The 15 Best Fiction Books Of May — Including A Book About A Woman's Romance With A Merman

by Melissa Ragsdale

For me, May is the absolute perfect month for reading. The weather is warm, but not yet too hot, and it's the perfect time to spread out in the park with a new fiction book. Luckily, book-lovers have much to look forward to this month. The new books coming out will stretch your imagination and challenge your emotions. You can dive into dystopias that will ask you to question your concept of what humanity. You can get hooked on books that read like all your romantic fantasies come true. You can even absorb yourself in short stories that twist the laws of the universe.

Plus, some authors you already know and love are releasing new book this month, including thriller queen Ruth Ware, poet, essayist, and tweeter Melissa Broder, and two-time National Book Award-finalist Rachel Kushner. And of course, pay close attention to the exciting debut authors who are making their mark this month.

My personal happy place involves me laying out a blanket in the park, soaking up the sunshine, and poring over a great new book. This month, you and I have tons of incredible options — here are the best fiction books coming out in May 2018:

'The Pisces' by Melissa Broder (May 1; Hogarth)

You may know Melissa Broder from her poetry collection, Last Sext, her existentially tumultuous Twitter account @sosadtoday, or her essay collection, So Sad Today. But The Pisces is her first novel, and it's seriously good. Yes, it's about woman who, in the midst of a breakdown, strikes up a steamy relationship with a merman, but it will make you think, it will turn you on, and it will ask you to delve into the depths of your own soul.

Click here to buy.

'The Mars Room' by Rachel Kushner (May 1; Scribner)

Rachel Kushner — known best for the National Book Award finalist The Flamethrowers — is back with another gritty, electrifying read. At the center of the story is Romy Hall, a woman at the start of two consecutive life sentences at Stanville Women’s Correctional Facility, who must find a way to coalesce the life she once had with her new reality.

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'The Map of Salt and Stars' by Jennifer Zeynab Joukhadar (May 1; Touchstone)

Set in Syria, this book tells the connected stories of two women living centuries apart. In 2011, Nour's family is confronted by a tragedy that forces them to choose between staying in their home or fleeing and becoming refugees. Eight hundred years earlier, Rawiya disguises herself as a boy and becomes a cartographer's apprentice, traveling throughout the Middle East and Africa.

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'Love and Ruin' by Paula McLain (May 1; Ballantine Books)

The Paris Wife author Paula McLain transports readers to 1937 Madrid, where 28-year-old journalist Martha has traveled to in order to report on the Spanish Civil War. But she doesn't expect to fall in love with a young writer named Ernest Hemingway. (Yes, that Ernest Hemingway.)

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'Mr. Flood's Last Resort' by Jess Kidd (May 1; Atria)

Mr. Flood's Last Resort is story of Cathal Flood, a cantankerous old man who lives in a gothic mansion, and his new caretaker, Maud–his last chance at not being put into an elderly care facility. When strange things begin happening around the house, they wind up on an adventure that neither of them expected.

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'Little Fish' by Casey Plett (May 1; Arsenal Pulp Press)

In this spellbinding novel from Casey Plett, a 30-year-old trans woman comes across evidence that her late grandfather might have been transgender.

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'Motherhood' by Sheila Heti (May 1; Henry Holt & Co.)

From the author of How Should a Person Be and Women in Clothes, Motherhood follows a woman as she struggles with the decision whether or not to have children. This is an insightful and emotionally gripping book with a question at its center that most people have asked themselves at one point or another.

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'Belly Up' by Rita Bullwinkel (May 8; A Strange Object)

This searing and surreal debut short story collection (from one of my favorite small presses) is an unusual and eerie story collection that will resonate with anyone who has ever felt that their existence was informed by the physical and the surreal.

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'The Ensemble' by Aja Gabel (May 15; Riverhead)

This fantastic debut novel takes you into the lives of four young chamber musicians — two men and two women — and the way their spirits and minds connect on and off the stage. The book follows them through decades of their lives — through failed relationships, lost loves, injuries — all stitched together through their music and unwavering commitment to one another.

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'The Favorite Sister' by Jessica Knoll (May 15; Simon & Schuster)

If you loved The Luckiest Girl Alive (who didn't?), you don't want to miss the new book from Jessica Knoll. When five incredibly successful women join the cast of a reality TV-show, they never imagined that one of them would end up dead — and the entire series would go completely off-script.

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'84K' by Claire North (May 22; Orbit)

This science fiction novel takes readers to a world where any crime can be committed without punishment, so long as one can afford to pay the fee assigned to that crime. Theo's job in the Criminal Audit Office is pretty standard; he makes sure that the correct debt is paid for the crime committed. But then his ex-lover is murdered — and he begins to question the entire system.

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'MEM' by Bethany C. Morrow (May 22; The Unnamed Press)

MEM is set a century ago, but with one tweak: a scientist has created a method allowing people to have their memories extracted, creating zombie-like creatures called Mems who experience that singular memory over and over. But a wrench gets thrown into the mix when Dolores Extract #1 starts forming her own memories.

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'How to Walk Away' by Katherine Center (May 15; St. Martin's Press)

When Margaret is seriously injured in a plane crash, she is forced to confront a new reality where she may never walk again. This novel beautifully weaves together a myriad of characters and experiences for a full, deep look at what it means to find your happiness.

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'The Death of Mrs. Westaway' by Ruth Ware (May 29; Gallery/Scout Press)

You probably already recognize Ruth Ware as the author of some of the most acclaimed thrillers of the last several years, including The Woman in Cabin 10, The Lying Game, and In a Dark, Dark Wood. This month, she's releasing her latest novel: The Death of Mrs. Westaway, a story that centers on tarot reader who receives a mysterious mis-delivered letter about a substantial inheritance. When she decides to attend the funeral of the deceased, she realizes something much more sinister is at play than she previously realized.

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