9 New Must-Read June Books – Vanity Fair
We made it! The sun is out. School is out. And so are our pale, untoned limbs. Knees and shoulders float uncovered through the city, starved of warmth and begging for the first sunburn of the season. All hail the month of June. A month of no complainingâ€”until the heat kicks in.
Soon weâ€™ll be downing ice cream by the bucket and dreaming of swimming pools filled with ice-cold beer. Ignoring the trash on the beaches to dip our toes in the oceanâ€™s soothing spray and seeking out â€œcuteâ€ country hamlets with rumors of swimming holes.
But June! Hooray! A month for celebration, before we return to the comforting routine of complaining about everything, but especially the weather. Pack a blanket in your summer tote, and do your best to find yourself in a park with a good book and good company as often as possible this month. Write a poem about it. Or a book. Or settle into the sunset with a glass of rose and one of these perfect new reads that grapple with the questions of identity we face every day, like â€œWho am I?â€ and â€œWhat am I doing with my life?â€ At least we can help you answer one of those: Iâ€™m reading a great book.
Girl at War: A Novel (Random House)
by Sara NoviÄ‡
If we looked for and celebrated a â€œbook of the summerâ€ as we do that one song every year (what will it be this year?!), this novel would surely be this summerâ€™s star. This debut work from a rising author examines in painful, tender detail the cost of war on a young woman, many years after her simple life with her family in Croatia was interrupted by war. Ana, the main character, is haunted by the memories of what she thought her country once was, and how to deal with the secrets of what really happened to her and her family.
For more, read an interview with NoviÄ‡ about the highly personal research that went into her debut novel.
The Festival of Insignificance: A Novel (Harper; June 23)
by Milan Kundera
Yes, Milan Kundera. That Milan Kundera. The Unbearable Lightness of Being one. This novel is being billed as an epilogue or culmination to the authorâ€™s work. A playful take on the meaning of art and life and memory. What else would we expect? Maybe an imagined conversation between Goethe and Hemingway.
Saint Mazie: A Novel (Grand Central Publishing; June 2)
by Jami Attenberg
Mazie Phillips lives in the Bowery in the 1920s. She runs The Venice, a famous movie theater in New York, taking the tickets of patrons every evening. Everyone in the Lower East Side knows her. Largely because of her loud mouth and big heart. Sound familiar yet? The acclaimed early-New Yorker writer Joseph Mitchellâ€™s most famous profile, which appears in the classic collection Up in the Old Hotel, was of Mazie Philips. Jami Attenberg, the author of The Middlesteins, has written a funny, touching novel imaging the life of the woman Mitchell began to capture.
Patience and Fortitude: Power, Real Estate, and the Fight to Save a Public Library (Melville House; June 23)
by Scott Sherman
Scott Sherman, an acclaimed journalist and contributing writer for The Nation, reported a shocking plan to dismantle one of New Yorkâ€™s most historic, beloved institutions. Leading up to the 2008 financial crisis, branches of the New York Public Library were set to be sold off to real-estate developers, their books and resources sent to warehouses in New Jersey. A major feat of reporting and a must-read for New Yorkers, Sherman tells the story of how citizens of the city fought back to keep their libraries.
Book of Numbers (Random House; June 9)
by Joshua Cohen
Josh Cohen returns with a new novel questioning what life is in the digital age. The prolific writerâ€”author of the award-winning novel Witz and the short story collection Four New Messagesâ€”has given us a smart thriller to kick off the season. A fictionalized â€œJosh Cohenâ€ is hired by a tech mogul to help write his memoir, inspiring in a way that requires readers to pay attention not just to the words but the book as a form.
Muse: A Novel (Knopf; June 2)
by Jonathan Galassi
If you belong to the publishing world, you are familiar with Jonathan Galassiâ€™s name and work. The first novel from the poet and critic, and recipient of a Guggenheim Fellow, is a long-awaited, and worthwhile, event. Galassiâ€™s main character is the heir to a prestigious publishing house who becomes the confidante of his favorite writer, a poet whose personal life is as famed as her writing.
The Diverâ€™s Clothes Lie Empty (Ecco; June 2)
by Vendela Vida
Vendela Vida gives us a stark literary mystery set in Morocco. When a womanâ€™s identity is stolen from her hotel in Casablanca, she chooses a new one for herselfâ€”as a stand-in for a movie starâ€”and must deal with the freedom and burden of crafting a new life in a foreign country. Unequivocally a thriller, but more movingly, a meditation on identity.
Moods (New Directions; June 9)
by Yoel Hoffmann; translated by Peter Cole
Yoel Hoffmann contemplates the connection between the personal and universal, and the finite with the infinite with a meditation on family and memory. Moods is part novel and part memoir, and translated into beautiful, powerful prose by Peter Cole. This is a book to read under the shade of a tree, soaking in the joys of a summer day spent watching clouds float by on soft grass.
In a Dark Wood: What Dante Taught Me About Grief, Healing, and the Mysteries of Love (HarperWave; June 2)
by Joseph Luzzi
Heartbreaking. Heartrending. Heart-stopping. Joseph Luzzi is a Dante scholar who turns to The Divine Comedy for solace and understanding, when his pregnant wife is killed in a car accident. His daughter is saved, and Luzzi finds himself a first-time father, lost in grief and moving through the the realms of Danteâ€™s Divine Comedy to re-discover himself.