phone mail2 facebook twitter play whatsapp
BOOK CLUB: The Top Literary Releases of June

BOOK CLUB: The Top Literary Releases of June

6 July 2018 | Freya Parr

Finished your book and wondering what to try next? Get stuck into one of our top June releases - tried and tested by us so you know that they're good. From Japanese literature to ANOTHER Caitlin Moran best-seller, there's something for everyone to get absorbed by whilst enjoying the summer sunshine.

Stephanie Rosenbloom, Alone Time (5 June)
When I was sent a proof copy of Alone Time, the debut from Stephanie Rosenbloom, a staff columnist for the travel section of the New York Times, I immediately dismissed it because of its fluffy title, byline and cover design. I thought it would be a tacky travel guide, about how a young woman ‘found herself’ whilst hiking in the Andes on an all-expenses-paid luxury retreat. Then, in a moment of boredom, I picked it up and gave it a flick through and was immediately hooked. It explores the joys of solo travelling in an entirely unpretentious way.

It features genuine research into the state of solitude, using examples from all walks of life and manages to successfully balance statistics and facts with insightful commentary, making it an approachable and rewarding read. The enormous footnotes section at the end of the book shows just how well researched it is. Sure, there’s a bit of a ‘I didn’t discover a new city, I discovered myself’ vibe about it, but it’s much less wishy-washy than other travel writing that covers this theme. All in all, it’s a genuinely great read for anyone who revels in their own company.

Image Credit: Freya Parr

Caroline O’Donoghue, Promising Young Women (7 June)
I discovered Caroline O’Donoghue through her writing for The Pool, which is fast becoming my news and features platform of choice. This is her debut novel, and her creative writing has as much conviction as her journalism. Promising Young Women is a surprisingly compelling and witty read, and the synopsis doesn’t really do it justice.

Full of dark twists, it follows the tale of protagonist Jane Peters, a twenty-something working in an office job but moonlighting as an internet agony aunt. She becomes the other woman in a relationship, a position she has repeatedly given advice on but has never embodied herself. The book explores gender inequality within a power structure, and takes the tropes we are used to seeing in “female literature” and explores why they are truly worth analysing. It’s a real catch, and definitely one to grab this summer.

Image Credit: Freya Parr

Caitlin Moran, How To Be Famous (28 June)
Another year, another inevitable best-seller from Caitlin Moran. For anyone who doesn’t know her, (are there any of these martians left?!) she is a columnist for The Times, a position she has held from the age of 18. She has written several books of both fiction, memoir and volumes of collected journalism. This time, though, it’s a novel.

Moran is keen to set out in the first few pages that How To Be Famous isn’t a memoir, and yet the protagonist’s life seems to follow the trajectory of Moran’s career almost to the letter. It’s a coming of age story set in Britpop London, following the life of Johanna Morrigan, a young writer exploring the city. A two-night-stand with a comedian goes somewhat awry, opening up a story of power imbalance within the entertainment industry. Moran is as fiery and outlandish as ever, and as with all her writing, it’s a book that sticks out from the beige stories of “growing up in the city” that we’re used to.

She also wrote this piece for The Guardian, which is well worth investing some time in.

Image Credit: Freya Parr

Ed. Jay Rubin, The Penguin Book of Japanese Short Stories (introduced by Haruki Murakami) (28 June)
Japanese writing is definitely having a moment, and as someone that studied Japanese at A Levels (yes, a true story) but never plunged myself into its literary history, I am keen to start dipping my toe in the Japanese literature waters. This well-rounded collection is proving to be an excellent place to start. It’s a great introduction into a field of literature often overlooked by school and university syllabuses, but one with a particularly well-established literary tradition well worth exploring. Featuring a selection of very varied stories both by well-known and lesser-known writers, some of which have had their stories translated for the first time. It also has a good representation of female writers, something that is often missing in these introductory collections.

Haruki Murakami has written a dense introduction, with a personal exploration of each story. He gives a real insight into Japanese history, literature and culture. It’s a well-ordered collection, split into themes rather than being chronologically ordered. It’s also a beautifully designed book, and one that looks great on any bookshelf… if that’s what floats your boat.

Image Credit: Freya Parr

Paperback Releases:

Gabourey Sidibe, This Is My Face (Try Not To Stare) (7 June)
This is quite a rogue addition, and I have to preface it by the fact that I didn’t particularly love this book. I had read recommendations of it everywhere, and maybe if I had seen Precious (in which Sidibe plays the title role and for which she was Oscar-nominated), I would be more invested. However, I’m beginning to realise that I only truly enjoy memoirs if the writer includes social commentary rather than focusing on their personal stories.

Sidibe’s debut novel is definitely engaging though, and the book is written with honesty, openness and humour. She is the daughter of a mother who sang in the subway and a polygamous father, so the roots of a fascinating story are definitely there. She took an entirely unconventional route to enter the profession, one which definitely has the reader hooked.

Image Credit: Freya Parr

Tell us what you think

You may also like

Best Pasta Restaurants in the UK

Best Pasta Restaurants in the UK

As the weather gets cooler, there is nothing quite as comforting as tucking into a big bowl of pasta. Yes, it’s easy and relatively cheap to…

A Culture Calling Guide to the Edinburgh Fringe 2017

A Culture Calling Guide to the Edinburgh Fringe 2017

It’s here! Every August the incomparable Edinburgh Festival takes root in the Scottish capital, bringing with it hundreds of thousands of performers, critics, musicians, comedians, dancers…

Ice, Ice Baby: Top 5 Skate Rinks this Winter

Ice, Ice Baby: Top 5 Skate Rinks this Winter

Whether you glide gracefully or stick firmly to the rails, ice-skating is the perfect way to stay active and get into the festive spirit this…

Top May Day Activities Around the UK

Top May Day Activities Around the UK

The first Monday of May means it's May Day. Aside from crowning the May Queen and having a dance round a maypole, there are plenty…

Sweet, it’s National Cupcake Week!

Sweet, it’s National Cupcake Week!

While cupcakes were once all the rage (remember when they were the wedding dessert of choice?), in the past few years they have taken somewhat…

A Mulled Wine Lover’s Guide to the UK

A Mulled Wine Lover’s Guide to the UK

Whilst complaints about Christmas getting earlier and earlier are inevitable (and often justified), there is one thing that all Scrooges and Grinch’s can get behind: The…

Bristol Film Festival: An Interview with Founder and Director Owen Franklin

Bristol Film Festival: An Interview with Founder and Director Owen Franklin

With the Bristol Film Festival moving in to its third year, we’re looking forward to their 2018 programme of cult classics, independent local cinema and seasonal…

Top 5 Bars in Nottingham

Top 5 Bars in Nottingham

Nottingham may be small in size, but what it offers when it comes to drinking establishments is anything but. From intimate cocktail bars to German…

Snowflake Books: An Interview

Snowflake Books: An Interview

Snowflake Books is an independent publishing company based in Oxford who create beautifully illustrated, bi-lingual children’s books with the aim of teaching people in the UK…

Most popular

Spotlight On: The Hepworth Wakefield

Spotlight On: The Hepworth Wakefield

Explore the North’s foremost museum of contemporary British art and sculpture!
French Independence Day: Top 5 French Films

French Independence Day: Top 5 French Films

For French Independence Day we've compiled a list of the Top 5 most innovative, influential, powerful and simply beautiful French films, spanning through the entire history of cinema!
The Great Yorkshire Fringe: An Interview with Jane Veysey

The Great Yorkshire Fringe: An Interview with Jane Veysey

We chat to Producer Jane Veysey about the upcoming Yorkshire Fringe Festival from 19-29 July!
A Literature Lover’s Guide to Wales

A Literature Lover’s Guide to Wales

Explore Wales’ literary landmarks with our handy guide.
Sharing Shakespeare: An Interview with Karen Fishwick

Sharing Shakespeare: An Interview with Karen Fishwick

We chatted to Karen Fishwick, who’s currently playing theatre’s most renowned romantic female figure in the RSC’s production of Romeo and Juliet!
The Marvellous Mechanical Museum at Compton Verney

The Marvellous Mechanical Museum at Compton Verney

Compton Verney’s Marvellous Mechanical Museum looks back to the spectacular automata exhibitions of the 18th Century, and charts artists’ experiments with clockwork and robotics through the ages.
The UK’s Top Summer Firework Displays

The UK’s Top Summer Firework Displays

Want to set your summer off with a bang? Check out our sparkling round up of the UK’s top summer firework displays!
A Slice Through the World: Contemporary Artists’ Drawings at Modern Art Oxford

A Slice Through the World: Contemporary Artists’ Drawings at Modern Art Oxford

Modern Art Oxford’s latest exhibition demonstrates how the art of drawing is still prevalent in the digital age, and how it responds to contemporary issues.
The UK’s Best Summer Art Exhibitions

The UK’s Best Summer Art Exhibitions

You don’t have to be in the capital to discover fascinating art! We’ve rounded up some of the most intriguing out-of-London art exhibitions this summer.

Your inbox deserves a little culture!