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17 Can’t-Miss Books Hitting Shelves This May

Three book covers for "It Had to Be You," "Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment" and "Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry"
Atria/Little, Brown and Company/HarperTeen

May is bringing with it a slew of must-read titles, both fiction and nonfiction—be ready to hear a lot about these new books!

Whether you love suburban thrillers, sci-fi and fantasy, thought-provoking nonfiction, or funny romance, there’s a book release in May that’s perfect for you. Pick up a new book by one of your favorite authors, or support some of the bright new voices on the block. These are some of the buzziest books that should be on your radar this May:

The Next Wife

The Next Wife by Kaira Rouda is a contemporary thriller based around an unraveling marriage and the fallout. When Kate’s husband leaves her for a woman half his age, Tish, Kate is blindsided.

Tish has her own problems: suspicions about Kate’s motivations and about John cheating, this time on Tish. Both women think they have the upper hand, but there’s something happening that neither of them are ready for. Out May 1.

It Had to Be You: A Novel

If you love Love Actually but don’t love the dated circa-2003 storylines, Georgia Clark’s It Had to Be You is made for you! Several intertwined love stories all lead back to an NYC-based wedding company, with its employees, customers, and owners.

When one half of the married couple owners dies, he shockingly leaves his half of the business to his much-younger mistress, forcing his widow and his ex to work together as they both search for meaning and love, along with a colorful cast of supporting characters. Out May 4.

Meet Cute Diary

In Meet Cute Diary by Emery Lee, a trans teenage boy, Noah, collects happily-ever-after stories for his blog. When it’s revealed that his blog is a total work of fiction, he scrambles to prove that the stories are true and salvage his reputation.

Enter Drew, who’s willing to fake-date Noah to make the blog stories come true, and who might be Noah’s chance at real love offline. Out May 4.

Project Hail Mary: A Novel

From Andy Weir, best known as the author of The Martian, comes Project Hail Mary, another story about a last-man-standing in space.

After awakening alone and amnesiac, Ryland finds himself hurtling through space and having to unravel a mysterious mission all on his own, with the fate of humanity and the Earth itself on the line. Out May 4.

Realm Breaker (Realm Breaker, 1)

Find a new fantasty world to get lost in with Realm Breaker by Victoria Aveyard. As darkness looms on the edge of a land, a young woman discovers she’s the last hope to save the world.

She’s joined by a band of misfit companions in a journey to make one last stand against an increasingly powerful enemy that’s determined to turn the world to ashes. Out May 4.

Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry

Fans of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before will love Joya Goffney’s Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry. When Quinn’s private diary, in the form of life “lists,” goes missing, the worst happens when an anonymous thief threatens to publish them all.

Blackmailed into facing her greatest fears, Quinn teams up with Carter, the last person known to have seen her journal, to find out who’s blackmailing her and save her reputation. Out May 4.

Tokyo Ever After: A Novel (Tokyo Ever After, 1)

Tokyo Ever After by Emiko Jean is a Princess Diaries-esque YA novel about Izumi, a Japanese-American teenager in California who finds out that her unknown father is actually the Crown Prince of Japan—making her a princess

When she travels to Japan to meet her family, there’s a lot more than she bargained for: a nosy press, jealous relatives, and a grumpy but intriguing bodyguard, all of which Izzy has to learn to deal with as she navigates her new identity. Out May 4.

The Newcomer: A Novel

Mary Kay Andrews, one of the most popular “beach read” authors, is back with The Newcomer. One part mystery, one part summer dramedy, the story focuses on Letty, a woman who finds her beloved sister dead and, believing her sister’s husband to be behind it, flees with her niece to a small town.

Only there does Letty begin to unravel her sister’s life while avoiding the suspicions of the close-knit town that doesn’t like intruders. Out May 4.

Breakfast at Tiffany's: The Official Guide to Style

Fans of the iconic movie will be obsessed with the sophisticated Breakfast at Tiffany’s: The Official Guide to Style by Caroline Jones and Sophie Griotto, filled with practical tips on getting a little Holly Golightly style in real life (without looking like you’re wearing a costume).

Tips on beauty, décor, clothes, and more, plus a few fun facts about the movie itself, all in a gorgeously illustrated book. Out May 11.

Don't Make Me Turn This Life Around

Thirteen years after being told she had terminal cancer, Libby is still here and is cancer-free at the start of Don’t Make Me Turn This Life Around by Camille Pagán. Now, she’s trying to keep her family together amidst a number of crises.

To try to lift everyone’s spirits, she plans a trip to Puerto Rico, but when a tropical storm strikes, even Libby’s optimism might not be enough to keep everyone’s frustrations at bay. Out May 11.

People We Meet on Vacation

The rom-com People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry is all about friendship and love gone awry. Alex and Poppy, two longtime BFFs, have vacationed together every summer until two years ago, when one terrible misunderstanding ruined everything.

Now, in hopes of fixing what’s gone wrong in her life, Poppy convinces Alex to take one last trip together, where everything—and she means everything—can finally be out in the open, even the one thing that they’ve never spoken about. Out May 11.

Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment

Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment by Daniel Kahneman, Olivier Sibony, and Cass R. Sunstein is one of the buzziest nonfiction books of the summer (no pun intended). It’s an exploration of the impacts of “noise”: decision-making that should be identical but instead is affected by a variety of factors.

The authors discuss what noise is, how it and bias impact society, and how humans can learn to reduce “noise” to build towards better decision-making. Out May 18.

The Soulmate Equation

Want a romance about whether or not you can scientifically find your soulmate? Pick up The Soulmate Equation by Christina Lauren! On a whim, data whiz Jessica signs up for a DNA-based dating app—and gets the highest match percentage ever with one of the co-founders, River.

They agree to give it a go, to test if the app actually works, but when it starts to feel more real than an experiment, things get complicated. Out May 18.

The Summer Job

Birdy’s best friend bails on a summer gig as a sommelier at a Scottish hotel at the start of Lizzy Dent’s The Summer Job. Then, Birdy impulsively takes her place, pretending to be her friend all summer long.

Faking the knowledge of a sommelier is one thing, but the more time Birdy spends with the people of the small town—including a charming colleague—the more she wants to just be able to be herself. Out May 18.

Talk Art

Based on an internationally popular podcast, Talk Art by Russell Tovey & Robert Diament is an accessible guide to contemporary art, explaining things in easy terms and making the often-impenetrable field feel accessible.

It’s packed with examples, background info, interviews with celebrities and more, all with a casual tone that makes it clear art really is for everyone, from beginners to aficionados. Out May 18.

Playing the Palace

Paul Rudnick’s Playing the Palace is a sweet and fizzy queer rom-com. Event planner Carter has just had his heart broken by a lying, cheating ex when he runs into the charming, openly gay Prince Edgar, heir to the British throne.

The attraction is mutual, and their whirlwind romance soon becomes public knowledge, but Carter can’t seem to catch a break, with one PR disaster after another making him question if he should just let Edgar go. Out May 25.

The Invisible Husband of Frick Island

The Invisible Husband of Frick Island by Colleen Oakley is a quirky tale of loss and hope in a small town. After her husband’s untimely death, Piper deals with the grief by acting as if he’s still alive—and her whole town goes along with it.

When a journalist comes to town on a different assignment, he’s intrigued by the town’s behavior and, in the course of investigating the story, ends up changing his own life instead. Out May 25.

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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