The Best Books Of May 2018 Are All Right Here

May is officially the start of summer living. And with that, the season of the beach reads begins. We’re here to help you out on the most important decision of your summer: Which book will you bring along on vacation?
The books of May 2018 offer up a variety of adventures for the eager reader. You can embark on a steamy affair with a mermaid in Melissa Broder’s equally manic and romantic The Pisces. You can venture into the American prison system in Rachel Kushner’s The Mars Room. You can experience the thrum of Lagos, Nigeria, in Chibundu Onuzo’s Welcome to Lagos.
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Or, perhaps you want an adventure that mirrors your daily life. Well, Caroline Moss and Michelle Markowitz’ hilarious book, Hello Ladies, is the perfect roast of you, your friends, and all the other millennial-aged women in your life. It’s so real it hurts.
Here are the books of May we’re most excited about.
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The Mars Room
By Rachel Kushner
Out May 1

Any book by literary darling Rachel Kushner will be highly anticipated, and The Mars Room is no exception. The Mars Room is a bleak look at an American woman whose life has veered off track; an American woman who never had much hope in the first place. For years, Romy worked as a stripper at the Mars Room, a seedy San Francisco club. Then, after killing her stalker, Romy is sentenced to prison. While in prison, Romy loses contact with her son and becomes numbed by the difficulties and mundanities of institutional life. The Mars Room is a bleak, affecting read.
2 of 12
Not That Bad: Dispatches From Rape Culture
Edited by Roxane Gay
Out May 1

Not That Bad is essential reading — but it will not be easy. For this collection, Roxane Gay sourced frank, devastating essays about men and women’s encounters with rape culture and toxic masculinity. The collection features essays from Gabrielle Union, Ally Sheedy, and memoirist Amy Jo Burns. What remains uniformly clear among these honest, difficult essays: It is that bad.
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Hey Ladies! The Story of 8 Best Friends, 1 Year, and Way, Way Too Many Emails
By Michelle Markowitz and Caroline Moss
Out May 1

Hey Ladies!, a book-in-emails adapted from a popular Toast column, will hit you where it hurts. Each of the eight characters who write to each other in this long, complicated email chain is an exaggerated version of some person you definitely already know, and probably see in yourself, too. Each month, the friends try (and struggle) to make plans around bachelorette parties or Hamptons vacations. This is a hilarious (but also big-hearted) roast of millennial women — our ambitions, our friendships, our dreams of having it all. But Hey Ladies leaves room for the idea that maybe we can.
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The Pisces
By Melissa Broder
Out May 1

As The Shape of Water and Melissa Broder’s debut The Pisces prove so definitively, aquatic creatures our new favorite romantic leads. Lucy’s swirling, obsessive mind hasn’t led her anywhere good, so far. She’s stopped work on her thesis, and her relationship with Jamie has fizzled. So Lucy’s perfect sister with a huge Venice Beach house invites her to house-sit for the summer. Lucy, realizing something has to change, attends a support group for love addicts. But a romance with a merman by the beach threatens to completely overwhelm her — and if he gets his way, pull her under completely. Broder, the creator of the popular twitter account @sosadtoday, expertly conveys the pace and intensity of Lucy’s neurotic, romantically fixated mind.
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Welcome to Lagos
By Chibundu Onuzo
Out May 1

Chibundu Onuzo’s ambitious novel follows five characters of very different social standing, each with the same goal: Making it to Lagos. The housewife, DJ, rebel fighter, and orphan are led by army officer Chike Ameobi, who defected from the army after being ordered to kill civilians. They take a road trip into the city together, and from there, their lives spiral into kaleidoscopic, but always entertaining, plotlines.
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The Electric Woman: A Memoir in Death Defying Acts
By Tessa Fontaine
Out May 1

In this riveting and powerful memoir of bravery and mother-daughter bonds, Tessa Fontaine literally lives out a metaphor. She runs away and she joins the circus – well, America’s last traveling sideshow, to be precise. Without much training at all, Fontaine performs as a snake charmer, a fire eater, and the electric woman. Fontaine is compelled towards this grand adventure after her mother, a daredevil herself, has a series of strokes that leave her unable to walk or speak. Two years after the incident, Fontaine uses her experience on the road as a way of reframing her relationship to herself and her mother — and a dying American legacy.
7 of 12
What Should Be Wild
By Julia Fine
Out May 8

Maisie Cothay’s awful power over life and death manifested itself during her birth, when her mother died after making contact with her daughter. Maisie, you see, can kill whatever she touches – and with another touch, can bring it back to life. Her father raises Maisie in a small cottage by the woods, and never informs her that she’s actually descended from a long line of cursed woman. The answer to Maisie’s identity may lie somewhere in those mysterious woods, but it’s not until her father disappears that Maisie goes off looking to find out who she is. Julia Fine’s novel is a wonderful addition to that genre of lyrical, poetic fantasies, akin to fairy tales in their delicacy and adjacency to the real world.
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The Favorite Sister
By Jessica Knoll
Out May 15

Kelly knows what happened to her younger sister, Brett, the ingenue founder of a boutique spin cycling franchise. But will she tell the truth during her live interview? Probably not. Because the cast members of Goal Diggers, the reality show both Kelly and Brett were on, weren’t known for truth-telling. Jessica Knoll’s second novel centers on the women of Goal Diggers, a show that supposedly celebrates its cast of extremely successful, self-made women entrepreneurs – but really uses societal expectation and manipulation to pit them against one another. The women in The Favorite Sister each have a sliver of Gone Girl’s Amy in them — they’re razor-sharp, and almost admirable in their commitment to self-preservation and keeping up the appearance of “having it all.” A feminist thriller, and a must read.
9 of 12
Pretend I’m Dead
By Jen Beagin
Out May 15

With her droll humor and hilarious (but also earnest) observations, the 24-year-old narrator of Pretend I’m Dead had us hooked from page one. Mona gets by cleaning houses; in her free time, she hands out clean needles to heroin junkies. She is adrift; a dreamer without the fuel to make her dreams real. Pretend I’m Dead follows Mona as she moves to a new city, through a few relationships. But reciting the plot doesn’t do the book justice. Glide through Mona’s series of bad decisions with her – she’s a good companion.
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Do This For Me
By Eliza Kennedy
Out May 15

Raney Moore has it all — until she doesn’t. She’s a high-powered Manhattan lawyer with twin girls, a husband who studies bugs (seriously), and a killer wit. And then, she finds out her husband is cheating on her. Without hesitation, Raney becomes set on revenge, and has unlimited financial and social resources to do so. Do This For Me is a fast-paced, outrageously fun pleasure of a book. Bring it to the beach this Memorial Day.
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Furyborn
By Claire Legrand
Out May 22

In this YA fantasy, two women are born thousands of years apart. One is a queen able to harness the elements, the other, a scrappy bounty hunter. Despite their differences in era and status, the women are fighting the same cosmic battle. For a trip into a wholly new universe in which women are furious, dangerous, and capable of making or ending the world, Furyborn is a must-read.
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The Ensemble
By Aja Gabel
Out May 15

Henry, the virtuoso violinist for whom everything comes naturally – looks, money, genius talent. Daniel, the serious cellist who always have a chip on his shoulder for getting started too late, for dawdling. Brit, the orphan who longs for connection but will settle for her violin. And Jana, the violinist who pulled the other three together in a string quartet at just the right moment in their lives. Aja Gabel’s absolutely sublime debut follows these four figures through their lives, which are constantly orbiting one another’s. Gabel, a trained cellist, infuses the book with descriptions of music that any Mozart in the Jungle fan will love. Mark our words: This you won’t be able to put this exquisite book down.
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