14 New Books for May

may 2021 book releases
Alta

This month, we’ve got our eyes on The Mysteries by Marisa Silver, Right Back Where We Started From by Joy Lanzendorfer, Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead, and 11 other titles by writers from the West.

1 BECOMING A FILM PRODUCER, BY BORIS KACHKA
becoming a film producer, boris kachka
Simon & Schuster

Kachka, the Los Angeles Times books editor, details how movies get made by following three producers—Academy Award winner Fred Berger, Oscar nominee Michael London, and up-and-comer Siena Oberman—as they shepherd projects from pitch to screen. Simon & Schuster, May 25

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2 DREAM STATE: CALIFORNIA IN THE MOVIES, BY MICK LASALLE
dream state, mick lasalle
Heyday

The San Francisco Chronicle film critic takes readers on a journey through the movies, writing about films of varying styles and genres with humor and unbridled voice and flair. Heyday, May 18

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3 THE END OF THE GOLDEN GATE, WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY GARY KAMIYA
the end of the golden gate, gary kamiya
Chronicle Prism

This new anthology gathers essays from 25 Bay Area writers to offer insights into the ever-changing landscape of San Francisco. From the nostalgic to the prophetic, these essays contend with the push and pull of the city on its residents, as tech threatens to obliterate the lingering remnants of the counterculture. Chronicle Prism, May 21

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4 FULL SPECTRUM: HOW THE SCIENCE OF COLOR MADE US MODERN, BY ADAM ROGERS
full spectrum, adam rogers
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Why do we like bright colors? How did we go from natural blues and reds to human-made kelly greens, imperial yellows, and millennial pinks? Here, Rogers takes a deep dive into the history of color across societies and the ways it has transformed how we see the world. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, May 18

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5 GREAT CIRCLE, BY MAGGIE SHIPSTEAD
great circle, maggie shipstead
Knopf

From the winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for First Fiction comes a novel about two women: Marian Graves, a bold aviation pioneer, and Hadley Baxter, the actor who plays her a century later in a film. As their parallel narratives unravel, we learn the truth and cost of self-determination. Knopf, May 4

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6 THE MYSTERIES, BY MARISA SILVER
the mysteries, marisa silver
Bloomsbury

Silver’s latest novel is centered on the unusual friendship between two seven-year-old girls, named Miggy and Ellen. One is carefree, raging, and rowdy, while the other is cagy, wary, and observant. When the world’s cruelty pierces the girls’ bubble, Miggy and Ellen must come to terms with the vicissitudes of life. Bloomsbury, May 4

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7 THE QUIET BOY, BY BEN H. WINTERS
the quiet boy, ben h winters
Mulholland Books

From the author of Underground Airlines and Golden State comes a new novel in which a group of detectives, doctors, and lawyers races to unearth the truth of a medical malpractice case provoked by a surgical mishap that has left a teenage boy irrevocably altered. Mulholland Books, May 18

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8 RIGHT BACK WHERE WE STARTED FROM, BY JOY LANZENDORFER
right back where we started from, joy lanzendorfer
Blackstone Publishing

With the blood of two wealthy women coursing through her veins, Sandra Sanborn is convinced she’s a shoo-in for success. On her way to greatness, however, she finds herself forced to face the truth about a past she thought she knew. In her debut novel, Lanzendorfer offers a historical saga detailing the obsessive nature of American society in the years following the gold rush. Blackstone Publishing, May 4

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9 SEE/SAW: LOOKING AT PHOTOGRAPHS, BY GEOFF DYER
seesaw, geoff dyer
Graywolf Press

Currently a writer in residence at the University of Southern California, Dyer has gathered a decade of criticism in his new book. Analyzing the way photographs achieve far more than merely capturing a moment in time, Dyer takes readers through a personal investigation of the images he writes about, illustrating their power to create. Graywolf Press, May 4

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10 TASTES LIKE WAR, BY GRACE M. CHO
taste like war, grace m cho
Feminist Press

In Tastes Like War, Cho recalls her mother’s schizophrenia and the way learning to cook traditional Korean foods became a practice that saved them both. This powerful memoir details Cho’s upbringing in a xenophobic town in Washington and her family’s experience with mental disorders. Feminist Press, May 21

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11 THINGS I LEARNED FROM FALLING, BY CLAIRE NELSON
things i learned from falling, claire nelson
HarperOne

In 2018, a woman, while hiking alone in Joshua Tree National Park, fell more than 25 feet, shattering her pelvis. That person was Claire Nelson, and she has written an account of the four days she spent waiting and hoping for rescuers to find her alive. HarperOne, May 25

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12 TWICE ALIVE, BY FORREST GANDER
twice alice, forrest gander
New Directions

In his new collection, Gander, an Inland Empire resident and Pulitzer Prize winner, interweaves human connections with those forged between the different species that make up lichen to create emotionally striking poems focused on the existential, intimate role people play in the environmental tensions of our planet. New Directions, May 4

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13 TWILIGHT MAN, BY LIZ BROWN
twilight man, liz brown
Penguin Books

Harrison Post was the cryptic lover of William Andrews Clark Jr., one of the richest men in 1920s Hollywood. For decades, Post was a forgotten figure, lost to history. In Twilight Man, Brown has brought his story to life, re-creating his relationship with the Los Angeles elite and the scandal following his unexpected inheritance of Clark’s fortune. Penguin Books, May 18

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14 YES, DADDY, BY JONATHAN PARKS-RAMAGE
yes daddy, jonathan parks ramage
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

A photograph gets the ball rolling in Parks-Ramage’s debut novel, which tells the story of Jonah Keller, who meets Pulitzer Prize–winning playwright Richard Shriver and gets caught up in a disorienting and torrid affair. When Jonah is invited to Richard’s estate in the Hamptons for the summer, things go awfully wrong in this saga of class, complicity, and compulsion. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, May 18

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