New month, new books. Here’s what’s on my radar in the merry month of June. Below you’ll find a mix of books I’ve read and loved and a couple of books coming out this month that I can’t wait to read. Above you’ll find a shot of McKinney Falls State Park here in Austin, a great place to take a book and go for a swim. (Texas is beautiful, y’all.)
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
On sale June 7
There’s much love for Homegoing in the TBF office. Hanna, our literary and communications coordinator, has been raving about it: “This is an epic, sweeping debut from soon-to-be-huge Yaa Gyasi. Spanning three centuries and following the descendents of two half-sisters from Ghana, Homegoing is shockingly intimate despite its scope, and shows how history continues to play out on individuals even after hundreds of years have gone by. Gyasi is a tremendous writer, and I cannot say enough good things about this book. And reminder: Yaa Gyasi is 26 YEARS OLD.”
The Girls by Emma Cline
On sale June 14
One of the biggest, buzziest debuts of the year is headed your way. I tore through this story of Evie, a teenage girl drawn into a Manson-like cult in northern California in the late 1960s. What motivates a community to inflict lethal harm on unsuspecting strangers? How is an individual seduced and absorbed by the radical thinking that permits such violent acts? With keen, sometimes eerie, insight, Cline explores the psychological territory of both an adolescent girl and a highly dangerous community bound by the ideology that the road to the greater good is paved with devastation, drugs, and an obliteration of boundaries. You won’t want to put it down.
I’m Just a Person by Tig Notaro
On sale June 14
I’m a big fan of stand up comedy (thanks for another awesome year, Moontower), but had not crossed paths with Tig Notaro’s work until her Netflix documentary came out. Tig, an actress and comedian, was hit with about eighteen thousand tons of bricks inside of four months: she was diagnosed with a serious disease, her mother died, she endured a break-up, and then she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Faced with this barrage of bad and worse and unbelievably awful news, she did the only thing she could: she got up on stage and told jokes about it – honest, uncomfortable, hilarious jokes about having cancer. Her set went viral. She became an overnight sensation. And now she has a book.
Let Me Explain You by Annie Liontas
On sale June 21
One of my favorite debut novels of 2015 hits paperback this month, just in time for your next road trip: I first read this book when I was on the reading committee for the American Booksellers Association Indies Introduce program. Our job was to read dozens of debuts, discuss them as a group, and decide which should be designated an official Indies Introduce pick. I knew within the first few pages that this novel was a winner. When Stavros Stravros, a Greek-American diner owner, believes the appearance of a cigarette-eating goat is a symbol of the end of his life, he sends a letter to his adult daughters and ex-wife detailing exactly what is is each one is doing wrong with her life and what she should do to change it. While Stavros’s hubris provides significant comic relief, his meditations on mortality and reflections on the arc of his life, from Greece to America, deliver a depth that will sink this story straight into your heart. Meanwhile, the perspectives of his daughters as they respond to their father’s announcement of his imminent death dig into family dynamics in a sharp, realistic way.
So Much for That Winter by Dorthe Nors
On sale June 21
Nothing says summer like a story you can read in one sitting, without leaving you hammock, picnic blanket or frigid room shut out from the Texas heat. Bonus points if the stories are about the depth and range of human emotion, joy to sorrow to howling pain, which, really, are all too easily overlooked in these carefree summer afternoons. Why reserve heartbreak for winter? Don’t let yourself go so soft. Dorthe Nors’s collection of stories, Karate Chop, was named one of the best books of 2014 by Publisher’s Weekly and won the 2014 Per Olov Enquist Literary Prize. These two new novellas present fresh experimental narratives; one told in a series of lists made by a thirty year old woman and the other told in single-sentence paragraphs. I love the take on this work from Bookswept: “If forevermore we are obliged to think in headlines and status updates, let us sound like Dorthe Nors.”
On Bowie by Rob Sheffield
On sale June 28
Yes, there are bound to be plenty of Bowie books hitting shelves and demanding your attention this year, but only one of them will be written by Rob Sheffield. The Rolling Stone writer and author of the beloved memoirs Love is a Mix Tape and Talking to Girls About Duran Duran offers a thoughtful fan’s meditation on the myth and music of the man who exploded our rock and roll cosmos. Sheffield has long been a bookseller favorite and stands as one of the most pleasant authors I’ve ever hosted for an event. Looking forward to picking this one up.