The Best Southern Books of June 2020

We can’t believe it’s already June — it seems like summer snuck up on us during the strangest and most surreal of all 21st century years so far. If you’re feeling the need for a fantastic new book to celebrate summer, here are some of the best new Southern books of June 2020 you can buy from a Black-owned independent bookstore.

All the Songs We Sing
Edited by Lenard D. Moore
June 2, 2020

Carolina Wren Press: “The Carolina African American Writers’ Collective celebrates its twenty-fifth anniversary with All the Songs We Sing, an anthology of works by members of the Collective, edited by its founder, Lenard D. Moore. Individually, these poems, stories, and essays have helped these Carolinians voice their experiences, remind us of our history, and insist on change, and gathered together, their chorus is turned all the way up and demands to be heard.” 

The House on Fripp Island
By Rebecca Kauffman
June 2, 2020

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt: “A taut, page-turning novel of secrets and strife. When two families — one rich, one not — vacation together off the coast of South Carolina, little do they know that someone won’t be returning home. Fripp Island, South Carolina is the perfect destination for the wealthy Daly family: Lisa, Scott, and their two girls. For Lisa’s childhood friend, Poppy Ford, the resort island is a world away from the one she and Lisa grew up in — and when Lisa invites Poppy’s family to join them, how can a working-class woman turn down an all-expenses paid vacation for her husband and children? But everyone brings secrets to the island, distorting what should be a convivial, relaxing summer on the beach.”

Places I’ve Taken My Body
By Molly McCully Brown
June 2, 2020

Persea Books: “In seventeen intimate essays, Molly McCully Brown explores living within and beyond the limits of a body — in her case one shaped since birth by cerebral palsy. These essays comprise a vivid travelogue set throughout the United States and Europe, from the rural American South of her childhood to the medieval streets of Bologna, Italy. Moving between these locales and others, Brown constellates the subjects that define her, inside and out.”

Boy Oh Boy
By Zachary Doss
June 2, 2020

Red Hen Press: “Boy Oh Boy is a collection of queer fabulist stories and flash fictions told via second person, asking readers to share Doss’s explorations of joy and longing. Doss explores how relationships can be all-consuming, how we transform ourselves to fit within their contour. Eventually, you might change so much that you don’t even fit inside your own body. This book is so much about space — the physical, emotional, and mental spheres that everyone inhabits.” 

The Vanishing Half
By Brit Bennett
June 2, 2020

Riverhead Books: “From The New York Times-bestselling author of The Mothers, a stunning new novel about twin sisters, inseparable as children, who ultimately choose to live in two very different worlds, one Black and one white. The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, Southern Black community and running away at age sixteen, it’s not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it’s everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities.” 

A History of Kindness
By Linda Hogan
June 2, 2020

Torrey House Press: “Poems from Linda Hogan explore new and old ways of experiencing the vagaries of the body and existing in harmony with earth’s living beings.”

Our Time Is Now
By Stacey Abrams
June 9, 2020

Henry Holt & Company: “Celebrated national leader and bestselling author Stacey Abrams offers a blueprint to end voter suppression, empower our citizens, and take back our country. A recognized expert on fair voting and civic engagement, Abrams chronicles a chilling account of how the right to vote and the principle of democracy have been and continue to be under attack.”

By Ashleigh Bryant Phillips
June 16

Hub City Press: “Hailed by Lauren Groff as ‘fully committed to the truth no matter how dark or difficult or complicated it may be,’ and written with ‘incantatory crispness,’ Sleepovers, the debut short story collection by Ashleigh Bryant Phillips, takes us to a forgotten corner of the rural South, full of cemeteries, soybean fields, fishing holes, and Duck Thru gas stations.”

Improbable Metropolis:
Houston’s Architectural and Urban History

By Barrie Scardino Bradley
June 16, 2020

University of Texas Press: “Beautifully illustrated, Improbable Metropolis is one of the few books to use architecture and urban planning to explain the growth of a major world city, and the only one of its kind on Houston or any other city in Texas.”

Worship the Pig
By Gaylord Brewer
June 16, 2020

Red Hen Press: “Worship the Pig, Gaylord Brewer’s eleventh collection, is by the poet’s own definition his “Americas book.” The migration begins from his Tennessee home to the Inside Passage of Alaska, then detours sharply south in a return to his beloved Costa Rica, then onward finally to the qualified paradise of Brazil’s Ilhabela. Brewer’s persistent obsessions — translating the call and challenge of the feral world, negotiating some truce with private ghosts — have never been more poignantly and sharply drawn.”