Riot Headline 10 Exciting Books to Read this Summer
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The Best New Book Releases Out June 20, 2023

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Erica Ezeifedi

Associate Editor

Erica Ezeifedi, Associate Editor, is a transplant from Nashville, TN that has settled in the North East. In addition to being a writer, she has worked as a victim advocate and in public libraries, where she has focused on creating safe spaces for queer teens, mentorship, and providing test prep instruction free to students. Outside of work, much of her free time is spent looking for her next great read and planning her next snack. Find her on Twitter at @Erica_Eze_.

This first official week of summer is bringing the heat, book-wise. Pun intended. There are a couple of darkly imaginative horror books, a queer and feminist western, and an illuminating nonfiction about immigration. Award-winning horror darling Agustina Bazterrica graces us with more disturbing tales in a collection of stories, characters reconsider the relationship with their parents as adults, and a secret summer sapphic affair gets the dark academia treatment.

As you head outside for all the sunshine, here are the best new book releases out this week to add to your TBR.

nineteen claws and a blackbird book cover

Nineteen Claws and a Black Bird by Agustina Bazterrica, translated by Sarah Moses

*All the content warnings for this one.

If you’ve read the popular and award-winning critique on capitalism that is Bazterrica’s Tender Is the Flesh, then you know how dark she can get. You also know how compelling. Here, the Argentinian writer tells 19 stories of the darkest parts of human existence with new perspectives and even a bit of humor. A girl has a rabbit growing between her legs, a woman undergoes a physical transformation through mutilation, cemeteries are visited, and some people have alien girlfriends.

cover of You're Not Supposed to Die Tonight by Kalynn Bayron

You’re Not Supposed to Die Tonight by Kalynn Bayron

So excited to finally share this YA thriller! Bayron has such a talent for taking familiar narratives and reworking them in a way that is simultaneously thought-provoking and natural. In You’re Not Supposed to Die Tonight, 17-year-old Charity Curtis has the summer job any horror lover would want: playing the Final Girl in a full-contact horror game. At Camp Mirror Lake, her and her coworkers act out scenes from the beloved slasher movie Curse of Camp Mirror Lake, trying to make the experience feel as real as possible for guests. But then things get a little too real when her coworkers start disappearing. Now Charity and her girlfriend Bezi are trying to get to the bottom of the murders happening around them while becoming the Final Girls of their own story. Fans of horror will appreciate Bayron’s subversive take on many of the tropes of the genre, including how race and gender have traditionally been portrayed.

Lucky Red book cover

Lucky Red by Claudia Cravens

We stan a gun-totin’, revenge-gettin’ queen. After 16-year-old Bridget’s raggedy father dies from a snakebite, she has to cross the Kansas prairie with no money and her one mule. When she reaches Dodge City, her red hair attracts one of the women who runs the Buffalo Queen Saloon, a respected brothel run by women. She takes to being a “sporting woman,” a sex worker, even enjoying her time with the other women. Like, she really enjoys it, and comes to realize her sexuality through them — particularly the gender-bending gunslinger Spartan Lee. But the peace she’s found through the Buffalo Queen eventually becomes unsettled, and she’ll have to envision her own future for herself.

cover of Rivermouth: A Chronicle of Language, Faith, and Migration by Alejandra Oliva

Rivermouth: A Chronicle of Language, Faith, and Migration by Alejandra Oliva

Oliva — whose family has an intimate relationship with the U.S.-Mexian border and who has worked as a translator for people coming into the U.S. — lays out the complexities of immigrating to the United States. She reflects on how refugees’ trauma must be mined and packaged for the immigration system, ponders who should be considered worthy of American citizenship, and explores how many immigrants are not immediately welcomed but end up handling our most precious industries, like food harvesting, and more.

cover of Holding Pattern

Holding Pattern by Jenny Xie

We love a bit of a hot mess, and Xie’s Kathleen Cheng in Holding Pattern is exactly that. After kind of maybe messing up her life a bit — she goes through an embarrassing breakup and drops out of graduate school — Kathleen returns to her childhood home. Expecting to find a familiarly depressed and homesick mother, she finds instead a happier version of her mother who has a wedding to a tech entrepreneur to plan. Working at a new job that centers around a new form of therapy has Kathleen rethinking all her relationships, including the one with her mother, and the two women start to see themselves — and each other — in a new light.

cover of Mrs. S by K. Patrick

Mrs. S by K. Patrick

Through an interior narrative, a butch lesbian details how a summer affair between her and her boss’s wife unfolds. Young and unsure of herself, the narrator arrives at a prestigious English boarding school — where privilege and judgement reign supreme — to become its matron. When she meets her constitutional opposite in the confident Mrs. S, a slow-burning attraction unfurls into a risky affair that leads to difficult choices.

Other Book Riot New Releases Resources:

  • All the Books, our weekly new book releases podcast, where Liberty and a cast of co-hosts talk about eight books out that week that we’ve read and loved.
  • The New Books Newsletter, where we send you an email of the books out this week that are getting buzz.
  • Finally, if you want the real inside scoop on new releases, you have to check out Book Riot’s New Release Index! That’s where I find 90% of new releases, and you can filter by trending books, Rioters’ picks, and even LGBTQ new releases!