With spring in full swing and Memorial Day on the near horizon, May is just the time to stock up on new book releases in time for vacation season. Whether you’re shopping for graduation gifts or to fill up your pool bag, the month’s most anticipated titles include memoirs, biographies, thrillers and, of course, plenty of romantic beach reads. Ready to fill out your reading list? We rounded up 19 new May books to help you escape into the unofficial start of summer — all available to purchase or preorder on Amazon or, if you want to help support and buy from independent bookstores, Bookshop, now.
If “Dirty Dancing,” “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” and “Red Dawn” are in regular rotation on your movie viewing cycle, you’ll want to snatch up this new memoir. The actress gives an inside view of growing up the daughter of a Broadway legend, working with Patrick Swayze, the backlash following her plastic surgery and how she made a career comeback. The short answer is, nobody puts Baby — or Jennifer Grey — in a corner.
Gothic horror meets romance meets historical fiction meets the supernatural in Cañas’ new novel set in the 1820s, following the Mexican War of Independence. When Beatriz marries a handsome man whose first wife’s death is not without suspicion, she moves to the remote Hacienda San Isidro. But things get scary from there, and it seems a young priest is the only one who can help her.
When young widow Hattie, who works for her in-law’s home restoration business, falls in love with a money pit house, she quickly runs out of money. For cash, she takes the opportunity to star to be part of “The Homewreckers,” a beach house home reno reality TV show — along with a handsome male lead. And with the home’s demolition comes signs of a murder. Oh, just bring us the beach chair and fancy umbrella drink now. We’re in.
If you ate up “Beach Read” and “People We Meet on Vacation,” you’ll want to add Henry’s latest to your pool tote this summer. Book fiend and literary agent Nora heads off on a month-long trip with her younger sister, Libby, to small-town North Carolina, hoping for an August full of romance with charming locals. Instead, it’s an editor she already knows from the city who keeps cropping up.
This highly anticipated novel by Diaz (“In the Distance” was a Pulitzer Prize finalist) takes readers to 1920s New York, where Benjamin and Helen Rask rule the social scene. But to what lengths did they go to amass their fortune? Told in a unique stories-within-the-story format, and spanning a century, it’s being heaped with praise as a must-read literary puzzle.
If “Friday Night Lights” or “The Blind Side” are staples on your bookshelf, you’ll be interested in this book from football coach Lowe who left his NFL job with the San Francisco 49ers to coach an underdog high school team in his hometown in Oregon. His story includes facing racism, becoming a mentor, valuing service and even disarming a would-be school shooter. Consider this your next inspirational read.
Kick off summer season right with bestselling author’s latest beach novel. With her daughter’s Cape Cod beach wedding just months away, Sarah must navigate all sorts of family drama, pandemic fallout, secrets and miscommunications. If you loved “Big Summer” and “That Summer,” this one should get top poolside billing this year.
You may know him as Shang-Chi, the first Asian Marvel superhero, but Liu, a Chinese immigrant, has his own origin story to tell. Arriving in Canada at the age of 4, he shares his coming-of-age tale, including overcoming cultural differences with his family, his choice to move to Hollywood and the rewards that can come when you follow your dreams.
In their biography of Floyd, who was murdered by police officer Derek Chauvin on May 25, 2020, Washington Post reporters Samuels and Olorunnipa chronicle Floyd’s life and his death that spurred nation-wide protests. Henry Louis Gates Jr. calls it “an essential work of history I hope everyone will read.”
It’s just not summer without a new read from Staub (“All Adults Here,” “The Vacationers“) on your nightstand. In this touching time travel novel, Alice, about to turn 40 and worried about her ailing father, wakes to find herself back in 1996 on her 16th birthday — and has the chance to learn more about her dad.
The second novel from Walker (“Dietland“) puts a feminist spin on the Gothic ghost story centered on the wealthy gun company heiresses the Chapel sisters, who discover they are part of a family curse that causes women to die if they choose marriage over art.
Subtitled “Martin Luther King Jr. and the Criminal Trial That Launched the Civil Rights Movement,” ABC News legal affairs anchor Abrams joins civil rights attorney Gray and bestselling author Fisher to recount the pivotal Alabama v. King case. Gray, who served as King’s defense lawyer during the trial, recalls racist testimony, a conspiracy to draft him into the Vietnam War, the response to the Supreme Court ruling and more. History buffs, take note.
The long-time bestselling author returns with a thriller focused on Harry, whose thievery (aka “nightwork”) has been going on since he was a young boy. But when a new boss begins to force Harry into taking more dangerous jobs, he must decide: Disappear and leave his life, and love, behind or face his aggressor head on.
In her striking memoir, poet and essayist Goetsch shares her life story — from childhood to a high school teaching career to being part of the New York crossdressing scene to coming out and transitioning later in life.
Emezi (“The Death of Vivek Oji“) delivers one of the year’s most anticipated books with a love story that follows an artist, healing from the death of her partner five years prior, as she begins to date again. Little does she know she’s in store for one wildly unexpected ride.
Sedaris followers hungry for new musings from the beloved writer won’t be disappointed with his latest collection of personal essays on everything from living through the pandemic to dealing with the death of his father to shopping for culottes in Japan.
Love a good beachy romance with strong women characters? Reach for the latest from bestseller Mallery (“Thrill Me”). Set on the California coast, it centers on three strangers who meet and decide to open a bookstore/gift shop/bakery. The women, of course, all come with their own pasts and challenges when it comes to love, but form a bond that proves friendship is perhaps the ultimate connection.