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12 Best Books Ever to Read to Feel the Summer Magic of June

Our picks for the best books – novels and non-fiction – to read right now to feel the vibe and the essential mood of the month of June.

What are the best books to read in June 2021? We’ve previously shared our top picks of 2020 (many of which are now out in paperback). We’ve also shared a list of the fantastic new book releases in June 2021; the best beach reads of summer 2021; and the best new thrillers of the summer season.  If you’re in search of still more ideas, here’s our take on the 12 best books ever – novels and non-fiction – to read for feeling the vibe and the mood of the month of June. And not just this June  – any June.

recommended reads for the month of June

So many books, so little time! Reading can be one of life’s sweetest luxuries. But how to quickly find the next great volume to dive into? To lend a hand, every month we share our Dandelion Chandelier Recommended Reads: books that we’ve personally read and loved – some brand new, and some published long ago. Selected to suit the season, we think they deserve a place on your nightstand. Or your e-reader. In your backpack. Or your carry-on bag. You get the idea.

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In this edition: the perfect books to read in June. We think these books best capture the mood and the essential spirit of the month.

Our picks for the best books – novels and non-fiction – to read right now to feel the vibe and the essential mood of the month of June.

Our picks for the best books – novels and non-fiction – to read right now to feel the vibe and the essential mood of the month of June.

what is the essential spirit of june?

If you ask us, June is the perfect mash-up of spring and summer: the flowers, trees and grass are still vibrant and fresh. The temperatures are warmer, but not oppressively so. The breezes are soft, and not yet sticky. There’s an ineffable, intoxicating fragrance in the air. Along with a sense of wildness that’s just barely under control.

The month of June is one of those moments when life feels perfectly in balance. There are sufficiently smart cultural offerings and events to keep the brain engaged. And a sufficient number of pool parties, beach bonfires and dances under the stars to keep the heart and spirit aloft.

Our picks for the best books – novels and non-fiction – to read right now to feel the vibe and the essential mood of the month of June.

It’s the end of many things: the school year, college, and final exams. And the beginning of many things: marriages, road trips, summer, and gardens in bloom.

As July approaches, the serious and the substantive start to fall away, and the silly and serene take over. At its very core, June is a journey to a happy place.

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what makes for the best June reading list?

To capture the fragrance, the taste, the very feel and essence of June, what makes for the perfect reading list this month?

We think the perfect June read should be centered around love. After all, it’s the month of weddings. And Father’s Day. Of budding summer romances – many of which play out during a summer travel escapade in a foreign land. Of course, love stories often end in heartbreak. That’s part of the mood of June, too.

Of course, June is also about getting outdoors and starting summer adventures and travels. So nature lovers should also be well-represented on June nightstands, and the trees that shelter us deserve some love, too.

Our picks for the best books – novels and non-fiction – to read right now to feel the vibe and the essential mood of the month of June.

Our picks for the best books – novels and non-fiction – to read right now to feel the vibe and the essential mood of the month of June.

The perfect June read should also teach us something – just because school’s ending doesn’t mean the learning has to stop. And the best books to read in June also have something to say about the very nature of summer itself.

perfect books to read in the month of june

Given that, here’s our list of books that are ideal reads for the month of June. Tuck one into your tote on your way to the beach; or crack one open during your evening commute; curl up with one while you’re out glamping under the stars; read one aloud on Midsummer’s Night; or pour a glass of rosé and dive into one as you lounge by the pool.

‘Cause what’s a June journey without a great book along for the ride?

1. Rules for Visiting by Jessica Francis Kane.

 

Rules for Visiting is the perfect slide-into-summer read: charming, involving travel, a love interest, and a protagonist who loves books. Plus, lots of useful information about trees. What more could one ask for? May is an introvert, and a university gardener more comfortable with plants than people. When a financial windfall allows her the freedom to travel, she embarks on a journey to reconnect with four once-close friends. One by one, she visits them at their homes. It’s a female Odyssey that raises the intriguing question: what might have happened if instead of waiting patiently at home, Penelope had set out on an adventure of her own?

BUY NOW: $13.08.

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2. The Cactus League by Emily Nemens.

 

Baseball is the iconic summer sport, and The Cactus League is an entertaining novel about spring training in Arizona. Consider it a lovely way to indulge in the sport even if you have no real interest in it. Narrated by a sportscaster, we follow the story of Jason Goodyear, star outfielder for the fictional Los Angeles Lions. It’s interspersed with tales of  a batting coach trying to stay relevant; a resourceful groupie; a sports agent who’s realizing that he’s past his prime. And a bounty of other assorted hangers-on, all striving to be seen as the new season approaches.

BUY NOW: $11.50.

3. The Resisters by Gish Jen.

 

 

Our picks for the best books – novels and non-fiction – to read right now to feel the vibe and the essential mood of the month of June.

The dystopian novel The Resisters is a mash-up of baseball, politics and a coming-of-age story about a wildly talented young woman athlete. In a not-too-distant future, America is rigidly divided. The angel-fair “Netted” have jobs and live on the high ground. The “Surplus” live on swampland if they’re lucky, on water if they’re not. When a “Surplus” girl emerges as a baseball phenom, she finds herself playing ball with the Netted even as her mother challenges the very foundations of society.

BUY NOW: $14.99.

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4. Stay Up with Hugo Best by Erin Somers.

 

In Stay Up with Hugo Best,  June Bloom is twenty-nine, broke, and an aspiring comedy writer. Hugo Best is a beloved late-night TV icon and notorious womanizer in his sixties who invites her to his mansion for Memorial Day Weekend. “No funny business,” he insists. This is the story of their long weekend together – and it’s not what you think.

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5. The Overstory by Richard Powers.

 

Our picks for the best books – novels and non-fiction – to read right now to feel the vibe and the essential mood of the month of June.

The Overstory is a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the forest. An Air Force fighter in the Vietnam War is shot out of the sky and saved by falling into a banyan. An artist inherits a hundred years of photographic portraits, all of the same doomed American chestnut. A hard-partying undergraduate in the late 1980s electrocutes herself, dies, and is sent back into life by creatures of air and light. A hearing- and speech-impaired scientist discovers that the trees surrounding him are communicating with one another. These four, and five other strangers―each summoned in different ways by trees―are brought together in a last and violent stand to save the continent’s few remaining acres of virgin forest.

BUY NOW: $9.49.

6. The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben.

 

The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate―Discoveries from a Secret World is the perfect companion to the fictional account of trees and their communicative abilities. In this award-winning scientific treatise a forester convincingly makes the case that the forest is a social network. He draws on groundbreaking scientific discoveries to describe how trees are like human families: tree parents live together with their children, communicate with them, support them as they grow, share nutrients with those who are sick or struggling, and even warn each other of impending dangers. You may never view the woodlands the same way again.

BUY NOW: $17.00.

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7. Finding the Mother Tree by Suzanne Simard.

 

The author of Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest is reportedly a character in the novel The Overstory, bringing us full circle. In her first book, she illuminates fascinating discoveries. Such as the fact that trees are a complicated, interdependent circle; that forests are social and cooperative, connected through underground networks by which individual trees communicate their vitality and vulnerabilities. It’s the stuff of dreams, made vividly real.

BUY NOW: $24.49.

8. Night Boat to Tangier by Kevin Barry.

 

Night Boat to Tangier is one of the most beautifully written, atmospheric and intelligent novels we’ve read in a long while. It’s also one of the best ones we’ve read about the relationships between fathers and daughters – which makes it a perfect addition to our June reading list.

In a desolate transit terminal on the coast of Spain, two middle-aged Irish gangsters anxiously await a passenger who may be arriving by boat from Northern Africa. Or perhaps she’s departing. “She’s a small girl. She’s a pretty girl.  Dilly Hearne is the girl’s name.” They repeat the refrain, plaintively, threateningly, sorrowfully, hopefully. She’s the daughter of one of these men. As they wait and wait, the two men recite and relive the consequences of their many sins. They’re broken in body and spirit. And yet, there’s still hope and fire in them. The prose is diamond-sharp and the atmosphere is tangibly misty and fogged with regret. This is a stunning read.

BUY NOW: $11.99.

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9. Flâneuse by Lauren Elkin.

 

Flâneuse: Women Walk the City in Paris, New York, Tokyo, Venice, and London is a call to get out of the house and go exploring on foot again. Rediscovering the powerful magic of walking randomly in one of the great cities of the world is something we’re eager to do now that the Great Lockdown(s) are receding from view. Elkin reminds us that wandering the city is part of a noble heritage for women, recalling the paths taken by flâneuses like nineteenth-century novelist George Sand; Parisian artist Sophie Calle; wartime correspondent Martha Gellhorn; and writer Jean Rhys. Virginia Woolf is the O.G. of the group – and this is an inspiring read that will prod you to get back out there and discover something new.

BUY NOW: $14.49.

10. You’ll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey by Amber Ruffin and Lacey Lamar.

 

Our picks for the best books – novels and non-fiction – to read right now to feel the vibe and the essential mood of the month of June.

 

Only as the lightness of summer arrives in June can we feel that it might be alright – perhaps even necessary – to share our stories and lived experiences as Black women in America in a way that’s relatable, deeply human – and seriously funny. That’s what two sisters have accomplished in the non-fiction chronicle You’ll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey: Crazy Stories about Racism. With heart, humor, grace and candor, the two share their stories of what it’s like to be one of the few Black single women in a mostly white town in the middle of America. Having grown up in the Midwest, it all rings true. If you want to understand what it’s like to be a young Black woman – or if you are one yourself and need validation that your experiences are not unique – this is a very fine place to start.

BUY NOW: $18.08.

11. Five-Carat Soul by James McBride.

 

Our picks for the best books – novels and non-fiction – to read right now to feel the vibe and the essential mood of the month of June.

Five-Carat Soul is the first collection of short stories from the award-winning novelist. It’s a marvelous exploration of many themes that are particularly resonant in the month of June: Flag Day, American wars and the soldiers who fought them. Relationships between neighbors — both human and animal. Bonds of family and friendship. And the possibility of forgiveness and grace. This book would be a wonderful companion on a journey. Smart, funny, and provocative, these are engrossing tales, told by a master raconteur.

BUY NOW: $17.27.

12. On Juneteenth by Annette Gordon-Reed.

 

On Juneteenth is the perfect way to end our June reading list. Written by a Pulitzer Prize–winning historian and Texas native, this slim volume brings to life the traditional annual celebration of the day that the enslaved Black people of Texas learned that they were free. In Galveston on June 19, 1865, Major General Gordon Granger announced the end of legalized slavery in the state. This is the story of what happened next.

BUY NOW: $11.29.

perfect books to read in the month of june

What books to read in June? Those are our picks for the books to read in June that we think accurately capture the vibe and the mood of the month. What’s on your reading list this month?

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This article contains affiliate links to products independently selected by our editors. As an Amazon Associate, Dandelion Chandelier receives a commission for qualifying purchases made through these links. 

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