What to Read in May

What to Read in May

I think we’ll wait a month to come out with our summer reading list, though that may be a mistake. Look for that in a few weeks. For now, we’ll wrap up the school year and the more-unpredictable weather with Mother’s Day suggestions and a number of books-to-movies and books-to-series.

We’re gaining on halfway through the year (okay, a third), and there have been some books that I have noticed simply everywhere. I won’t list them all here, partly because they have largely been on my recommendations lists. But I will mention a few.

Image from Amazon.com

A Court of Thorns and Roses, Sarah J. Maas. I hear about “ACOTAR” everywhere, and I think it’s time to start the series if you haven’t already. My plan is to read this fantasy series before her also-super-trendy Throne of Glass series. The bookstore I am in most has a hard time keeping copies of these on the shelf. Like seriously, they are always selling out.

Tom Lake, Ann Patchett. This was one of the most celebrated books of 2023, and I still hear about it and see it around all the time. I’m pretty sure every book club will get to it, eventually.

The Travel Book and Epic Hikes of the Americas, Lonely Planet. It might be where I sit for book clubs in bookstores that keeps drawing my eyes to these books, but they look like amazing coffee-table books for travelers, or just travel-dreamers.

Have a Beautiful, Terrible Day, Kate Bowler. Like Chicken Soup for the Soul, but I’m guessing a lot edgier and more up-to-date. People are loving this book of insight.

Image from Amazon.com

Book-related jigsaw puzzles, of which I am mainly thinking of Ridley’s 50 Must-Read Books Bucket List (also a Travel Destinations and 50 Must-Watch Movies) and Bibliophile’s Banned Books. There are also many other options out there.

As for Mother’s Day, I went with titles I haven’t yet read, maybe thinking of myself on Mother’s Day and what I would like to be reading. I pulled several of these ideas from my own online search of Mother’s Day reads and suggestions from other articles and Google. The first two are mom-themed. The others? Not so much, but they cover some different genres for different moms:

  • The School for Good Mothers, Jessamine Chan
  • Mother-Daughter Murder Club, Nina Simon
  • Miss Eliza’s English Kitchen, Annabel Abbs
  • The Glass Hotel, Emily St. John Mandel
  • Night Watchman, Louise Erdrich
  • The Witch Elm, Tana French
  • The City We Became, N. K. Jemisin

I keep hearing and seeing ads for the new The Sympathizer limited streaming series (Max) that has already started to drop (and continues once a week). I have been meaning to read this Pulitzer novel (Viet Thanh Nguyen), so maybe this is the moment. Though some books are okay to skip and go straight to the movie (like, ahem, the Bridgerton series), some I will make sure I read first. (By the way, most of these series below get crazy-great reviews.) Speaking of books-to-movies and books-to-series:

  • Dark Matter, Blake Crouch => Dark Matter, Apple TV+ (May 8)
  • A Man in Full, Tom Wolfe => A Man in Full, Netflix (May 2)
  • Dragonkeeper, Carole Wilkinson => Dragonkeeper, theaters May 3)
  • Romancing Mr. Bridgerton (Bridgerton #4), Julia Quinn => Bridgerton season 3, Netflix (May 16)
  • Garfield series, Jim Davis => The Garfield Movie, theaters (May 24)
  • Robot Dreams, Sarah Varon => Robot Dreams, theaters (May 31)
  • The Idea of You, Robinne Lee => The Idea of You, Amazon Prime (available now)
  • Manhunt, James L. Swanson => Manhunt, Apple TV+ (available now)
  • If It’s Not Impossible…, Barbara Winton => One Life, various streaming (available now)
  • The Three-Body Problem, Cixin Liu => 3 Body Problem, Netflix (available now)
  • We Were the Lucky Ones, Georgia Hunter => We Were the Lucky Ones, Hulu (available now)
  • A Gentleman in Moscow, Amor Towles => A Gentleman in Moscow, Paramount+ (available now)
  • The Talented Mr. Ripley, Patricia Highsmith => Ripley, Netflix (available now)
  • Shogun, James Clavell => Shogun, Hulu (available now)
  • Dune, James Herbert (Dune: Part Two) => Dune, Part Two, theaters (out now)

This month, we’ll see a number of publications in plenty of time for summer reading. Here are a few of the most-anticipated of them:

  • Last Murder at the End of the World, Stuart Turton
  • You Like It Darker, Stephen King (book of short stories)
  • The Honey Witch, Sydney J. Shields
  • When Among Crows, Veronica Roth
  • The Ministry of Time, Kaliane Bradley

So, I am still in six book clubs, but only for one more month (because I already bought the books before I decided which two I was going to quit, though one club isn’t meeting this month, so there’s that too). Also, I am temporarily joining one group because it’s “up at the corner” and I was already aiming to read the book soon. Here’s what I’ll definitely be reading this month:

  • She Drives Me Crazy, Kelly Quindlen (YA for Adults book club)
  • Animal Farm, George Orwell (Literary Reads book club)
  • 1984, George Orwell (Literary Reads book club double-dip)
  • Trust, Hernan Diaz (guest appearance book club)
  • The Lathe of Heaven, Ursula K. Le Guin (Speculative Fiction book club)
  • Braiding Sweetgrass, Robin Wall Kimmerer (Contemporary Reads book club)
  • Empty Theatre, Jac Jemc (Local Bookstore book club)

And my son will be reading Born a Crime by Trevor Noah for school. I loved that book and I hope he’ll discuss it with me.

Yikes. I had a bit of a slump month. Actually, month and a half. These are the only two books that I read that I could possibly include on a list of “bests”:

A Good Man Is Hard to Find, Flannery O’Connor, which I was just drooling over for it’s clarity, cleanness, style, innovation and trend-setting… but was dying inside due to its content. I mean, if you’ve read O’Connor—which many of you have—you’ll understand. It’s bleak stuff. Difficult stuff. Tons of satire where no one in her world is safe from skewering.

Hell, I Love Everybody by James Tate is a book of poetry, which means some of you are already out. It’s actually a carefully-curated, posthumous volume of his work, its slimness not giving away how many hundreds of poems he had published during his lifetime. It’s absurdist (and therefore often metaphorical or just beyond straight comprehension) and sometimes funny and probably meant to be enjoyed without having to rip it apart for meaning, too much.