Brittney Griner’s Moving Memoir and New Fiction from Claire Messud: PEOPLE’s Best Books to Read in May 2024

A cross-continental family saga, a tale of displacement and a pandemic love story — plus Brittney Griner's emotional new memoir

Published Time: 12.05.2024 - 15:31:15 Modified Time: 12.05.2024 - 15:31:15

A cross-continental family saga, a tale of displacement and a pandemic love story — plus Brittney Griner's emotional new memoir. Here are PEOPLE's picks for the best books of May 2024.

The world was watching when WNBA star Brittney Griner was taken into Russian custody on drug-related charges in 2022. In her highly-anticipated memoir, the athlete is speaking out about her wrongful detainment in a Russian penal colony — and her journey back home. A moving story of resilience.

This expansive novel follows the Yang family from 2040 back to 2014 and across three continents. We come to know wealthy Shanghai real estate investor Leo Yang, his posh Japanese-French wife, Eko, and their children Yumi, Yoko and Kiko as they deal with a climate disaster, quibbles that come to feel monumental and much more. This gorgeous, resonant novel feels like a peek into the future—and also very much about the present moment.

Based on Messud’s own family’s journey, this sprawling saga reaches from 1940s French Algeria to modern-day Connecticut, illuminating the toll of war, displacement and one shocking secret on successive generations of a clan buffeted by history. Evocative and eye-opening. — Kim Hubbard

Once a rising art star in his native England, Jay lives on the margins in America, barely scraping by. He’s delivering groceries to a mysterious compound when he encounters his lost love Alice. Drama simmers in this COVID-era story about romantic betrayals, class and the power of art.  — Mary Pols

The Red Grove is an insular community where women can’t be harmed. But when one vanishes, it calls into question that very premise in this devastating literary thriller.

When an employee goes AWOL from a start-up’s ritzy Miami retreat, it could ruin everything. But money talks, even if people don’t, in this fun page-turning corporate suspense.

When a girl who’s been missing for two years turns up, a local detective is determined to find whodunit. Worth reading for the jaw-dropping twist alone.

The View cohost is opening up about the influence of her late mother and brother, Emma and Clyde. From witnessing her mother's mental breakdown when she was a child, to growing up in the New York City projects, Goldberg looks back on the experiences that impacted her in this moving tribute to family.

Owen Elliot-Kugell was only seven years old when her mother, Mamas & the Papas singer Cass Elliot, tragically died at age 32 in 1972. In a touching new memoir, the author is reflecting on her mother's life and legacy as only her child could.“She’s been gone 50 years but I feel closer to her than ever," Elliot-Kugell tells PEOPLE.

There isn’t a false note in this subtly brilliant novel about forgiveness. Drunk-driving at 19, Violet Powell killed a woman. She leaves prison at 22, nearly paralyzed by guilt but determined to start fresh in Portland, Maine. There she reconnects with Harriet Larson, the retired English teacher who runs the prison’s book club, and forms an unlikely friendship with the widower of her victim, who harbors his own guilt. An utter gem; funny, sweet and moving. — Mary Pols


This spy thriller-meets-romance sees a civil servant assigned to help a time traveler from 1847 adjust to the modern world. But as they grow closer, he gets suspicious about the program that brought them together. A page-turning revelation.

When a Polish transplant finds a disheveled woman in a ball gown wandering down the L.A. freeway, it sets off a breakneck romp of a novel with a stolen Vermeer, a tangled love triangle, a half-baked heist and enough depraved opulence to make Gatsby gasp.

If you can’t summer on Long Island, this lovely book lets you live vicariously among its cozy cottages, lush gardens, roadside farm stands and beautiful beaches.

Exploring the author’s love of Chinese cuisine and the story of Fu Pei-mei, China’s answer to Julia Child, this delicious book is a must-read for cooks and food lovers.

Almost two decades after his seminal Brooklyn, Tóibín revisits Eilis Lacey, a complicated Irish wife and mother with a hard choice to make. A stunning novel about love, loneliness and loss.

In the follow-up to her 2017 bestseller The Last Black Unicorn, Haddish returns with a new collection of insightful, reflective essays, writing on topics like the lasting effect of childhood trauma and comedy mentorship from Bob Saget.

“I’ve learned to take tomatoes being thrown at me and turn them into tomato sauce,” the actress tells PEOPLE. “And I’m going to make some spaghetti.”

The Emmy Award-winning actor is looking back on his "lucky life" and career, from his days on Magnum, P.I. to his role as a family man.

“I don’t have the hooks that a lot of people do,” Selleck tells PEOPLE. “I didn’t rehabilitate myself or have this tragic life. I had my own share of certainly ups and downs, but I’ve been very fortunate.”

When Extra correspondent and 2019 Miss USA Cheslie Kryst died by suicide in 2022, her mother, April Simpkins, thought that "my body is just going to shut down." Now, Simpkins has fulfilled her daughter's wish of finishing and publishing her memoir.

"I know there were people who were shocked and did not understand," Simpkins tells PEOPLE. "But when I got to a point that I could process the things that she was saying, I understood the place where she was."

Throw open the doors of your heart for the lionhearted girls of Chung’s gripping debut, based on her own family’s history. Along with their mother, Hai, Di and baby Lan are left behind when their wealthy family flees the Communists: As females, they are that worthless. Finding no landowner at home, the cadres drag Hai to a denunciation rally she barely survives. But these women just keep overcoming the odds—they are heroines for the ages. — Marion Winik

A quaint Maine college lures three friends out of pandemic sequestration for their 25th reunion, spurring an intense reevaluation of their lives. A pitch-perfect depiction of New England campus culture, COVID-era child-rearing and how the complexities of adulthood accumulate.  — Claire Martin

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