When we select our monthly Best Books, the goal is to share a diverse mix of great new reads, from fun thrillers to important nonfiction to exciting new voices. And when the mix feels right (as it does this month) our hope is that, together, these ten "best" books tell us something about the world in which we live--and about ourselves.
June's list seems to touch on all of life's madness: death, destruction, love, war, magic, hope... and fear.
There's plenty of muted madness on display in our Spotlight pick this month, The Age of Miracles, a debut novel by Karen Thompson Walker. The Earth's rotation is slowing, gradually stretching out days and nights and subtly affecting the planet's gravity. According to our reviewer, Kevin Nguyen, "the looming apocalypse parallels the adolescent struggles of 10-year-old Julia, as her comfortable suburban life succumbs to a sort of domestic deterioration. Julia confronts her parents' faltering marriage, illness, the death of a loved one, her first love, and her first heartbreak.
"Karen Thompson Walker is a gifted storyteller. Her language is precise and poetic, but style never overpowers the realism she imbues to her characters and the slowing Earth they inhabit," Nguyen writes in our Best of the Month review. Thompson Walker (at right) has written a coming-of-age tale that asks whether it's worth coming of age at all in a world that might end at any minute. Like the best stories about the end of the world, The Age of Miracles is about the existence of hope and whether it can prevail in the face of uncertainty."
This month we're also happy to introduce a new feature, Writers on the Rise, profiling debut or up-and-coming authors. This month's writer on the rise is Maggie Shipstead, whose debut novel, Seating Arrangements, satirizes the rowdy, bawdy events of a three-day wedding weekend. (The competition was tight this month: three debut novels are included among our top 10 best books for June.)
Watch this space Sunday for an exclusive essay from Shipstead (or take a sneak peak here).
The rest of top 10 picks for June are:
- Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt: A veteran journalist and an award-winning illustrator traveled to the most depressed pockets of our country to report on recession-era America. This is the harrowing, deeply moving chronicle of what they found.
- Fooling Houdini: In his quest to understand how magicians manipulate our minds, journalist Alex Stone taps into New York's vibrant underground magic scene and uncovers a wealth of insight into human perception.
- Shadow and Bone: This lush, dark adventure introduces an unforgettable young woman with the power to save her ravaged nation, if only she can find the strength to face an army of monsters--and the secrets in her own heart.
- The Lost Bank: As compelling as fiction, "The Lost Bank" takes us far from world financial centers--into suburban homes and Seattle office buildings--to decipher the largest bank failure in American history.
- Gone Girl: Why did Nick Dunne's beautiful wife disappear on their fifth anniversary? From best-selling suspense writer Gillian Flynn comes a brilliantly plotted, nerve-racking portrait of a marriage gone horribly wrong.
- The Watch: Based on the myth of Antigone, this haunting novel takes a timeless tragedy and hurls it into present-day Afghanistan, as the chaos of battle intertwines with one mysterious woman's mission to find her brother's body.
- Tell the Wolves I'm Home: In debut novelist Carol Rifka Brunt's eloquent story of love, grief, and renewal, two lonely people--a teenage girl and a friend of her beloved uncle's--build an unexpected friendship that heals them both.
- Eat & Run: Scott Jurek has won ultramarathons worldwide, an extraordinary achievement for anyone--but especially for a vegan. In "Eat and Run," he tells his story and challenges stereotypes about what it takes to succeed as an athlete.
- Into the Darkest Corner: Catherine Bailey barely survived her last relationship, and now her dangerous ex may be on her trail again. Lock the doors--maybe five or six times--and dive into this terrifying debut thriller.