Caroline Kepnes, the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author behind the hit “You” book and TV series, knows what makes an electric read. Her novel "You" spurned a Netflix show that has kept readers gripped and gasping through its fourth season, which recently premiered.
She is one of today's leading thriller writers — but what does she read? If you’re looking for a unique selection of May reads, look no further than Kepnes' suggestions, from thrillers to young adult novels.
Kepnes recommends this title for those who liked “You” – high praise coming from the author herself! Combining humor and thrills, this is the story of a true crime-obsessed bookstore employee, Roach, who stumbles upon her own impromptu case to solve when a dubious new employee with a troubled past, Laura, joins the staff. “The tension rises as Roach becomes increasingly obsessed with Laura, breaking one boundary after another...giving the hairs on the back of your neck a treat,” Kepnes said.
Best historical fiction
“This book has it all,” Kepnes said. “Legacy, first love, betrayal, aspirations, alcoholism, racism, family love, unplanned pregnancy, homophobia, romantic love, humiliation, regret, and Motown ... the word 'life' belongs in the title.”
"Life and Other Love Songs” spans decades to answer the question of what happened to one father and husband who mysteriously disappeared on his 37th birthday. Taking a magnifying glass to the inner workings of a Black American family in the late 20th century, this flash from the past will prompt you to reflect on the present.
Best read for AAPI heritage month
This funky, "Freaky Friday"-esque young adult novel explores the pressures of being a first-generation Asian immigrant in America and how that transcends generations. A 21st century Korean American girl, Sam, is transported back to the '90s and spends time with her immigrant mother’s younger self.
“Goo uses time travel to show what it means to be Korean in America at different points in time, and watching the most lovable protagonist Sam take it all in and take charge is both enlightening and invigorating,” Kepnes said.
Best Mother's Day read
Laura Dern stopped by TODAY on April 25 to share more about this personal story collection in collaboration with her mother, Diane Ladd. Ladd received a life-threatening diagnosis in 2018: She had scarring on her lungs from being exposed to pesticides. Following doctor’s orders to rebuild her lung capacity, the pair set out on daily walks where they discovered unknown truths about each other and strengthened their mother-daughter bond.
Just in time for Mother’s Day on May 14, Kepnes said this one will inspire you to hug your mom a little tighter. “I am close with my mom, and this book reminds you of what a blessing that is,” Kepnes said.
What Caroline's reading
Kepnes said she wants everyone to read “In Our Shoes,” and applauds Brianna Holt’s ability “take you from TikTok trends to Emmet Till in a paragraph.” Holt explores some of the most common micro- and macro-aggressions experienced by Black women in the U.S., like colorism, wokeness and cultural appropriation. By interweaving personal anecdotes, commentary and interviews, Holt inspires readers to turn passion into purpose. Kepnes especially enjoyed the last chapter on Karens – “A spectacular deconstruction of that word, peeling back the layers, a must-read because this kind of serious, long conversation on the page is just so simply good for us, all of us.”