What to Read Now: May 2019 Book Releases


Wondering what to read now? If you’re looking for book suggestions, look no further! We have all the hot new May 2019 book releases for you. We’ll let you know what we’ve read, what we can’t wait to read, and what’s getting all the attention this month.

With spring flowers everywhere and summer right around the corner, 2019 seems to be slipping away too fast. But one things seems to remain constant throughout the year: each month brings stacks of new book releases.

Among the May 2019 book releases we are highlighting, we have a few popular authors, some debut novels and a highly anticipated series ending. Scroll on down to find out which May 2019 book releases we read in advance, which ones we can’t wait to read, and which ones are getting all the hype.

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Already Read New Books of May 2019

book cover Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane

Ask Again, Yes
by Mary Beth Keane

If you happened to listen to our podcast interview on Sarah’s Bookshelves Live, you’ll know that I was extremely excited to read Mary Beth Keane’s May 2019 book release. Just listen to this premise: NYPD cops Francis and Brian happen to move next door to each other in the suburbs. Though their children Kate and Peter become the best of friends, Francis and his wife have learned to keep their distance from Brian’s wife due to her precarious mental health. When tragedy strikes between the two families, Brian’s family moves away in shame. But when Kate and Peter fall in love, the two families must learn to confront the tragedy that ties them together. A story of love and forgiveness, Ask Again, Yes serves up the perfect blend of family drama and character study to win it all the stars in my opinion. Read more →

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Scribner through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.


Book cover for Romanov by Nadine Brandes

by Nadine Brandes

One of the May 2019 book releases I was able to read in advance was Nadine’ Brandes’ latest young adult novel. Taking a different view on the Russian princess Anastasia, Brandes begins the story with the Romanov family already dethroned and exiled. Weaving in just a hint of magic into the account of their imprisonment was enchanting and felt so realistic. As the story progresses, I was riveted to see how she would handle their eventual deaths. And spoiler alert, she uses magic. Once the magic aspect of the story came full force, I completely lost interest. It was just too large of a break from reality for me to handle, and ruined the rest of the book for me.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.


Book Cover for Things My Son Needs to Know About the World by Fredrik Backman

Things My Son Needs to Know About the World
by Fredrik Backman

Surprisingly, I hadn’t ever read anything by Swedish author Fredrik Backman, though his books like A Man Called Ove and Beartown get rave reviews. Thus, I was excited to pick up his new book release for May 2019 – a collection of essays about life written to his young son. I so wanted it to be perfect – charming, interesting and funny. But, it just wasn’t. While Backman has some amusing anecdotes, overall I felt I was just forcing myself to get through the essays. I think it’s sweet that he wrote this for his son, but if you plan to read it, be sure to lower your expectations quite a bit.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Atria Books through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.


Book cover for The Farm by Joanne Ramos

The Farm
by Joanne Ramos

A single mother desperate for work, Jane is ecstatic to be accepted as a host at the Farm – a surrogacy center for extremely wealthy individuals. For more money than she ever dreamed of earning, Jane leaves her young daughter with family and agrees to a hyper-controlled life as a surrogate. In her novel, Joanne Ramos forces you to ponder the ethics of such business like these. Are they preying on immigrants like Jane or giving them a life-changing opportunity? And where does the ethical boundary lie when there is a conflict between what is best for the client and what is best for the host? The Farm was one of the May 2019 book releases I was lucky enough to review in advance, and I found the story solid. I don’t see it being anyone’s favorite book, but it was definitely a respectable 3 stars from me.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Random House through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

January 2019 New Releases You Don’t Want to Miss
February 2019 Book Releases: New Fiction Releases Not To Miss
March 2019 Book Releases: Best New Books to Read Now
April 2019 Book Releases: Most Anticipated Books of Spring
June 2019 Book Releases: Summer’s Hot New Books

Book of the Month – New Book Releases

I just joined The Book of the Month Club this year, and I’m so excited to start getting books every month. Here’s how it works – each month, they pick 5 books and you get to choose one book. If you want to add any extra books, then you get them at a discounted price. Each month is usually a mix of new releases and advance copies of unreleased books. If you are interested in joining, you can use my Book of the Month Club affiliate link to get a free book!

Book cover for The Bride Test by Helen Hoang

The Bride Test
by Helen Hoang

Last year, The Kiss Quotient made waves winning a Goodreads Choice Award and being picked by Book of the Month Club. In the next book of her romance series, you meet Khai Diep who struggles to feel emotions because of his autism. So his mother sends for Esme Tran, a mail-order bride from Vietnam. Reviews on Goodreads have mentioned this book is not quite as good and less steamy than The Kiss Quotient, but still very much a romance. Although romance is not our genre and we won’t be reading this one, we wanted to mention this May 2019 book release for all of our readers who loved Helen Hoang’s previous book.

book cover The Buried by Peter Hessler

The Buried
by Peter Hessler

After years covering China for The New Yorker, Peter Hessler decided to move to Cairo, Egypt, with his wife and twin daughters. Hoping to learn Arabic, explore Cairo, and visit nearby archaeological sites, Hessler got more than he was planning for when the Egyptian Arab Spring threw the country into chaos. Through his travels to archaeological sites and interactions with the locals around him, Hessler gives a portrait of contemporary Egypt that Book of the Month picked among its May 2019 book selections.


book cover How Not to Die Alone by Richard Roper

How Not to Die Alone
by Richard Roper

Billed as the male version of Elanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, Richard Roper’s debut novel was among those chosen for Book of the Month club in May. Somehow Andrew’s white lie has taken on epic proportions. His coworkers think he’s happily married with kids; but what he really is is lonely, until a new coworker breezes into his life. Now Andrew must decide if he should let her in and admit the truth, even if that could mean losing her.

Read along with us. Join Book of the Month and get a free book!

Hot New May 2019 Book Releases

Book cover for The Pioneers by David McCullough

The Pioneers
by David McCullough

Every single David McCullough book I’ve ever read has been out-of-the-park incredible, so I was giddy with joy to discover him among the May 2019 book releases. After covering such historical figures as Truman, John Adams and The Wright Brothers, McCullough decided to chronicle the lives of rarely heard of settlers in the Ohio Valley. Among the pioneers willing to brave the newly opened Northwest Territory spanning from present day Ohio to Wisconsin, Manasseh Cutter and General Rufus Putnam felt lured forth by the promise of freedom of religion, universal free education and the prohibition of slavery. McCullough’s unique voice always makes history come alive, so I’m thrilled to hear his treatment on the settlement of our home state. Read more →


Book cover for Finale by Stephanie Garber

by Stephanie Garber

If you want a clean-cut and fun young adult fantasy/romance series, Stephanie Garber’s Caraval series is the perfect read. Coming on the heels of Caraval and Legendary is the final book in the series. Now that the characters have made it through two different Caravals – magical carnival festivals where the players get to interact with a league of actors to solve puzzles and win a fantastical prize – they face their toughest challenges yet. Donatella is determined to stop the coronation of Legend while Scarlet pits Julian against her former fiance. But their mother’s past will come back to haunt them in the conclusion of this light-hearted YA series. Honestly, I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy.


Book cover for The Guest Book by Sarah Blake

The Guest Book
by Sarah Blake

Covering three generations of a wealthy American family, Sarah Blake’s sweeping family saga shows how the past can come to haunt the present. In 1936, Kitty and Ogden Milton seem to have it all. When tragedy strikes, Ogden buys his wife an island in Maine, where Kitty eventually makes a fateful decision that will haunt her. In 1959, the family meets Len Levy, a Jewish man, and his black best friend, Reg Pauling, both whom will profoundly affect the Milton family’s future. Finally in present day, Kitty’s granddaughter, forced to consider selling the island, dives into the past to find what secrets lay buried in the family’s history. The synopsis has me dying to know what exactly Kitty did that would haunt generations to come. With a discussion on morality and race, I’m excited to see if this May 2019 book release can deliver as much as it promises. Read more →

The Best Books of Spring 2019
Best Books of 2018: Last Year’s Most Popular New Releases
Reading List 2018: Every Book We Read Last Year

Book cover for How We Disappeared by Jing-Jing Lee

How We Disappeared
by Jing-Jing Lee

I love when historical fiction shows me the history of a different culture, so I’m excited to try Jing-Jing Lee’s new book release. A multilayered account of the effects of the Second World War in Singapore, How We Disappeared centers on Wang Di, who was taken as a teenager and forced into a Japanese brothel as a “comfort woman.” Later she marries “The Old One,” a widower equally traumatized by his own experiences during the war. On her deathbed, Wang Di accidentally reveals a secret to her grandson Kevin who is determined to find the truth. Bouncing between Wang Di’s experience in 1942, her search for the truth of her husband’s past, and Kevin’s own search for the truth, Jing-Jing Lee weaves together a painful account of history – partly based on her own family’s experiences. Since it is drawing comparisons to Min Jin Lee’s Pachinko, I am intrigued enough to add this May 2019 book release to my to-read list.


book cover for The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna by Juliet Grames

The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna
by Juliet Grames

In her debut novel, Juliet Grames has a new family saga about two Italian sisters who immigrate to America. Growing up, Stella Fortuna is either extremely lucky or just plain cursed. Over the years, she is constantly facing life-threatening scenarios and surviving them. She uses her toughness to shield her baby sister from danger. Told over the span of 100 years, Juliet Grames mixes in the story of the sisters with just a dash of magical realism to create an original new May 2019 book release, though with less than an original title.

Which May 2019 book releases are you most interested in reading?

What to Read Now: May 2019 Book Releases

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  • Reply Kelly May 6, 2019 at 6:35 pm

    I am really looking forward to Ask Again, Yes! Everyone I know who has already read it loved it. I didn’t know Sarah Blake has a new book coming out until just yesterday. I loved the Postmistress, so I’ll definitely be checking that one out at some point.

    Despite you not having loved Fredrik Backman’s latest release, I would still recommend Beartown and A Man Called Ove! Beartown is one of my favourite books!

    • Reply Rachael May 8, 2019 at 4:30 pm

      Don’t worry, I haven sworn off Backman just because I didn’t love his latest release. I actually just got approved for an review copy of Sarah Blake’s The Guest Book, so I’ll be sure to share my thoughts in my end of the month roundup post.

  • Reply Sarah May 7, 2019 at 9:44 am

    So many great sounding books coming out this month. Though I’m trying to avoid adding more books to my TBR, because it’s huge and I’m trying hard to read through it all, I think a few of these will make it onto the list. After all, I will need new books to read once I work my way through what I have already.

    • Reply Rachael May 8, 2019 at 4:33 pm

      Come on. You can never have too many books on your TBR. And I think anyone who makes it completely through their TBR is doing it wrong.

  • Reply CJ | A Well-Read Tart May 8, 2019 at 7:40 am

    I love me some A MAN CALLED OVE, but Backman’s writing also fell flat for me when I tried to read BEARTOWN. It just didn’t contain the same magic as OVE did, and while I acknowledge that it covered completely different subject matter and that could have influenced my expectations, I ultimately had to put it on my DNF list. I’ve been reluctant to try any other Backman titles since, particularly the sappy-sounding titles of THINGS MY SON NEEDS TO KNOW… and MY GRANDMOTHER ASKED ME… Thanks for your thoughts on the former. I’ll definitely be skipping that one. And will continue to hold OVE close as one of my favorite books, ever, lol.

    • Reply Rachael May 8, 2019 at 4:31 pm

      I’m surprised you didn’t like Beartown. I haven’t read it yet, but everyone else I know seems to love it. But definitely skip his newest one.

  • Reply Miss Caron Small May 9, 2019 at 10:54 pm

    ‘The Pioneers’ sounds an interesting read, especially as my knowledge about US history is pretty limited (I did more English and European History in my UK school curriculum and I didn’t do History for a couple of years as it didn’t fit with my other exam options). ‘The Guest List’ also sounds like a good read, although I hope it doesn’t keep jumping back and forth through time cos that just confuses me. I read ‘The Forgotten Garden’ by Kate Morton and struggled with how the book kept changing centuries and countries – one minute it was modern day Australia and the next it was 18th century London. Made it hard to keep up!

    • Reply Rachel Foster May 11, 2019 at 9:38 pm

      When I got the Alice Network out of the library there was a note inside that said this particular person had read all the chapters for 1940’s (or whatever decade it was) first and then went back and read the current day chapters as she wasn’t a fan of jumping back and forth in time. I read the book that way and it was so much easier. Maybe you could make the book work for you that way?

      • Reply Rachael May 14, 2019 at 7:21 pm

        Oh, that’s an interesting idea!

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