June Staff Picks

Hap­py sum­mer! Look­ing for some sug­ges­tions to super­charge your sum­mer reads? Our staff have loved these titles, and we hope you will too. Sim­ply click on a book to place a request. Make sure to sign up for our sum­mer read­ing chal­lenge and log your read­ing for a chance at prizes!

Want even more recs? Check out our What We’re Read­ing page, or com­plete a short form and we’ll email you a list of per­son­al­ized recommendations.

The Tal­ent­ed Miss Far­well by Emi­ly Gray Tedrowe

Jill says:

I love this book! This qui­et thriller is about a city comp­trol­ler who cooks the town’s books to fund her extrav­a­gant art col­lect­ing habit. As you read, you’ll learn a bit about the worlds of art and embez­zle­ment. If you’re like me, you won’t be able to help being sym­pa­thet­ic to the main char­ac­ter. This is one of those sto­ries that will have you on the edge of your seat, won­der­ing if she will ever be caught.” 

My Black Coun­try: A Jour­ney Through Coun­try Music’s Black Past, Present, and Future by Alice Randall

Joan­na says:

This is a pow­er­ful explo­ration of the often over­looked Black roots of coun­try music. Ran­dall mas­ter­ful­ly inter­twines his­tor­i­cal nar­ra­tives with her per­son­al sto­ry, dri­ven by a pro­found love for the genre and a mis­sion to con­front and cor­rect its white­washed his­to­ry. If you were inspired by Cow­boy Carter, Bey­on­cé’s recent coun­try-infused album, this book offers a deep­er explo­ration of the gen­re’s Black ori­gins and the ongo­ing strug­gle for recog­ni­tion. Ran­dal­l’s pas­sion for the music shines through, mak­ing this book a must-read for any­one inter­est­ed in the diverse tapes­try of Amer­i­can music.”

The Black Prism by Brent Weeks

Stephen says:

This book was one that sur­prised me with just how engross­ing it was. An inter­est­ing mag­ic sys­tem built around col­or sits at the core of the world and its char­ac­ters. Weeks has asso­ci­at­ed each col­or with both phys­i­cal prop­er­ties and per­son­al­i­ty traits in those that wield them. The plot­lines and world can be bleak – some­times shock­ing­ly so – but the char­ac­ters feels believ­able and alive. As the flawed pro­tag­o­nist tries to rec­on­cile his past and secure his lega­cy, you’ll be swept along in his wake.”

They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us by Hanif Abdurraqib

Jim­my says:

This is one of the most pow­er­ful and enlight­en­ing books about music I’ve ever read. But it’s not real­ly just about music; it uses music jour­nal­ism to access insights about race, cul­ture, grow­ing up, and the highs and lows of life. To delve into all these dif­fi­cult sub­jects while also invit­ing the read­er in with such a warm voice, like an old friend shar­ing sto­ries on the porch, is an absolute mir­a­cle. That he’s able to reach such heights with almost every essay here is astounding!”

Inde­pen­dent Peo­ple by Halldór Laxness

Scot says:

You might not believe me, but this 90-year-old, 500-page-long nov­el about a stub­born, fierce­ly inde­pen­dent sheep farmer is the sum­mer read of all sum­mer reads. From page one, this epic of ani­mal hus­bandry is total­ly absorb­ing and pos­sessed of the abil­i­ty to trans­port you from wher­ev­er you are (beach, air­port, pool­side, etc.) to the fierce win­ters of Ice­land in the ear­ly 20th cen­tu­ry. There, you will mar­vel at the emo­tion­al and phys­i­cal vio­lence of every­day life, the grind­ing pover­ty of farm­work, and – believe it or not – the dark, dark humor that man­ages to infuse almost every ele­ment of the depict­ed suf­fer­ing. An absolute­ly amaz­ing book, and unlike any oth­er I have read!”