12 Must-Read Books of June 2023 – Chicago Review of Books


It’s hard to believe, but we’re already halfway through the year!

2023 has been year for book lovers, and here at the Chicago Review of Books we’re excited to share that June will continue that trend. With new releases from some of our favorite Chicago authors as well as the return of literary icons like Lorrie Moore and Deborah Levy, things are certainly heating up for the official start of summer.

Ready to dig in? Here are some of our most anticipated books for June 2023.

Maddalena and the Dark
By Julia Fine
Flatiron Books

We’ve been highly anticipating Julia Fine’s new novel, and it’s finally here! With shades of The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue and Mexican Gothic, Maddalena and the Dark is about two girls drawn together by a dangerous wager at a prestigious music school in 18th-century Venice. Fine is a master at capturing the magic and darkness of fairy tales, and her latest follows this trend with the richness of music, history, and desire.  

I Am Homeless If This Is Not My Home
By Lorrie Moore

I Am Homeless If This is Not My Home is Lorrie Moore’s first novel since 2009, but that’s just one of many reasons for celebration. This book is filled with all that readers have come to love about Moore, from her tragicomic delivery to her irresistible wordplay and gut-punching attention to our most vulnerable moments. Following an impressive cast of characters—including a teacher visiting his dying brother in the Bronx, a therapy clown, and an assassin—I Am Homeless If This is Not My Home is an incredibly inventive portrait of lovers, whether or not we can fully trust the stories they tell.

Ice: From Mixed Drinks to Skating Rinks—A Cool History of a Hot Commodity
By Amy Brady
G.P. Putnam’s Sons

From former Chicago Review of Books editor-in-chief and current executive director of Orion, Amy Brady, comes Ice, a fascinating account of the ways ice has shaped history and revolutionized modern life. Spanning generations and exploring historical and current uses of ice in sports, medicine, and sustainable energy—including cryotherapy breast cancer treatments and energy-efficient refrigerator technologies—Brady brings joy, wit, and genuine curiosity to an important and often underappreciated substance. Sure, we may be a bit biased, but there’s no denying that Ice is sure to be one of the most enjoyable and interesting histories you’ll read this year.

Open Throat
By Henry Hoke

In Open Throat, Henry Hoke has written one of the most memorable narrators this year. Told from the perspective of a lonely mountain lion living under the Hollywood sign, this deeply existential novel explores the beauty and pain of the search for self-understanding. Open Throat strikes the perfect balance of humor and trauma, creating an encapsulating read that interrogates the complexities of gender identity and a world marked by climate change. 

At the Edge of the Woods 
By Kathryn Bromwich
Two Dollar Radio

Haunting, gorgeously descriptive, and spellbinding, Kathryn Bromwich has written an incredible gothic debut. At the Edge of the Woods follows Laura, who lives alone in a cabin deep in the Italian Alps and makes her living translating medical documents as well as tutoring the children of affluent locals. Whenever she returns to the small town, the locals receive her with curious stares and wariness. When Laura receives a knock on the door from someone from her past, the slow-burn tension erupts into a fascinating tale of illness and alienation. 

By Dorothy Tse
Graywolf Press

The premise of Owlish speaks for itself: A professor falls in love with a mechanical ballerina in a mordant and uncanny fable of contemporary Hong Kong. Are you hooked yet? Award-winning author Dorothy Tse has created an eerie and engrossing story that strikes at the heart of modern times, as this love affair plays out against the uncertain future of shapeshifting geographies and politics. 

Last Call at Coogan’s: The Life and Death of a Neighborhood Bar
By Jon Michaud
St. Martin’s Press

Like us, many people surely have their favorite neighborhood bar that serves as the place to gather, share, and find solace in their friends and community. Jon Michaud’s Last Call at Coogan’s tells the story of Coogan’s Bar and Restaurant, a Washington Heights establishment that opened its doors in 1985 and closed for good during the pandemic. Over its 35 years, the bar became a place of safety and a bulwark against prejudice in a multiethnic, majority-immigrant community undergoing rapid change. Honoring Coogan’s legacy and impact, this bittersweet history is a testament to the power of our local gathering spaces in facing the threat of gentrification and injustice.  

August Blue 
By Deborah Levy
Farrar, Straus and Giroux 

See Also

A new book from Booker Prize finalist Deborah Levy is always a joy to see, and August Blue lives up to the hype. At the height of her career, piano virtuoso Elsa M. Anderson—former child prodigy, now in her thirties—walks off the stage in Vienna, mid-performance. This begins her journey across Europe, shadowed by an elusive woman who seems to be her double. Part travel novel and part portrait of melancholy, Levy’s latest is a spectacular ride that is guaranteed to be the perfect accompaniment for your summer plans.

And Then He Sang a Lullaby
By Ani Kayode Somtochukwu
Roxane Gay Books

There is a lot to be excited about when it comes to And Then He Sang a Lullaby. The inaugural title from the highly anticipated Roxane Gay Books, Ani Kayode Somtochukwu’s enthralling debut follows God-fearing track star August and his love for Segun, an openly gay student who works at the cybercafe. When the Nigerian government passes new a new anti-gay law, the two struggle to keep their relationship behind closed doors and stay together. And Then He Sang a Lullaby is a remarkably beautiful and intimate story, making it one of the books to watch this summer from a new voice we are sure to treasure for years to come. 

A Duration
By Richard Meier
Wave Books

Richard Meier’s fifth book of poetry shows us a writer at the peak of his creative powers. A Duration transmutes years of daily practices of attention into mesmerizing trajectories through an always unfolding present. Pulling from various sources of inspiration, including a line spoken by Lear’s fool and a train to Kingston, every new poem-essay is a delight. 

My Men
By Victoria Kielland
Translated from the Norwegian by Damion Searls
Astra House

My Men is a fictional account of one broken woman’s descent into inescapable madness, based on the true story of Norwegian maid-turned-Midwestern farmwife Belle Gunness—the first female serial killer in American history. Thoroughly hypnotic in both language and plot, Victoria Kielland has created an intimate and raw portrait of the ruthless pursuit of the “American Dream.” 

Mrs. S
By K. Patrick
Europa Editions

June is filled with a number of exciting debuts, and among our most anticipated is K. Patrick’s Mrs. S, which explores the nature of queer love, attraction, and the transformative power of desire. Set at an elite English boarding school, the novel centers on an unspoken yearning between the narrator and the headmaster’s wife, Mrs. S, that blooms into an illicit affair. Seduction and intrigue abound in this page-turning story about forbidden love.


Source link