June 2024 Reads for the Rest of Us

The Feminist Know-It-All: You know her. You can’t stand her. Good thing she’s not here! Instead, this column by gender and women’s studies librarian Karla Strand will amplify stories of the creation, access, use and preservation of knowledge by women and girls around the world; share innovative projects and initiatives that focus on information, literacies, libraries and more; and, of course, talk about all of the books.

Each month, I provide Ms. readers with a list of new books being published by writers from historically excluded groups.

The aims of these lists are threefold:

  1. I want to do my part in the disruption of what has been the acceptable “norm” in the book world for far too long—white, cis, heterosexual, male;
  2. I want to amplify indie publishers and amazing works by writers who are women, Black, Indigenous, Latinx, APIA/AAPI, international, queer, trans, nonbinary, disabled, fat, immigrant, Muslim, neurodivergent, sex-positive or of other historically marginalized identities—you know, the rest of us; and
  3. I want to challenge and encourage you all to buy, borrow and read them! 

My dear feminist readers,

I want to thank those of you who reached out with such kind words about the introduction to last month’s column. I had no idea that others felt so similarly to the sentiments I expressed. It helps me to know that I’m not alone, so thank you for being in touch via email or on socials. 

Let’s keep up that level of engagement, inspiration and support for one another! I know we all need it. 

This month, I’m recommending 21 books that stood out to me for various reasons. The topics are diverse, from strange and spell-binding fiction, to nurturing and necessary nonfiction. 

As always, let me know what you’re reading, and thanks for your continued support. 

On Our Own Terms: Indigenous Histories of School Funding and Policy

By Meredith McCoy (Turtle Mountain Ojibwe descent). University of Nebraska Press. 252 pages. Out now. 

This necessary examination of Indigenous education dives deep into elements not yet explored with this level of rigor and research. Meredith McCoy uncovers schools as colonizing tools, even down to their funding. Likewise, McCoy clearly illustrates the resistance of Indigenous peoples in their commitment to making education their own despite the barriers. 


Stories Are Weapons: Psychological Warfare and the American Mind

By Annalee Newitz (@ghidorahnotweak). W. W. Norton & Company. 272 pages. Out Jun. 4.

ICYMI, Annalee Newitz isn’t just a fantastic science fiction writer, but they are a damn fine journalist as well. In their latest, they examine how stories have been weaponized to sow chaos and confusion in service to a perilous “digital psywar.” Luckily, they also provide us with the deeply researched and well-reasoned exit strategy we desperately need.


We Refuse: A Forceful History of Black Resistance

By Kellie Carter Jackson (@kelliecarterjackson). Seal Press. 304 pages. Out Jun. 4.

Historian Kellie Carter Jackson has outdone herself with this masterfully researched and endlessly readable exploration—and celebration—of Black refusal to racism and oppression. Shedding light on stories formerly hidden, Carter Jackson examines various forms of resistance, from truancy to flight to simply recovering joy in the everyday.


Tiananmen Square: A Novel

By Lai Wen. Spiegel & Grau. 528 pages. Out Jun. 4.

Don’t let the size of this one deter you; it’s a deceptively quick read. This character-driven historical novel reflects on growing up, friendship and idealism in China during the 1970s and 1980s. Culminating in the iconic student demonstration in 1989, this story provides a unique and compelling perspective.


Beginning Again: Stories of Movement and Migration in Appalachia

By Katrina M. Powell. Haymarket Books. 352 pages. Out Jun. 11.

The latest volume in the Voice of Witness series, Beginning Again includes 12 compelling stories from people with histories or personal accounts of migration to or relocation within Appalachia. Each narrative disrupts stereotypes and provides an authentic voice to the diversity of experiences in the region.


Out of the Sierra: A Story of Rarámuri Resistance

By Victoria Blanco. Coffee House Press. 328 pages. Out Jun. 11. 

Through her ten years of oral histories and participatory research with the Rarámuri people of Chihuahua, Mexico, Victoria Blanco has given readers the gift of intimate testimony of Indigenous knowledge and tradition. In powerful narrative nonfiction, Blanco explores the Rarámuri through one family’s removal, resilience and resistance.



Written by Lau Yee-Wa. Translated by Jennifer Feeley. Feminist Press. 280 pages. Out Jun. 11.

This translation, set in Hong Kong, explores the urgency and gravity of language and culture in contemporary society. In a secondary school where teachers must switch from teaching in Cantonese to Mandarin, two rival teachers deal with the mandate in shocking ways.  


Why Would Feminists Trust the Police?

By Leah Cowan (@leahacowan). Verso. 240 pages. Out Jun. 11.

Through frameworks of Black British feminism and abolition, writer and editor Leah Cowan disrupts the notion that women could—or should—ever trust or depend on the police. While some women still hold out for police protection, Cowan dispels this myth and provides clear-eyed and convincing alternatives to keeping ourselves safe.


Zan: Stories

By Suzi Ehtesham-Zadeh. Dzanc Books. Out Jun. 11. 

Suzi Ehtesham-Zadeh has written this rich and evocative collection of short stories honoring the Zan, Zendegi, Azadi (Woman, Life Freedom) movement in Iran. It aptly illustrates the diversity, agency and power of women who fiercely love their country and its people, even in the face of an oppressive empire. 


Breaking the Curse: A Memoir About Trauma, Healing, and Italian Witchcraft

By Alex DiFrancesco (@Alex_JKPGender). Seven Stories Press. 192 pages. Out June 18.

With Breaking the Curse, writer and editor Alex DiFrancesco ups the ante on memoirs. In their candid and irreverent voice, DiFrancesco calls on readers to struggle along with them from rape and addiction through tarot, magic and spirituality to security, hope and, ultimately, healing. Content warning for suicide, addiction and sexual violence.


Craft: Stories I Wrote for the Devil

By Ananda Lima (@anandalima). Tor Books. 192 pages. Out June 18. 

After sleeping with the devil in 1999, “the writer” began crafting stories for him, some of which are included in this divine debut collection. Some are weird, some are wondrous, but all will have you reflecting on belonging, home, creativity, fear and more. 


Hood Wellness: Tales of Communal Care from People Who Drowned on Dry Land

By Tamela J. Gordon (@shewritestolive). Row House Publishing. 312 pages. Out June 18.

This powerful and reflective exploration of health and wellness is just what we need in our current moment. Weaving in personal narratives, self-help and social justice, Tamela J. Gordon provides us with a transformative perspective of self and community care, one that replaces a white heteronormative wellness industry with one centering inclusivity, justice and collectivity. 


Little Rot: A Novel

By Akwaeke Emezi. Riverhead Books. 288 pages. Out June 18. 

From the ever-unpredictable Akwaeke Emezi comes this erotic thriller not for the faint of heart. Emezi is a genius, IMHO, but an acquired taste, so if you’ve never tried them, don’t start with Little Rot. Super queer, disturbing and unflinching, Emezi’s latest will leave you uncomfortably questioning morality, power, sex and, well, humanity as a whole. Content warning for sexual violence. 


Night Flyer: Harriet Tubman and the Faith Dreams of a Free People

By Tiya Miles (@TiyaMiles). Penguin. 336 pages. Out Jun. 18. 

Well-researched and endlessly readable, Night Flyer invites readers to experience the many sides of Harriet Tubman, most of which we’ve not fully understood until now. Miles focuses on her mysticism, knowledge of the natural world and boundless dedication to truth and liberation. 


Perennial Ceremony: Lessons and Gifts from a Dakota Garden

By Teresa Peterson (Sisseton Wahpeton Dakota). University of Minnesota Press. 224 pages. Out Jun. 18.

I read this lovely collection while sitting in my backyard overlooking my pollinator garden on one of the first warm days of spring. Through stories, memories, recipes, essays and poems, Peterson lovingly honors healing and wholeness through the seasonal ceremonies of the everyday. 


Rooted: The American Legacy of Land Theft and the Modern Movement for Black Land Ownership

By Brea Baker (@freckledwhileblack). One World. 320 pages. Out Jun. 18.

Brea Baker’s brilliant debut history is unapologetically focused on the effect land theft has had on Black farming, land ownership and legacies of wealth. Rigorously examining land in Indigenous and Black communities, Baker draws a line from stolen land to stolen bodies to the commodification of both and through to the staggering racial wealth gaps we see today.


Systemic: How Racism is Making Us Sick

By Layal Liverpool (@layallivs). Astra House. 320 pages. Out June 18.

In this necessary volume, science journalist Layal Liverpool dispels the oft-repeated myth that biological or genetic differences among racial groups can explain health disparities. The fact is that we can more often blame racism – not race itself – in health care as the culprit to harmful health outcomes. 


Children of Anguish and Anarchy

By Tomi Adeyemi (@tomiadeyemi). Henry Holt and Co. BYR. 368 pages. Out Jun. 25.

There’s not really much to say about this one except IT’S THE LEGACY OF ORISHA FINALE! IYKYK—and if you don’t, what are you even doing with your life? I urge you to spend the summer reading one of the most imaginative, captivating, refreshing and important fantasy series ever.


The Eyes Are the Best Part

By Monika Kim (@monikakimauthor). Erewhon Books. 288 pages. Out June 25.

Monika Kim’s debut is scary, gross and gripping. With themes of immigration, racism, sexism and family trauma, it centers on a woman’s descent into a dark, hungry and violent obsession. This is feminist serial killer horror not to be missed.


Namesake: Reflections on a Warrior Woman

By N.S. Nuseibeh (@nswriting.bsky.social). Olive Branch Press. 288 pages. Out June 25. 

This collection of personal and interwoven essays offers a unique look into the delicate entanglements of the past and the contemporary. Exploring themes of feminism, colonialism, Palestinian heritage and home, Nuseibeh has gifted readers the reflection on history that our present moment so desperately needs.  


Please Stop Trying to Leave Me: A Novel

By Alana Saab (@alana.saab). Vintage. 384 pages. Out June 25.

This debut will appeal to readers—and writers—of unreliable narrators and meta realism. Sharp and contemporary, it centers on a lesbian writer struggling with mental health, relationships and finishing her manuscript. Saab’s unique style is darkly funny, tender and queer AF. 


Up next:

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Karla J. Strand is the gender and women’s studies librarian for the University of Wisconsin. She completed her doctorate in information science via University of Pretoria in South Africa with a background in history and library science, and her research centers on the role of libraries and knowledge in empowering women and girls worldwide. Tweet her @karlajstrand.