Well Read: 5 Books You Won't Be Able To Put Down This May

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Reading is undeniably a key wellness practice—and one that many of us have ignored for far too long. It's proven to build empathy, reduce stress, and even lessen sugar cravings (yes, really!). With that in mind, we're excited to share Well Read, a column that curates the absolute best fiction and narrative nonfiction picks of the month. Here's what you should read this May. (Want more Well Read? You can find our past picks here.)

The Bride Test by Helen Hoang

Helen Hoang made waves last year with her fun and affecting romp The Kiss Quotient (which was a Well Read pick last summer!). Hoang herself is on the autism spectrum and writes characters heretofore unseen in literature. Khai Diep, the main character in this book, is also on the autism spectrum and thinks his self-described "defective" processing of emotions means he'll never be in a relationship. When his mother sets him up with Esme, he's convinced he's incapable of returning her affections—and she's faced with a visa deadline that means a return to her home country of Vietnam. This joyful book showcases the many ways to feel emotions and to love each other and is the perfect heartfelt beach read. The Bride Test by Helen Hoang (May 7)

The Farm: A Novel by Joanne Ramos

The Farm in question in Ramos' novel is a luxury wellness retreat with organic meals, trainers, massages, and more—and, moreover, you're actually paid to stay there. The only catch? The Farm is essentially a baby factory, with Hosts, as they're called, turned into incubators for other people's children. The story follows one immigrant, Jane, as she, in a time of desperation, elects to be a Host, and the emotional ramifications of her decision. A horror story set in a not-impossible future, this fast-paced read will keep you on the edge of your seat as it explores topical issues with page-turning plot twists. The Farm: A Novel by Joanne Ramos (May 7)

Once More We Saw Stars: A Memoir by Jayson Greene

Endorsed by Cheryl Strayed, this moving memoir opens with a 2-year-old hovering between life and death after a freak accident. Written by her father, the story explores how the worst imaginable trauma can affect our lives, from the daily moments to our relationships. While the book sounds—and is—heartbreaking, it's also filled with beautiful writing and a sense of hope that fans of When Breath Becomes Air will gravitate toward. Once More We Saw Stars: A Memoir by Jayson Greene (May 14)

Orange World and Other Stories by Karen Russell

Pulitzer Prize finalist Karen Russell (author of the New York Times best-sellers Swamplandia! and Vampires in the Lemon Grove) is known for her mix of beautiful prose and out-there imagination, and in her new short story collection, both of her signature elements shine. Russell uses the very weird (in one story, a man falls in love with a 2,000-year-old girl that he found in a bog) to highlight the very human, real triumphs and struggles in our lives. You'll laugh, you'll be enchanted, and you'll come away wanting more. Orange World and Other Stories by Karen Russell (May 14)

Disappearing Earth: A Novel by Julia Phillips

In this stunning debut from Fulbright fellow Julia Phillips, two young girls go missing on the Kamchatka peninsula, a remote part of Russia. What follows is a series of interconnected stories of the characters involved—the book is less of a who-done-it than a richly drawn exploration of the inner lives of people and many topical issues (feminism, class) of our time. Phillips, a travel writer, shines when she brilliantly brings to life the landscape—she paints with words a nature that you'll want to live in for as long as possible. Disappearing Earth: A Novel by Julia Phillips (May 14)

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