June’s best new books

In Reading Lists - Best New Books by The Editors

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Summer reading season is officially here. Whether you’re heading to the beach or the hammock in your backyard, bring along this month’s hottest new books. Take your pick of buzzy thrillers already being adapted for the screen, like The Other Black Girl and The Maidens, LGBTQ+ rom-coms bursting with Pride, a YA anthology celebrating Black love, and more!

The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris

Nella’s excited when another Black woman joins the very white publishing house where she works: she’s no longer the only Black employee! Her delight takes a turn for the sinister when threatening anonymous notes start showing up on her desk. Is her new coworker an ally or an enemy? A twisty and timely, funny and creepy thriller with hints of Get Out. Zakiya Dalila Harris and Rashida Jones are adapting the book for a series on Hulu.

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One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston

A queer time travel rom-com? Yes, please. Especially one by the delightful mind behind the swoon worthy hit Red, White & Royal Blue. Everybody’s gushing about this fun, romantic tale of true love on the subway stuck in a time loop between modern day Brooklyn and the punk rock ’70s. You’ll be longing for commute delays so you can keep on reading and rooting for August and Jane.

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Somebody’s Daughter by Ashley C. Ford

Roxane Gay chose this “sublime” memoir as the August pick for her Audacious Book Club, calling it “beautifully written, searingly honest, and deeply affecting.” Podcaster Ashley Ford (Lovecraft Country Radio, The Chronicles of Now) shares her story of growing up without her father, who was in prison most of her childhood, and her complicated relationship with her mother. “Somebody’s Daughter is the heart-wrenching yet equally witty and wondrous story of how Ford came through the fire and emerged triumphant, as her own unapologetic, Black-girl self,” writes The New York Times.

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The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo

The Great Gatsby, but queer and with magic. Nghi Vo’s captivating reinvention stars tennis pro Jordan Baker, at once a fixture at the glitzy Jazz Age parties due to her lifelong friendship with Daisy, but forever an exoticized outsider because of her Vietnamese heritage. With an intoxicating mix of hedonism, demon blood drinks, and enchantments conjured out of paper, Vo “captures the spirit of Fitzgerald’s original while brilliantly reframing the narrative and subverting expectations at every turn,” writes Publishers Weekly.

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Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé

Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé’s debut is poised to be a YA sensation. In this thriller, Devon Richards and Chiamaka Adebayo, the only two Black students at the elite Niveus Private Academy, are excited about the prospects for their future going into senior year. But Aces, an anonymous bully, is set on destroying those dreams. “I hope readers see that Black people belong in stories like Gossip Girl and Pretty Little Liars, and that above everything else we deserve happy endings,” Àbíké-Íyímídé says of Ace of Spades in her official bio.

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An Emotion of Great Delight by Tahereh Mafi

What does it feel like when all your life is terror and sorrow? In this intensely emotional novel, Muslim American teen Shadi tries to navigate post-9/11 America while also dealing with the loss of her brother and the subsequent fracturing of her family. Iranian American author Tahereh Mafi based An Emotion of Great Delight on her own experiences growing up in an America that’s been at war with the Middle East for decades.

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Jay’s Gay Agenda by Jason June

Add this book to your weekend agenda for some laughter and fun. Jay is the only out kid at his small-town school, so he’s been keeping a list of gay firsts he’s excited to experience some day: first time meeting another (openly) gay teen, first kiss, first time going all the way. His chance to start checking things off comes sooner than expected when he and his family move to Seattle, where the queer community thrives. Revel in Jay’s joy in this charming, purehearted novel.

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Simone Breaks All The Rules by Debbie Rigaud

Simone Thibodeaux has followed the rules to a T throughout her 18 years of existence, and it hasn’t exactly brought her to the destination she was hoping for. But as senior prom approaches, she’s determined to break a rule or five to have fun while she’s still in high school. An #OwnVoices romantic comedy about one Haitian American girl’s steadfast determination to experience all the heartaches and joys life has to offer.

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The (Un)popular Vote by Jasper Sanchez

National politics play out in a high school setting, where a transgender boy named Mark Adams (a very religious, very Founding Fathers-esque name) decides to stand up for his fellow queers, even as his politician dad continues to deadname him and wishes Mark would stay silent. Full of strength and nerdiness.

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The Witch King by H.E. Edgmon

An intricate YA fantasy where fae are the ruling class and witches are second-class citizens. Transgender witch Wyatt Croft wants to escape all the hate and bigotry he has to endure, but the fae prince Emyr, Wyatt’s betrothed, insists they still need to get married, even if Wyatt can’t have kids, as a political play. There’s a wealth of diversity in this story (Wyatt’s best friend, Briar, identifies as bi, asexual, Seminole, and Diné).

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Everyone Knows Your Mother Is a Witch by Rivka Galchen

Not only is this one of our favorite titles of the year, but it’s also one of the summer’s most anticipated novels. Set in a 17th-century Germany steeped in superstition and fear, a neighbor accuses the local herbalist of poisoning her, igniting dangerous accusations of witchcraft. This novel is a thrilling tale of feminism and family as the herbalist’s son, a math genius, fights to save his mother from the mob.

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¡Hola Papi! by John Paul Brammer

Dubbed the “Cheryl Strayed for young queer people” and the “Picante Carrie Bradshaw,” John Paul Brammer steels hearts and soothes minds with his frank and hilarious advice column for the LGBTQ+ community. Part extension of his “¡Hola Papi!” column and part memoir of growing up gay and biracial in rural Oklahoma, Brammer’s book is all love. A glowing reminder to pick ourselves up from past pitfalls and embrace the person we become.

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From the Ashes by Jesse Thistle

Jesse Thistle’s raw, stirring memoir has racked up awards and acclaim. As the title suggests, Thistle rises like a phoenix from the flames of an achingly rough childhood, homelessness, and addiction thanks to a combination of grit, resilience, and the loving support of his family and indigenous community. This timely and necessary look at the brutal impact of racism on Native people doesn’t shy away from heart-wrenching details, while also inspiring empathy and hope for a way forward. Originally published in Canada, From the Ashes is now being released in the US for the first time.

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Animal by Lisa Taddeo

Visceral and vivid, Animal is a thrilling punch to the gut. Joan, a woman with a mysteriously violent past, relocates from New York to California in search of Alice, who may be able to answer questions that have been plaguing her. Toxic relationships, female rage, and revenge propel this charged debut novel by Three Women author Lisa Taddeo.

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Live Your Life by Amanda Kloots

The world mourned along with Amanda Kloots on social media as she shared how her husband, Broadway star Nick Cordero, fought and lost his battle against Covid-19. Now, Kloots takes readers inside her journey of love, loss, and healing in this memoir that’s both heartbreaking and life-affirming. She became a rallying point for our collective fears and suffering during the early months of the pandemic, and now her book is an inspiring reminder to cherish our loved ones in this — and every — moment.

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The Maidens by Alex Michaelides

The author of the smash hit The Silent Patient is back with another gripping thriller, this one centered on a secret society at Cambridge University. When a student is found dead, a psychologist is convinced the charismatic, cultish new professor on campus is the killer. But the psychologist’s personal demons cast a shadow on her credibility, pushing her to take deadly risks to prove she’s right. The Maidens is already being adapted for a TV series by Miramax.

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Sisters of the Snake by Sarena and Sasha Nanua

Fate finally reunites twin sisters — one a princess, the other a thief — who switch places as they try to navigate a dangerous and magical world. There’s never a dull moment in this fantasy series starter, which alternates between the distinct but equally delightful voices of the siblings, and is written by a pair of twin sisters, Sasha and Sarena Nanua.

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Blood Like Magic by Liselle Sambury

This debut is daring, taking some well-worn fantasy and sci-fi tropes and upping the ante to 1,000. After failing her witch trial, Voya is told there’s one way she can salvage the situation — she has to kill her first love to save her family’s magic. It’s a thorny situation from multiple angles, and watching Voya navigate it is utterly captivating.

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Blackout by Dhonielle Clayton, Tiffany D. Jackson, Nic Stone, Angie Thomas, Ashley Woodfolk and Nicola Yoon

Black love and joy abound in this anthology from some of YA’s biggest stars, including Angie Thomas and Nicola Yoon. Six interconnected stories take place in New York city after a blackout has struck. Despite the dark, the air crackles with romance, and we’re swooning over it.

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