May We Recommend You a Book? 35 New Reads for May

Maybe you’re looking for a good read for your upcoming vacation. Maybe you’re shopping for a gift for a mom, graduate, or another special person in your life. Maybe you just want to find your next favorite read. Never fear! We have rounded up 35 of our favorite books that are currently on our shelves. Read on to find that next special read!

Recommended by Hannah K.

Emily Henry has a gift for writing the exact story we need to read in our current moment, this time featuring a cast of beautifully rendered characters. If you’ve ever felt stagnant or lost in life, Harriet’s journey will be achingly relatable to you. This book made me laugh. It made me sob. It made me thankful for this weird, messy, downright chaotic life we get to live.

Recommended by Rae Ann

The Secret Book of Flora Lea: A Novel By Patti Callahan Henry Cover ImageThe Secret Book of Flora Lea: A Novel

Two sisters evacuated from London during the Blitz are held together by a story they invent about a magical land called Whisperwood, until one disappears. Twenty years later, a book called Whisperwood lands in Hazel’s hands, reopening old wounds and cracking open the door of hope that her sister might be alive.

Recommended by Ashby

The Secret Service of Tea and Treason (Dangerous Damsels #3) By India Holton Cover ImageThe Secret Service of Tea and Treason (Dangerous Damsels #3)

What would I do if India Holton stopped the series? Scream! Cry! Another romance with pirates and witches. Agent A and Agent B, Alice and Daniel, members of the Undercover Agency of Note Takers, pretend to be married to get to the bottom of an assassination plot. How long will they hate each other? I think you know where this is headed…but so much fun getting there. Romance and adventure rolled into one.

Recommended by Jennifer

In the Lives of Puppets By TJ Klune Cover ImageIn the Lives of Puppets

By TJ Klune

From the author of The House in the Cerulean Sea comes a whimsical dystopian adventure in the land of robots. Human boy Vic and his patchwork family take on an impossible rescue, but maybe it’s Vic who is looking to be truly found. You will love this heartfelt and inspiring Pinocchio retelling!

Recommended by Rachel

One for My Enemy: A Novel By Olivie Blake Cover ImageOne for My Enemy: A Novel

Russian folklore meets Practical Magic meets Romeo & Juliet. This book is one wild read. Olivie Blake always has the uncanny ability to make me fall in love with half a dozen characters in less than fifty pages. You’ll love them & you’ll hate them. You’ll love to hate them. You’ll cry & throw the book and then check to make sure it isn’t damaged. The writing is just as pretty as the cover! Plus, the end pages have art!

Recommended by Cheryl

If We're Being Honest: A Novel By Cat Shook Cover ImageIf We’re Being Honest: A Novel

By Cat Shook

Multiple personalities and tensions are bubbling over when the children come together for their father’s funeral. His best friend drops a “bomb” in the eulogy. The family figures out a way to put together this broken relationship in a new way. The novel is a saga with a little romance. It may start with a funeral, but it ends in a wedding.

Recommended by Marcia

With My Little Eye: A Novel By Joshilyn Jackson Cover ImageWith My Little Eye: A Novel

A twisty stalker thriller! Meribel moves her 13 year old daughter and herself more than halfway across the country, from LA to Atlanta, to escape her stalker, the Marker Man (who writes his letters in scented markers). There’s no way he can find her, but then the situation escalates. Could the stalker be Meribel’s ex-husband, her love interest in their new apartment building, or her bodyguard ex-boyfriend?

Recommended by Cheryl

The Covenant of Water By Abraham Verghese Cover ImageThe Covenant of Water

This is not a short novel, nor is it short on brilliant character development. It takes place in India starting after WWI and ends in 1977, so history is part of the setting. The reader will gasp at some of the decisions resulting from a belief in a family curse. The plot has surprises. There are quotes worth underlining. It’s an investment in time to complete but it will stay with you after the last page.

Recommended by Heath

Small Mercies: A Novel By Dennis Lehane Cover ImageSmall Mercies: A Novel

Set in the summer of 1974 on the eve of the Boston Public Schools being integrated, a high school girl from Southie goes missing and her mother, Mary Pat, will do whatever it takes to find her. While Mary Pat is definitely flawed, it was refreshing to not only see a woman as the main character in this type of narrative, but also as the most badass. Lehane is the king of Boston crime novels, and this is one of his best.

Recommended by Ashby

No Two Persons: A Novel By Erica Bauermeister Cover ImageNo Two Persons: A Novel

The premise caught me. How does a book change a reader? An author’s debut novel changes her and nine readers. The book includes the writing and content of the novel as it weaves in nine readers ranging from a teenager to a bookseller. The story of her novel impacts each of the nine in unique ways. The structure made for an interesting read and left me to think about the ways books change us.

Recommended by Chelsea

The House Is on Fire By Rachel Beanland Cover ImageThe House Is on Fire

This rich historical novel follows the events surrounding the Richmond Theater fire that occurred in 1811. Beanland expertly weaves the stories of four individuals who were impacted by the fire and ensuing aftermath while using their stories to look at the details of life in Virginia in the early 1800s. Both the research and the craft of the story highly impressed me, and the audiobook is a fantastic production.

Recommended by Katie

Practice Makes Perfect: A Novel By Sarah Adams Cover ImagePractice Makes Perfect: A Novel

This book had me smiling from the jump. I liked When in Rome but I LOVED Practice Makes Perfect. Annie is tired of being the town good girl. Desperate to break out of her shell she employs Will, a bad boy with a rap sheet a mile long to tutor her in the ways of being deliciously naughty. She couldn’t possibly fall for Will…so it’s totally safe. Or is it?

Recommended by Kathy

The Trackers: A Novel By Charles Frazier Cover ImageThe Trackers: A Novel

A young painter goes out west to paint a post office mural during the Depression. He bunks with a wealthy rancher and his much-younger, beautiful wife. When the wife runs away, the artist is tapped to find her. His exciting and colorful journey through the American West of the 1930’s produces unexpected results. The best Charles Frazier novel yet!

Recommended by Katie

The Secret Lives of Country Gentlemen (The Doomsday Books) By KJ Charles Cover ImageThe Secret Lives of Country Gentlemen (The Doomsday Books)

Have you ever read a book that makes you squeal with actual joy? A book so great it has you doing laundry, folding it and putting it away JUST so you have an excuse to listen to the next chapter? This is that book. So much fun! So sweet! So swoony! A lovely gay regency romance to lift your spirits and break you out of any reading rut.

Recommended by Katie

Hula: A Novel By Jasmin Iolani Hakes Cover ImageHula: A Novel

For readers who love a sweeping intergenerational story, Hula is a rich and fascinating story of three generations of Hawaiian women and the dance that brings them together and tears them apart. Told in the collective voice of a community struggling to survive, this debut book brings to the forefront the rich cultural heritage of the Hawaiian people and the horrendous treatment by the U.S. government

Recommended by Sissy

You Shouldn't Have Come Here By Jeneva Rose Cover ImageYou Shouldn’t Have Come Here

A tired, gorgeous New Yorker meets a handsome dude on a ranch. They both have secrets. Fate brings them together, but will all the lies TEAR THEM APART?? Rose’s thrillers are always hot and fun. This one’s a perfect spring read.

Recommended by Maddie

Old Flame By Molly Prentiss Cover ImageOld Flame

I loved this novel about a woman struggling through various stages in her life with how to define herself in relation to her job, her family, her friends, etc. True to life, Prentiss’s writing is at times heartening and at times acutely painful. I would recommend Old Flame to women in any phase of life.

Recommended by Theo

Tasting History: Explore the Past through 4,000 Years of Recipes (A Cookbook) By Max Miller, Ann Volkwein Cover ImageTasting History: Explore the Past through 4,000 Years of Recipes (A Cookbook)

I discovered my love of food history when I found Max Miller’s YouTube channel back in 2020. I am so excited to now have my favorite recipes in book form! His pumpion pie recipe from 1670 has become a staple of my family’s Thanksgiving celebration. Even if you don’t like to cook, this beautiful book is a great introduction to regional cuisine from ancient Babylon to Reconstruction America.

Recommended by Heather

You Could Make This Place Beautiful: A Memoir By Maggie Smith Cover ImageYou Could Make This Place Beautiful: A Memoir

Yes, this is a story about the pain of divorce, but this book is so beautifully written the sadness is bearable, and you want to keep reading. It allows you to savor the language and offers you space to ponder. Probably my favorite book this year, and one I will keep going back to.

Recommended by Lindsay

The Ugly History of Beautiful Things: Essays on Desire and Consumption By Katy Kelleher Cover ImageThe Ugly History of Beautiful Things: Essays on Desire and Consumption

I’ve been following Kathy Kelleher’s essays on beauty and consumerism for a while now, so it’s no surprise to me that her collection, The Ugly History of Beautiful Things, is a perfect blend of memoir, history, and cultural commentary. I adored Kelleher’s meditations on topics like sea shells, gemstones, silk, and things that sparkle—each essay made me slow down and reconsider the role of these objects in our world.

Recommended by Marcia

It. Goes. So. Fast.: The Year of No Do-Overs By Mary Louise Kelly Cover ImageIt. Goes. So. Fast.: The Year of No Do-Overs

Mary Louise Kelly is the host of NPR’s All Things Considered and a mom. Like most of us, she has struggled with the proverbial work and family life balance, and that sweet time of having everyone under one roof is running out – they’ll leave the nest soon. Her insight into parenting – being in the working world while being there for your kids – was so relevant to me that I found myself underlining so many passages.

Recommended by Jake

The Wager: A Tale of Shipwreck, Mutiny and Murder By David Grann Cover ImageThe Wager: A Tale of Shipwreck, Mutiny and Murder

When a group of castaways from the British naval ship The Wager wash ashore, they share a tale of survival. But months later, a separate group of castaways appears and accuses the others of mutiny. An investigation begins, and the guilty will surely be tried and hanged. A gripping follow up to Killers of The Flower Moon, The Wager is further proof that David Grann is one of the finest nonfiction writers alive.

Recommended by Jenness

LLife in Five Senses: How Exploring the Senses Got Me Out of My Head and Into the World By Gretchen Rubin Cover Imageife in Five Senses: How Exploring the Senses Got Me Out of My Head and Into the World

Gretchen Rubin, who teaches us how to acknowledge and enhance happiness in all areas of life, encourages exploration of our five senses to further engage with the joy and wonder all around us. Rubin devises and recommends simple, daily practices to get in touch with what we see, hear, touch, taste, and feel and deepen our appreciation of what and who we love in this world.

Recommended by Hannah P.

It Came from the Closet: Queer Reflections on Horror By Joe Vallese (Editor), Carmen Maria Machado (Contribution by), Bruce Owens Grimm (Contribution by) Cover ImageIt Came from the Closet: Queer Reflections on Horror

By Joe Vallese (Editor), Carmen Maria Machado (Contribution by), Bruce Owens Grimm (Contribution by)

This is the spooky, queer essay collection of my dreams. Through the lens of horror films like Hereditary, Jennifer’s Body, and The Exorcist, twenty-five queer and trans writers discuss their experiences with gender, sexuality, relationships, and identity. This blend of personal essays and film criticism had me hooked and is a must-read for all horror fans!

Recommended by Jake

LeBron By Jeff Benedict Cover ImageLeBron

This definitive biography of the (second) greatest basketball player of all time is meticulously researched and stunningly rendered. Lending equal attention to his success on the court as well as his personal life, philanthropy, and business empire, Lebron is a mesmerizing look at one of the most famous and influential athletes to ever exist.

Recommended by Chelsea

Dear Future Mama: A Tmi Guide to Pregnancy, Birth, and Motherhood from Your Bestie By Meghan Trainor Cover ImageDear Future Mama: A Tmi Guide to Pregnancy, Birth, and Motherhood from Your Bestie

A laid-back but honest approach to pregnancy and the fourth trimester. Meghan’s voice really shines, and I appreciated her candor about the hard parts of her journey. Meghan’s husband, doctor, and nutritionist all contribute to make this informative but not overwhelming. A great gift for expecting moms!

Recommended by Patsy

Truly Simple: 140 Healthy Recipes for Weekday Cooking By Kristin Cavallari Cover ImageTruly Simple: 140 Healthy Recipes for Weekday Cooking

Need some simple-to-prepare yet healthy recipes for everyday meals? The cauliflower risotto with garlic shrimp is a crowd pleaser, and the zucchini butter pasta will work for children and a dinner party too! My favorite new recipe though is the citrus salmon with fennel! Pure yumminess in wholesome food! Plus extra points for the pantry list!

Recommended by Lindsay

Possession (Vintage International) By A. S. Byatt Cover ImagePossession (Vintage International)

Get in the car, nerds, we’re reading about British academics scouring the archives for a century-old love story. If that sounds about your speed, please enjoy AS Byatt’s Possession, a gorgeous literary romance that takes its time but is well-worth the journey. I’ve loved this book more and more with each reread.

Recommended by Ashby

Einstein's Dreams (Vintage Contemporaries) By Alan Lightman Cover ImageEinstein’s Dreams (Vintage Contemporaries)

I repeatedly revisit this book because TIME mystifies me. Lightman’s premise – Einstein is working on the theory of relativity, exploring varied notions of time – offers vignettes that define time differently. In one, time moves slower at higher altitudes. The wealthy live close to the clouds, coming down infrequently so they can live longer. Each vignette portrays the different definitions on how humans behave.

Recommended by Sarah

They By Kay Dick, Scholes (Afterword by) Cover ImageThey

By Kay DickScholes (Afterword by)

Originally published in 1977, this rediscovered dystopian classic belongs among the likes of 1984 and Fahrenheit 451. Sparse, eerie, and almost dreamlike, They will leave you with more questions than answers, but the curiosity it evokes will keep you musing on the endless possibilities of art, creativity, and human nature.

Recommended by Heath

Carmilla By Carmen Maria Machado (Editor), Joseph Sheridan Lefanu Cover ImageCarmilla

If you’re like me and enjoy an old world vampire tale, this book is for you. First serialized in a British literary magazine in the 1870’s, Carmilla predates Bram Stoker’s Dracula by a quarter of a century. This book reads like a fever dream, and I can’t stop imagining what it would be like if Sofia Coppola directed a film version.

Recommended by Hannah P.

Envelope Poems By Emily Dickinson, Jen Bervin (Editor), Marta Werner (Editor) Cover ImageEnvelope Poems

By Emily DickinsonJen Bervin (Editor), Marta Werner (Editor)

Emily Dickinson only published a handful of her 1,800 poems. Upon her death she left behind some of her most powerful and poignant words–written on scraps of paper and envelopes. These “envelope poems,” while short, are wondrous and charged with emotion. This lovely clothbound collection has both transcriptions and facsimiles of her poems. It truly feels like a glimpse into the very heart of America’s greatest poet.

Recommended by Patsy

To the One I Love the Best By Ludwig Bemelmans, Ludwig Bemelmans (Illustrator) Cover ImageTo the One I Love the Best

By Ludwig BemelmansLudwig Bemelmans (Illustrator)

The creator of the Madeline books offers a witty and engaging recounting of his years in Los Angeles of the 1930’s as a guest of the eccentric Elsie de Wolfe, whom everyone calls Mother. I love his vivid descriptions of the household staff, friends, family, and her beloved dog, Blue Blue, as only a foreigner could observe. This one is sure to bring a smile!

Recommended by Rachel

These Violent Delights: A Novel By Micah Nemerever Cover ImageThese Violent Delights: A Novel

If you’re like me, you’re always searching for a book that feels like The Secret History. Search no further. There’s murder in the first chapter, a jump back in time, dark academia, and an exploration of codependent relationships. I saw so many pieces of myself in these characters, which slowly made me question my sanity as I turned each page. The perfect descent into madness.

Recommended by Hannah P.

Utopia Avenue: A Novel By David Mitchell Cover ImageUtopia Avenue: A Novel

The year is 1967, the place is London, and Utopia Avenue is the strangest and grooviest psychedelic band on the rise to stardom. David Mitchell writes about music in a way that jumps off the pages and sucks you in. If you’re still on a 60s kick from Daisy Jones & The Six, this is your next great read!

First Editions Club: May Selection

Dear friends,

You know what happens when you’re a member of a First Editions Club that’s run by a friend of Tom Hanks? You get a signed first edition of The Making of Another Major Motion Picture Masterpiece, to which I say, lucky you, and lucky me. The book is great.

Of course, Tom’s first book, Uncommon Type, was great, too. It took a while to understand that someone who could act that well could also write that well, but when you think about it, acting is about diving into a character and paying attention to the characters around you. If you’re good at it (and he is), it’s one of the most creative and imaginative acts: giving yourself over in order to become someone else. If you spend your life doing one thing, maybe it stands to reason that you could do the other. Still, it doesn’t stand to reason that you could do the other thing this well.

Everything about this book is wild. It teems with Life Force and Big Ideas that reach out in an unbelievable number of directions. Reading this book is, I imagine, the closest most of us will ever get to being part of a motion picture masterpiece.

Here’s what I said about the book on the jacket, and I meant every word:
The Making of Another Major Motion Picture Masterpiece is its own universe, complete with a sun, a cast of circling planets, and a limitless number of stars. Its gravity pulls you in and its far reaching, multi-layered, rollicking exuberance holds you in place. I would have been happy to live inside this book forever.

I hope you enjoy it. I bet you will.

Ann Patchett


More about our First Editions Club: Every member receives a first edition of the selected book of the month, signed by the author. Books are carefully chosen by our staff of readers, and our picks have gone on to earn major recognition including the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and the PEN/Faulkner Award. Plus, there’s no membership fee or premium charge for these books. Build a treasured library of signed first editions and always have something great to read! Makes a FABULOUS gift, too.