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May Is Bringing Plenty of New Books for Your Summer Reading List

Book covers for "The Immortal King Rao," "The Premonitions Bureau," and "River of the Gods"
W. W. Norton & Company/Penguin Press/Doubleday

Summer is coming and May is the perfect time to pick up some new books to read poolside. Whether you prefer fascinating nonfiction that teaches you more about the world, a thriller sure to send chills up your spine, or getting swept away in a sweet romance, May has a new release for you.

Here are the brand-new titles you’ll want to add to your cart:

The Hacienda

If you love Rebecca and Mexican Gothic, you’ll definitely love this new suspense novel by Isabel Cañas. After marrying up to escape her family’s disgrace, Beatriz arrives at her new husband’s hacienda, only to discover strange happenings and nightly terrors. With the help of a local priest with a mysterious past, Beatriz tries to uncover the truth about the haunted house—and to who she’s really married. Release date: May 3.

By the Book

Take Beauty and the Beast, transplant it to the world of book publishing, give the relationship a few tweaks, and you’ve got Jasmine Guillory’s downright enchanting new romance. After impulsively offering to spend several days personally working with reclusive celeb, Beau, on his overdue memoir, aspiring editor, Izzy, discovers there’s more to life than her job (and more to Beau than he lets on). Release date: May 3. 

Remarkably Bright Creatures: A Novel

Shelby Pelt’s creative new novel centers on the most unexpected of friendships: the connection between a grieving widow and a wise old octopus. Aquarium groundskeeper, Tova, forges a bond with a grumpy octopus named Marcellus. As their friendship develops, Marcellus slowly begins to figure out the truth behind the mysterious disappearance of her son decades ago. Release date: May 3. 

The Premonitions Bureau: A True Account of Death Foretold

This nonfiction book by Sam Knight is strange enough to be fiction. In the 1960s, after a devastating coal disaster in Wales, a psychiatrist started investigating people who claimed to have supernatural premonitions of the impending disaster. It’s a fascinating look at an area where science and the supernatural seem to overlap. Release date: May 3

Chef's Kiss: A Novel

Opposites attract in this sweet novel by TJ Alexander. Set in the world of food media, perfectionist pastry chef, Simone, clashes on sight with Ray, the new manager at the test kitchen where they both work. When Ray’s videos accidentally go viral, the pair are stuck working together. Their growing bond is soon tested, however, when Ray comes out as nonbinary. Given the resulting mixed reactions at work, everyone is faced with some important choices to make. Release date: May 3.

Elektra: A Novel

Jennifer Saint returns with another twist on the mythological figures you thought you knew. This time, she tackles Electra, Clytemnestra, and Cassandra. Traditionally defined by their tragic relationships with men and the societies into which they were thrown, this retelling has them all taking back their own narratives. Release date: May 3.

I Kissed Shara Wheeler: A Novel

Chloe Green’s plans are set in stone: become the high school valedictorian, and then get the heck out of the small, close-minded town in which she lives. The only person in her way is perfect prom queen, Shara Wheeler. After kissing Chloe, Shara disappears. After discovering some clues Shara left behind, Chloe teams up with a popular jock and a loner to find out what’s going on. Release date: May 3.

The Immortal King Rao: A Novel

Vauhini Vaha combines a cautionary tale of climate change and corporations with a family saga. Years after a mysterious, humble birth, King Rao becomes a powerful CEO and, eventually, the de facto leader of the entire, corporate-ruled world. When his adult daughter is forced to reckon with his legacy (and starts receiving his memories), she sets out to tell the world the truth before the planet is irreversibly doomed. Release date: May 3

Book Lovers

Emily Henry returns with another smart, sharp rom-com. Cutthroat publicist, Nora, is used to being the girl who doesn’t get the guy. When she accompanies her sister on an impulsive small-town visit, she’s annoyed to run into Charlie, a grumpy book editor she knows from the city. Nora and Charlie both have some baggage they haven’t worked out yet, but they just might be the only people who can really understand each other. Release date: May 3.

Trust

In 1920s New York, no one is more powerful than the Rasks. Benjamin makes his fortune on Wall Street, while Helen comes from an aristocratic family. In the shadow of the 1930s, however, a novel comes out that is a thinly veiled depiction of the Rasks—or, perhaps, an accusation. As rumors swirl, very few people know the whole truth about the Rasks, their fortune, and what they have or haven’t done. Release date: May 3.

Siren Queen

Nghi Vo’s new novel combines the allure of Old Hollywood with dark supernatural fantasy. In pre-Code Hollywood, Chinese-American actress, Luli, can only seem to land stereotypical roles. Determined to be a star, she uncovers the real (and literal) monstrosities beneath the glamorous facade of Hollywood. She might be able to achieve her dreams, but the cost could be steeper than she ever expected. Release date: May 10.

From Bad to Cursed

Lana Harper continues her series of witchy romances with this enemies-to-lovers tale with a mysterious twist. Issa and Rowan are from powerful (and rival) magical families in their historic town. When a spell goes wrong and seems to target the town’s witches, the pair team up to find out who’s really behind it. In the process, they try to clear their family names and grapple with the feelings developing between them. Release date: May 17.

River of the Gods: Genius, Courage, and Betrayal in the Search for the Source of the Nile

Historian Candice Millard dives into the untold, true story of a famed expedition in search of the source of the Nile. What history remembers is the conflict between the two British explorers, who both claimed glory. Millard’s nonfiction narrative, however, also includes the story of a mostly overlooked third man: a former slave, who, along with others like him, were the unsung guides of the age of exploration. Release date: May 17.

All the Seas of the World

Guy Gavriel Kay’s fantastical novel takes place in a world almost like ours, but with just a hint of magic. A pair of assassins are hired by two powerful men to carry out a job that could change the balance of power in the whole world. As these two unlikely would-be killers set out on their mission, the secrets of their past come to light and influence how far they’re truly willing to go. Release date: May 17.

City of Orange

Looking for a read that’s sure to keep you guessing? Pick up David Yoon’s mysterious new thriller. When a man wakes up in an unfamiliar landscape, he’s all alone, injured, and can’t remember who he is. As he tries to remember who he is and find his way home, he meets some apparent strangers, who all have information invaluable to his search for answers. Release date: May 24

Our Last Days in Barcelona

Chanel Cleeton’s latest novel in the saga of the Perez family is set in the 1960s, following the revolution in Cuba. Isabel Perez is exiled from her home and goes in search of her sister, who’s missing in Barcelona. The story of the sisters is entwined with that of their mother, Alicia, who arrived in Barcelona nearly 30 years earlier with family secrets of her own. Release date: May 24.

Neruda on the Park: A Novel

When a Dominican neighborhood in New York faces the threat of gentrification, different generations react in very different ways in Cleyvis Natera’s novel. Community elder, Eusebia, fights to delay construction, while her daughter, Luz, leaves the neighborhood behind for a high-powered job and a romance with one of the developers. All the while, Luz’s father is secretly building a new home in the Dominican Republic for his family. Release date: May 24.

On Gin Lane

In Brooke Lea Foster’s new novel, a dreamy, summer hotel becomes a place of nightmares for a woman with a dark past. Lee is thrilled to escape her family’s scandalous history by becoming engaged to smooth, charming Roland. When he buys a hotel as a pre-wedding gift for her, Lee discovers that he’s inadvertently unleashed a series of events that could end their relationship, but help Lee finally find herself. Release date: May 31.

Her Majesty's Royal Coven: A Novel

Four childhood friends find themselves at the center of a terrifying prophecy in this new fantasy by Juno Dawson. For centuries, Her Majesty’s Royal Coven has managed the affairs of the magical world, batting down all attempts to challenge its power. But when a teenager with inexplicably strong powers is picked up by the coven as a potential threat, four women find themselves on opposing sides of a fierce debate over gender roles, power, prophecy, and what it means to belong. Release date: May 31.

Happy-Go-Lucky

In David Sedaris’ first collection of essays since 2018, he shares his much-anticipated observations on the turmoil of the last few years. Sedaris writes in his signature style about everything from pandemic-era life and the political shifts of the 2020s, to dealing with the death of a parent. Release date: May 31.

Amanda Prahl Amanda Prahl
Amanda Prahl is a freelance contributor to LifeSavvy. She has an MFA in dramatic writing, a BA in literature, and is a former faculty associate focusing on writing craft and history. Her articles have appeared on HowlRound, Slate, Bustle, BroadwayWorld, and ThoughtCo, among others. Read Full Bio »
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