The 10 best books of June to read while you soak up the sun

There are beach reads and exciting travel adventures galore in the June roundup of the Monitor’s top 10 book recommendations.

Karen Norris

This June, relax and soak up the rays while you enjoy the top 10 best books of the month. The list is full of exciting, feel-good stories.

1 Strangers and Cousins

by Leah Hager Cohen

What could be more romantic than getting married in your family’s ancestral home? Lots of things in Leah Hager Cohen’s timely, timeless comedy. For one, the barn is about to collapse and the house isn’t in much better shape. For two, the parents plan to sell up right after the wedding. For three, their daughter is planning less a heartfelt ceremony and more “an ersatz comedy on the institution of marriage.” Then someone steals the wedding ring.

2 The Tenth Muse

by Catherine Chung

Katherine, an Asian American math genius, is driven to achieve in a competitive, male-dominated field and solve the Riemann hypothesis, considered one of the greatest unsolved mathematical problems. That drive is rivaled only by her desire to solve the mystery of her family history. Bountiful in scope, fables, intellect, and heart, the novel is at times heart-wrenching. 

Courtesy of HarperCollins Publishers
The Tenth Muse by Catherine Chung, Ecco, 304 pp.

3 The Favorite Daughter

by Patti Callahan Henry

This is a gorgeous, deeply affecting story about a family reunited because of the father’s failing health. After a 10-year absence, Lena Donohue returns to her South Carolina homestead and family-owned Irish pub. Still hurting from the betrayal of her fiancé and younger sister, she tries to embrace her family, including two adorable nieces. The novel is lyrical, engaging, uplifting, and real – forgiveness beckons all, even as secrets unravel.

4 The Summer Guests

by Mary Alice Munroe

Hurricane Noelle is heading toward the southeast coast; under mandatory evacuations, friends, family, and even rescue dogs seek refuge at the horse farm of Grace and Charles Phillips in North Carolina. A whirlwind of fascinating personal storylines propels soul searching, forgiveness, and second chances. 

Courtesy of Simon & Schuster
The Summer Guests by Mary Alice Monroe, Gallery Books, 368 pp.

5 Time After Time

by Lisa Grunwald

Set in New York’s Grand Central Station during the 1920s, ’30s, and ’40s, this thoroughly charming love story has a supernatural predicament at its center. Sunrises and sunsets that occur only a few times a year – a phenomenon known as “Manhattanhenge” – play a mysterious role in the love match of Nora, a plucky flapper, and Joe, the steady, kind railroad man she falls for.  

6 Ayesha at Last

by Uzma Jalaluddin

Who among us doesn’t love a good update of “Pride & Prejudice”? Uzma Jalaluddin delivers with a satisfying romance full of wit and humor, set among a Canadian Muslim immigrant community navigating tradition and assimilation for its young men and women. 

7 The Electric Hotel

by Dominic Smith

In 1962, a graduate student tracks down and interviews photographer Claude Ballard. In a series of flashbacks, Ballard reveals his early life as a silent film director, sharing with the student the canisters of film he’s stashed in the hotel room he calls home. This historical fiction about unrequited love between a director and his muse is chock-full of the history of the early film industry.

8 What I Stand On

by Wendell Berry

This two-volume set of Wendell Berry’s essays, published between 1969 and 2017, provides crucial insights about America’s environmental crisis and its pervasive causes. As he demonstrates throughout the work, “soil is the great connector of lives.” If we want healthy people and communities, we must take care of the land. Doing so is our most ancient, urgent duty, according to Berry.

9 Ottoman Odyssey

by Alev Scott

Half-Turkish, half-British journalist Alev Scott roams through elements of the Ottoman Empire in this bright travel narrative. She laces history with footloose journeying and the result is a restless, kaleidoscopic, and chromatic portrait of a land in flux.

Courtesy of Pegasus
Ottoman Odyssey by Alev Scott, Quercus, 336 pp.

10 Boom

by Michael Shnayerson

Michael Shnayerson shows how contemporary art morphed from the passion of a few to a fashion for the ultrarich. Thanks to skyrocketing auction prices and four dominant dealers, contemporary works have become a hot commodity. The book charts the switch from a genteel circle of connoisseurs to a roiling shark tank of investors.

Courtesy of Perseus Books Group
Boom: Mad Money, Mega Dealers, and the Rise of Contemporary Art by Michael Shnayerson, PublicAffairs, 464 pp.
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