For many, the upcoming summer will be quite different than the last. But whether you’re staying in or venturing out, a good book can always keep you grounded. The 10 best new books arriving in June are sure to offer something new for readers to explore.
With Teeth, Kristen Arnett (June 1)
Like her breakout debut, Mostly Dead Things, Kristen Arnett’s latest novel looks at a fractured family unit, this time focusing on two women as they struggle to raise their son. Samson has been difficult ever since he was a young child, but now his juvenile misbehavior gives way to a startling level of hostility in his teenage years. When that aggression hits a breaking point, his parents grapple with the challenges of queer motherhood and marriage as he tests the boundaries of their love.
Somebody’s Daughter, Ashley C. Ford (June 1)
Best known as a writer and podcast host with sharp pop-culture takes, Ashley C. Ford offers a debut memoir that pulls no punches. Tracking her impoverished youth and adolescence in Indiana, Ford shares her struggles growing up with a single mother as she grapples with her changing body, painful relationships and the truth of her identity, embarking on a poignant quest to find and understand her incarcerated father.
The Other Black Girl, Zakiya Dalila Harris (June 1)
Both a blistering satire and sharp social commentary, Zakiya Dalila Harris’ debut novel follows Nella Rogers, the only Black editorial assistant at the fictional Wagner Books. But that changes the day Hazel-May McCall is hired—setting in motion a strange series of events that leaves Harris’ protagonist unexpectedly isolated. Though the two women initially bond, Hazel begins to rise in the ranks as Nella is shut out, all while Nella receives anonymous hostile messages. As the mysteries mount, Harris, who worked as an assistant editor at Knopf before leaving to write this book, guides us through a thrilling narrative set against the backdrop of the starkly white publishing industry.
One Last Stop, Casey McQuiston (June 1)
Twenty-three year-old August has just arrived in New York City with a cynical attitude and barely any luggage—her whole life fit into five boxes. She’s a perpetual loner, until one fateful ride on the Q train changes everything. August meets a mysterious girl in a leather jacket named Jane, and is instantly smitten. But there’s a catch: Jane has been stuck on the subway since the 1970s. Like her debut novel, Red, White & Royal Blue, McQuiston’s latest rom-com bursts with charm, humor and this time a bit of magic.
How the Word Is Passed, Clint Smith (June 1)
Writer and poet Clint Smith thoroughly excavates the pervasive (yet not always visible) legacy of slavery in America in his nonfiction debut, How the Word Is Passed. To delve into this history, Smith uses his hometown of New Orleans as the launching point for an evocative and frank exploration of the American slave trade, mapping the wide-reaching effects of our nation’s greatest shame from Angola—a Louisiana plantation-turned-prison—to lower Manhattan’s dark past as a slave market hub. Through Smith’s clear-eyed storytelling, he illustrates just how deeply the consequences of this intergenerational history manifest in the present day, both politically and personally.
We Are What We Eat: A Slow Food Manifesto, Alice Waters (June 1)
Chef Alice Waters is often considered the mother of the farm-to-table food movement, thanks to her legendary Berkeley, Calif., restaurant, Chez Panisse, which she opened in 1971. Waters remains one of the loudest advocates for sustainability in the restaurant business, and has long championed conscientious consumption. Her new book, We Are What We Eat: A Slow Food Manifesto, is an explanation of that ethos, detailing the problems with fast food and how constant availability has negatively impacted our habits. Waters makes a convincing case that the act of eating is political, with powerful effects on the future of the planet.
The Chosen and the Beautiful, Nghi Vo (June 1)
The Great Gatsby’s recent copyright expiration means everyone can take their shot at reinventing F. Scott Fitzgerald’s legendary story of East Coast glitz and glamour. Nghi Vo’s debut novel does so with ample amounts of magic and mystery, and is centered on Jordan Baker, who in Vo’s telling is a queer Vietnamese woman navigating her way through the 1920s New York social scene. The Chosen and the Beautiful finds Jordan fighting for her place in this Gatsby-adjacent world as an outsider, a plight that Vo illuminates in heartbreaking specificity.
The President’s Daughter, Bill Clinton and James Patterson (June 7)
Former President Bill Clinton teams up with best-selling author James Patterson once more for this summer’s standalone sequel to their 2018 thriller, The President Is Missing. This time, ex-president and one-time Navy SEAL Matthew Keating’s daughter has been kidnapped by a terrorist. Through its 500-plus pages, Clinton and Patterson’s novel puts their respective expertise to good use in a twisting plot.
Dear Senthuran: A Black Spirit Memoir, Akwaeke Emezi (June 8)
Structured as a series of letters to friends, lovers and family, Akwaeke Emezi’s searing nonfiction debut is an intimate exploration of the novelist’s relationship to their gender, body, family and freedom. Raw and piercing, these short pieces trace Emezi’s rise as a literary powerhouse, and outline their intense work ethic amid difficult life events. Together, the letters serve as a self-portrait of a storyteller sharing their fight to survive.
Everyone Knows Your Mother Is a Witch, Rivka Galchen (June 8)
Rivka Galchen’s smart, wry novel Everyone Knows Your Mother Is a Witch is a thought-provoking take on the proverbial witch hunt. Drawing inspiration from real historical documents about Katharina Kepler, an illiterate German woman in the 1600s (and the mother of astronomer Johannes Kepler) who was accused of being a witch, Galchen spins a tale that blurs the line between truth and heresy. Punctuated with sparkling wit and irreverent humor, it taps into the depths of who we choose to fear and why.
Source: Time Magazine by Raisa Bruner, Annabel Gutterman and Cady Lang, May 25, 2021.