Riot Headline 10 Exciting Books to Read this Summer

5 British Books to Look Out for in May

This content contains affiliate links. When you buy through these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Claire Handscombe


Claire Handscombe moved from Europe to DC in 2012, ostensibly to study for an MFA in Creative Writing, but actually – let’s be honest – because of an obsession with The West Wing. She is the author of Unscripted, a novel about a young woman with a celebrity crush and a determined plan, and the editor of Walk With Us: How The West Wing Changed Our Lives. She also hosts the Brit Lit Podcast, a fortnightly show of news and views from British books and publishing. Blog: the Brit Lit Blog. Twitter: @BookishClaire

I’ve been paying a lot more attention to British publishing this year, and it turns out there’s some pretty exciting books coming out on the other side of the Pond. A bumper crop of them arrives in the US in May — don’t miss them!

Swell by Jenny Landreth (Bloomsbury Sport, 4th May – eBook only; out in hardback on 4th July)

Part social history, part memoir, Swell is a love letter to swimming and to the achievements of the “swimming sufragettes” who fought for equal access to beaches, lakes, and pools. It also “celebrates some amazing achievements, some ridiculous outfits and some fantastic swimmers who challenge the stereotypes of what women are capable of”. Sounds right up Book Riot readers’ street.


Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, by Gail Honeyman (Pamela Dorman Books, 9th May)

Eleanor Oliphant is outspoken and socially awkward, reminiscent of the narrators of The Rosie Project and Love in Lowercase. But she becomes friend with a colleague, Raymond, and “when they together save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen on the sidewalk, the three become the kinds of friends who rescue one another from the lives of isolation they have each been living. And it is Raymond’s big heart that will ultimately help Eleanor find the way to repair her own profoundly damaged one.” Yes please.

Shtum, by Jem Lester (The Overlook Press, 9th May 2017)

Called a “sadder, darker version of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time” by the Guardian, this novel about a boy with severe autism and the lengths his parents go to in order to provide for his needs was really well received in the UK when it came out there last year.



The Awkward Age, by Francesca Segal (Riverheard, 16th May)

This isn’t Segal’s first foray into re-writing a classic and resetting it in a modern world. She won the Costa First Novel Award with The Innocents in 2012. I’m looking forward to seeing what she does with Henry James’ The Awkward Age. Plus, Emma Straub and Lauren Groff have both praised it highly, which would have me reaching for the pre-order button if I weren’t convinced already.

British Museumm, by Daljit Nagra (Faber & Faber, 18th May)

Daljit Nagra is the Poet in Residence for Radio Four, the British equivalent of NPR. He writes often of the immigrant experience, explores and questions British institutions, and uses language inventively, s0metimes echoing the “Punglish” of Indian immigrants to the UK. British Museum is “a book that asks profound questions of our ethics and responsibilities at a time of great challenge to our sense of national identity”. It’s his third collection and is going on my TBR list, because if I’m going to read any poetry (and I try to, though I admit it takes effort), it sounds like this should be where I start this year.

Any of those tickle your fancy?