Update your reading list with books out in June 2020.
While this might be one of the hardest times many of us have experienced, one positive side effect of lockdown is a surge in book sales as we seek comfort in faraway lands and lives transporting us from the here and now.
Happily, June has everything you need for your reading mood: tender fiction (The Phone Box At The Edge Of The World by Laura Imai Messina and Hazel Hayes’ Out Of Love), addictive stories (Louise Candlish’s The Other Passenger and Brit Bennett’s The Vanishing Half) and wise, funny and insightful non-fiction (Real Life Money and Everything Is Under Control). So order these titles now and give your reading self some more me-time.
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Discover 8 incredible books for June below.
Oprah’s big pick for 2020: The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
Out on 11 June, The Vanishing Half is one of this year’s most anticipated books thanks to glowing reports from Bernardine Evaristo and Oprah Winfrey. Sweeping and ambitious, it tells the tale of two identical twins, Stella and Desiree Vignes, who escape their childhoods at the age of 16 running away to different lives: in which one lives as a black woman and the other as white. Combining an addictive story (it’s perfect for book clubs) with serious questions of racism, social expectations, lies, love and compassion – this is an unforgettable read.
The talked-about thriller: The Other Passenger by Louise Candlish
From Our House to Those People, Candlish knows exactly how to excavate the seething social tensions between her characters, creating delicious thrillers that are also really good fun.
Tapping into the all-too-familiar notion of ‘house envy’, The Other Passenger (out 25 June) is about two couples: a pair of broke Millennials with no chance of getting on the housing ladder and a couple of Generation Xers who have lucked into an inherited giant house (complete with period features) who aren’t as satisfied with their lives as they could be… Filled with really excellent twists (one made my head hurt, it was so good), read this and be transported down Candlish’s river of dark deeds.
The novel for broken hearts: Out Of Love by Hazel Hayes
Former short horror filmmaker Hayes decided to write a novel about love as she “can’t think of anything more horrific” and what a book this is as it rewinds from a relationship’s break up to its very first hopeful moments.
For anyone ever (all of us) who’s gone through a break-up, so much of this book will be achingly and wittily familiar: the loved-up photos coming down from the shared walls, the awful rebound date, the ill-advised snooping, the realisation that you’re also in a person’s past like all the exes that have gone before, the mistakes you made yourself… Hayes references Nora Ephron throughout the book and she’s a pretty good successor judging from this debut.
The book everyone should read: Real Life Money by Clare Seal
Whether you have debt, are a bit too trigger happy with contactless payments or just can’t bear checking your bank account in the middle of the month, Seal’s non-judgmental book is unmissable.
Back in spring 2019 and faced with £25,000 of debt, Seal set up @myfrugalyear to honestly talk about money. What she discovered was huge swathes of people (often women who are on a backfoot anyway thanks to the gender pay gap and maternity issues) including herself were struggling with debt and taking control of their finances. (She cites journalist Poorna Bell’s brilliant feature for Stylist as one moment of clarity.)
Looking at the emotional issues (from how we learn about money from our parents rather than at school to the sinister way Instagram and e-commerce tap into our weakest moments) and mental health to the social and political forces affecting our lives, this is an essential and kind book that everyone could benefit from reading.
The moving memoir: Everything Is Under Control by Phyllis Grant
The joy of this slight memoir (out 11 June) is in its writing. Whether tackling her teenage eating disorder as she trains to become a ballet dancer; pressurised moments of working as a chef in testosterone-fuelled high-end restaurants to struggling with D-Mer (a feeling of deep sadness while breastfeeding which is caused by hormone levels fluctuating), Grant whips up moments of intense emotion and life with the briefest of words and images. Throughout it all, food is the life source, comfort, energiser and inspiration bursting from the pages a la Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential.
The healing story: The Phone Box At The Edge Of The World by Laura Imai Messina and translated by Lucy Rand
Inspired by the 2011 tsunami, this is a tender book (out 25 June) about grief and how we begin to take tentative steps towards finding peace and understanding. Yui has lost both her daughter and mother when she hears about a telephone box in a remote garden that attracts grieving people from all over the world. Making her own pilgrimage there, she faces her own fears meeting a bereaved father and his daughter on the way. Carefully told and with great care, this feels a particularly resonating story right now.
The feminist Western: Valentine by Elizabeth Wetmore
This debut (out 11 June) isn’t an easy read but it’s one that’s well worth your time with a cast of enduring female characters. Set in a Texan town in 1976, the story opens on 14-year-old Gloria tentatively escaping the man who has kidnapped and raped her. Walking barefoot and climbing over barbed wire she ends up at the ranch of pregnant Mary Rose – a woman who rears up against the violence, misogyny and injustice in the town only to find herself condemned for her bravery. Incredibly atmospheric, Valentine is where the myth of the Western is wrestled from a male perspective and into the hands of its women.
The true-life essential reading: Good Morning, Destroyer Of Men’s Souls by Nina Renata Aron
“The paper curled hot orange and tears welled in my eyes as the flame climbed slowly closer to my hand. I wanted it to be Satanic, the dark measured wildness of casting a spell, untying and setting loose some force in the universe. It felt more like something out of a Taylor Swift video.”
Exploring the reality of loving an addict, enabling a partner and why she felt the need to nurture a man so clearly beyond help are just some of the themes explored in this incredible memoir by Aron (out 11 June). This is also a deeply feminist book that highlights the patriarchal structures that keep women in such damaging relationships. If this all sounds heavy – it is – but it’s so well written and loving that once you pick it up, you’ll read it in a couple of sittings.
Images: Unsplash; courtesy of publishers
Francesca Brown is books editor for Stylist magazine and Stylist Loves; she also compiles the Style List on a weekly basis. She is a self-confessed HBO abuser and has a wide selection of grey sweatshirts. Honestly, you just can’t have enough. @franabouttown
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