on French beaches led to the eventual defeat of the Axis powers. Reading about survivors’ experiences in their own words proves a solemn practice.

The Friday Afternoon Club: A Family Memoir
By Griffin Dunne
Penguin Press: 400 pages, $30
(June 11)

The cover of "The Friday Afternoon Club"

Griffin Dunne has spent a lifetime surrounded by brilliant writers: his father, Dominick Dunne; his uncle and aunt, John Gregory Dunne and his wife Joan Didion; and his brother, Alex Dunne. Griffin Dunne is also a noted actor/director/producer. Perhaps the literary talent shown in his heartwrenching memoir shouldn’t be a surprise. Still, his deeply felt account of his sister Dominique’s 1982 murder, which opens the book, startles with its honesty, spareness and elegant structure.

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