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 .