May 2024’s Must-Read New Releases

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Jeff O'Neal

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Jeff O'Neal is the executive editor of Book Riot and Panels. He also co-hosts The Book Riot Podcast. Follow him on Twitter: @thejeffoneal.

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May’s Must-Read Book Releases

Quick ranking of months of the year by how many interesting new books are published (this is just my sense; no data was harmed in the making of this impromptu ranking: September, June, May, October, April, January, March, July, February, November, December). Ok, on to this list of books to watch for coming out in May. Miranda July. It’s been a minute, and July sort of feels like a dispatch from a former cultural world, though early buzz has been good (though when isn’t it really). Exhibit by R.O. Kwon is probably the one I myself am most looking forward to that I haven’t yet read. And one on this list that you will be hearing about it in the lit nerd circles: This Strange, Eventful History by Claire Messud.

An Indie Bookseller’s Christmas

Saturday (April 27) was Independent Bookstore Day (IBD), and from my perch in the book world, it seems like awareness, enthusiasm, and participation in this “indie bookseller Christmas” is at an all-time high. Some cool and smart activities: indie store passports that you get stamped as you go around and visit local stores, specially commissioned buses to move people from store to store, and from the department of if-you-have-a-barrell-full-of-fish-you-might-as-well-shoot, handselling directly to the people on the bus going around to a bunch of indie bookstores. One gripe from this otherwise fun piece in PW (the photos are especially great): can we get a question about sales? What are we talking about here? Is it seriously close to a holiday season weekend day? That would be incredible. Thinking about seeing if there is a Portland something next year that I will definitely intend to go to but bail out at the last minute for some barely-extant reason.

A Flight of Somewhat Interesting Things I Don’t Have Links For.

Bit of a slow news Monday, so I thought I would offer a few small things that came across my desk that you might find interesting.

  1. A listener of the Book Riot podcast emailed in to say that their local Costco is no longer stocking books and that she has heard that Costco might be scaling down their book-selections. I haven’t heard anything about this myself, but Costco is an underrated point-of-sale: that giant cart isn’t going to fill itself. Going to ask around and see what I can find.
  2. Hanif Abdurraqib’s There’s Always This Year just might be the non-romantasy “it” book of the year so far, and not just from critical response and accolades. This book is selling. To the point that I was told it is out of stock at all Baker & Taylor U.S. warehouses. Timelines for more copies are, at this point, murky at best. So if you want one and you see one, you might want to buy one. (This would make a savvy Father’s Day gift for a certain kind of bookish Dad I might mention. My own father might be getting one. If you are reading Dad, try to forget this over the next six weeks).
  3. Strange anecdote from literary history that doesn’t mean anything, but I loved. It’s well-known, of course, that Truman Capote was a life-long friend of Harper Lee. Possibly less well-known is that Capote took the picture of Lee that went on the dust jacket of the first edition of To Kill a Mockingbird. But, because of a quirk of pre-1978 copyright law, that photo is in the public domain. Why? Well, though the publishers copyrighted the hardback, including the manuscript of TKAM, they didn’t copyright the dust jacket itself. The upshot is that I can include it here without fear of being sued by Capote’s estate, HarperCollins (which acquired the original publisher Lippincott in 1978), or the Lee estate.

May Adaptations to Fill Your Screen Time

Dark Matter is my most-anticipated here. Also of note: more Bridgerton, The Idea of You, and what do my eyes see but a John Green adaptation! Check out the full list.