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Books

19 books you have to read in May

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Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; Little, Brown and Company; Point

Whether you’re looking for a great book to pack in a picnic basket or just want to avoid spring cleaning (hey, we don’t blame you), May has plenty of fantastic reads in store: Everything from compulsively readable memoirs like Gabourey Sidibe’s essays and David Sedaris’ diaries to vacation-ready page-turners from Dennis Lehane and Edan Lepucki.

Check out EW’s May recommendations, below:

Gabourey Sidibe, This Is Just My Face (May 1)

The Empire and Precious star spun her droll Twitter account into a book deal — but unlike other social-media-savvy starlets, Sidibe, who grew up in New York City with a stern Senegalese father and has struggled with body image, actually has something to say. (And don’t worry, you’ll still laugh out loud, too.) Order it here.

Lisa Ko, The Leavers (May 2)

When Deming Guo was 11, his Chinese immigrant mother, Polly, left for work at a nail salon and never returned. In alternating perspectives, this heart-wrenching literary debut tells both of their stories. Order it here.

Patricia Lockwood, Priestdaddy (May 2)

In this strange, charming memoir, Lockwood, a poet, juxtaposes stories from her childhood — her father was a Catholic priest — against the months she and her husband spent living in her childhood home. Order it here.

W. Kamau Bell, The Awkward Thoughts of W. Kamau Bell (May 2)

Bell, the host of CNN’s United Shades of America, tackles everything from racism to his life growing up as a Blerd (Black nerd) to his struggles to find his comedic voice in this illuminating memoir. Order it here.

Emily Barr, The One Memory of Flora Banks (May 2)

Despite having no short-term memory, 17-year-old Flora Banks decides to travel all the way to Svalbard, Norway, after receiving an email from Drake, her best friend’s boyfriend — and the subject of her only memory: kissing him before they left. Barr’s YA debut is a riveting page-turner that will keep you hooked till the end. Order it here.

Dennis Lehane, Since We Fell (May 9)

The latest page-turner from Shutter Island and Mystic River author Lehane centers on Rachel Childs, a journalist who’s lived a relatively reclusive life after suffering an on-air breakdown, as she gets unexpectedly sucked into a mind-boggling conspiracy. Order it here.

Edan Lepucki, Woman No. 17 (May 9)

Lepucki, author of the 2014 dystopian novel California, takes the Golden State as inspiration once again in this dark tale about a writer in Hollywood who, taking a break from her husband, grows close to the mysterious artist she hires as a live-in nanny. Order it here.

Paul Theroux, Mother Land (May 9)

Set on Cape Cod, Mother Land centers on a cruel, narcissistic matriarch and the ways she controls her husband and their seven now-grown children, often expertly pitting them against one another. Order it here.

Julie Murphy, Ramona Blue (May 9)

In the Dumplin’ author’s new novel, Ramona, a six feet tall teenager with blue hair, must juggle familial responsibilities with a new love of swimming and a familiar old friendship — all while questioning her sexual fluidity. Order it here.

Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich, The Fact of a Body (May 16)

Marzano-Lesnevich interweaves the story of a disturbing 1992 murder case she stumbles upon as a law intern with her own past trauma in this haunting, excellent memoir. Order it here.

Amy Thielen, Give a Girl a Knife (May 16)

In her delicious coming-of-age memoir, Thielen, a chef, tracks her path from the fast food haven of the Midwest to a life off-the-grid with her husband in the woods, to the culinary delicacies of New York City — and back again. Order it here.

Jose-Luis Bocquet and Catel Muller, Josephine Baker (May 16)

The only thing cooler than Josephine herself is the gorgeous art of Bocquet and Muller’s graphic novel as the life and loves of the famous dancer-turned-activist are rendered in Muller’s energetic yet fluid style. Order it here.

Leland Melvin, Chasing Space (May 23)

From the NFL to space itself, Melvin’s memoir recounts the many figures (hidden or not) in his multiple careers as a football player, chemist, engineer, and of course, astronaut. Order it here.

Sarah Prager and Zoe More O’Ferrall, Queer, There, and Everywhere (May 23)

From Abraham Lincoln himself to the Queen of Sweden, Prager’s words and O’Ferrall’s illustrations help highlight 23 queer historical figures as they delve into how these various individuals influenced the world… whether they made it into the history books or not. Order it here.

Karen M. McManus, One of Us Is Lying (May 30)

Five students walk into detention, only four walk out alive again in McManus’ highly engaging YA mystery. Think Pretty Little Liars meets The Breakfast Club. Order it here.

Goldy Moldavsky, No Good Deed (May 30)

A contest to see who can do the most good takes a turn for the worst as Gregor Maravilla and the rest of his Camp Save the World compatriots start taking things a titch too seriously. Order it here.

Val Emmich, The Reminders (May 30)

In the wake of his partner Sydney’s death, Gavin burns every last reminder of their life together and seeks refuge across the country with an old friend’s family. There, he meets 10-year-old Joan, who has the ability to recall every moment in her life in exceedingly clear detail. It turns out Joan knew Sydney in the last months of his life, but what Gavin learns from her makes him question what he thought he knew about their relationship. Order it here.

David Sedaris, Theft By Finding (May 30)

Sedaris’s bitterly funny diaries — likely famous to anyone who’s seen the satirist on tour — are finally being published, giving us a glimpse into his world (and the glimpses he takes into other people’s). Order it here.

Weike Wang, Chemistry (May 31)

In Wang’s sharp, witty debut, a chemistry graduate student faces two life-altering dilemmas: 1) She’s not sure she wants to be studying chemistry anymore, even though it will devastate her Chinese parents, and 2) She can’t bring herself to accept her boyfriend’s proposal. Wang’s precise, impeccable prose carries our unnamed narrator through her two-year spiral with ease. Order it here.

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