The 10 Books You Should Be Reading This June
From thrilling fiction to a barroom elegy
Memorial Day has come and gone, and June is officially upon us. If you’re partial to summer reading designated as such, you might be seeking out a thrilling book or two, be they fiction or nonfiction. Our recommendations for June have more than a few works that tick those boxes. If you’re looking for inside looks at the entertainment or art worlds — or a deep dive into history — we have you covered there as well. Read on for 10 literary recommendations for the month. Spoiler alert: one prominently features pies.
Maureen Ryan, Burn It Down: Power, Complicity, and a Call for Change in Hollywood (June 6)
Reports of hostile workplaces and abuses of power on film and television sets are becoming much more numerous, suggesting a growing candor within the industry. With this look at the industry’s structural flaws, author Maureen Ryan brings an impressive array of experience to the subject. And if the excerpt that’s appeared in advance of its publication is any indication, this is poised to bring a lot of awful behavior and inequality into the light.
John Vaillant, Fire Weather: A True Story from a Hotter World (June 6)
One of the many effects of climate change is a higher probability of wildfires — something recent years in the Southwest have made very clear. In 2016, wildfires besieged Fort McMurray, Canada, and prompted the evacuation of 80,000 people. John Vaillant’s new book Fire Weather is the story of that catastrophe — as well as an examination of what it can tell us about what the years to come will be like.
Jon Michaud, Last Call at Coogan’s: The Life and Death of a Neighborhood Bar (June 6)
Every bar has a story; sometimes, a storyteller comes along and finds a way to turn that story into something more. (See also, Rosie Schaap’s excellent Drinking With Men.) Jon Michaud’s Last Call at Coogan’s chronicles a bar in New York’s Washington Heights neighborhood over the course of several decades. Through the lens of said bar, Michaud also explores the way the neighborhood changed over the years — and what it says about cities and communities as a whole.
Charles Soule, The Endless Vessel (June 6)
Perhaps your summer reading plans involve page-turning fiction. Charles Soule knows that requirement well, both via his previous novel The Oracle Year and in his comics work. The Endless Vessel transports the reader to a near future in which a plague of depression makes its way around the globe. Things get expansive from there, turning this into a thrilling novel with roots in both the speculative and the metaphysical.
John Yau, Please Wait by the Coatroom: Reconsidering Race and Identity in American Art (June 27)
For over 40 years, John Yau has been writing incisively about both the state of contemporary art and the artists who are creating groundbreaking work. Yau was awarded a prestigious Rabkin Prize in 2022; in this new book, highlights from his long career have been collected in one place. Among the artists discussed in this book are Ed Clark, Ruth Asawa and Teju Cole — and you might yourself approaching their work in a new way once you’ve finished reading.
Tania James, Loot (June 13)
Some memorable reads are historical epics; others tell the stories of meticulously planned heists. And then there’s Tania James’s Loot, which manages the impressive feat of combining the two. In telling the story of an artisan whose great work is stolen — and who journeys from India to Europe to bring it back — James both immerses the reader in history and tells a thrilling story of ingenuity, injustice and bravura craftsmanship. And as it turns out, James drew inspiration from a real-life object for her book.
Michael Mewshaw, My Man in Antibes: Getting to Know Graham Greene (June 6)
Over the course of his long life, Graham Greene reinvented the spy novel, created a host of indelible characters and engaged in a few adventures himself. It’s not shocking, then, that some of his fellow writers have written about the time they spent with him. In his new book My Man in Antibes, Michael Mewshaw wrote about his decades-long friendship with Greene — and the scenic Mediterranean landscape the two inhabited.
Samantha Leach, The Elissas: Three Girls, One Fate, and the Deadly Secrets of Suburbia (June 6)
Some of the most harrowing memoirs come from an author writing about a subject close to home. In the case of Samantha Leach’s book The Elissas, the topic at hand is a childhood friend of the author’s who died far too young — and the troubled lives of two other women in her orbit. Also of note: the New York Times called it a “smart and gripping debut.”
Stacey Mei Yan Fong, 50 Pies, 50 States: An Immigrant’s Love Letter to the United States Through Pie (June 13)
This one is probably self-explanatory. When made well, pie is one of the best things you can eat. In 50 Pies, 50 States, Stacey Mei Yan Fong went state by state through the U.S. coming up with recipes for each one that tie into local cuisine and history. To reiterate: pie is delicious. History is fascinating. What’s not to like about a book that combines the two?
Amy Brady, Ice: From Mixed Drinks to Skating Rink — A Cool History of a Hot Commodity (June 6)
If you’ve spent any time thinking about the making of ice and the differences between a clear cube in a cocktail bar and weeks-old freezer ice, you’ve probably found that the subject is both more complex and more historically intriguing than you previously believed. In her new book Ice, Amy Brady looks at the history and science behind refrigeration — and traces the interconnected histories of ice and cocktail culture.
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