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FIRST Book Club: ‘The Paradise Problem,’ ‘Good Material’ and More Recommended Reads for May 10 to May 16

FIRST Book Club’s new book recommendations, ranging from romance and fiction to self-help and thrillers


Readers, settle in for FIRST for Women’s weekly book club picks for May 10 through May 16! A selection of romance, fiction, thrillers, and self-help titles are on the list this week, offering new reading opportunities and the chance to return to old favorites. 

Sink in for the intriguing mystery of Local Gone Missing, Fiona Barton’s thriller that FIRST executive editor Patty Bontekoe couldn’t put down. If self-help books are more enticing, Dr. Julie Smith’s Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before? tackles some of life’s key worry triggers, contributing coping information if you’re facing anxiety, depression, or low self-esteem

For the young adults in the audience – or those older among us who can’t help but love YA novels – The Reappearance of Rachel Price by Holly Jackson will keep you on your toes in more ways than one. 

Keep scrolling for FIRST for Women’s full book club recommendation list for May 10 to May 16.  

Suspense: Local Gone Missing

by Fiona Barton

Local Gone Missing by Fiona Barton (FIRST BOOK CLUB)

“I picked this up expecting the story to be about a missing woman, but I was surprised to find that the ‘local’ in the title was a man. That intrigued me, and I dove in,” says Patty Bontekoe, FIRST Executive Editor. Detective Inspector Elise King is on medical leave after undergoing breast cancer treatment, and she’s desperate to get back to work. So when a man named Charlie Perry goes missing in her small town, she can’t help but start investigating on her own, with the help of her nosy neighbor Ronnie. “The story moves back and forth in time, told from the point of view of several characters, and it kept me engaged,” says Patty. “I kept trying to solve the mystery as I flipped each page.” (Berkley, 2022)

Romantic Comedy: The Paradise Problem (On sale: May 14)  

by Christina Lauren

Romantic Comedy: The Paradise Problem (FIRST BOOK CLUB)
Gallery Books

“It’s a good day when there’s a new release by the author duo Christina Lauren — and I couldn’t wait to escape into their newest novel,” says Melissa D’Agnese, FIRST Senior Editor. “This rom-com had me smiling from the start!” The story follows artist Anna Green, who married Liam “West” Weston four years ago for access to housing while at UCLA — and she thought she signed divorce papers when they graduated. Three years later, West, now a professor at Stanford, is set to receive a large inheritance…but only if he’s been married for five years. So West invites Anna on a family trip to act the part. Says Melissa, “This is slow-burn romance at its finest!” (Gallery, 2024)

Romance: This Summer Will Be Different

by Carley Fortune

This Summer Will Be Different by Carley Fortune (FIRST BOOK CLUB)

“I was bummed when a weekend getaway was canceled, so I grabbed this summer romance as a virtual vacation that I could sink into from my living room couch,” says Rachel Cosma, FIRST Health Director. While vacationing on Prince Edward Island, Lucy falls for a local named Felix, who turns out to be her best friend Bridget’s brother. They know starting a romantic relationship is pretty much off-limits and vow to never repeat their steamy night again. Every summer, Lucy visits PEI to soak up the crisp ocean air, fresh oysters and catch up with her friend Bridget. But every time she’s there, Lucy and Felix just can’t seem to stay apart. Then when Bridget flees her hometown of Toronto and heads to the island to navigate a crisis, Lucy follows her to help…and has another run-in with Felix. How much longer will she be able to stave off her feelings? Says Rachel, “This was a dreamy story of romantic love, but it was also an ode to friends who feel like family.” (Berkley, 2024

Young Adult: The Reappearance of Rachel Price 

by Holly Jackson

The Reappearance of Rachel Price  by Holly Jackson (First Book Club)
Delacorte Press

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson is one of my favorite books, so I couldn’t wait to read this one!” says Carissa Mosness, FIRST Assistant Digital Editor. Ever since Bel’s mom, Rachel, disappeared 16 years ago, Bel has been trying to remember what happened. But when she agrees to make a true-crime documentary, Rachel turns back up with a wild story about what happened to her. If only Bel believed it. Says Carissa, “I couldn’t put this down and I was floored by the twist!” (Delacorte, 2024

Thriller: The Plinko Bounce

by Martin Clark

The Plinko Bounce by Martin Clark
Rare Bird Books

“Last week, I received a jury duty notice in my mailbox, so I decided to get into the spirit by reading a courtroom drama,” says Kathy Fitzpatrick, FIRST Features Director. “And it was riveting!” Public defender Andy Hughes is assigned to a gruesome murder case. He feels duty-bound to give the strongest defense, even to those he knows are guilty, which is the case with accused killer Damian Bullins. Still, Andy is conflicted. Kathy says, “My verdict on this book: enthralling right down to the ending!” (Rare Bird, 2023)

Self-Help: Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before?

by Dr. Julie Smith

Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before? by Dr. Julie Smith

“In the midst of a recent worry spiral, I picked up this book for reassurance,” says Emily Boyette, FIRST Associate Food Editor. Clinical psychologist Dr. Julie Smith offers tactics, skills and hacks to help you take control of your emotional and mental health. Whether you’re coping with depression, anxiety or lacking self-esteem, Smith breaks down easy strategies to help you better understand yourself. “This book comforted me,” says Emily. “And it helped me better navigate daily life!” (HarperOne, 2022)

Literary Fiction: Good Material

by Dolly Alderton

Good Material by Dolly Alderton 
Fig Tree

“I always enjoy books with relatable main characters,” says Sienna Sullivan, FIRST Editorial Assistant. “And this one was a perfect fit.” This tale is an exposé on life after heartbreak and follows Andy, a 35-year-old man struggling with a dwindling comedy career and, most recently, an abrupt dumping by the long-term love of his life, Jen. As the story unfolds, it becomes an intriguing and witty commentary on post-breakup woes. Says Sienna, “Andy’s a perfectly imperfect protagonist who evokes a hearty laugh and a good look in the mirror!” (Fig Tree, 2024)

For more FIRST Book Club picks:

FIRST Book Club: 6 Feel-Great Reads You’ll Love for May 3rd – May 9th

FIRST Book Club: 7 Feel-Great Reads You’ll Love for April 26th – May 2nd

FIRST Book Club: 7 Feel-Great Reads You’ll Love for April 12th – April 18th

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