Monday, June 2, 2014

Top 10 Books for June


For your June reading list, a guide to 10 notable booksrecommended by the editors of BookPage.
BookPage interview: Courtney Collins
By Courtney Collins
This stark and beautifully written debut, set in the unforgiving landscape of Western Australia, is based on a real-life figure: Jessie Hickman, a female rustler and outlaw who prowled the Outback in the 1920s. Collins takes the slim thread of Hickman's life and spins a fierce and authentic story about one woman's search for freedom, narrated by none other than the heroine's dead baby. Collins is being compared to writers like Cormac McCarthy and Carson McCullers, and the power of this inventive Western marks her as an exciting new voice in fiction.
Tibetan Peach Pie
By Tom Robbins
Who knew that the writer responsible for Another Roadside Attraction andEven Cowgirls Get the Blues, the counterculture voice of the 1970s and LSD enthusiast, was actually the grandson of two Southern Baptist preachers? Or that he grew up in small-town North Carolina and attended Washington & Lee before enlisting in the Air Force? Robbins lays out the surprising, hilarious details of his youth and later reinvention as a West Coast art critic and novelist in this long-awaited collection of "absolutely true stories." The result is a rollicking, kaleidoscopic portrait of a singular life.
What Is Visible
By Kimberly Elkins
In the 1840s, Laura Bridgman became internationally famous as the first deaf and blind person to master language, comprehending letters through hand spelling. Though Bridgman and her accomplishments have been largely forgotten today, Elkins' meticulously researched novel brings this fascinating figure back into the light, capturing her struggle to transcend the lonely boundaries of her disability. Willful, brilliant and determined, Bridgman narrates her own story, making her efforts to find love and acceptance all the more poignant.
My Salinger Year
Though the title of this smart, keenly observed memoir focuses on her connection to the famously reclusive J.D. Salinger, the real appeal of Rakoff's book lies in her personal coming-of-age story. Finding herself adrift after grad school, she accepts a low-paying job at an esteemed New York City literary agency and plans to write poetry on the side. At the office, she deals with old-fashioned bosses and antiquated equipment; at home, she struggles with a rundown apartment and a sketchy boyfriend. Rakoff hits her stride when she begins answering Salinger's fan mail—ditching the standard form letter in favor of her own responses. This marvelous look back at the publishing world of the early 1990s—and one writer's tenuous beginnings—charms from start to finish.
Elizabeth Is Missing
By Emma Healey
Don't let the capsule description of Healey's debut novel scare you away: Yes, the book is narrated by an elderly English woman with dementia, but the mysteries she struggles with are riveting and her story is luminous as well as poignant. Maud, our narrator, is convinced that her friend Elizabeth has gone missing, but neither her family nor the police believe her. Could Elizabeth's disappearance be connected to Maud's beloved sister, Sukey, who vanished after World War II? Healey based Maud's voice, in part, on her own grandmothers, and her ability to capture the pain and confusion of memory loss is nothing short of astonishing.
The Three
By Sarah Lotz
Care to add a chill to your summer? Dip into this unsettling story from South African screenwriter and author Lotz, whose novel has an especially timely premise: an unsolved plane crash. Make that four mysterious plane crashes, which occur simultaneously on different continents. Only three people survive the crashes, all children, and they're soon the targets of world attention as possible harbingers of the Rapture. Lotz presents the story as a nonfiction book titled Black Thursday: From Crash to Conspiracy, and builds suspense with purported email messages, chat room transcripts, articles and interviews. Clever and creepy, this one will keep you up all night.
I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You
Leave it to a humor columnist like Maum to find the funny side of a marriage on the rocks. In this cross-cultural pairing, Richard is a talented British artist with a French wife and an American mistress. Just as Richard's career begins to soar, his marriage to the lovely Anne is falling apart. Furious that Richard is still corresponding with Lisa, his former fling, Anne kicks him out of their beautiful Parisian home. Can this marriage be saved? Maum brings genuine insight and empathy to her engaging characters as they struggle to put the pieces of a relationship back together.
The Watcher
By Charlotte Link
Germany's best-selling female writer debuted in the U.S. in 2011 with The Other Child and returns this summer with another searing work of psychological suspense. The "watcher" is unemployed Samson Segal, who's been spying on some of his London neighbors. Granted, Samson is slightly creepy, but could he be responsible for three brutal murders, including the slaying of his next-door neighbor's husband? Link methodically ratchets up the tension as the search for the killer winds its way to a shocking conclusion.
The Farm
By Tom Rob Smith
Many observers (including the likes of Jeffery Deaver) are praising Smith's new thriller as a book that "transcends the genre," and we couldn't agree more. The author of the acclaimed Child 44 trilogy sets his latest novel in Sweden, where Daniel's parents have retired to an ostensibly peaceful farm. When Daniel receives increasingly alarming phone calls from his mom and dad, however, he must sort through their contradictory tales of madness, conspiracy and deception. This gripping page-turner, told in Daniel's voice, weaves together themes of mental illness and family secrets and keeps readers on edge until the final page.
Confessions of the World's Best Father
By Dave Engledow
Dear ol' dad. Sometimes he has a dubious idea of what's best for the little ones. Engledow decided to throw all those preachy parenting books out the window and treat his daughter, the unflappable young Alice Bee, to a series of unlikely household adventures: bath time in the washing machine, mixing cocktails for mom, trimming dad's hair with clippers and even a Playdate Fight Club! Engledow's carefully staged photos capture all the hilarity as Alice grows up safe and sound—and dad is none the wiser.


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