It’s time to check out the celebrity book club picks for May 2022!
How is it already May?? April really flew by for me. But there were some amazing celebrity book picks in April! I read Memphis by Tara M. Stringfellow, True Biz by Sara Nović and I’m currently reading Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus—so I got the big three covered! I’m also planning to read Marie Claire’s pick The Diamond Eye by Kate Quinn next so stay tuned for that.
Let’s now chat about May!
Reese selected an older book that was just released in paperback. Jenna picked a novel where a woman talks with an octopus and GMA went with a novel that has supernatural elements. Plus, there’s picks from Oprah, Barnes & Noble and more! All across the board, I feel these picks are interesting and there is really something for everyone.
Reese’s Book Club
The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams
So Reese’s people definitely kept this one under wraps! And she went against her usual pick—a new release in hardcover. For May, she selected a novel that was released last year and is now in paperback. I think The Dictionary of Lost Words sounds incredible: a celebration of language and spotlighting women and their contributions. I can’t wait to read it. Here’s the synopsis:
Esme is born into a world of words. Motherless and irrepressibly curious, she spends her childhood in the Scriptorium, an Oxford garden shed in which her father and a team of dedicated lexicographers are collecting words for the very first Oxford English Dictionary. Young Esme’s place is beneath the sorting table, unseen and unheard. One day a slip of paper containing the word bondmaid flutters beneath the table. She rescues the slip and, learning that the word means “slave girl,” begins to collect other words that have been discarded or neglected by the dictionary men.
As she grows up, Esme realizes that words and meanings relating to women’s and common folks’ experiences often go unrecorded. And so she begins in earnest to search out words for her own dictionary: the Dictionary of Lost Words. To do so she must leave the sheltered world of the university and venture out to meet the people whose words will fill those pages.
Set during the height of the women’s suffrage movement and with the Great War looming, The Dictionary of Lost Wordsreveals a lost narrative, hidden between the lines of a history written by men. Inspired by actual events, author Pip Williams has delved into the archives of the Oxford English Dictionary to tell this highly original story. The Dictionary of Lost Words is a delightful, lyrical, and deeply thought-provoking celebration of words and the power of language to shape the world.
Read with Jenna
Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt
Read with Jenna selected Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt. This has a very unique synopsis: it features a widow’s unlikely connection with a giant Pacific octopus. I’m so curious about this one—it promises to be quite the impactful story. I’m wondering if the octopus is real or is it serving as some type of metaphor? We’ll see! Here’s the full synopsis:
After Tova Sullivan’s husband died, she began working the night shift at the Sowell Bay Aquarium, mopping floors and tidying up. Keeping busy has always helped her cope, which she’s been doing since her eighteen-year-old son, Erik, mysteriously vanished on a boat in Puget Sound over thirty years ago.
Tova becomes acquainted with curmudgeonly Marcellus, a giant Pacific octopus living at the aquarium. Marcellus knows more than anyone can imagine but wouldn’t dream of lifting one of his eight arms for his human captors—until he forms a remarkable friendship with Tova.
Ever the detective, Marcellus deduces what happened the night Tova’s son disappeared. And now Marcellus must use every trick his old invertebrate body can muster to unearth the truth for her before it’s too late.
Shelby Van Pelt’s debut novel is a gentle reminder that sometimes taking a hard look at the past can help uncover a future that once felt impossible.
GMA Book Club
The Change by Kristen Miller
The Good Morning America Book Club picked The Change by Kristen Miller. I am excited about this one! I received an ARC several months ago so it’s been on my radar for a while. The story is positioned as Big Little Lies meets The Witches of Eastwick. I will for sure read this one so check back for my review and book club questions! Here’s the synopsis:
In the Long Island oceanfront community of Mattauk, three different women discover that midlife changes bring a whole new type of empowerment…
After Nessa James’s husband dies and her twin daughters leave for college, she’s left all alone in a trim white house not far from the ocean. In the quiet of her late forties, the former nurse begins to hear voices. It doesn’t take long for Nessa to realize that the voices calling out to her belong to the dead—a gift she’s inherited from her grandmother, which comes with special responsibilities.
On the cusp of 50, suave advertising director Harriett Osborne has just witnessed the implosion of her lucrative career and her marriage. She hasn’t left her house in months, and from the outside, it appears as if she and her garden have both gone to seed. But Harriet’s life is far from over—in fact, she’s undergone a stunning and very welcome metamorphosis.
Ambitious former executive Jo Levison has spent thirty long years at war with her body. The free-floating rage and hot flashes that arrive with the beginning of menopause feel like the very last straw—until she realizes she has the ability to channel them, and finally comes into her power.
Guided by voices only Nessa can hear, the trio of women discover a teenage girl whose body was abandoned beside a remote beach. The police have written the victim off as a drug-addicted sex worker, but the women refuse to buy into the official narrative. Their investigation into the girl’s murder leads to more bodies, and to the town’s most exclusive and isolated enclave, a world of stupendous wealth where the rules don’t apply. With their newfound powers, Jo, Nessa, and Harriet will take matters into their own hands…
Oprah’s Book Club
Finding Me by Viola Davis
Oprah has picked the celebrity memoir Finding Me by Viola Davis for her selection. I’m such a fan of the actress and am so intrigued to read her memoir. While it’s not typically the genre I read, I think this one will be fantastic. Here’s the synopsis:
In my book, you will meet a little girl named Viola who ran from her past until she made a life-changing decision to stop running forever.
This is my story, from a crumbling apartment in Central Falls, Rhode Island, to the stage in New York City, and beyond. This is the path I took to finding my purpose but also my voice in a world that didn’t always see me.
As I wrote Finding Me, my eyes were open to the truth of how our stories are often not given close examination. We are forced to reinvent them to fit into a crazy, competitive, judgmental world. So I wrote this for anyone running through life untethered, desperate and clawing their way through murky memories, trying to get to some form of self-love. For anyone who needs reminding that a life worth living can only be born from radical honesty and the courage to shed facades and be . . . you.
Finding Me is a deep reflection, a promise, and a love letter of sorts to self. My hope is that my story will inspire you to light up your own life with creative expression and rediscover who you were before the world put a label on you.
Read with Marie Claire
Book Lovers by Emily Henry
Yesssss, I’m so excited to read Book Lovers by Emily Henry! I love her previous novels, Beach Read and People We Meet on Vacation. She’s definitely an auto-buy reader for me! I actually thought Reese might select this one too but as of now, it looks like she didn’t. But glad to see Marie Claire picked it! The story is ideal for all of us bookworms as it features a romance between a literary agent and a book editor. Another novel I will for sure be reading soon. Here’s the synopsis:
Nora Stephens’ life is books—she’s read them all—and she is not that type of heroine. Not the plucky one, not the laidback dream girl, and especially not the sweetheart. In fact, the only people Nora is a heroine for are her clients, for whom she lands enormous deals as a cutthroat literary agent, and her beloved little sister Libby.
Which is why she agrees to go to Sunshine Falls, North Carolina for the month of August when Libby begs her for a sisters’ trip away—with visions of a small town transformation for Nora, who she’s convinced needs to become the heroine in her own story. But instead of picnics in meadows, or run-ins with a handsome country doctor or bulging-forearmed bartender, Nora keeps bumping into Charlie Lastra, a bookish brooding editor from back in the city. It would be a meet-cute if not for the fact that they’ve met many times and it’s never been cute.
If Nora knows she’s not an ideal heroine, Charlie knows he’s nobody’s hero, but as they are thrown together again and again—in a series of coincidences no editor worth their salt would allow—what they discover might just unravel the carefully crafted stories they’ve written about themselves.
Barnes & Noble
Elektra by Jennifer Saint
Barnes & Noble picked Elektra by Jennifer Saint, a Greek mythology re-telling this is receiving a lot of buzz. The novel explores the curse upon the House of Atreus, giving voice to three women who are caught up in its shadows: Clytemnestra, Cassandra and Elektra whose lives are shattered by the Trojan War and who seek to find justice at any cost. Here’s the synopsis:
Three women, tangled in an ancient curse.
When Clytemnestra marries Agamemnon, she ignores the insidious whispers about his family line, the House of Atreus. But when, on the eve of the Trojan War, Agamemnon betrays Clytemnestra in the most unimaginable way, she must confront the curse that has long ravaged their family.
In Troy, Princess Cassandra has the gift of prophecy, but carries a curse of her own: no one will ever believe what she sees. When she is shown what will happen to her beloved city when Agamemnon and his army arrives, she is powerless to stop the tragedy from unfolding.
Elektra, Clytemnestra and Agamemnon’s youngest daughter, wants only for her beloved father to return home from war. But can she escape her family’s bloody history, or is her destiny bound by violence, too?
Audacious Book Club (Roxane Gay)
Memphis by Tara Stringfellow
Author Roxane Gay has picked Memphis by Tara Stringfellow for her May selection. I really enjoyed this one! The writing is compelling, vivid and the story is fascinating. Author Tara Stringfellow said when crafting the novel, she wanted to write a Black fairy tale. Highly recommend this one if you haven’t read it yet. Here’s the synopsis:
Summer 1995: Ten-year-old Joan, her mother, and her younger sister flee her father’s explosive temper and seek refuge at her mother’s ancestral home in Memphis. This is not the first time violence has altered the course of the family’s trajectory. Half a century earlier, Joan’s grandfather built this majestic house in the historic Black neighborhood of Douglass—only to be lynched days after becoming the first Black detective in the city. Joan tries to settle into her new life, but family secrets cast a longer shadow than any of them expected.
As she grows up, Joan finds relief in her artwork, painting portraits of the community in Memphis. One of her subjects is their enigmatic neighbor Miss Dawn, who claims to know something about curses, and whose stories about the past help Joan see how her passion, imagination, and relentless hope are, in fact, the continuation of a long matrilineal tradition. Joan begins to understand that her mother, her mother’s mother, and the mothers before them persevered, made impossible choices, and put their dreams on hold so that her life would not have to be defined by loss and anger—that the sole instrument she needs for healing is her paintbrush.
Unfolding over seventy years through a chorus of unforgettable voices that move back and forth in time, Memphis paints an indelible portrait of inheritance, celebrating the full complexity of what we pass down, in a family and as a country: brutality and justice, faith and forgiveness, sacrifice and love.