7 Books You Should Read This Month

Smart people read books. We picked out a few new ones for you, a smart person

Best Books May 2019
By Jason Diamond / May 1, 2019 8:08 am

We all need to read more. Reading is, well, reading is great. It makes you smarter and more empathetic. And what is that thing John Waters said about going to a person’s house and seeing they don’t having any books on the shelf? (Oh yeah. It was this.)

With all that in mind, let us welcome you to InsideHook’s new list of the books coming out in the next 30 (or 31, we aren’t picky) days that you should highly consider going to your nearest bookstore and picking up. This month is an especially good one, with new fiction, a look at one of America’s most beloved and reclusive author’s lost true crime project, and a memoir about finding light in the darkest time imaginable. Pick up one or pick up them all; just read more, damnit.

Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage by Bette Howland (May 6)
Every year, thanks to publishers like NYRB Classics or New Directions, some overlooked writer from a different time is rescued from the slush pile of history, and the world is better for it. This time around, the publisher A Public Space might be responsible for the best lost-now-found title of 2019 with Chicago-born author Bette Howland’s dry but empathetic brand of fiction. Just like Eve Babitz and Lucia Berlin before her, the Guggenheim and MacArthur “genius” fellowship winning Howland is now available for a new generation to discover her work.

The Castle on Sunset: Life, Death, Love, Art, and Scandal at Hollywood’s Chateau Marmont by Shawn Levy (May 7)
The Plaza, the Chelsea and the Fontainebleau are all iconic American hotels, but they don’t have the same mix of Hollywood glitz and sleaze that you feel just looking at pictures of the Chateau Marmont. Whether it’s John Belushi’s death or its more famous guests from Led Zeppelin to Lindsay Lohan, Shawn Levy has all the dirt on this American icon.

The Killer Across the Table by John Douglas and Mark Olshaker (May 7)
How does the FBI agent that was the inspiration for the Netflix show Mindhunter go about his business of tracking and capturing some of the most awful violent criminals American has ever known? The Killer Across the Table sort of works as his ‘how to’ book, offering up step-by-step guides to four cases. The guy who made criminal profiling a thing is offering insight into a fascinating world, so it’s gonna be tough to put this one down — as long as you can stomach some of the more unsettling details.

Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee by Casey Cep (May 7)
We all know about To Kill a Mockingbird, but here, in this deeply researched book, Casey Cep explores Harper Lee’s obsession with Reverend Willie Maxwell, a rural preacher accused of murdering five of his family members for insurance money in the 1970s. One of the most famous authors in America, Lee was playing with the idea of doing her own In Cold Blood. This is the incredible story of what did and didn’t happen.

Once More We Saw Stars by Jayson Greene (May 14)
How do you deal with the type of loss most of us would hope is unimaginable? Author Jayson Greene tackles that question in this gripping memoir that explores how he and his wife overcame the horrific and sudden death of their two-year-old daughter after a piece of a building fell off and struck her. One of the most honest books you’ll read all year, Greene and his wife Stacy’s tale of coming out of the absolute darkest place imaginable is an inspiring look at what it takes to keep going.

Triangulum by Masande Ntshanga (May 14)
Want something that is surely in the running for the Best Genre Bending Mind Warp of a Dystopian Novel Not Set in the USA?  Ntshanga, whose 2016 book The Reactive was a surprise entry onto many best of lists (not a surprise because it wasn’t brilliant, more because it sort of came out of nowhere, didn’t have all the hype, etc.), follows things up with a book that will appeal to people who like guys like Borges and Bolaño.

Riots I Have Known by Ryan Chapman (May 21)
This slim debut is your perfect weekend read. Chapman’s novel about a Sri Lankan inmate who’s barricaded himself in an upstate New York prison computer lab is a brilliant satire on our failing prison system. Shades of Vladimir Nabokov’s Invitation to a Beheading, Albert Camus and Paul Beatty (thanks jacket copy for reminding me that, yes, this reminds me of The Sellout)  all point to this being one of the freshest works of fiction you’ll pick up in 2019.