May 2023 Reading Theme & TBR Book List

Happy May, my dear book lovers!

If you’d prefer to listen to this discussion, you can check out the full episode on The Bookmarks ‘n Blankets Podcast on your favorite podcast platform or listen below. 

I can’t tell you how excited I am for this month’s reading theme and the stack of books that are calling to me to be read. I’ve been preparing for over a month, so I’ve had these little buggars sitting on my kitchen table, staring at me, goading me to pick them up and read them for weeks. And now, it’s FINALLY time! 

Before we get into the fun stuff, I just want to preface, since this is my first reading theme and TBR book list post, that I am a seasonal reader. Or at least I try to be. So during springtime, I want to read spring-y books, and summertime, summer-esque books, and so forth. I think it’s a lot of fun to read books set during the time of year that I’m experiencing. 

I know some people call themselves mood readers and read whatever book fits their mood. But I’m a bit more organized and meticulous than that. I have to plan everything out in advance and be ready each month. Especially since I have this show to plan for, and believe me, there’s a lot of work involved. 

May Reading Theme

So this month’s reading theme is… drum roll…

Spring Vibes and Cottagecore

I’ve chosen books that hopefully will give me all the feelings of spring or cottagecore. If you’re a newbie or of an older generation, like me, and have no clue what cottagecore is, because I didn’t know up until a few weeks ago, it’s a term that millennials and Gen Zers made up in the last few years for a genre of books and even a lifestyle. It romanticizes a much slower, simpler way of life. Think: foraging, baking bread and pies, canning fruits and vegetables, making pottery, planting flowers, and gardening. Cottagecore books give a warm, cozy vibe, much like the cozy genre of books. A lot of these books have settings in the English countryside, lush meadows and fields, gardens, and of course, cottages. 

Many books suggested in this genre are historical fiction and/or classics. Think Jane Austen, like Pride & Prejudice, Emma, or Sense and Sensibility. Or The Secret Garden, Anne of Green Gables, Heidi, The Wind in the Willows, and the like. They give a sense of being close to nature and enjoying the simple pleasures of life. I think there are many of us that just want more comfort, wholesomeness, and simplicity in our lives, especially after what we just went through these past three years. Oy vey!

May To Be Read (TBR) Book List

So here are the six victors that vanquished all the other books in my spring reads list this year. They just happened to be a mix of middle grade and YA (or young adult) reads. I tend to favor these types of books, so I’m not surprised that these particular stories popped into this month’s selections before some others on my list. 

Mandy by Julie Andrews Edwards

Genre: Middle Grade Fiction

This story is about a 10-year-old girl named Mandy. She’s an orphan but has a dream of finding a place of her own. She escapes over the orphanage wall to explore more of the outside world. During one of her excursions, she discovers a tiny deserted cottage in the woods. All through the seasons of spring, summer, and fall, Mandy works on the cottage, attempting to make it her own safe haven. At times, she “borrows” things she needs from the orphanage, and at other times, she relies on telling lies to keep her secret safe. But then, one stormy night at the cottage, Mandy gets sick, and no one knows where she is, except a special friend she didn’t know she even had. 

According to the Amazon description, it says: “This is the perfect book for ten-year-old girls who love tiny houses and stories filled with hope.”

(You can purchase this book here.)

Marchwood by R.A. Lorensen

Genre: Middle Grade Cozy Fantasy

From GoodReads description, it says: “Nova the red squirrel loves nothing more than enjoying a cup of Valerian root tea in her tiny, stone home in Riverbank Village.

But when her friend Rudbeck the mouse is kidnapped, she’ll enlist the help of a curious, high-collared fox from the East and don her shortsword as she rushes off to the rescue.

A quaint, riverside hamlet where chipmunks study the secrets of nature in grand libraries. A tree-top city of pine martens with golden, glowing lanterns strung from the trees. A summer solstice feast in a meadow with tables full of fresh walnut loaves, spring salads, and flagons of fizzy drinks.”

(You can purchase this book here.)

Gallant by V.E. Schwab

Genre: YA Fantasy

The Amazon description reads: “Olivia Prior has grown up in Merilance School for Girls, and all she has of her past is her mother’s journal—which seems to unravel into madness. Then, a letter invites Olivia to come home to Gallant. Yet when Olivia arrives, no one is expecting her. But Olivia is not about to leave the first place that feels like home; it doesn’t matter if her cousin Matthew is hostile, or if she sees half-formed ghouls haunting the hallways.

Olivia knows that Gallant is hiding secrets, and she is determined to uncover them. When she crosses a ruined wall at just the right moment, Olivia finds herself in a place that is Gallant—but not. The manor is crumbling, the ghouls are solid, and a mysterious figure rules over all. Now Olivia sees what has unraveled generations of her family, and where her father may have come from.

Olivia has always wanted to belong somewhere, but will she take her place as a Prior, protecting our world against the Master of the House? Or will she take her place beside him?”

(You can purchase this book here.)

Flowerheart by Catherine Bakewell

Genre: YA Fantasy

According to Amazon and GoodReads’ description: “Clara’s magic has always been wild. But it’s never been dangerous. Then a simple touch causes poisonous flowers to bloom in her father’s chest.

The only way to heal him is to cast an extremely difficult spell that requires perfect control. And the only person willing to help is her former best friend, Xavier, who’s grown from a sweet, shy child into a mysterious and distant young man.

Xavier names a terrible price in return, knowing Clara will give anything to save her father. As she struggles to reconcile the new Xavier with the boy she once loved, she discovers their bargain is only one of the heavy secrets he’s hiding. And as she hunts for the truth, she instead finds the root of a terrible darkness that’s taken hold in the queendom—a darkness only Clara’s magic is powerful enough to stop.”

(You can purchase this book here.)

A Magic Steeped in Poison and A Venom Dark and Sweet by Judy Lin

And finally, books five and six are actually a duology.

Genre: YA Fantasy

According to the GoodReads description: “For Ning, the only thing worse than losing her mother is knowing that it’s her own fault. She was the one who unknowingly brewed the poison tea that killed her—the poison tea that now threatens to also take her sister, Shu.

When Ning hears of a competition to find the kingdom’s greatest shennong-shi—masters of the ancient and magical art of tea-making—she travels to the imperial city to compete. The winner will receive a favor from the princess, which may be Ning’s only chance to save her sister’s life.

But between the backstabbing competitors, bloody court politics, and a mysterious (and handsome) boy with a shocking secret, Ning might actually be the one in more danger.”

(You can purchase book one here and book two here.)

*Please note that I am a participant in the Amazon Associates Program and a member of other affiliate programs. I may receive commissions from qualifying purchases made through links in this article.

Get Cozy with the Podcast

To listen to this podcast episode, head over to The Bookmarks ‘n Blankets Podcast on your favorite podcast platform. You’ll also find full book reviews, reading topics, self-care tips, and a whole lot more.

You can also find pictures of book covers, book tag graphics, and other visuals on Instagram

If you’re interested in exclusive member goodies or want to support the show even more, you can join my Patreon community.


Come soak up all the warm, fuzzy feelings! My name is Kelly, and I’m excited to share my thoughts and opinions with you about books, movies, and TV series. I’m also obsessed with all things comfy cozy, self-care, and personal development.

Join me as I snuggle up with my favorite blankets and yummy beverages, and talk about my favorite forms of art.


Like, follow and subscribe.

© 2023. All rights reserved.