When we select our monthly Best Books, the goal is to share a diverse mix of great new reads, from fun thrillers to important nonfiction to exciting new voices. And when the mix feels right (as it does this month) our hope is that, together, these ten "best" books tell us something about the world in which we live--and about ourselves.
June's list seems to touch on all of life's madness: death, destruction, love, war, magic, hope... and fear.
There's plenty of muted madness on display in our Spotlight pick this month, The Age of Miracles, a debut novel by Karen Thompson Walker. The Earth's rotation is slowing, gradually stretching out days and nights and subtly affecting the planet's gravity. According to our reviewer, Kevin Nguyen, "the looming apocalypse parallels the adolescent struggles of 10-year-old Julia, as her comfortable suburban life succumbs to a sort of domestic deterioration. Julia confronts her parents' faltering marriage, illness, the death of a loved one, her first love, and her first heartbreak.
"Karen Thompson Walker is a gifted storyteller. Her language is precise and poetic, but style never overpowers the realism she imbues to her characters and the slowing Earth they inhabit," Nguyen writes in our Best of the Month review. Thompson Walker (at right) has written a coming-of-age tale that asks whether it's worth coming of age at all in a world that might end at any minute. Like the best stories about the end of the world, The Age of Miracles is about the existence of hope and whether it can prevail in the face of uncertainty."
This month we're also happy to introduce a new feature, Writers on the Rise, profiling debut or up-and-coming authors. This month's writer on the rise is Maggie Shipstead, whose debut novel, Seating Arrangements, satirizes the rowdy, bawdy events of a three-day wedding weekend. (The competition was tight this month: three debut novels are included among our top 10 best books for June.)
Watch this space Sunday for an exclusive essay from Shipstead (or take a sneak peak here).