The 10 Books You Should Be Reading This May
From thought-provoking nonfiction to visceral fiction
If there’s a running theme in this month’s rundown of notable books, it’s the idea of people moving outside of their comfort zone. Here, you’ll find books written by people best known for their work in the film industry; you’ll also find a foray into nonfiction from an author better known for their detailed fictional trips into the future. Whether you’re looking for ruminations on aging or a thrilling trip into a human mind, our recommendations this month have you covered.
Geoff Dyer, The Last Days of Roger Federer: And Other Endings (May 3)
There’s something about tennis that attracts great writers to the sport, whether it’s John McPhee’s brilliant exploration of a single game in Levels of the Game or Claudia Rankine’s thoughtful reflections on Serena Williams. Geoff Dyer has a penchant for finding unexpected angles on the familiar; here, it’s aging, seen through the prism of Roger Federer’s career. We’re intrigued.
Simu Liu, We Were Dreamers: An Immigrant Superhero Origin Story (May 17)
Going from acclaimed character actor to leading man who can hold his own against living legend Tony Leung on screen in an action blockbuster is no easy task, but Simu Liu pulled it off flawlessly. With his new memoir, he chronicles his own journey from humble beginnings to big-screen success.
Eugene Marten, Pure Life (May 3)
If you’ve read any of Eugene Marten’s fiction already, you’re familiar with his penchant for visceral imagery and his willingness to tackle difficult subjects. In some ways, that makes Pure Life the logical next step for him: here, he explores the mind of a former football player struggling with cognitive decline and desperate to find a way to regain his health. It’s a journey that takes him to a harrowing, revelatory place.
Kathryn Miles, Trailed: One Woman’s Quest to Solve the Shenandoah Murders (May 3)
Can a journalist uncover the truth about a brutal murder that’s over 20 years old? That’s the task Kathryn Miles documents in her new book Trailed, about her own efforts to uncover the truth about the killing of two women in 1996 in Shenandoah National Park. This isn’t just a gripping true crime account — it’s also a look at the larger questions surrounding the murders and their aftermath.
John Waters, Liarmouth: A Feel-Bad Romance (May 3)
Could your favorite cult filmmaker soon become your favorite cult author? With the release of Liarmouth, John Waters joins the company of Quentin Tarantino, Michael Mann, Brian De Palma and David Cronenberg as writer-directors venturing into the world of prose. Liarmouth follows a woman on the run and the unlikely connection she makes along the way — and if you’ve been craving a new Waters film, this might just do the trick.
Kim Stanley Robinson, The High Sierra: A Love Story (May 10)
Much of Kim Stanley Robinson’s work falls into the category of science fiction, often wrestling with grand themes of ecology or politics. The High Sierra is something of a departure for him, in that it’s a work of nonfiction — though given that it’s about his own relationship with the region that gives the book its title, you can see how it might line up well with the rest of his bibliography as well.
Jody Rosen, Two Wheels Good: The History and Mystery of the Bicycle (May 24)
There are plenty of transportation devices that were created 200 years ago that have fallen out of fashion. The bicycle, though, has endured — and in Two Wheels Good, Jody Rosen sets out to discover why. If you’re looking for a comprehensive history of the breadth of ways in which people have embraced cycling all over the world, you’ve come to the right place.
Norman Reedus with Frank Bill, The Ravaged (May 10)
Norman Reedus stays busy. He’s a regular presence on television, has acted in a number of films, is an accomplished photographer and starred in the video game Death Stranding. And now he’s got a novel due out, focusing on a group of characters struggling with questions of trust in a violent world. Especially interesting is Reedus’s choice of collaborators — Crimes in Southern Indiana author Frank Bill, a writer who knows morally challenged and violent types. His presence here bodes well for The Ravaged.
Hernan Diaz, Trust (May 3)
Do you enjoy literary mysteries? Do you savor fictional evocations of an opulent time in the history of New York City? Do you crave a thoughtful look at the ways in which finance and power fuel one another? If you’re eyeing Hernan Diaz’s novel Trust — which hearkens back to the 1920s and 1930s in New York City — with an intrigued glance, you’re probably in the right place.
Anita Hannig, The Day I Die: The Untold Story of Assisted Dying in America (May 3)
The last decade has seen a growing amount of attention paid to the ways in which people die, and how both they and the people around them can best prepare for it. Anita Hannig’s new book The Day I Die offers an up-close look at the history that has informed this, and offers a sense of where things have been and how they might influence the nation’s future.
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