10 New Must-Reads for June


It’s finally the first month of summer (whether it’s officially summer yet or not), which to us means lots of new excuses to hang out and read — look, it’s something you can do outside that doesn’t involve exercise and socializing, and sometimes that’s just the ticket. Plus, with all those extra hours of sunlight, you’re out of reasons not to spend at least a couple with your nose in a novel. Whatever your poison — biography, blockbuster fiction, graphic novels, or tales about the end of the world — we’ve got the perfect book to be your companion through the long days and warm nights. Click through to check out the books we’re most excited about this month, and let us know which ones you can’t wait to read in the comments.

The Dream of the Celt , Mario Vargas Llosa (June 5)

In this newly-translated biography, Llosa, Nobel Prize winner, one-time Peruvian presidential candidate, and author we think likely to stand the test of time, depicts the life of Roger Casement, an Irish activist, writer and so-called “specialist in atrocities” who was executed by the British in 1916 just after the Easter Rising. Llosa is a phenomenal writer, and Casment’s complex story is incredibly engaging in his capable hands.

Soul of a Whore and Purvis: Two Plays in Verse , Denis Johnson (June 5)

Last year, we were blown away by Johnson’s Train Dreams, but apparently that mini masterpiece isn’t all he’s been up to. These two plays in verse feature all the characters you’d expect from Johnson — pimps, demons — as well as a double heaping of his signature slightly gritty poetic passion. Now we’re left at a complete loss as to what our favorite form of his could possibly be.

Batman: Death by Design , Chip Kidd and Dave Taylor (June 5)

We pretty much think designer Chip Kidd is the bee’s knees around here, so we’ll be lining up to buy anything the man cares to create and offer up to our greedy pocketbooks. Plus, then there’s the concept — a Batman story set in the 1930s, with gorgeous graphite artwork and glimmering Old Hollywood feel. For die-hard Batman fans, the story might come up slightly lackluster, but we think it may just go down in history as the best drawn and designed Batman tale ever.

Heading Out to Wonderful , Robert Goolrick (June 5)

“Let me tell you something, son. When you’re young, and you head out to wonderful, everything is fresh and bright as a brand-new penny, but before you get to wonderful you’re going to have to pass through all right. And when you get to all right, stop and take a good, long look, because that may be as far as you’re ever going to go.” Goolrick’s soulful doomed love ballad — a WWII veteran shows up in a sleepy Virginia town and falls in love with Sylvan, the teenage bride of the town moneybags (whose name is Boaty Glass, perfectly) — is mesmerizing and emotionally poignant, right down to the last page.

The Red House , Mark Haddon (June 12)

The author of 2003’s hit The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time has stepped away from close-up portraits of mental illness and tried his hand at a social novel about a dysfunctional extended family locked up together at country home getaway. More interesting than the subject, however, is the manner of telling — Haddon’s prose jumps from character to character, from first person to third, often slightly haphazard and always full of energy.

Beautiful Ruins , Jess Walter (June 12)

The bestselling author of The Financial Lives of the Poets has written another winner, a clever, quirky, sun-drenched blockbuster about the lives of Hollywood glitterati in the 1960s — and then what happens fifty years later. Remarkably touching and full of surprises, this novel of love and greed will stick with you long after the makeup has come off.

Tell the Wolves I’m Home , Carol Rifka Brunt (June 19)

In Brunt’s touching debut novel, set in 1987, 15-year-old June is left despairing after the death of her beloved uncle Finn, a renowned painter who has succumbed to AIDS. At his funeral, she hunts down his shadowy lover, Toby, and the two begin a tenuous friendship, locked together through their love for Finn. Heart wrenching and constantly entertaining, we expect further great things from Brunt.

A Hologram for the King , Dave Eggers (June 19)

We’re not sure why this new novel by Dave Eggers has been so much under the radar — we haven’t heard a peep from anyone about it, which we can only assume is a purposeful choice, given Eggers’ considerable media powers. That said, we’re excited for the book, set in a Saudi Arabian city as a man struggles to hold his family together, in the face of both the global economic crisis, and crises much closer to home.

How Should A Person Be?: A Novel from Life , Sheila Heti (June 19)

In Heti’s delightful inquiry into this novel’s titular concern, finally published in the US this summer, she transcribes conversations, copies real emails, and fills in the cracks with quirky, charming fiction. Messy, contemplative, and sometimes bawdy (just like life!), this book will become your best friend.

The Age of Miracles , Karen Thompson Walker (June 26)

In this fantastic debut, 11-year-old Julia wakes up one sunny Saturday to find the apocalypse in progress. That is, the earth’s rotation has begun to slow, the hours and weeks stretching out, a tweak that has all manner of unexpected consequences. Julia is just about as worried about them as she is about her first bra and her social status (which is to say, a lot), but after all, the world goes on, more slowly or not. For a while, at least.