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Arts + Culture

8 Hot New Books to Read This June

With summer road trips and warm-weather weekends hot on the horizon, we're in need of some reads to pass the time on long layovers and multi-state car rides. From a real-life collection of humorous diary entries (gathered over the span of forty years) to a work of fiction that has us questioning the existence of true love, these 8 books are what you'll find in our carry-ons this June.

A Brooklyn-based writer and editor, Chelsea's work has appeared in Matador Network, The Huffington Post, the TripAdvisor blog, and more. When not planning her next trip, you'll usually find her drinking way too much iced coffee (always iced—she’s from New England) or bingeing a Netflix original series.

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The Answers: A Novel, Catherine Lacey

Thirty-year-old Mary Parsons has been afflicted with an undiagnosable illness for a year and a half. On her hunt for a cure, she comes across a promising New Age treatment known as Pneuma Adaptive Kinesthesia. But broke beyond belief with mountains of medical expenses and credit card debt, she has to turn to Craigslist to find a way to continue funding her sessions. That’s where she finds actor Kurt Sky’s “Girlfriend Experiment”—an “income generating,” scientist-led investigation into what it takes to build the perfect relationship. Approved to participate, Mary enlists in his trial as Emotional Girlfriend, joining a cache of other single-role significant others (including Anger Girlfriend, Maternal Girlfriend, and Intellectual Girlfriend) on Sky's quest to isolate and control the variables of love. Not far into The Answers, you'll find that author Catherine Lacey has you questioning the foundation of human connection from every angle.

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Astrophysics for People in a Hurry, Neil deGrasse Tyson

Wrapping your head around the complexities of quantum mechanics, black holes, and humankind’s role in the universe is no small feat. But when it comes to questions of the cosmos, we turn to one man, and one man only: Neil deGrasse Tyson. In Astrophysics for People in a Hurry, the acclaimed astrophysicist (and king of Twitter) cracks ultra-complex theories with the help of his signature wit, making mind-numbing concepts accessible to even the most science-averse readers. Impress bystanders as you flip through it on your commute, blow away acquaintances with casual planetary banter at dinner parties, or impress your date with some fast universe facts. No matter your motivation, you’ll come out a little smarter on the other side.

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We Crossed a Bridge and It Trembled: Voices from Syria, Wendy Pearlman

In 2011, a series of revolutionary protests calling for political reform and an end to decades of violent oppression—what would become known as Arab Spring—set into motion a civil war that would lead to the bloodiest period of conflict Syria had ever seen. Now, 7 years later, with hundreds of thousands of civilian casualties and more than half of Syria’s population displaced, Westerners are hit over the head with sensationalist (and all-too-often demonizing) news stories, but we have little in the way of personal testimonials. In Wendy Pearlman's poignant collection We Crossed a Bridge and it Trembled, the culmination of four years spent interviewing hundreds of displaced Syrians across the Middle East and Europe, we gain intimate insight into the lives of those who faced the brutality first-hand.

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The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, Arundhati Roy

Twenty years have passed since Indian writer and political activist Arundhati Roy published her debut, Booker-Prize-winning novel The God of Small Things. In her much-anticipated sophomore release, Roy ambitiously touches on pervasive societal issues in contemporary India—caste discrimination, anti-female sentiment, violence against hijra intersex communities, hostility between Hindus and Muslims, broad government corruption, and more—through varying interwoven vignettes. Despite being a work of fiction, her simultaneously tragic, humorous, romantic, and historical work begs readers (at a breakneck pace) to look beyond the lines of ethnicity, religion, gender, and political party that divide us.

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Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body, Roxane Gay

If you were a fan of Roxane Gay’s radical essay and short story collections Bad Feminist and Difficult Women, then you’ll certainly be on board for her most recent release: Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body. With unwavering vulnerability and sincerity, the cultural critic examines the anxieties and insecurities that accompany being a self-described obese woman in a fat-phobic world. But make no mistake—she isn’t searching for sympathy or selling an inspirational tale of weight loss, rather taking control of the public narrative surrounding her body.

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Theft by Finding: Diaries (1977-2002), David Sedaris

If you’ve read any David Sedaris collections—Me Talk Pretty One Day, Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls, etc.— then you know the man has a flair for the outlandish. No matter how mundane his subjects may seem on the surface, with sharp wit he twists them into highly-humorous tales. In Theft by Finding: Diaries, Sedaris delivers again as he releases forty-years of personal journal entries. From tidbits of lascivious gossip to interesting news articles, and accounts of fistfights observed to phone calls he made to family, Sedaris makes everyday occurrences as captivating as your favorite HBO drama.

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You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me, Sherman Alexie

Growing up poor and one of six children to two alcoholics, critically-acclaimed author Sherman Alexie didn’t have the most carefree of childhoods. Not one to shy away from his story, in You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me, he takes an unsparingly-honest magnifying glass to growing up with a loving but often emotionally-volatile mother. Though she eventually quit drinking (at the all-too-real cost of losing her family) it’s only now—post her passing—that the author pieces together the sometimes-painful, sometimes-happy memories that shaped their conflicted relationship.

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My Soul Looks Back: A Memoir, Jessica B. Harris

Award-winning food historian and writer Jessica B. Harris may not be a household name, but chances are you’re familiar with a few of her closest friends—Maya Angelou, James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, and Nina Simone. In My Soul Looks Back: A Memoir, Harris evocatively recounts growing up African-American in middle-class NYC, surrounded by the illustrious activists and intellectuals that would later become the unmistakable faces of an era.

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