5 new books to read in May

May 1, 2020, 11:00 AM UTC

As the age of self-isolating continues, summer reading can start early this year. New books being published in May include a new memoir from the author of the popular novel Sweetbitter; a beginner’s guide on how to drink wine from an award-winning sommelier and one of the cofounders of The Infatuation; and a deeply researched cultural history of some of the most beloved children’s TV programs ever aired.

Lou-Gehrig-May Books

The Lost Memoir by Lou Gehrig

Available May 12

Published for the first time this year, The Lost Memoir (Simon & Schuster) is the rags-to-riches tale of a poor kid from New York who became one of the most revered baseball players of all time. At age 24, Gehrig was already one of the most famous athletes in the country, enjoying a record-breaking season with the legendary 1927 World Series–winning Yankees. Fourteen years after penning his autobiography, Gehrig would tragically die from ALS, a neuromuscular disorder now known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Included is an insightful biographical essay by historian Alan D. Gaff, who stumbled upon this rare find while researching another book.

Sunny-Days-May Books

Sunny Days: The Children’s Television Revolution That Changed America by David Kamp

Available May 12

If you’re looking for a healthy dose of nostalgia, this is your book of the month. Sunny Days (Simon & Schuster) is a deeply researched cultural history of beloved children’s TV programs—including Sesame Street, Schoolhouse Rock, The Muppets, and many more. At a time when few others even considered the emotional intelligence of children, programs like Fred Rogers’s Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood and Marlo Thomas’s Free to Be…You and Me introduced younger audiences to important social issues like feminism, diversity, and mental health.


How to Drink Wine by Grant Reynolds and Chris Stang

Available May 12

While reports earlier this year found that millennials were buying wine at far lower rates than previous generations, that might all change during and after the coronavirus pandemic. The key is drinking responsibly. (Not to mention knowing more about what you like in a wine could also save your budget.) How to Drink Wine (Clarkson Potter) is not going to make you an immediate expert, but it will help you understand the fundamentals and give you enough knowledge to begin to incorporate wine into your life.

Stray-A-Memoir-May Books

Stray: A Memoir by Stephanie Danler

Available May 19

Stephanie Danler’s debut novel, Sweetbitter, was an immediate bestseller when it was published in 2016 and was soon thereafter adapted as a soapy TV show about the New York City restaurant scene. Many readers assumed the narrative was Danler’s own, but the truth was something else entirely.

In Stray (Knopf), Danler remembers and relives what it was like growing up the child of addicts (her mother, a lifelong alcoholic; her father, a recovering opiate and crystal meth addict) and returning home to California after almost a decade away to confront her family’s past. She evaluates how it has weighed on her own life, from the decisions she’s made to the men she’s loved.

Very-Important-People-May Books
Courtesy of Princeton University Press

Very Important People: Status and Beauty in the Global Party Circuit by Ashley Mears

Available May 26

With social distancing still the mandate of the moment, it might be hard to imagine going to a party, let alone a bar or a club, anytime in the near future. Let this new insider-y book from a sociologist and former fashion model take you on a ride. In Very Important People (Princeton University Press), Ashley Mears pulls back the curtain on the exclusive global nightclub and party circuit—from the Hamptons to Saint-Tropez—to reveal the intricate but power-hungry economy of beauty, status, and money. Mears spent 18 months researching this book, revealing the extreme gender inequality at play, as young women are frequently exploited to enhance the status of men and enrich club owners, exchanging their bodily capital for as little as free drinks and a chance to party with men who are rich—or aspire to be.

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