The Best Books to Read This May

Four standout new releases of the month-and one old favorite to revisit.

This month, dive into an unexpected literary novel, enjoy a heartbreaking memoir, pour over a book as lovely as any garden, and revisit a classic heading for the silver screen.

1. The Novel: The Mars Room

BUY NOW $17.70

It’s been almost five years since Rachel Kushner’s sophomore novel, The Flamethrowers, which was nominated for a National Book Award and made her one of literary fiction’s most-watched writers, was released. In her stunning new book—which follows a woman serving two life sentences in a California prison— Kushner deploys the same masterful storytelling she’s known for while also weaving in a knack for dealing with memory and regret in an unmistakable voice. If you only read one novel this month, The Mars Room should be it.

2. The Memoir: Beauty in the Broken Places

BUY NOW $15.29

This first memoir from bestselling novelist Allison Pataki is both harrowing and inspiring. It begins when Pataki and her husband are on route to a vacation and he suffers a stroke and then follows the couple and their newborn child through the difficult days and months after as they attempt to rebuild their lives and discover what it means to be a family.

3. The Fashion Tell-All: House of Nutter

BUY NOW $20.80

Part pop-culture history, part biography, this book takes us inside the world of Tommy Nutter, the British designer who reinvented the Saville Row suit. Nutter famously dressed three of The Beatles for Abbey Road cover, and Bianca Jagger and Elton John were also enamored with his revolutionary cuts. The book also includes previously unpublished photographs taken by Nutter’s brother, David, who captured many rock stars and pop icons over the decades.

4. The Coffee-Table Book: Georgia O'Keeffe: Visions of Hawai'i


BUY NOW $34.95

In 1939, Georgia O'Keeffe embarked on a nine-week trip to Hawaii. Her commission, from the Hawaiian Pineapple Company, was simply to produce two paintings for an ad campaign. Instead, she came back with more than 20 works depicting the island’s ecological beauty. Published in association with an exhibition at the New York Botanical Garden, opening May 19, this book explores a brief, oft-overlooked chapter in the artist’s life.

5. The Classic: On Chesil Beach

BUY NOW $12.99

The film adaptation of Ian McEwan’s much-lauded novella premieres on May 18, so it’s best to brush up on the text now. On honeymoon at the Dorset seashore in southern England, two newlyweds (played on the big screen by Saoirse Ronan and Billy Howle) contemplate their future together— and whether they will have one at all. Despite their love for each other, a fear of intimacy threatens to destroy them. Delicious tension awaits!

This story originally appeared on
* Minor edits have been made by the editors.

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