May is finally here, and it’s brought a fantastic crop of
new books with it. With titles from Holly Black, Jasmine Guillory, Casey McQuiston, and more all about to hit stores, it’s a good a time as any to make some space on your bookshelf.
Let’s get this out of the way now: It’s a banner month for
romance readers. Fan-favorite authors Sonali Dev, Jasmine Guillory, and Emily Henry return to store shelves this month with The Emma Project, By the Book, and Book Lovers, respectively. YA romance fans should take note of Ebony LaDelle’s Love Radio, Emery Lee’s Café con Lychee, Casey McQuiston’s I Kissed Shara Wheeler, and Lillie Vale’s Beauty and the Besharam. And that’s not even all the great new romances May 2022 has to offer!
If you aren’t into
romance, no worries. May’s new releases also include lots of great genre fiction, literary novels, and memoirs. Alongside Seanan McGuire’s Middlegame sequel and Nghi Vo’s Siren Queen, look for new releases from Selma Blair, Vanessa Hua, Mieko Kawakami, Jennifer Saint, and A.J. Verdelle.
Below, the 56 most anticipated books of May 2022.
We only include products that have been independently selected by Bustle's editorial team. However, we may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article. 1 Chef’s Kiss May 3
After her company’s pivot to video turns her dream job into a nightmare, Simone, a grumpy pastry chef, is suddenly forced to work alongside Ray, an annoyingly sunshine-y cook who happens to be a viral-video wizard. But when Ray comes out as nonbinary — a move that proves controversial to others on their team — Simone is forced to choose between work and her growing feelings for Ray.
2 Book of Night May 3 The Cruel Prince author Holly Black makes her adult debut with Book of Night. The story here centers on con artist Charlie, who lives in a world where a person’s shadow can be manipulated... for good or for ill. She’s been keeping a low profile, but when someone from her past returns, Charlie is thrown back into the webbed world of intrigue she thought she’d left behind. 3 The Hacienda May 3
Set in Mexico in the early 19th century, Isabel Cañas’
The Hacienda follows Beatriz, an orphaned young woman who moves in with her mysterious new husband — a man rumored to have killed his first wife. Shortly after Beatriz arrives at Hacienda San Isidro, her husband leaves for the city, plunging her into a world of uncertainty. Her only ally is Padre Andrés, a young brujo whose powers may not be enough to stave off the dangerous entity that haunts Beatriz’s new home. 4 The Stand-In May 3
When Gracie unexpectedly loses her job, her plans to get her mother into a good nursing home are thrown into jeopardy. Luckily, Gracie’s uncanny look-alike, Chinese actor Wei Fangli, arrives with a proposition that might save the day: pose as Fangli for a while, and earn all the money she’ll need. But playing Fangli is more difficult than Gracie expected, largely thanks to the actor’s on-screen partner, Sam Yao, who proves to be a major thorn in her side.
5 Queerly Beloved May 3
As a baker of wedding cakes and other celebratory desserts at a Christian bakery in pre-
Obergefell Tulsa, Oklahoma, Amy’s made other people’s happiness her business. She finally gets some joy for herself when she hits it off with Charley, a cute, new-to-town engineer — until Amy’s boss learns she’s a lesbian and unceremoniously fires her. To make ends meet, Amy leans on her new gig as a pinch-hitter bridesmaid. She’s uniquely qualified to work in the wedding market, but can she continue working in an industry closed to same-sex couples in good conscience? 6 Tear Down the Throne May 3
The second novel in Jennifer Estep’s Gargoyle Queen saga,
Tear Down the Throne finds Crown Princess Gemma navigating a web of intrigue, hoping to save her beloved country from ruin. Surrounded by other rulers and dignitaries at a diplomatic summit, Gemma learns that someone in attendance has put a bounty on her head. All signs point to her rival’s family, but is someone setting them up? It’s up to Gemma and her closest allies to find out who’s behind the attacks before it’s too late. 7 Acts of Service May 3
Feeling tied down in her relationship with her girlfriend, Eve posts nude pictures of herself online — a move that attracts attention from Olivia, another queer woman, who introduces Eve to her boss, Nathan. Olivia and Nathan are already sleeping together, and it doesn’t take long for them to bring Eve into the fold. Together, the trio navigate questions of consent, power, and individual sexuality, in this slim, sexy debut.
8 Vigil Harbor May 3
Three years after a massive storm flattened swathes of Vigil Harbor, Massachusetts, the town’s residents are adrift. Brecht is new in town, having moved in with his stepfather Austin, an architect who designs weather-resistant homes. But his arrival is overshadowed by that of two other, more mysterious newcomers: a traveler and a widow who’s searching for her onetime beau — someone who had ties to Austin.
9 By the Book May 3
Beauty and the Beast retelling set in the publishing world? Yes, please! In By the Book, romance maven Jasmine Guillory introduces readers to 25-year-old Izzy, a woman who has become increasingly jaded with her work as an editorial assistant — and with being the company’s sole Black employee. Her big break comes when one of the publisher’s bestselling authors, Beau Towers, stalls out while writing his next novel. With both of their careers on the line, can Izzy pull the notoriously difficult Beau out of his funk? 10 We Do What We Do in the Dark May 3
During her first year of college, Mallory embarked on a life-changing affair with a much older, married professor. Their entanglement led Mallory to wrestle with her own identity, and eventually withdraw from everything else she knew. Now, an older, wiser Mallory, forced to choose between isolation and community, must reckon with the truth of her collegiate relationship.
11 Book Lovers May 3
Literary agent Nora isn’t known for her laid-back attitude, but when her younger sister plans a getaway in rural North Carolina, she’s determined to get some R&R. Too bad she keeps crossing paths with her New York City nemesis, Charlie — an editor who’s never been on Nora’s good side. The more she sees him, though, Nora begins to wonder if he isn’t so bad after all.
12 Patience Is a Subtle Thief May 3
As the eldest daughter of a wealthy chief, Patience has wanted only for love — and to know why her mother was ostracized from the family compound, leaving her only with her standoffish father and stepmother. When she moves to Lagos to attend university and meets up with her cousin, she begins to unravel the mystery, while also getting tied up in a tricky knot of her own.
13 Never Been Kissed May 3
Wren’s known for a while that he likes boys, but he’s begun to feel frustrated with his lack of intimate experiences. So he confesses to each of his former crushes — the young men with whom he almost shared his first kiss — in an email blast that he hoped would go ignored. Too bad Wren’s new coworker Derrick is also his biggest crush, and he
definitely read the email. Though Derrick makes it a point to explain that he doesn’t share Wren’s feelings, as the two of them work side-by-side at a summer job, it becomes clear that there may be something there. 14 All the Lovers in the Night May 3
First published in 2011, this novel by
Breasts and Eggs author Meiko Kawakami is now available in English for the first time. All the Lovers in the Night centers on Fuyuko, a 30-something copy editor who has grown weary of her solitary, colorless life in Tokyo. As she strikes up a relationship with Mitsutsuka, an older man who teaches high school physics, Fuyuko begins to see her way forward. But is she ready to fall in love? 15 Café con Lychee May 3
Theo Mori is an openly gay soccer player who longs to escape the responsibilities at his parents’ café by attending college in another state. But when a new fusion restaurant shakes things up in their tiny Vermont town, Theo’s parents worry they’ll be run out of business. To save their café, Theo teams up with Gabi Moreno — the worst player on his soccer team, and the closeted son of his parents’ business rivals. Gabi is more than willing to lend a helping hand, as the Morenos are debating closing up shop for good. Overcoming his differences with Theo, though, is easier said than done.
16 Seasonal Fears May 3
Seanan McGuire’s highly anticipated
Middlegame sequel is finally here! Seasonal Fears centers on teen lovers Harry and Melanie, who must journey across the country to compete in a dangerous tournament for the chance to become the avatars of Summer and Winter. Melanie’s already died and come back to life once before, but the fight over the thrones of the seasons brings new challenges neither of the teens can anticipate. 17 I Kissed Shara Wheeler May 3 Red, White & Royal Blue author Casey McQuiston makes her YA debut with I Kissed Shara Wheeler. The story follows high schooler Chloe, who’s had one goal ever since her moms pulled up stakes in sunny, progressive California and enrolled her in Alabama’s Willowgrove Christian Academy: becoming valedictorian of her graduating class. Only one person’s standing in her way, and that’s Shara Wheeler, the school principal’s charismatic, goody-two-shoes daughter. So when Shara up and vanishes — just after they share a kiss — Chloe sets out to find her in the weeks leading up to graduation. 18 Ain’t That a Mother: Postpartum, Palsy, and Everything In Between May 3
In her memoir-in-essays, Adiba Nelson touches on her experiences before, during, and after an unplanned pregnancy. While raising a daughter born with bilateral schizencephaly and cerebral palsy, Nelson found herself forced to navigate parenting ordeals far more harrowing than those of her peers — like a preschool that fought to deny her daughter an education because of her mobility device. Unflinchingly raw and incredibly funny,
Ain’t That a Mother deserves a place on your to-read list this summer. 19 Elektra May 3 Ariadne author Jennifer Saint returns to store shelves this month with Elektra. Set against the backdrop of the Trojan War, this novel follows three of the conflict’s most prominent women: Clytemnestra, Queen of Mycenae and sister to Helen of Troy; Cassandra, Princess of Troy and cursed priestess of Apollo; and Elektra, Princess of Mycenae. Brought together by the King of Mycenae’s crimes, these three women soon find themselves locked into a spiral of death and destruction that rivals the ongoing battle between Greece and Troy. 20 The Patient May 3
Until recently, Rachel Goodchild was a respected doctor in Salisbury. Now, she’s locked in a prison cell. She narrates her story — including her estrangement from her husband and daughter, her affair with a married patient, and her suspicion that someone is following her every move — in this twisty new novel.
21 The Noh Family May 3
Chloe’s never known what it was like to have a big family; for as long as she can remember, it’s just been her and her mom. So when a DNA test reveals that her late father left behind a huge extended family in South Korea, Chloe wastes no time hopping on a flight to Seoul. There, she learns her relatives belong to one of the most powerful dynasties in South Korea, and they welcome Chloe with open arms... but their hospitality might just have an ulterior motive.
22 Mother Country May 3
When her life begins to fall apart in the wake of a devastating car accident, Shannon decides to start fresh by moving to Morocco with her boyfriend. There, she finds a small child, and — still wrestling with both a recent infertility diagnosis and the unresolved trauma of her parents’ emotional unavailability — she decides to adopt the girl and move back to Kentucky with her. Meanwhile, the girl’s mother, a trafficking victim from Mauritania, searches for her 2-year-old daughter on the streets of Marrakech.
23 The Immortal King Rao May 3
Set in a corporatocratic future, Vauhini Vara’s
The Immortal King Rao follows Athena, the daughter of the global government leader — the eponymous King Rao — as she wrestles with her father’s complicated legacy. Sharing the truth about the King with the world’s Shareholders may be the only chance she has at winning the war against climate change, but in order to do that, Athena must immerse herself in her father’s 20th-century Dalit childhood. 24 Permission to Come Home: Reclaiming Mental Health as Asian Americans May 3
Blending together elements of memoir, self-help, and microhistory, psychologist Jenny T. Wang examines how Asian Americans can find restoration and healing in troubling times. In her Houston-based practice, Wang “work[s] from a
social justice and intersectional framework focused on understanding the impact of racial trauma and racial identity on mental health,” and she brings those same considerations to Permission to Come Home. 25 Liarmouth May 3
You’ve heard of a feel-good romance, but what about a feel-
bad one? Cult filmmaker John Waters’ first novel is just that: a depraved romp through romance tropes with some delightfully unlovable characters. 26 Our Little World May 3
In Karen Winn’s debut novel, a junior high school student’s idyllic life in 1980s New Jersey is turned upside down. It’s the summer of 1985, and Bee is preoccupied with her attempts to escape her perfect sister’s shadow, and her crush on a new neighbor, Max. When Max’s sister vanishes, though, the community’s sense of safety is shattered — and as the aftershocks ripple through Bee’s home, she learns a devastating secret about her own sibling.
27 Your Mind Is a Terrible Thing May 7
In this new novel from Bram Stoker Award nominee Hailey Piper, a hostile and manipulative entity threatens a space ship and its passengers. The
M. G. Yellowjacket crew were alive and well when Alto went to sleep. Now, they’re all gone, and the anxious communications specialist is left alone. Alto needs to make it to the bridge in order to send a distress signal, but how can one fight back against a force capable of hacking into their mind? 28 Mean Baby: A Memoir of Growing Up May 10
With her roles in films like
Cruel Intentions and Legally Blonde, Selma Blair was a major figure in many a millennial’s adolescence. In Mean Baby, the actor recounts her own coming-of-age, and discusses the multiple sclerosis diagnosis that changed her life forever. 29 Forbidden City May 10 A River of Stars author Vanessa Hua delivers a striking new novel in Forbidden City. Mei grew up in China in the 1960s, and believes wholeheartedly in the communist cause. So when she gets the opportunity to work for the Party in Beijing, she wastes no time in signing up. She soon grows close to Mao Zedong himself, which affords her a modicum of power — but her position is a precarious one, and she soon finds herself questioning the ethics of the Revolution. 30 Set on You May 10
As an exercise influencer, Crystal Chen’s whole career revolves around her gym membership. So when an insufferable new bro named Scott takes over her favorite exercise equipment, she’s more than a little miffed. The two build a rivalry trading barbed insults, so color them both surprised when they find out their grandparents are marrying each other. But these waters are about to get even choppier, in
Set on You. 31 Beauty and the Besharam May 10
Kavya and Ian have been rivals for years, so Kavya’s not exactly pleased that Ian witnessed her messy breakup with her now-ex-boyfriend. She plans to avoid Ian all summer, but her seasonal job throws a wrench into that plan: Kavya and Ian have just been cast as Ariel and Eric for a local party-princess business. Sparks will fly, but will they end in romance... or disaster?
32 Miss Chloe: A Memoir of a Literary Friendship with Toni Morrison May 10
A.J. Verdelle’s debut novel,
The Good Negress, generated a lot of buzz when it released in 1995. The book even caught the attention of Toni Morrison — winner of both the Nobel and the Pulitzer — who blurbed the book. So began a friendship that lasted until Morrison’s death in 2019. In Miss Chloe, Verdelle reflects on her friendship with the award-winning author, how their careers differed, and the day-to-day struggles of the creative life. 33 Siren Queen May 10
Nghi Vo follows up her
Gatsby retelling, The Chosen and the Beautiful, with Siren Queen. This magical take on the Golden Age of Hollywood follows Luli Wei, a Chinese American actor who refuses to play into Hollywood’s racist stereotypes, and find herself typecast as a monstrous figure as a result. Although Luli’s career seems to be fairly stable, danger lurks everywhere. In this version of Hollywood, actors’ contracts are signed in blood and sealed with magic, and failure feeds a wicked machine. 34 Girl Online: A User Manual May 10
Any woman who’s ever dealt with reply guys gone feral, dogpiling, doxxing, or dick pics in her DMs knows one thing: It’s hard to be a woman on the internet. In
Girl Online, Joanna Walsh explores our relationship to the web — what we sacrifice to have an internet presence, how our identities change online, and what we receive in return. 35 The Red Arrow May 17
When his career fails to take off the way he thought it would, a young author takes a job ghostwriting a book for a prominent physicist — only to learn that the scientist has gone missing, jeopardizing the project. As his mental health deteriorates, the writer pursues an experimental remedy, which catapults him into an existential bliss he’s never experienced before.
36 The Emma Project May 17
Sonali Dev takes on Jane Austen’s
Emma in this contemporary, gender-bent retelling. Vansh Raje is handsome, clever, and rich... and a total thorn in the side of his brother’s ex, Naina. As Naina competes against the much-younger Vansh to get her feminist startup off the ground, the two kick off a friends-with-benefits arrangement that could lead to a lot more. Fans will recognize Naina from her role in Incense and Sensibility. 37 Dance Among the Flames May 17
A sweeping tale blending horror and fantasy, Tori Eldridge’s
Dance Among the Flames follows Serafina, a Brazilian woman who becomes a psychic after her lover fails to support her and her son. But Serafina is soon caught in the spell of Exu, an immortal trickster who persuades her to embrace Quimbanda magic. 38 On a Quiet Street May 17
A twisty thriller in the vein of
The Girl on the Train, On a Quiet Street centers on three women — Cora, Paige, and Georgia — whose lives become inextricably tangled when secrets bubble to the surface in their tony community. Paige lost her son in an unsolved hit-and-run, and she’s determined to avenge him, no matter the cost. So when Cora asks Paige to help her prove her husband is cheating, Paige readily agrees. Then there’s their new neighbor, Georgia, who’s clearly hiding something. It’s not just her, though: The lid that covers all of Brighton Hills’ secrets is about to blow wide open. 39 Just Like Mother May 17
When she reconnects with her cousin Andrea, Maeve finds herself swarmed with memories of their childhood — the cult they were raised in, and the foster-care situation that followed. Andrea is now the owner of a successful babydoll business, which caters to childless people and parents-to-be, and their reunion feels like a dream come true at first. But as Maeve is pulled deeper into Andrea’s social circle, she begins to realize that her cousin may have ulterior motives.
40 We Measure the Earth with Our Bodies May 17
When they were young, recently orphaned sisters Lhamo and Tenkyi fled to Nepal after China invaded Tibet. Soon after, while the girls are living in a refugee camp, a mysterious statue — one rumored to appear when people need help the most — arrives with another exile. Years later, Lhamo’s daughter, Dolma, rediscovers the statue while pursuing an academic career in Tibet Studies and makes a rash decision that may impact their whole community.
41 Neruda on the Park May 17
A Dominican American mother and daughter clash when gentrification arrives on their doorstep in this stellar debut. Eusebia will stop at nothing to prevent a swathe of luxury condos from going up in New York’s Nothar Park, and she’s full of plans to sabotage the project. Meanwhile, Luz, Eusebia’s daughter and an up-and-coming lawyer, finds her life destabilized when she falls into a passionate romance with one of the white developers responsible for the demolition and construction.
42 Sex and the Single Woman: 24 Writers Reimagine Helen Gurley Brown’s Cult Classic May 17
In 1962, Helen Gurley Brown scandalized the nation with the publication of
Sex and the Single Girl. Now, 60 years after the book first appeared on store shelves, editors Eliza Smith and Haley Swanson bring us Sex and the Single Woman, a collection of 24 essays that explore the original book’s themes with a 21st-century mindset. 43 This Time Tomorrow May 17
One of the year’s most anticipated books, Emma Straub’s
This Time Tomorrow centers on Alice, a woman who wakes up on her 40th birthday to find herself transported back in time... to her Sweet 16. In 2020, her father’s health is failing, but back in 1996, Alice finds him vibrant and full of life. She has the chance to fix some old mistakes, but does she dare to meddle in the affairs of the past? 44 Either/Or May 24
The long-awaited sequel to
The Idiot picks up right where the first book left off. After a strange freshman year and an even stranger summer abroad, Selin’s back at Harvard as a sophomore. She has a lot of memories to parse from the past few months, however, and when her old crush’s ex reemerges, Selin’s philosophic musings go into overdrive. 45 Our Last Days in Barcelona May 24
Chanel Cleeton’s latest follows Isabel, a Cuban exile, as she travels to Spain to search for her missing sister in 1964. Interposed with the story of Isabel’s mother’s flight from Cuba to Spain in 1936,
Our Last Days in Barcelona is a twisty ride through midcentury politics that only Cleeton could deliver. 46 You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty May 24
Five years ago, Feyi lost the person she loved in a tragic accident. Now, at her best friend’s insistence, she’s decided to dip her toes into the social scene once more. She quickly strikes up a relationship with Nasir, who whisks her away on a tropical retreat at his father’s vacation home. Once there, Feyi feels herself falling for Nasir’s father, Alim, who knows what it’s like to lose the one you love — even though their love affair could destroy Alim’s whole family.
47 The Evening Hero May 24
After arriving in the United States as a Korean War refugee, Dr. Yungman Kwak built a good life for himself in Horse’s Breath, Minnesota. But when a series of misfortunes befall Dr. Kwak, and a letter arrives that could expose the lie he’s worked so hard to maintain, he begins to wrestle with the big questions of his life in America.
48 Crazy to Leave You May 24
When her fiancé dumps her via text on the day of their wedding, 41-year-old Lauren is left humiliated and heartbroken. But as she begins to pick up the pieces of her life, Lauren realizes that the changes she made to make way for her dream wedding may not have been right for her after all.
49 Hide May 24
Mack, an orphan who’s used to hiding, enters a sinister competition: Spend a week in an abandoned amusement park without getting caught, and earn a $50,000 prize. But she and her 13 fellow competitors haven’t been told everything that awaits them inside, and they soon learn that they’ll be lucky to make it out at all, let alone with a cash purse.
50 How to Be Eaten May 31
In a fractured take on classic stories, Maria Adelmann’s
How to Be Eaten casts Red Riding Hood, Bluebeard’s bride, and other fairytale heroines as women processing their trauma in the same support group. But as the five members share their stories, they start to pick at common threads, and soon discover they may be connected in some strange way. 51 Rainbow Rainbow May 31
Exploring the liminal spaces of queerness and gender, Lydia Conklin’s
Rainbow Rainbow offers readers a masterful collage of perspectives from people living — or trying to live — their best possible lives. It’s real, raw, and occasionally brutal, but queer and trans readers will find many of their feelings and experiences reflected here. 52 Boys Come First May 31
When his career and relationship implode overnight, Dominick returns home to Detroit to find a husband and start a new life. There, he reconnects with his best friend, Troy, who’s navigating a series of interpersonal problems with his boyfriend, his father, and another friend, Remy. A successful real estate agent, Remy has come to a fork in the road of his romantic life: Should he muddle through with his long-distance relationship, or marry a guy who lives closer to home? As the three men sort out their love lives, they’re faced with a challenge that will rock their friendship to its very core.
53 Love Radio May 31
Ebony LaDelle, host of the
Why Not YA? video series, releases her debut this month. The story follows a 17-year-old radio host, who finds himself challenged to make a girl fall in love with him in three dates or less — by his would-be love interest herself, no less. 54 An Olive Grove in Ends May 31
Sayon was just about to get out of Ends for good when tragedy struck. Now, he’s being blackmailed, and his only shot at escape may be to tell Shona, the love of his life, what he’s been doing to make the money they need to run away together. Author Moses McKenzie’s gripping debut proves him to be a keen-eyed new writer to watch.
55 The Messy Lives of Book People May 31
Liv, a maid who dreams of becoming a writer, gets the unexpected chance to pursue her dreams when she’s hired by — and forms a fledgling friendship with — her literary hero, Essie. But after Essie dies and leaves Liv in charge of finishing her novel, Liv finds herself delving deeper into the writer’s life and uncovering some unexpected secrets.
56 A Game of Retribution May 31
The second novel in Scarlett St. Clair’s Hades Sage is
A Game of Retribution. Here, Hades incurs the wrath of Hera when he refuses to help her unseat his brother — so the jealous goddess has him performing labors, Heracles-style. But playing Hera’s games means leaving Persephone alone in a time of great need. With his wife in need of his support, will Hades’ mission derail his marriage?
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