13 Brilliant Books to Bring You Joy This June

Welcome back to the Nerdist Reading List. Each month, I’ll curate book recommendations that delight, charm, and terrify me. Basically, this is the place to find the best fantasy, sci-fi, horror, and romance books and comics to add to your books to read pile. To make things easier, each month will include a selection of already released books you can grab instantly and other new books you’ll definitely want to pre-order or add to your library holds. June is full of great new books to read, including Jumani-inspired fantasy, cozy murder mysteries, every kind of romance, and manga!

Fantasy and Sci-fi Books to Read

Before Takeoff by Adi Alsaid – June 7
The cover for Before Takeoff shows to people standing in an airport where the floor is snow and the ceiling is sand
Knopf Books for Young Readers

Jumanji meets The Sun is Also a Star in this wild meet cute thriller. James and Michelle are two strangers on a layover in Atlanta. When a strange green light draws them together, Michelle realizes it’s a button and instantly pushes it. Unfortunately, that button might have just broken the universe as we know it because suddenly jungles, snowstorms, and earthquakes are happening… inside the terminal! Worse is that no one can find a way out, so Michelle and James have to work together to survive the weirdest layover of their life. Wonderfully inventive and magical, this is a thrilling romantic fantasy that’ll have you reading through the night. 

This Vicious Grace by Emily Thede – June 28
The cover for This Vicious Grace shows a young white woman with blood running down her mouth holding a lemon
Wednesday Books

Looking for a fantastical vacation from real life? One that will introduce you to a world of gods and monsters? Well then, make sure you pick up This Vicious Grace. Alessa is what’s known as a Finestra, she’s supposed to marry a partner and amplify their powers to protect her home. Instead, her power keeps killing her suitors and now she’s only got a few weeks until a swarm of demons brings about doomsday. What’s a girl to do? Hire a handsome and dangerous assassin, of course. But Dante has secrets of his own that could threaten Alessa and her world. Can the two come together in time for her to harness her powers and save the day?

Thriller and Horror Books to Read

The Agathas by Kathleen Glasgow and Liz Lawson – Available Now
The cover for The Agathas shows a young girl in big glasses with a woman reflected in them
Delacorte Press

Cozy murder mysteries are all the rage right now and this thrilling YA combines the classic tropes of the genre with a dark mystery and two daring female detectives. After Alice Ogilvie’s boyfriend Steve broke up with her, she disappeared for five days. Her small town went wild looking for her, so when she came back seemingly unharmed, her friends and neighbors weren’t happy. But when another of Steve’s girlfriends goes missing, suddenly the small town suspicion is back on her ex and Alice knows it wasn’t him. Iris Adams is Alice’s tutor and she agrees that it probably wasn’t Steve, so together the two team up to uncover the dangerous truth. 

Screams From the Dark by Various Authors – June 7
The cover for Screams From the Dark shows an illustrated monster with the title Screams From the Dark across the cover

What makes something, or someone, monstrous? That’s the question that 29 of horror’s best minds aim to answer in this epic anthology from legendary horror editor Ellen Datlow. These all-new terrifying tales come from authors including Stephen Graham Jones, Cassandra Khaw, Indrapramit Das, Chikodili Emelumadu, Glen Hirshberg, A. C. Wise, and Priya Sharma. This is the kind of collection that comes around rarely and will become a new favorite as you delve into the minds and imaginations of some of the most exciting folks in the horror scene. 

The Clackity by Lora Senf – June 28
The cover for The Clackity shows a young red headed white girl in front of a scary building
Atheneum Books for Young Readers

Not a fan of horror but looking for something spooky and strange that’ll keep you up at night? The Clackity is here to deliver the creepy contemporary tale that you’ve been longing for. Evie Von Rathe lives in Blight Harbor, which just happens to be the seventh most haunted place in the US. That’s useful for Evie’s aunt Desdemona, a paranormal expert. The only rule in their unconventional life: Don’t go to the slaughterhouse on the edge of town. But when Desdemona disappears in that very spot, Evie has to break the rule she’s lived by. Soon she meets the titular Clackity and gets embroiled in an ages old mystery including a serial killer and her lost aunt.

Romance Books to Read

If You Change Your Mind by Robby Weber – Available Now
The cover for If You Change Your Mind shows three white boys on a beach one holding a surfboard
Inkyard Press; Original edition

Harry wants nothing more than to become an award-winning screenwriter. But heartbreak seemingly put paid to that when it derailed his SATs. His only chance left is to win a screenwriting competition and he thinks he can do it as long as there are no distractions. So when the architect of his heartbreak, Grant, shows back up, it couldn’t be worse timing. And that’s before he even starts to think about Logan, the cute new guy he can’t not think about. This summer romcom is a delightful read that’ll fill you up with all the warm feels you could want and get you in the mood for some sweet summer love. 

TJ Powar Has Something to Prove by Jesmeen Kaur Deo – June 7
The cover for TJ Powar has Something to Prove shows a glamorous Indian woman with gold earrings and a slight moustache holding a piece of paper that says it's going to get hairy
Viking Books for Young Readers

We love a good romance here at Nerdist, but we get extra excited about a romcom with a message. Jesmeen Kaur Deo’s delightful TJ Powar Has Something to Prove is here to charm, challenge, and entice you. When TJ Powar and her cousin Simran become the crux of a cruel meme about the expectations of dating Indian women, TJ is incensed. While she’s held up as an ideal, her Sikh cousin who doesn’t remove her body hair is shown as “the reality.” And TJ decides to take a stand: She’s going to be her hairy self and still be beautiful. And so sets off this lovely story about beauty standards, being true to yourself, and finding someone who’ll stand by you while you do it. 

Love & Other Great Expectations by Becky Dean – June 14
The cover for Love and Other Great Expectations shows the title and an umbrella, big ben and a red telephone booth
‎ Delacorte Press

Ever wanted to read a romance centered around a scavenger hunt? What about if it was set in England and focused on famous novels? Sounds too good to be true? Well, Becky Dean is here to answer your very specific yet entirely relatable dreams. Britt was always more of an aspiring soccer star than a passionate bookworm, but after an injury waylays her plans she jumps at the chance to go on a scavenger hunt in England. Not only is it a chance for a change of scene but the life-changing prize money doesn’t hurt either. There’s the potential for an unexpected prize too in the form of Luke, a very bookish and British boy she meets there. 

Good Morning Love by Ashley M Coleman – June 21
The cover for Good Morning, Love shows an illustration of Black woman and a Black man walking through a cityscape made up of musical notes
Simon & Schuster

Music lovers of the world rejoice! Ashley M Coleman’s splendid debut novel throws readers into a music industry romance that will sweep you off your feet. A decade plus of industry experience means that Coleman brings an authenticity and vibrancy to each and every page. It’s rare to read a book that makes you feel like you’re in the club or at a gig, and yet Coleman achieves it. The action begins when songwriter Carli has a chance meeting with an up and coming young star named Tau Anderson. Soon the pair are entangled in something far more complex than Carli expected, and her career and reputation could be on the line. 

The Perfect Crimes of Marian Hayes by Cat Sebastian – June 21
The cover for The Perfect Crimes of Marian Hayes shows a white woman in Georgian clothes being embraced by a white man in a fancy jacket
Avon Books

Cat Sebastian returns to Georgian England with this utterly charming companion novel to The Queer Principles of Kit Webb. Readers may have met Marian and her blackmailer in that aforementioned queer romance, but here we follow them on a romantic romp. After Marian shoots her husband she has no idea where to turn, so like any sensible woman she turns to the man who’s been blackmailing her, Rob Brooks. He just so happens to be a famed highway man who may or may not have been dead for the last year. The two chaotic bisexuals team up and soon adventure and romance ensues. So get ready to fall in love all over again. 

Comics, Manga, and Graphic Novels to Read

Nubia: Queen of the Amazons #1 by Stephanie Williams, Alitha Martinez, Mark Morales, John Livesay, Alex Guimáraes, Becca Carey – June 7
Kevin Wada's illustrated cover for Nubia Queen of the Amazons shows our heroine sparring sexily with a red clad fighter
DC Comics/Kevin Wada

If you’re not already a fan of Stephanie William’s Nubia then we don’t know what to tell you. Her vibrant reimagining of Themyscira have been a bright spot in DC’s publishing arm and this month a new miniseries begins. As the title hints, we’re about to embark on a new age of Themysciran royalty, with Queen Nubia sitting on her throne. This first issue is both a great continuation but also an amazing jumping on point. So whether you’re already a fan or want to know more, there’s never been a better time to dive into the world of the Amazons. 

Our Colors by Gengoroh Tagame – June 21
The cover for our colors shows a young Japanese boy laying with his feet up, on the edges of his legs are two circles one which shows an old mans face and the other a young womans

Trailblazing mangaka Gengoroh Tagame is back with a delightful followup to his smash hit romance My Brother’s Husband. This absolutely lovely coming of age comic centers on Sora Itoda, a 16-year-old painter who wants nothing more than to live his life freely as a gay teenager. That doesn’t feel possible until he meets the owner of a local coffee shop, Mr. Amamiya, an out gay man who is unapologetic about his life and loves. This moving tale about intergenerational friendship, healing, and learning to be yourself is unlike any other comic you’ll read this year. And if you’ve yet to read My Brother’s Husband, then make sure to grab that while you wait. 

Featured Image: DC Comics, Knopf Books for Young Readers, Viking Books for Young Readers

Top Stories
More by Rosie Knight
Trending Topics