Hello, readers!

It is finally summer (ish), and here at WORD, we are extremely excited to share with you this selection of titles to keep you book-busy as we transition from spring showers to the many sunny beach days ahead. Between Mary Roach's book on the science of war to Yaa Gyasi's masterful and must-read literary debut to the much-anticipated Modern Lovers from bestselling author Emma Straub, it's a very big month for new releases. Whether you plan to tune out with a nice audiobook, pick up a paperback for the road, or settle in by the air-conditioning with a hefty hardback, we have many suggestions for you.

WORD recommends these books this June

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Welcome to Night Vale by Jeffrey Cranor & Joseph Fink
Much like its podcast counterpart, Welcome to Night Vale is absurd and enlightening, silly and disturbing. It’s easy to lose yourself in the town of Night Vale where the laws, land, and even the people are mutable, unknowable, and yet eerily familiar. If you already love the podcast, then the audiobook of Jeffrey Cranor and Joseph Fink's Welcome to Night Vale is that extra, long-form content you've been waiting for. If you're new to Night Vale, I highly recommend listening to this audiobook and then bingeing on the podcast. (Emma)

Fiction We Love:


Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi (ebook available)
Yaa Gyasi seamlessly joins the ranks of incredibly talented young women with ambitious knock-your-socks-off debut novels that make up some of the best writing this century. Two half sisters live in Ghana in the late seventeen-hundreds and find themselves occupying very different positions in the changing terrain of colonialism and slavery. The ensuing chapters each follow a descendant of one of the two sisters, bringing us all the way to present day. Gyasi writes about a challenging subject matter with so much sensitivity and acuity. Each chapter could stand alone as a short story, but together they form a rich, illuminating landscape and offer a healthy dose of history. Everyone should read this book ASAP. (Mal)

The Girls by Emma Cline (ebook available)
An enthralling, whip-smart approximation of the real terror of the Manson Family murders. While not an exact retelling of those events, this novel attempts to get into the minds of the women—girls, really—that could have committed the heinous crime. But what is really fascinating is the way that Cline captures the feelings of being a young, impressionable girl in about any era. That overwhelming need for love and acceptance that will send you into the arms of just about anybody willing to be nice for a while. This book had me at page one and kept me on edge with every sentence until the end. What a knockout of a debut novel. I will be keeping an eye out for whatever comes next from Emma Cline. (Katelyn)

Modern Lovers by Emma Straub (ebook available)
Emma's newest book feels like it was written just for me. Two couples that have been friends for two decades, going through the growing pains of marriage and friendship, raising kids into all resonated with me. I flew through this book, enjoying both the moments reliving my teenage years with Harry and Ruby as well as the familiarity and frustrations of a long-term marriage with Zoe, Jane, Elizabeth and Andrew. I have a feeling this is going to be this year's summer read. (Christine)

The City of Mirrors  by Justin Cronin (ebook available)
The third book in this celebrated series brings it to a satisfying close. If you have not read The Passage this book will be confusing for you, but lucky you, you get to read Passage for the first time. Years after the events of The Twelve, Amy, the central protagonist, comes to face her destined foe in an epic battle amidst the ruins of New York. Few heroes of speculative fiction are as fully fleshed and familiar as Amy, and few dark forces are as unnerving as those found in Cronin's work. The pace of this book is well done, the post-apocalypse heavy with the uncomfortably real feeling of Cormac McCarthy and Margaret Atwood. Take Cronin with you on your travels, keep it by your bedside, and be blown away. (Hannah)

Smoke by Dan Vyleta (ebook available)
Dystopian England. A strange substance known as Smoke pours from people's bodies as a signifier of bad thoughts and deeds. The aristocracy has largely learned how to control their smoke, but in London, the poor live in a city where smoke is ubiquitous, thick, and contagious—breeding more smoke. After a school trip to London, two schoolboys and a young woman set out to understand the mystery of the smoke, its origins, and, perhaps, even a cure. If you enjoy hair-raising narratives and a steam-punky aesthetic, you’ll love Smoke. (Michelle)

Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler (ebook available)

"Let's say I was born when I came over the George Washington Bridge.” What a debut. A lush exploration of food, wine, appetite, and desire in modern New York, from the vantage point of the lowliest front-of-house staff at a celebrated downtown restaurant. Also a refreshingly grown up coming of age story. In SweetbitterDanler crisply reveals the complicated nature of class in contemporary metropolitan cultureand yearning to find yourself within its realities. (Camille)

The Vegetarian by Han Kang (ebook available)
Yeong-Hye is the most ordinary, boring woman in the world until she starts having gory dreams about animals being tortured and killed and abruptly stops eating meat. Suddenly her husband and family members are unraveling as a result of her bizarre behavior. This book is super fast paced and creepy... A great alternative beach read for those more into the thriller-horror-spooky side of things. (Mal)

Rich and Pretty by Rumaan Alam (ebook available)

It is so deeply satisfying to read a compelling female friendship set in the present day that goes beyond the coming of age narrative. Alam gives us the deeply felt and snarkily humorous story of two best friends who have made their lives and find themselves looking across the chasm of their life choices. Sarah & Lauren are grown women evaluating their lives and trying to reconnect, but falling into the traps of comparison, envy, and defensiveness. Alam captures the pain of the grass is always greener and offers the reader the truth that a life well-lived isn't always as satisfying as it should be if you lost your friend in the process. (Hannah)

I'm Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid (ebook available)
For fans of psychological thrillers, this one’s a doozie! I'm not sure what I just read but I loved it. Proehl’s writing puts you in the middle of things right away and keeps you in suspense. It’s short and sweet; good for travel, better for a single sitting, probably great for book groups! If the cover compelled you to pick this up, you’re going to enjoy the ride. (Jasper)

Paperback Picks


The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood (ebook available)
I thought it had to be science fiction, but what Charlotte Wood has accomplished is a violent (and stunning) exposition of inhabiting a female body. Young women, 
drugged, dropped in the middle of a vast Australian wasteland (not the outback, one of our protagonists thinks to herself early on, the outback has color) slowly come to, only to be shaved, dressed in roughshod calico and marched, chained together, to the electrified fence that encircles their new compound. This is only the very beginning of their trials. Their connection is their very public sexual scandals, ranging from mild to unspeakable, and for this they are taken here, how they don't know, to disappear under the "care" of two incompetent and sadistic wardens, and a nurse dangerous through her narcissistic ineptitude. Yet, when it becomes apparent that whatever authority has hired their captors will never appear, the tables quickly turn and the girls find a new strength in themselves. Beautiful and haunting, The Natural Way of Things will find itself as much a classic as A Handmaid's Tale, Lord of the Flies, and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. (Ashanti)

Saint Mazie by Jami Attenberg

Attenberg brings to life the story of the “Queen of the Bowery” Mazie Phillips-Gordon from her best to her hardest times. Though the moments in the book cover a wide range of times and experiences, Attenberg’s light touch never falls prey to heavy-handedness and instead sweeps the reader into Mazie and her compatriot’s world. Written in journal form with "interview" interludes, the reading experience is an intimate and exciting one. She walks the streets of New York, bangles jingling, sharing what wealth and energy she has. But Mazie isn't a sob story. Part lesson in street smarts, part spiritual exploration of what makes us keep working against all odds, Mazie is a unique novel of one of the most fascinating historical figures you've never heard about. (Hannah)

Love is Red by Sophie Jaff (ebook available)
A killer dubbed “the Sickle Man” has been set loose in the hot Manhattan summer, slaughtering women by carving arcane symbols into their skin. There's never a sign of a struggle. There are no ties between the victims. Katherine Emerson is living a semi-normal, if lonely life, but little does she know her destiny is entwined with this demented murderer who is collecting his victims on a synaesthetic need of the colors they produce; a shock of bubble gum envy, panic neon orange, all culminating in a red that will change the course of human events. The first (and authorly debut) in The Nightsong Trilogy, I will eagerly be awaiting the next. (Ashanti)

Nonfiction Highlights:


Grunt by Mary Roach (ebook available)
From the first 
chapter I was hooked. Mary Roach is a fantastic writer and I recommend her to anyone who wants to delve into nonfiction. She addresses aspects of war that I never really think about—the science of uniform fabrics, flies, penile surgeries—I couldn't put the book down. Extraordinary content, plain language, grade A writing. Roach really celebrates & gives credit to the scientists working quietly behind the scenes. (Alyssa)

At the Existentialist Cafe by Sarah Bakewell (ebook available)
This book is great for the average person who wants to learn about or expand their knowledge 
on the philosophy of existentialism. Bakewell does a great job at trying to define existentialism (not an easy task), delivers interesting biographical information on the "key players" of the philosophy, and provides us with a historical timeline of the progression of Existentialism. (Kristina)

Books for Teens, Tweens, and Littles:


Savage by Thomas E. Sniegoski (ebook available)
Can we survive when all of nature turns against us? The folks of Benediction Island are about to find out. (Will)

There Is a Tribe of Kids by Lane Smith
I have become obsessed with animal groupings! This beautifully drawn story follows a young child on their journey through different animal tribes; from a smack of jellyfish to a tribe of kids. What does it mean to wander without a tribe of one's own; or can you find one amongst the many groups out there? (Crystal)

Puddles!!! by Kevan Atteberry
Kevan Atteberry's adorable, bunny-loving monster is back in Puddles!!!, an adorable picture book about finding delight even in the rainiest day. With its bright colors, simple language, and fun sounds, Puddles!!! is great for young readers. (Emma)

Where Do Steam Trains Sleep at Night? by Brianna Caplan Sayres
I love Where Do Diggers Sleep at Night and the creators have returned with another sweet bedtime story, this time about trains! Find out what trains do when it's nighttime in this rhyming storybook while gazing at beautiful illustrations. (Lydia)

The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin
At the height of China's Cultural Revolution, the daughter of a prominent physicist who is murdered by the Red Guard for his "dissident" teaching somehow finds herself enlisted in a top secret military project. In the present day, a nanotech engineer begins experiencing a series of phenomena that can't be explained by the laws of physics. Four light-years away, a planet dances between three suns. The first in a trilogy currently being translated from the original Chinese for the very first time, The Three-Body Problem is a great gift to all English language lovers of hard sci-fi. (Michelle)

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