R29 Reads: The Books We’re Picking Up This June

Wondering how on earth we’re already halfway through the year? Join the club. Although 2021 has been rocky to say the least, the extra time indoors has given us a chance to enjoy the small pleasures of home. Whether it's getting stuck into some DIY or bingeing a true crime drama, lockdown life has had its moments.

Above all else, the extra downtime has provided us with plenty of opportunity to get stuck into a good book. As we return to even more outdoor activities this month, we’re hoping that our nightly routine of diving into an engrossing read is a pandemic habit that sticks.


Last month, team R29 worked its way through a broad selection of books, including Di Lebowitz’s powerful novel The Marks Left On Her, which explores how sexual assault can alter an individual's whole world. Other must-reads included Kirsty Capes’ Careless, centred around a pregnant teenager in the foster system, and Mother Mother, written by former Radio 1 DJ Annie Mac.

This month, the team is exploring everything from ancient curses to far-off dystopian futures. To take a peek at all the books we’re reading this June, click through the slideshow ahead...

At Refinery29, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team. If you buy something we link to on our site, Refinery29 may earn a commission.

1 of 6
Jess Commons, Lifestyle Director

Book: Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Why is it your June read?
I was such a sucker for Daisy Jones & The Six, Taylor Jenkins Reid’s last novel which was kinda sorta almost based on Fleetwood Mac (side note: I feel like the upcoming miniseries is going to be very 'Gossip Girl does the 1970s' and I can’t wait. Vanessa Hudgens' Coachella looks for everyone!). Malibu Rising looks like another (not) guilty pleasure; an easy read, perfect for summer. Set in 1983, it centres around the iconic Riva siblings, the offspring of a legendary musician who are now famous in their own right thanks to glamorous careers like 'supermodel' and 'championship surfer'. However, the secrets and lies behind their charmed lives are ready to come out and it’s all going to happen in one explosive night at the Rivas' annual end-of-summer party at their Malibu mansion. Bring it on.
2 of 6
Katy Thompsett, Sub Editor

Book: The Butchers by Ruth Gilligan

Why is it your June read? Let’s get something straight: two of my recent runs through the Northern Irish countryside where I live may have been interrupted by a runaway cow and a flock of ‘fraidy cat sheep respectively but there’s more to Ireland than livestock. Sure, cattle feature pretty prominently in The Butchers, in which a group of men roam the country during the 1990s BSE crisis, slaughtering cows by hand to ward off an ancient curse. But this book isn’t really about our bovine pals. It’s about folklore and superstition, masculinity, greed and the steady creep of modernity – all wrapped around a murder which is very grisly indeed.
3 of 6
Jessica Morgan, Staff Writer

Book: The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris

Why is it your June read?
When this book landed on my doorstep, I could not WAIT to dive in. Twenty-six-year-old Nella Rogers is the only Black member of staff at her publishing company and is fed up with the isolation and constant microaggressions. So when she finds out that the company is hiring another Black woman, who'll sit next to her, she is thrilled. They trade haircare routines and bond over their Black experience and Nella is excited to finally have a workplace ally. Then Nella begins to find passive-aggressive notes on her desk, asking her to leave the company. They can’t be from new girl Hazel...can they? Nella becomes obsessed with discovering the truth and her life spirals out of control, jeopardising her career and her relationship with Hazel. Can there be more than one Black woman in the office? Weaving in important discussions around race, navigating white spaces and the corporate world, this is a vital piece of literature that will have you howling and wincing at the same time. 
4 of 6
Alicia Lansom, Editorial Assistant

Book: Girl One by Sara Flannery Murphy

Why is it your June read? Over the last five months I’ve made my way through a silly number of sci-fi shows. From Snowpiercer to Soulmates, I have a serious love of dystopian TV and I can’t believe it's taken me this long to explore books of the same genre. Telling the story of the first of nine babies conceived without male DNA, Girl One explores the life of Josephine Morrow and the experimental commune she is born into. When her mother goes missing without a trace, Josephine has to bring her estranged family together to figure out who she is and what she's truly capable of in order to solve the mystery. Part fantasy, part thriller, this book feels like the perfect jumping-off point to start my sci-fi-inspired literary journey.
5 of 6
Sadhbh O’Sullivan, Health & Living Writer

Book: The Service by Frankie Miren

Why is it your June read? Many novels have been written about sex workers but more often than not they miss the mark, with sex workers feeling wilfully misrepresented. This cannot be said about Frankie Miren’s debut. Described as an "engaging and clear-eyed tackling of a controversial subject, wrapped up in a gripping narrative", The Service is informed by 25 years of dropping in and out of sex work, in various conditions and on several continents. Following three central characters (a woman working illegally in her rented flat, a student making money through escorting and a journalist campaigning against prostitution), The Service is a powerful and challenging novel about women's bodies, sex and relationships, mental health, entitlement, authenticity, privilege and power. It's as shocking as any dystopia but touching and deeply humane.
6 of 6
Anna Jay, Art Director

Book: Sunrise by the Sea by Jenny Colgan

Why is it your June read? I fell upon Colgan’s books when looking for an emergency holiday read a few years ago and they have been my secret guilty pleasure ever since. I don’t read often and I’m not one to want to be challenged intellectually by books. I want to escape and keep it very light. It's the epitome of chick lit and I'm 100% here for it (once a year).
Load more...