Top Reads for June
Summer’s basically here (woo!), and it’s Pride Month (yas!), and HBO’s Game of Thrones has come to an end (brb, still crying). No matter what chill but momentous occasion you’re indulging in this June, we’ve got a book to go along with your mood. Get ready for the World Cup with soccer star Abby Wambach’s breakout bestseller, read some GoT side stories on a trip back to Westeros, enjoy the original of your latest favorite show, Good Omens, and more.
Katie: Women kick off the 2019 World Cup in France this month, where the United States aims to defend their 2015 championship. This time around, though, they won’t have superstar (and all-around badass) Abby Wambach on the field with them. The decorated soccer stud retired in 2015 with two Olympic gold medals and a World Cup win, after scoring more international goals than anyone — man or woman — on the planet. But the former co-captain is still part of the team’s wolf pack. And, as Wambach makes crystal clear in her new book, she’s part of your wolf pack, too.
You’re probably thinking, what does she mean by wolf pack? She means unleashing the individual and collective power of women everywhere. She means disrupting the current, patriarchal, top-down model of leadership that leaves women out. She means changing the game of leadership so that women lead from wherever they are, whether that’s center field or the bench, holding a briefcase or a baby. To do that, she lays out eight new leadership rules in Wolfpack. New rules like “Be grateful for what you have, AND demand what you deserve” tackle underrepresentation and unequal pay (something the USWNT is very familiar with). And rules like “Create your own path” encourage women to forget the fairy tales meant to scare us into staying in line. As Wambach says, “You were never Little Red Riding Hood. You were always the wolf.”
These rules are about so much more than sports. But I’ll love seeing the inspiration for them in action at the World Cup when teams rush to celebrate together after a teammate scores — and watching that goalscorer point to all of her teammates, because without them the ball would never have made it into the back of the net.
Marissa: Good Omens has been a beloved cult classic for decades, and was recently released as a miniseries on Amazon Prime with David Tennant, Michael Sheen, and Jon Hamm. It’s the crazy story of how the apocalypse got completely derailed. When the Antichrist is misplaced, a madcap race begins to find him before the end of the world and the final battle between good and evil begins. Get caught up with a prissy angel, a cheeky demon, a witch and a witchhunter, Satanic nuns, the four horsemen of the apocalypse, and at the center, a ragtag group of kids, one of whom just might be the Antichrist.
It’s an absurdly funny commentary on good vs. evil, nature vs. nurture and the true nature of free choice. Both the series and the book are delightful, and if you enjoyed the series (or are thinking about checking it out) I’d highly recommend checking out the book to get a sense of why the story is so beloved, not only by fans, but by the creators.
Also available as an audiobook.
A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms
Andrew: This book is the perfect cure for those “Game of Thrones is over” blues. It takes place a century before the events of the books and the TV show, and follows characters who have only been alluded to previously (Dunk and Egg).
A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms follows a young hedge knight, Dunk, and his squire, Egg. Dunk is always trying to do the right thing, which usually lands him in trouble. Egg is a brilliant young boy who brings a lot of comic relief and is a great foil to Dunk, aka, “Dunk the Lunk, thick as a castle wall.”
This is a really fun read! Because it’s a compilation of three novellas, it’s easy to consume in a few sittings. George R.R. Martin wrote it in his signature tone, with maybe a little more humor than A Song of Ice and Fire or Fire and Blood.
I listened to it during a road trip with my wife and we both really enjoyed it. I think you will, too.
She’s Not There
Ashley: Jennifer Finney Boylan’s memoir has been in my to-read pile since 2012, when I first became acquainted with her writing through her short stories and opinion pieces. Now that it’s Pride Month and the World Health Organization recently declared that being transgender isn’t a mental illness, I was eager to finally get to Boylan’s She’s Not There, which, when it was originally published in 2003, was the first book written by an openly trans person to make it on The New York Times bestseller list.
Despite the many difficulties faced while transitioning, Boylan tells of the heartaches with wry humor and poignancy. One of Boylan’s best friends is fellow novelist Richard Russo, and during the difficulties of coming out, the two had some of the most thought-provoking correspondence about how people become themselves. Do you consciously choose who you are every day? Are you just a collection of genes? How much does gender define you? One of the struggles transgender people face is trying to make what they feel make sense to cisgendered people, and Boylan, in describing how she felt she had to choose, consciously, every day, to be male and go by her deadname, makes a beautiful effort at building that bridge to understanding.
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