Beach reads, literary marvels, telling memoirs — whatever usually makes it to the top of your summer reading list, we’ve got a few more for you to explore. From an impossible scientific mystery to terrifying historical thrillers, a southern noir, swoon-worthy royal romance, and an ode to the wonder that is a hummingbird, here are our picks for the best new books to look out for this May.
Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir
The only hope for humanity rests with Dr. Ryland Grace — if only he could remember his mission. Andy Weir, the bestselling author of The Martian, delivers another perfect science-based thriller with Project Hail Mary, a tale of impending catastrophe, survival and interstellar adventure. “If you like a lot of science in your science fiction, Andy Weir is the writer for you.”—George R. R. Martin, author of A Game of Thrones.
The Hour of the Witch by Chris Bohjalian
Seventeenth-century New England was not a safe place, especially for women. Any small action outside of being a “good wife” had the potential to spurn allegations of witchcraft, so what was a woman to do if she found herself in a marriage marked by cruelty and domestic abuse? Chris Bohjalian’s latest thriller feels incredibly timely despite the historical setting, full of twists and the impossible and sometimes terrifying choices women must face in the pursuit of safety.
Revival Season: A Novel by Monica West
Every summer, Miriam and her family load up the minivan and drive through small southern towns for revival season, where her father holds healing ceremonies for the faithful who come looking for cures for their various illnesses. This summer, Miriam learns a secret about her father that forces her to reckon with her faith, her father’s cruelty, and her own abilities as a healer. Novelist Ann Patchett describes this novel about disillusionment, faith, and a young woman’s burgeoning sense of self, as “tender and wise”.
Great Circle: A novel by Maggie Shipstead
Readers will be swept away by Shipstead’s masterful writing in this unforgettable story of two women charting their own courses in life. Spanning over a hundred years across Montana, the Pacific Northwest, Alaska, New Zealand, London and Los Angeles, this breathtaking epic tells the story of Marian Graves, a female aviator determined to circumnavigate the globe, and Hadley Baxter, the actress cast to play Marian in a movie about her fateful disappearance in Antarctica.
Madam: A Novel by Phoebe Wynne
“Imagine if Donna Tartt and Margaret Atwood got together to write a creepy, suspenseful novel about a school for young women in the Scottish Highlands,” says Chandler Baker, bestselling author of Whisper Network. Perfect for fans of The Secret History, this dark gothic novel is a thrilling story about what goes on behind closed doors at an elite, secretive boarding school called Caldonbrae Hall.
Olympus, Texas: A Novel by Stacey Swann
All at once heartbreaking and hilarious, Stacey Swann’s debut novel Olympus, Texas is a must-read for anyone who loves stories of familial bonds and complexities — with a dash of classical mythology. March Briscoe returns to his family and their small Texas town two years after he was very publicly caught having an affair with his brother’s wife. Within days of his return, a man is dead, marriages are on the line, and seemingly strong sibling ties are unraveled, begging the question: how much destruction can one family take?
Find You First by Linwood Barclay
We are always surprised by the plots of Linwood Barclay’s novels. The premises are easy to grasp but you soon realize the deeper pull is more complicated and fascinating. Here, the possible heirs of a tech millionaire are vanishing — like they never existed at all. Barclay is at the top of his game here with another psychological thriller that will hook you quickly and reel you even more so. Every page is an adventure.
Basil’s War by Stephen Hunter
You might be familiar with Stephen Hunter’s work as film critic for The Washington Post, or maybe his contemporary thriller series about American sniper Bob Lee Swagger. With broad cinematic appeal and the moves of his suspense novels, Hunter now gives us a standalone historical thriller. Throw in a little dash of James Bond and you’ll find yourself propelled through this fast-moving, compact WWII thriller.
Playing the Palace by Paul Rudnick
A boy meets boy romance where one of them just happens to be the Crown Prince of England. It’s one thing to fall in love but another to fall into the arms of a prince! A sweet royal romance that’s made in tabloid heaven, this charming and often hilarious novel is pure escapism with heart and soul. Fans of Casey McQuiston’s Red, White & Royal Blue will not want to miss it.
Billie Eilish by Billie Eilish
A look inside the life of Billie Eilish as told by the superstar herself with a treasure trove of photographs. Up until now, Eilish has been very guarded about her personal life. Her decision to reveal the most intimate details and allow the public to see her in her most private moments through her words and amazing photos will be eye-opening to all her followers who think they know the real Billie Eilish. Here, she captures raw moments before, during and after her concerts as well as during the creative process.
Yearbook by Seth Rogen
“Hi, I’m Seth Rogen! This is my collection of true stories of doing stand-up as a kid, surviving Jewish summer camp, doing way more drugs than my mom would like (sorry, mom!) and more. Enjoy!” The actor, writer, producer, director, entrepreneur, and philanthropist known for Superbad and Pineapple Express gifts us this hilarious collection of personal essays and true stories that will likely get him in a bit of trouble for divulging, but makes for one fantastic read.
Freedom by Sebastian Junger
Set against the rigors of a trek along the wooded railroad lines of the East coast, Sebastian Junger considers the conundrum that is “freedom,” whether freedom to, freedom from, individualistic or in community, juxtapositions that have bedeviled through time. Moving between travelogue, history, nature writing, observation and philosophy, Freedom raises essential human questions in new frames. As with War and Tribe, the perspective here is close, powerful and tactile. Junger is a knock-out punch of a writer.
Madhouse at the End of the Earth: The Belgica’s Journey into the Dark Antarctic Night by Julian Sancton
Meticulously researched and realized, with a deep novelistic flare, Madhouse at the End of the Earth reconstructs the action-packed survival story of an early expedition to the South Pole. Amundson, Cook and an inexperienced, undisciplined crew, on an ill-fated ship, imprisoned in the Antarctic ice and darkness. This tale of adventure, excitement and indeed, terror, will captivate those who were drawn to The Lost City of Z, In the Kingdom of Ice and In the Heart of the Sea. Julian Sancton has gifted us an insanely gripping book from start to finish.
The Hummingbirds’ Gift: Wonder, Beauty, and Renewal on Wings by Sy Montgomery
In each of her books, Sy Montgomery has introduced adults and children to the complicated, intelligent spirits of our fellow creatures in the natural world, be it an octopus, a good, good pig, pink dolphins, or golden moon bears. This tale of an intervention to save the lives of two orphaned, nearly microscopic hummingbird babies is a rumination on fragility and interdependence, and an extraordinary close-up on the wonder that is a hummingbird. “Hummingbirds are less flesh than fairies … little more than bubbles fringed with iridescent feathers — air wrapped in light.”
Source: by Kat Sarfas Barnes & Noble website April 20, 2021 .
Celebrate Earth Day with captivating fiction and nonfiction books all about Earth and the environment!
Observed on April 22 each year, Earth Day marks the perfect time to bring lessons about conservation, climate change, and the planet into your class. Help your children discover how they can pitch in to save the earth with simple, kid-powered approaches, and why it’s vital for all of us to protect animals and nature.
The Earth Book Grades Pre-K - 2
With his signature blend of playfulness and sensitivity, Todd Parr explores the important, timely subject of environmental protection and conservation in this eco-friendly picture book.
What Does It Mean To Be Green? Grades Pre-K - K
Walking to the park instead of getting a ride. Turning off the water while you brush your teeth. A young boy and girl explore all the different ways they can be green over the course of a day.
Earth Grades 4 - 6
From a cloud storm to a look at the future, this outstanding presentation of Earth's formation through dramatic, stunning illustrations and accessible, minimal text is sure to intrigue and awe.
The Great Kapok Tree Grades 2 - 4
In the dense, green Amazon rainforest, a man has come to chop down a great Kapok tree. When he lies down to rest, the creatures that inhabit the tree and the surrounding forest come to whisper in his ear, each in its own fashion, begging him to spare their home.
Robin Hill School: Earth Day Grades 1
The kids in Mrs. Connor's class are celebrating Earth Day, and everyone has lots of ideas for how to save the earth, except Emma. Emma is worried that her idea isn't good enough.
A True Book™-Understanding Climate Change: The Greenhouse Effect Grades 3 - 6
STEM meets current events in this new A True Book set that offers readers the chance to learn about the causes and effects of climate change.
The Midnight Fox Grades 4 - 6
Betsy Byars has created a thoughtful environmental story with a likable hero.
10 Things I Can Do to Help My World Grades Pre-K - 1
Here is a bright, inviting novelty book that offers simple ways to make a difference.
Out of My Shell Grades 3 - 7
An inspiring and timely story of friendship, courage, and the magic that can happen when we stand up for what's right.
The Magic School Bus® Presents: Planet Earth Grades Pre-K - 2
Learn all about Earth with Ms. Frizzle and her class.
Source: Scholastic website April 2, 2021.
COVID-19 vaccines are effective at protecting you from getting sick. Based on what we know about COVID-19 vaccines, people who have been fully vaccinated can start to do some things that they had stopped doing because of the pandemic. We’re still learning how vaccines will affect the spread of COVID-19. After you’ve been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, you should keep taking precautions—like wearing a mask, staying 6 feet apart from others, and avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces—in public places until we know more. These recommendations can help you make decisions about daily activities after you are fully vaccinated. They are not intended for healthcare settings.
Have You Been Fully Vaccinated?
People are considered fully vaccinated:
If You’ve Been Fully Vaccinated You Can:
Visit inside a home or private setting without a mask with other fully vaccinated people of any age
Visit inside a home or private setting without a mask with one household of unvaccinated people who are not at risk for severe illness
Travel domestically without a pre- or post-travel test
Travel domestically without quarantining after travel
Travel internationally without a pre-travel test depending on destination
Travel internationally without quarantining after travel
What You Can Start to Do If you’ve been fully vaccinated:
What You Should Keep Doing For now, if you’ve been fully vaccinated:
Visit indoors, without a mask, with people at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19
Attend medium or large gatherings
If You’ve Been Fully Vaccinated You Can:
Visit inside a home or private setting without a mask with other fully vaccinated people of any age
Download and print: What You Can Do Once You Have Been Fully Vaccinated pdf icon[PDF – 1 page]
What We Know and What We’re Still Learning:
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Updated Apr. 2, 2021.
The best new books arriving in April tackle a wide range of subjects, from a sweeping anthology that illuminates the history of Black farmers in the United States to the firsthand account of an EMT in New York City. This month welcomes the return of award-winning authors like Jhumpa Lahiri and Haruki Murakami as well as the first novels from Morgan Jerkins and JoAnne Tompkins. Here are the best new books to read in April.
We Are Each Other’s Harvest: Celebrating African American Farmers, Land, and Legacy
by Natalie Baszile (April 6)
In her new anthology, Natalie Baszile examines the relationship between Black farming and American culture through essays, photographs, first-person accounts and more. Together, these pieces dissect the legacy of Black farmers in the U.S. and the impact of land loss and food injustice over generations. In illuminating how these farmers persevered in the face of such challenges, Baszile creates a moving collection about identity, food and community.
I’m Waiting for You: And Other Stories by Kim Bo-Young (April 6)
The two sets of paired stories in Kim Bo-Young’s newly translated work of speculative fiction confront life’s biggest questions: How long can love endure? Who decides what makes a person good or bad? And is there really such a thing as free will? These are heavy topics, but Kim tackles them with playful prose and a creative eye. Her narratives, which are set in the future, drive us to reconsider our present and all that we take for granted.
My Broken Language by Quiara Alegría Hudes (April 6)
In her memoir, Pulitzer Prize–winning playwright Quiara Alegría Hudes details her coming-of-age in Philadelphia surrounded by her Puerto Rican family. In lyrical terms, she describes the stories that filled her life, told in both English and Spanish, and examines her relationship with language. In the process, she considers how these stories have informed her artistry and sense of home. The result is a moving self-portrait of an author reckoning with the worlds she straddled and the communities she found along the way.
Caul Baby by Morgan Jerkins (April 6)
In her debut novel, Morgan Jerkins tells the story of the notorious Melancons—a family in Harlem that derives special powers from caul, an amniotic layer of skin that affords them miraculous healing properties. Concerned with questions of motherhood, fertility and race, Jerkins captures the Melancons and their grip on their community, which starts to unravel as the youngest member of the family begins to question where she really came from.
The Hard Crowd: Essays 2000-2020 by Rachel Kushner (April 6)
Novelist Rachel Kushner blends journalism, memoir and criticism in her new collection of essays. The 19 pieces, which are from the past 20 years of the author’s career, are wide-ranging in scope. In one, Kushner recounts a visit to a Palestinian refugee camp; in another, she reflects on the music scene of her youth in San Francisco. Throughout, her energetic voice carries the reader through as she muses about art, nostalgia, writing and more.
First Responder: A Memoir of Life, Death, and Love on New York City’s Frontlines
by Jennifer Murphy (April 6)
As an EMT in New York City, Jennifer Murphy is able to provide an intimate look at what it’s like to be on the frontlines. In her memoir, she offers a window into the world of EMTs, describing the grief and chaos that come with being a first responder (along with some unexpected, but necessary, moments of humor). The book is a wrenching account of Murphy’s experiences before and during the COVID-19 pandemic in New York, catapulting readers into scenes of crisis and rescue efforts.
First Person Singular: Stories by Haruki Murakami (April 6)
The hotly anticipated new book from celebrated author Haruki Murakami features eight short stories, and, as described in the title, each is told by a first person narrator. The question of perspective is important, as these narrators may offer glimpses into the author’s own thoughts. Featuring the magical realism that he’s best known for, Murakami’s latest collection moves from narratives about music to baseball to jazz albums and more.
Good Company by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney (April 6)
While preparing for her daughter Ruby’s upcoming high school graduation, Flora Mancini discovers an envelope with her husband’s wedding ring inside, which is curious because he claimed to have lost the ring in a pond during a summer trip many years before. The ring’s reappearance has unforeseen consequences—ones that ripple throughout the second novel from Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney, author of The Nest. In navigating the many fissures in her relationships with her husband and her best friend, Flora must come to terms with all that she didn’t know about the people closest to her.
What Comes After by JoAnne Tompkins (April 13)
JoAnne Tompkins’ gripping debut novel begins with the most unwelcome of endings: the apparent murder-suicide of best friends Jonah and Daniel. The teenage boys leave behind a devastated Quaker community in Washington State where Isaac, Daniel’s father, finds himself with an unlikely house guest, a pregnant 16-year-old girl. Tompkins flips between perspectives, including the harrowing thoughts of one of the boys before his death, to reveal the heartbreaking intersections of her characters’ lives. What Comes After is equal parts thrilling mystery and aching examination of grief and guilt.
I Am a Girl from Africa by Elizabeth Nyamayaro (April 20)
When she was 8 years old, Elizabeth Nyamayaro was surrounded by death and devastation as a draught came over her village in Zimbabwe. A United Nations aid worker saved her from starvation. In her memoir, Nyamayaro explores this transformative moment in her childhood and how it drove her to become an activist and fierce advocate for change. She shares personal stories of perseverance as she reflects on what it took to make it to the U.N. herself as a Senior Advisor, where she went on to launch the HeForShe campaign.
From a Whisper to a Rallying Cry: The Killing of Vincent Chin and the Trial that Galvanized the Asian American Movement by Paula Yoo (April 20)
In 1982, Vincent Chin, a Chinese American man, was beaten to death by two white men at a club. Blending together court transcripts, interviews and more, Paula Yoo revisits this horrific killing and the trial that followed. From a Whisper to a Rallying Cry, written for young readers, is a bruising account of the aftermath of Chin’s death, from the outrage it sparked over hate crimes and racism to the protests that shaped the Asian American movement.
Crying in H Mart: A Memoir by Michelle Zauner (April 20)
Expanding on her viral 2018 essay of the same name, Michelle Zauner takes a stirring look at her relationship with her mother, food and identity in her new memoir. Zauner, the indie pop star who performs under the moniker Japanese Breakfast, describes her difficult adolescence as one of the only Asian American kids at her school in Oregon. When Zauner was 25, her mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer—forcing the singer to grapple with her Korean American identity and her mother’s presence in her life. In her book, she captures, in piercing terms, the powerful connections between food and family.
You Are Your Best Thing: Vulnerability, Shame Resilience and the Black Experience by Tarana Burke and Brené Brown (editors) (April 27)
Curated by Tarana Burke, the founder of the ‘me too’ movement, and best-selling author Brené Brown, this powerful new essay collection brings together a group of influential Black voices, including Kiese Laymon, Imani Perry, Austin Channing Brown and Jason Reynolds. Their pieces center on vulnerability and shame resilience, and ask urgent questions about the impact of white supremacy on Black lives.
Whereabouts by Jhumpa Lahiri (April 27)
In her first novel in nearly a decade, Pulitzer Prize winner Jhumpa Lahiri tells the story of an unnamed woman as she questions who she is and where she fits into the world. The reader gets to know this contemplative narrator through a series of vignettes that showcase her witty observational skills and Lahiri’s piercing prose. Whereabouts finds the protagonist often wandering around her European city, reflecting on her relationship with her mother and the people who move in and out of her life. It’s a quiet and emotional text—originally written in Italian and translated into English.
White Magic: Essays by Elissa Washuta (April 27)
Ten interconnected essays make up Elissa Washuta’s electric new nonfiction collection. In them, the author, who is a member of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe, unveils her efforts at healing following years of struggling with sobriety, PTSD and a misdiagnosis of bipolar disorder. She asks haunting questions about intoxication, love, grief and more, all while interspersing references to the pop culture that has informed her life, from Twin Peaks to Stevie Nicks. These are seemingly disparate threads, but Washuta ties them all back to her quest to understand the impact of everything that she’s endured.
Source: Time Magazine by Annabel Gutterman, April 1, 2021.