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Now that May is here, you're probably planning your next beach vacation or Memorial Day weekend destination. There's no better way to spend that time and get lost in an engaging book. Not only is warmer weather and long weekends something to look forward to, but it's also Mental Health Awareness Month and Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.
In observation of this important month, Weike Wang, the critically acclaimed author of "Chemistry" and the recent release "Joan Is Okay," stopped by the 3rd hour of TODAY to discuss her favorite reads for May. You won't want to miss these picks, from an honest memoir of mental health to a light-hearted coming-of-age novel.
If you've already finished May's Read With Jenna pick and looking for your next book, keep reading to see all of the recommendations below.
Best beach read
This debut novel follows a Dominican American family in New York City as they face sacrifice and tribulations, such as cultural family tensions and a rise in neighborhood gentrification.
"I choose this book for its immersive storytelling, spell-bounding family drama, for its verve, spirit, and for its bold tackle of the concept of home," Wang said. "This book will make an excellent travel companion and in the best possible way, it will make you forget you're even at the beach by drawing you into its world."
What Weike Wang's reading
This follow-up to Pulitzer-nominated novel "The Idiot" follows Selin who is known as "the luckiest person" in her family. During her second year at Harvard in 1996, she navigates adulthood, travels abroad and embarks on a journey of self-discovery.
"I chose this book because Batuman has a way with humor, language, style, all things that I envy in a gifted, gifted writer and the story is a refreshing take on the standard coming-of-age," Wang said. "Also, I went to Harvard, so maybe I'm just living through all that again."
Best read for Mental Health Awareness Month
"I know nothing about horses, but I know the power of animals and how their presence can help us heal," Wang said. "I choose this book for the cathartic and honest way Maum discusses her depression, her sadness, despite having a husband, a daughter, despite having all the trappings of a privileged life."
Best read for AAPI Month
"Don Lee is one of those masterful storytellers who is both classic and modern, who can transport you into any setting, with any character," Wang said. "As cheesy as this sounds, he puts the author in authority. ... I chose Partition for the precision and control with which Lee writes about Asian American identity, about race and quite simply, about people and their relationships with themselves, in the great big world."
This memoir highlights the power of a mentor-student relationship. A.J. Verdelle recounts her long-lasting friendship with notable writer Toni Morrison, born Chloe A. Wofford. She celebrates the life of Morrison, navigates her grief at Morrison's death and recalls the risks Black women took as writers.
"I love Toni Morrison and know what it's like to be the younger writer seeking the mentorship and generosity of teachers whom you deeply admire," said Wang.
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