The 12 Best New Nonfiction Books Coming Out In May 2018
May is here, and the year continues to deliver more amazing books than any one reader can be expected to handle. Not that we’re complaining, of course. This month is going to keep our to-read lists growing faster than we’re checking off titles, but we’re eagerly awaiting publishers’ newest tomes nonetheless. The new nonfiction book releases will be worthy additions to anyone’s TBR.
This month starts particularly strong, as May 1 marks the publication date for numerous exciting reads. That said, the days that follow don’t skimp, either. Over the course of the month, you can expect work from the likes of Roxane Gay, David Sedaris, and even the late Zora Neale Hurston. People always say, “what a time to be alive,” and really, isn’t that the truth?
If you make reading a priority in May, you definitely won’t be sorry. You’ll be able to gain insight on everything from modern-day Russia to how the U.S. government locked up “promiscuous” women in the 20th century, not to mention tackle topics like periods, parenting, and growing up. Options abound for any book-lover.
Read on for 12 nonfiction books hitting shelves in May that you shouldn’t miss, and block off some quality reading time on your calendar.
‘Not That Bad' edited by Roxane Gay (May 1; Harper)
In case the #MeToo movement didn’t make it clear, sexual assault, harassment, and aggression remain very real problems for women. Acclaimed feminist writer Roxane Gay teams up with authors, actors, and more to share firsthand experiences in Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture. The anthology includes writing from Gabrielle Union, Amy Jo Burns, and Lyz Lenz, among others.
‘I’m Just Happy to Be Here’ by Janelle Hanchett (May 1; Hachette Books)
Janelle Hanchett, the woman behind the blog Renegade Mothering, shares her story of motherhood, addiction, and recovery in her new memoir. Called I’m Just Happy to Be Here: A Memoir of Renegade Mothering, the book is an honest and humorous look at her struggles, triumphs, and everything in between.
‘Gaslighting America’ by Amanda Carpenter (May 1; Broadside Books)
There is perhaps no more controversial figure right now than President Donald Trump, and conservative CNN contributor Amanda Carpenter boldly critiques him in her new book, Gaslighting America: Why We Love It When Trump Lies to Us. As the title suggests, it explores the president’s behavior — as well as our own. She offers her take on how we can stop buying in.
‘From Cold War to Hot Peace’ by Michael McFaul (May 8; Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
In From Cold War to Hot Peace: An American Ambassador in Putin’s Russia, Michael McFaul examines how U.S.-Russia relations have evolved since 1989. He draws on history as well as the unique perspective he gained while serving as an ambassador. Given what’s going on in the world, this book couldn’t be more timely.
‘Barracoon’ by Zora Neale Hurston (May 8; Amistad)
Zora Neale Hurston may be best known for her novels, but the late author has a nonfiction book on the way. Barracoon: The Story of the Last “Black Cargo” chronicles the life of Cudjo Lewis, a man brought to the United States and sold into slavery as the Civil War approached. Hurston met him decades later in Alabama, and then spent more than three months interviewing him about his life in 1931. Her book shares the tragic story of Lewis’ capture, trip across the Atlantic, and years as a slave.
‘Period’ edited by Kate Farrell (May 8; Feiwel & Friends)
Menstruation doesn’t get talked about that enough, but Kate Farrell aims to change that in Period: Twelve Voices Tell the Bloody Truth. The essay collection is made up of diverse voices and it celebrates their varied experiences as people who bleed.
‘The Trials of Nina McCall’ by Scott W. Stern (May 15; Beacon Press)
Scott W. Stern writes about a time when slut-shaming reached terrifying extremes in the United States by sharing the story of a particular woman. Called The Trials of Nina McCall: Sex, Surveillance, and the Decades-Long Government Plan to Imprison “Promiscuous” Women, the book takes readers back to a time when thousands of women were locked up under horrifying circumstances. The women ultimately fought back, but you’ll be shocked by what they endured.
‘How I Resist’ edited by Maureen Johnson (May 15; Wednesday Books)
How I Resist: Activism and Hope for a New Generation, edited by Maureen Johnson, will help you persist. The collection includes essays, illustrations, drawings, and interviews that will show you how you can have an impact and encourage you to get started. Its star-studded list of contributors includes Modern Family’s Jesse Tyler Ferguson (together with his husband), comedian Rosie O’Donnell, and writer Jodi Picoult, among others.
‘Well, That Escalated Quickly’ by Francesca Ramsey (May 22; Grand Central Publishing)
Francesca Ramsey gets personal in her new essay collection, Well, That Escalated Quickly: Memoirs and Mistakes of an Accidental Activist. The host of MTV’s Decoded shares how she fell into activism and delves into necessary topics such as race, identity, and dealing with hate.
‘Sexographies’ by Gabriela Wiener (May 29; Restless Books)
Peruvian journalist Gabriela Wiener’s latest book, Sexographies, marks her English-language debut. The work, which was translated by Jennifer Adcock and Lucy Greaves, is described as a “kamikaze journey through the unexplored corners of human sexuality.” Wiener brings readers along for adventures that include prison, swingers clubs, and drug-induced hallucination.
‘Like a Mother’ by Angela Garbes (May 29; Harper Wave)
In spite of how long women have been giving birth, there is a lot of misinformation out there about pregnancy and motherhood. Angela Garbes seeks to get it straight in Like a Mother: A Feminist Journey through the Science and Culture of Pregnancy. She not only corrects misinformation but offers advice and support.
‘Calypso’ by David Sedaris (May 29; Little, Brown and Company)
David. Sedaris. Is. Back. As usual, Sedaris tackles some of life's biggest (and to be honest, smallest) mysteries with his trademark sense of humor. When Sedaris buys a vacation home on the Carolina coast, he imagines idyllic weekend spent in peace and quiet, but he neglected one unfortunate truth: you can't ever escape yourself.