The Best Books I Read in May 2021

I finished fifteen books in May, which brings my yearly total to 84. however, out of those fifteen, I didn’t have any five star reads. I did have several four star books that I enjoyed a great deal. Sometimes the line between the two is very thin, but a book has to knock my socks off on every level to get that elusive fifth star!

So here are the books I enjoyed most in May.

The Best Books I Read in May 2021

That Summer by Jennifer Weiner

Contemporary fiction

This novel is labeled as a romance in some places and I want to be clear it is NOT one. This a timely work of contemporary fiction focused on the #MeToo movement. It’s a compelling, intricately woven story. I’m impressed with Weiner’s ability to structure the story as she did. We follow two different women with the same name, through separate timelines as their lives begin to intertwine, because of something that happened in the past. I listened to the audio book narrated by Sutton Foster and found it absolutely riveting. I would look for things to do around the house that would let me listen to my book a little longer, that’s how I know it’s good! Foster matches the fast pace and emotional content of the writing to create a powerful listening experience. This is a novel about trauma and recovery. It explores different paths for healing and closure, and the long term consequences of rape as both the victim and the perpetrator. I highly recommend this one for readers of women’s fiction and current issues. 

Playing the Palace by Paul Rudnick

Contemporary romance

Be warned, this book is FUNNY. Like, snort laughing out loud hilarious. Carter is a fabulous protagonist and all I wanted for him the whole time was for him to get his shit together and let himself believe he was deserving of being loved and happy. Prince Edgar is the first ever openly gay royalty and it’s a big deal. He struggles with all the expectations thrust upon him by society and tradition and the desire to please his family. He also needs to learn that he’s worthy of being loved for who he is as a person and not on the surface. One of the coolest characters in the book is the Queen of England. I’ll just leave it at that you’re surprised by her like I was. It’s a fun emotional rollercoaster of a read. It’s generally hopeful and positive, with powerful messages about self love and coming into your own despite others’ expectations. I highly recommend it for readers of romance.

American Royals by Katharine McGee

Alternate history/young adult

This is a fairly long book, though it never felt like it and I didn’t want it to end! It’s so juicy, dramatic, and emotional. It’s the first alternate history novel I’ve read and I wasn’t sure I’d like it. I ended up thoroughly enjoying this look at what our country might be like if things had gone differently way back at the start. I liked the glimpses into what royals likely face in terms of expectations. I loved Beatrice, she’s such a strong young woman who is in an impossible position of being the next in line for the throne, which will make her the first ever Queen of America. While the writing isn’t particularly strong, the storytelling and world building are stellar. This is a unique story that makes for a fun read that tackles serious subjects. I highly recommend it for readers of fiction. 

*note* I immediately moved on to the sequel, Majesty and I liked it almost as much as this one. I wish there was a third book!

Year Book by Seth Rogan

Memoir/Audiobook

This book is pure joy! I listened to the audiobook narrated by the author, along with a full cast. Rogan’s a talented writer. These essays are honest and humble. His delivery is fantastic, I doubt I would have liked it quite as much had I read the physical book. He’s a regular human navigating some freaking bizarre situations and I love the observation and reflection he brings to each anecdote. A few of the pieces involving other celebrities felt like gossip or name dropping and I didn’t care for that. But overall he does a stellar job of calling out bullshit where he sees it. I especially appreciated Rogan’s sharing about experiencing anti-semitism in both his regular life and in Hollywood. It was truly eye-opening and he writes about it with openness and humor in a way that I doubt many other people could. I highly recommend this audiobook for Rogan’s fans as well as listeners/readers of personal essays and celebrity memoir.


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