Riot Headline 10 Exciting Books to Read this Summer

5 British Books To Look Out For in the US in June

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Claire Handscombe


Claire Handscombe moved from Europe to DC in 2012, ostensibly to study for an MFA in Creative Writing, but actually – let’s be honest – because of an obsession with The West Wing. She is the author of Unscripted, a novel about a young woman with a celebrity crush and a determined plan, and the editor of Walk With Us: How The West Wing Changed Our Lives. She also hosts the Brit Lit Podcast, a fortnightly show of news and views from British books and publishing. Blog: the Brit Lit Blog. Twitter: @BookishClaire

This month, British books landing in the US will transport you in time to World War II Paris, teach you about weird and wonderful brains, show you what it’s like to live with synaesthesia, give you a sneak peek into the inside world of publishing, and, through gorgeous writing, remind you of the joy and pain of growing up.

The Terrible: A Storyteller’s Memoir by Yrsa Daley-Ward (Penguin Books, June 5, 2018)

This part-poetry, part-verse coming-of-age memoir speaks of life in all its terribleness and all its joy: cruelty, redemption, family, self-discovery, pills and pain and sex and the magic of adolescence. Bustle named it one of “12 most anticipated poetry collections hitting bookstore in 2018” and said: “[Daley-Ward] has become known for spare, sharp, unflinching, and joyous writing. Cannot wait for this one in June.”

Never Anyone But You by Rupert Thomson (Other Press, June 5, 2018)

Is it just me, or is there a lot of World War II fiction coming out of the UK these days? Still, from Dear Mrs Bird to The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir, this trend hasn’t disappointed me yet, and Never Anyone But You sounds like a great read. Rupert Thomson is a prolific and celebrated British writer – David Bowie has one of his books on his list of Top 100 Books of All Time.  Kirkus describes this novel like this: “An intense clandestine love affair between two Frenchwomen during the first half of the twentieth century spans art and literature, war and imprisonment, madness and devotion…beguiling.”

The Color of Bee Larkham’s Murder by Sarah J Harris (Touchstone, June 12, 2018)

This is one of the most buzzy books of the year in the UK, and it’s unlike anything I’ve ever read. Jasper is a special kid. He sees sounds and words as colour and becomes attached to his neighbour Bee Larkham, whose voice comes the closest to that of the mother he’s lost than anyone else’s he’s ever known. So when something unspeakable happens to her, his world is altered forever, not least because he is convinced it’s his fault. I’m half-way through this book as I write, and intrigued by the mystery and how we’re going to find out what happened to Bee Larkham.

THE PUBLISHING GAME: ADVENTURES IN BOOKS: 150 YEARS OF HODDER & STOUGHTON by Edward Stourton (Hodder & Stoughton Ltd, June 14, 2018)

You’re reading Book Riot, so I’m going to go ahead and assume that you’re more interested in the world of books and reading than the average bear is – and there are probably lots of juicy publishing tidbits you’ll enjoy, as well as stories of authors from John Le Carré to Jodi Picoult, in this history of one of the English-speaking world’s long-established publishing companies.

Unthinkable: An Extraordinary Journey Through the World’s Strangest Brains by Helen Thomson (Ecco, June 26, 2018)

Helen Thomson studies extremes in neurodiversity, and she brings us some of her findings in this book about nine extraordinary people: “from the man who thinks he’s a tiger to the doctor who feels the pain of others just by looking at them, their experiences illustrate how the brain can shape our lives in unexpected and, in some cases, brilliant and alarming ways”.