Book Club Picks for May 2021

by Heather Caliendo
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It’s time to check out the six book club picks for May 2021!

May is the start of the summer reading season! While May is technically still a spring month, publishers start rolling out a ton of books this month in anticipate of the booming summer season. Anything from your typical fun, beach read to nail biting thrillers to more literary, serious type stories.

Since there are so many books publishing these next summer months, I put together a summer book club reading list, which features books publishing all the way into August 2021. Between that and my monthly lists, you will be more than covered in the book department!

I typically pick five books for my monthly list and even with adding in a summer picks article, I still had a hard time narrowing this list to five. So after much debate, I decided to include six books this month. Let’s get to it!


Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead (May 4)

Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead sounds like one of those epic, grand type stories. It follows female aviator Marian Graves who is determined to chart her own course by flying over the North and South Poles. And in the second timeline, the story picks up a century later when Hadley Baxter is set to play Marian in a Hollywood film. This should be a fascinating read. Here’s the full synopsis:

After being rescued as infants from a sinking ocean liner in 1914, Marian and Jamie Graves are raised by their dissolute uncle in Missoula, Montana. There–after encountering a pair of barnstorming pilots passing through town in beat-up biplanes–Marian commences her lifelong love affair with flight. At fourteen she drops out of school and finds an unexpected and dangerous patron in a wealthy bootlegger who provides a plane and subsidizes her lessons, an arrangement that will haunt her for the rest of her life, even as it allows her to fulfill her destiny: circumnavigating the globe by flying over the North and South Poles.

A century later, Hadley Baxter is cast to play Marian in a film that centers on Marian’s disappearance in Antarctica. Vibrant, canny, disgusted with the claustrophobia of Hollywood, Hadley is eager to redefine herself after a romantic film franchise has imprisoned her in the grip of cult celebrity. Her immersion into the character of Marian unfolds, thrillingly, alongside Marian’s own story, as the two women’s fates–and their hunger for self-determination in vastly different geographies and times–collide. Epic and emotional, meticulously researched and gloriously told, Great Circle is a monumental work of art, and a tremendous leap forward for the prodigiously gifted Maggie Shipstead.

You can order the book on Amazon here.


The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave (May 4)

Laura Dave is back to the literary scene with her latest, The Last Thing He Told Me. She typically writes contemporary fiction stories with a more serious focus. If you haven’t read her novel, Eight Hundred Grapes, I highly recommend it! The Last Thing He Told Me sounds like new territory for the author— the mystery genre. Still, I expect plenty of character development and family drama. Here’s the full synopsis:

Before Owen Michaels disappears, he smuggles a note to his beloved wife of one year: Protect her. Despite her confusion and fear, Hannah Hall knows exactly to whom the note refers—Owen’s sixteen-year-old daughter, Bailey. Bailey, who lost her mother tragically as a child. Bailey, who wants absolutely nothing to do with her new stepmother.

As Hannah’s increasingly desperate calls to Owen go unanswered, as the FBI arrests Owen’s boss, as a US marshal and federal agents arrive at her Sausalito home unannounced, Hannah quickly realizes her husband isn’t who he said he was. And that Bailey just may hold the key to figuring out Owen’s true identity—and why he really disappeared.

Hannah and Bailey set out to discover the truth. But as they start putting together the pieces of Owen’s past, they soon realize they’re also building a new future—one neither of them could have anticipated.

With its breakneck pacing, dizzying plot twists, and evocative family drama, The Last Thing He Told Me is a riveting mystery, certain to shock you with its final, heartbreaking turn.

You can order the book on Amazon here.


Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir (May 4)

I’m not typically a science fiction fan but I did actually quite enjoy The Martian by Andy Weir. I read the book before I saw the movie and I think both are great! He’s back with a new science tale in Project Hail Mary. If you want a novel to truly take you to another time and place, this will be the right pick. Here’s the full synopsis:

Ryland Grace is the sole survivor on a desperate, last-chance mission—and if he fails, humanity and the earth itself will perish.

Except that right now, he doesn’t know that. He can’t even remember his own name, let alone the nature of his assignment or how to complete it.

All he knows is that he’s been asleep for a very, very long time. And he’s just been awakened to find himself millions of miles from home, with nothing but two corpses for company.

His crewmates dead, his memories fuzzily returning, Ryland realizes that an impossible task now confronts him. Hurtling through space on this tiny ship, it’s up to him to puzzle out an impossible scientific mystery—and conquer an extinction-level threat to our species.

And with the clock ticking down and the nearest human being light-years away, he’s got to do it all alone.

Or does he?

An irresistible interstellar adventure as only Andy Weir could deliver, Project Hail Mary is a tale of discovery, speculation, and survival to rival The Martian—while taking us to places it never dreamed of going.

You can order the book on Amazon here.


Ariadne by Jennifer Saint (May 4)

The retelling of Greek Mythology from the female’s perspective continues to grow in popularity in modern day fiction. Circe by Madeline Miller sits on the New York Times bestsellers list time and time again. If you’re a fan of those type of stories, you should give Ariadne a try. Here’s the full synopsis:

Ariadne, Princess of Crete, grows up greeting the dawn from her beautiful dancing floor and listening to her nursemaid’s stories of gods and heroes. But beneath her golden palace echo the ever-present hoofbeats of her brother, the Minotaur, a monster who demands blood sacrifice. 

When Theseus, Prince of Athens, arrives to vanquish the beast, Ariadne sees in his green eyes not a threat but an escape. Defying the gods, betraying her family and country, and risking everything for love, Ariadne helps Theseus kill the Minotaur. But will Ariadne’s decision ensure her happy ending? And what of Phaedra, the beloved younger sister she leaves behind?

Hypnotic, propulsive, and utterly transporting, Jennifer Saint’s Ariadne forges a new epic, one that puts the forgotten women of Greek mythology back at the heart of the story, as they strive for a better world.

You can order the book on Amazon here.


That Summer by Jennifer Weiner (May 11)

I like this trend of a new Jennifer Weiner book every summer! Last year’s Big Summer was an entertaining read with a mystery twist and it sounds like That Summer might be as well. Anytime there’s a Jennifer Weiner novel, you can expect a story that covers female friendships in all its joy and complexity. Here’s the full synopsis:

Daisy Shoemaker can’t sleep. With a thriving cooking business, full schedule of volunteer work, and a beautiful home in the Philadelphia suburbs, she should be content. But her teenage daughter can be a handful, her husband can be distant, her work can feel trivial, and she has lots of acquaintances, but no real friends. Still, Daisy knows she’s got it good. So why is she up all night?

While Daisy tries to identify the root of her dissatisfaction, she’s also receiving misdirected emails meant for a woman named Diana Starling, whose email address is just one punctuation mark away from her own. While Daisy’s driving carpools, Diana is chairing meetings. While Daisy’s making dinner, Diana’s making plans to reorganize corporations. Diana’s glamorous, sophisticated, single-lady life is miles away from Daisy’s simpler existence. When an apology leads to an invitation, the two women meet and become friends. But, as they get closer, we learn that their connection was not completely accidental. Who IS this other woman, and what does she want with Daisy?

From the manicured Main Line of Philadelphia to the wild landscape of the Outer Cape, written with Jennifer Weiner’s signature wit and sharp observations, That Summer is a story about surviving our pasts, confronting our futures, and the sustaining bonds of friendship.

You can order the book on Amazon here.


That Summer Job by Lizzy Dent (May 18)

If you’re looking for something lighter, That Summer Job by Lizzy Dent should fit the bill. This story follows a woman who pretends to be her best friend for a summer (!) but through that big lie, she might actually end up finding herself and much more. Here’s the full synopsis:

Birdy has made a mistake. Everyone imagines running away from their life at some point. But Birdy has actually done it. And the life she’s run into is her best friend Heather’s. The only problem is, she hasn’t told Heather. 

The summer job at the highland Scottish hotel that her world class wine-expert friend ditched turns out to be a lot more than Birdy bargained for. Can she survive a summer pretending to be her best friend? And can Birdy stop herself from falling for the first man she’s ever actually liked, but who thinks she’s someone else?

One good friend’s very bad decision is at the heart of this laugh-out-loud love story and unexpected tale of a woman finally finding herself in the strangest of places.

You can order the book on Amazon here.

Happy reading!

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