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


After a cold and endless winter, the summer season is finally upon us. Whether that means long-awaited and far-flung travels or sticking close to home, you’ll be in need of a good book by your side. Luckily there’s an abundance of great titles coming out this month. Below are twelve that we particularly recommend for armchairs, train cars, plane rides, or wherever your journeys might take you.

Nuclear Family
By Joseph Han
Counterpoint Press

Recent National Book Award 5 Under 35 honoree Joseph Han is poised to break out big with his debut novel, Nuclear Family. Juggling multiple perspectives of a Korean American family with deftness and delicacy, it’s a book as side-splitting as it is heart-rending. 

Cover of God's Children Are Little Broken Things

God’s Children Are Little Broken Things
By Arinze Ifeakandu
A Public Space Books

A collection of nine stories set in Arinze Ifeakandu’s native Nigeria, God’s Children Are Little Broken Things announces a powerful new voice in fiction. As meaty and complex as a novel, it’s sure to appeal to fans of Ocean Vuong and Anthony Veasna So.

Cover of Asylum

Asylum: A Memoir & Manifesto
By Edafe Okporo
Simon & Schuster

Now more than ever is a time for Americans to reexamine and interrogate our country’s punitive immigration policies, and Nigerian refugee Edafe Okporo’s stunning book is a clarion call for a more just system, and world. An urgent, unmissable work. 

Cover of Greenland

Greenland
By David Santos Donaldson
Amistad

A metafictional feat and catnip for Anglophiles, this electric debut novel-within-a-novel folds the story of the secret love affair between E.M. Forster and Mohammed el Adl into the struggles of a Black writer a century later attempting to write about it. Sensuous and sly. 

Cover of Boys and Oil

Boys and Oil: Growing Up Gay in a Fractured Land
By Taylor Brorby
Liveright

A searing account of growing up in the harsh landscape of South Dakota, essayist and poet Taylor Brorby charts his path of often painful self-discovery with visceral clarity. As Brorby writes, “There are no lived stories of gay people where I come from.” Now there is.

Cover of Water Always Wins

Water Always Wins: Thriving in an Age of Drought and Deluge
By Erica Gies
University of Chicago Press

Science journalist Erica Gies offers readers a gripping investigation into what she calls the “Slow Water movement,” profiling a group of experts in hydrology, engineering, and urban planning who are rethinking our relationship to this crucial element and finding hope in the process.

Cover of Also a Poet

Also a Poet: Frank O’Hara, My Father, and Me
By Ada Calhoun
Grove Press

A project generations in the making, this inventive memoir weaves together Ada Calhoun’s attempt to finish a biography of the titular poet started by her father and a reckoning with her own complicated family history. Ideal for fans of books like Small Fry

Cover of The Twilight World

The Twilight World
By Werner Herzog; Translated by Michael Hoffmann
Penguin Press

Throughout his long film career, Werner Herzog has shown a keen interest in outsiders. For his first foray into fiction, he immortalizes the true story of Hiroo Onoda, whose absurd yet epic three-decade defense of a Philippine island slots right in beside Aguirre and Dieter Dengler.

See Also


Cover of The Wall

The Wall
By Marlen Haushofer; Translated by Shaun Whiteside
New Directions

Called “as absorbing as Robinson Crusoe” by Nobel Prize winner Doris Lessing, The Wall has nonetheless been out of print for a decade. New Directions rectifies that with a gorgeous new edition of this sci-fi feminist masterpiece that’s sure to attract new fans. 

Cover of All the Blood Involved in Love

All the Blood Involved in Love
By Maya Marshall
Haymarket Books

Maya Marshall’s debut book of poetry arrives just in time as the United States continues to wage bitter battles over reproductive rights and racial disparity. An interrogation of what it means to mother and love as a queer Black woman, it’s a provocative, and indispensible, work of art. 

Cover of I Used to Live Here Once

I Used to Live Here Once: The Haunted Life of Jean Rhys
By Miranda Seymour
W.W. Norton & Company

Long seen as an enigmatic and tragic figure, Jean Rhys finally gets the Red Comet treatment she deserves with this revelatory new biography. Based on a wealth of new research, it’s a tenacious grappling with an artist whose self-image was never settled. A must read. 

Cover of Thrust

Thrust
By Lidia Yuknavitch
Riverhead Books

The beloved Lidia Yuknavitch returns with a dazzling new novel that marks another imaginative feat in a career with no shortage of them. A lyrical and dexterous critique of a future America ravaged by climate change and surveillance, Thrust is both of the moment and utterly timeless.



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