Now that it's officially June, there's no getting around it: beach-read season has officially commenced. Which, we're very stoked about; is there any better feeling than clicking down the beach chair a notch, slathering on a healthy dose of sunscreen, and cracking open a new book you’ve been hearing nonstop buzz about? (Hint: the buzz is from us at Well+Good, telling us you have to read these books.)
ICYMI, May was a scorcher for book releases. Just in time for beach-side book clubs and hammock
napping reading sessions, there was something for everyone that launched last month. While, yes, there were plenty of classic fluffy "beach reads" set in seaside towns and sun-drenched villas, there were also plenty of not-so-classic beach reads, too, in every genre including brainy nonfiction, poignant self-help, whimsical "romantasy", edge-of-your-seat mystery, and more.
Now that it's summer, your biggest problem should be choosing what to read next. (And how to keep all the sand out of your paperback.) Here are our six favorite book releases that hit shelves in May, guaranteed to be cooler than the glass of lemonade you sip while you read.
Struggle with work-life balance? Join the club. This book explores the ways the “dream job” is baked into every facet of our lives. Careers influence our routines, our happiness, where we live, and more, so is it really possible to fully untangle its influence from our well-being?
The Good Enough Job serves as an urgent wake-up call compelling readers to consider a paradigm shift: we don’t need to idolize, or even demonize, our jobs, just to consider them as something separate from our definition of who we are. At 272 pages—some of which are cited studies and facts—it’s relatively short and compulsively readable, making it a quick yet impactful look relevant to you and every friend who’s ever complained about having dissolved boundaries.
Any bookworm who’s kept up with the latest-and-greatest of the literary world has seen Yellowface on the top of the bookish charts. This razor-sharp novel from R. F. Kuang, the best-selling author of Babel, tackles heavy-hitting themes of cultural appropriation, racism, diversity and inclusivity, all wrapped in satire.
The plot is wild. In a nutshell, white wannabe author June Hayward witnesses the accidental death of her rising-star friend, Athena Liu, and steals her manuscript: an experimental novel about the unsung contributions of Chinese laborers during World War I. June plagiarizes the novel, publishing it under the pen name “Juniper Song” with an ethically ambiguous author photo—and critics love it. Needless to say, chaos ensues.
Like we said, there’s a lot of heavy, ethical themes in this novel, all told in darkly humorous first-person writing that will have you tearing through pages in a full-out reading frenzy.
When it comes to sports, it was until recently (surprise, surprise) that we were able to tailor guidance, research, and more to women’s bodies instead of the default: men’s. From competition to daily movement, the science of women athletes is changing. Sports and health journalist, Christine Yu, tackles gender bias to illuminate new frameworks inclusive of pregnancy, menstruation, and other stages of life, offering tangible ways to improve the system. Reviewers note the book itself is “engaging without being heavy” and we couldn’t agree more.
If you’ve been seeking to fill the void that Game of Thrones left behind, look no further than Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros. This new adult “romantasy”—the genre blown up on TikTok as being a mix of thrilling fantasy and heart-pounding romance — is so popular that it’s sold out across nearly every retailer but, boy, it’s worth the wait.
The plot follows Violet Sorrengail, who is forced to become a military “dragon rider” (which, honestly, sounds pretty fun) of their society instead of the comfortable scribe quadrant she was supposed to go into. Unfortunately, Violet has a major problem: she has chronic illness (similar to Ehlers-Danlos syndrome) and has been majorly unprepared for the brutality and challenges it takes to become a dragon rider.
Even if dragons sound a little out of your wheelhouse, hear us out: Fourth Wing is so unputdownable and brilliant in terms of plot twists that it’s no surprise this book is considered the next big thing. Trust us, and check out a copy while you still can. Copies are already starting to climb up on resale sites, and you’ll want to read this hot, twisty novel while you still can. It’s the ultimate escapism. TBH, you might want to preorder the next book already too while you’re at it.
Obviously, it’s beach-read season, which also extends to lakes and whatever the closest possible body of water is. Which means Meet Me at the Lake, a second-chance romance set on the shores of Muskoka, Ontario, is what you’ll want to bring in your beach bag.
Ten years ago, Fern Brooksbanks spent just 24 magical hours with the mysterious artist, Will Baxter. While their time together was fleeting, the two hit it off (maybe more than hit it off), and promised each other to meet up again exactly one year later. Fern showed up, but Will didn’t.
Flash forward almost a decade, and Fern has begrudgingly inherited her mother’s lakeside resort when Will shows up out of nowhere with a secret and a suitcase. Befuddled, Fern has to spend the summer unraveling how best to help him the way he helped her all those years ago. Add in a margarita and a floppy hat and you’re golden for a blissful afternoon. It was an instant number one New York Times bestseller, so you know it’s worth it.
Our brains are constantly coming up with predictions for how the next moments will go. The next five minutes. The next hour. Ever heard of a five-year plan? Our entire lives rely on (perpetually changing) predictions that are notoriously unreliable—but nevertheless relevant to how we conduct ourselves. Needless to say, The Experience Machine: How Our Minds Predict and Shape Reality is such a transformative read in pinpointing how brain science has matured and evolved to reinforce these predictions—and what happens when they’re proven wrong. If you prefer reads that turn your worldview upside down, this one’s for you.
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