10 Must-Read Books for June 2016


There has never been much truth to the argument that June is a month of throwaway “beach books” (trash notwithstanding); in reality, it’s one of the finer months on the literary calendar, especially because it’s one of the only moments with variety (considering publishers are clambering to release the same kinds of books). This June, we’ve got interesting political sci-fi, a multi-million dollar debut, the year’s best anthology, and much of the most interesting nonfiction to be released in 2016. Take that to the beach. — Jonathon Sturgeon, Literary Editor

The Girls, Emma Cline, (June 14)

This debut novel about the obsessions of young women in a Mansonite cult in the late 1960s is getting a lot of press, both for its presumed quality and its price tag. Cline got $2 million for the book.

Infomocracy: A Novel, Malka Older (June 7)

A dystopia of sorts that considers life under the aegis of “a powerful search engine monopoly” that has pioneered a switch “from warring nation-states to global micro-democracy,” Infomocracy is likely to be the most discussed and revered political sci-fi novel of the year.

The Hatred of Poetry, Ben Lerner (June 7)

Novelist and poet Lerner here begins with his own “hatred of poetry” in order to argue on its behalf. What results is the ars poetica by one of America’s very best writers in any mode.

The Reactive, Masande Ntshanga (June 7)

This novel about an HIV+ man who mourns the death of his brother in Cape Town is shaping up to be one of the best debuts of 2016.

Sex Object: A Memoir, Jessica Valenti (June 7)

A cosmo-memoir in the style of “Joan Didion and Mary Karr,” Sex Object looks at Valenti’s young adulthood in New York City.

The Soho Press Book of 80s Short Fiction, ed. Dale Peck (June 7)

The year’s best anthology collects some of the most enduring fiction of the 1980s. And it’s fronted by a bravura essay from Dale Peck on the decade’s politics and art. Indispensable.

Abahn Sabana David, Marguerite Duras, trans. Kazim Ali (June 14)

It’s a never-before-translated novel from Marguerite Duras. What more do you want?

The Way to the Spring: Life and Death in Palestine, Ben Ehrenreich (June 14)

The result of several years spent living in Palestine, Ehrenreich’s major nonfiction book looks to redistribute our understanding of everyday life there. Sure to be debated.

The Last Communard: Adrien Lejeune, the Unexpected Life of a Revolutionary, Gavin Bowd (June 21)

Lejeune was revered by the communards (after he barely avoided dying on its behalf). After that he absconded to the Soviet Union, where, crossed by the regime, he died in Siberia. This book looks at the Commune — one of the most important moments in all of Western politics — through his life.

So Much for That Winter, Dorthe Nors, trans. Misha Hoekstra (June 21)

Nors’ Karate Chop was among my favorite fiction books of 2014. So Much for That Winter, which collects novellas made out of short lines and headlines, is every bit as weird and good.