7 Best-Reviewed Books in June 2019

  • July 3, 2019

We came, we read, we gushed. Here’s a recap of the titles that left us especially warm and swoony this past month.

7 Best-Reviewed Books in June 2019

All That You Leave Behind: A Memoir by Erin Lee Carr (Ballantine Books). Reviewed by Kitty Kelley. “Erin Lee Carr’s writing is filled with tiger-stalking courage. In fact, she writes so well that when she falls off the wagon, you can almost taste the tingling pleasure of her first forbidden sip of cold white wine; how the second and third sips loosen her tightly braided psyche; and then, how the wine slides her into sociability. ‘I craved the easy intimacy that came with alcohol,’ she writes.”

Recursion by Blake Crouch (Crown). Reviewed by Jamie Mason. “In speculative fiction, there is almost every way to get it wrong and so very narrow a thread to cross to get it right. Blake Crouch carves out his own pedestal by getting it absolutely right with Recursion. (Warning: This book is so good, I’m about to do that thing where the fizzy drink overflows its glass.)”

The Bookshop of the Broken Hearted: A Novel by Robert Hillman (G.P. Putnam’s Sons). Reviewed by Robert Allen Papinchak. “Robert Hillman’s The Bookshop of the Broken Hearted is transcendent. It surpasses the ordinary boundaries of what could be a trite exploration of love gone sour. Instead, it rises above sentimentality to a triumphant examination of history, politics, literature, and the pall and sorrow of grief.”

Neon Prey: A Lucas Davenport Novel by John Sandford (G.P. Putnam's Sons). Reviewed by Marvin McIntyre. “Humor isn’t a staple for thriller writers because it can distract from the plot, the action, or the character development. Often, attempts at levity are just annoying as they fail to elicit a smile. In fact, they’re worthy of an eye roll. Sandford is one of the rare authors who uses humor brilliantly not through jokes, but through cutting dialogue. Because we’re dealing here with cops who know each other well, examples of said dialogue must be redacted from this review.”

Underland: A Deep Time Journey by Robert Macfarlane (W.W. Norton & Company). Reviewed by Gretchen Lida. “Macfarlane juxtaposes the underground scenery in front of him with the ecological, literary, and historical significances of the spaces. The way he chooses to contextualize his different ‘underlands’ is also so inclusive, it’s juicy. In one paragraph, he could be quoting ancient Arab lore, then a significant theorist in the next, and David Bowie after that.”

Songs of America: Patriotism, Protest, and the Music that Made a Nation by Jon Meacham and Tim McGraw (Random House). Reviewed by Talmage Boston. As students read in it about the heroic words and deeds of Washington, Jackson, Lincoln, the Roosevelts, King, et al, let them also scrutinize the photographs while they listen to podcasts and watch YouTube videos of George M. Cohan, Kate Smith, Woodie Guthrie, Vera Lynn, Bob Dylan, Nina Simone, Merle Haggard, Staff Sergeant Barry Sadler, Bruce Springsteen, and Alan Jackson performing songs of patriotism and protest. With that type of learning experience, American history would soon return to being many students’ favorite subject during their formative years, thereby providing the necessary grounding about our country’s rich past that will empower them to make more informed decisions about its future.

Mr. Know-It-All: The Tarnished Wisdom of a Filth Elder by John Waters (Farrar, Straus and Giroux). Reviewed by Barry Wightman. “What kind of screwed-up, tasteless world do we live in when a purveyor of reliably filthy trash produces an unexpectedly delightful, entertaining, dare I say knowing book? What have we come to when somebody as vulgar as Waters has his hilarious chapter on business travel, ‘Delayed,’ excerpted in the Wall Street Journal? True fact.”

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