There are a lot of books published every month. How does a casual science fiction and fantasy reader know which ones to choose? They consult handy lists like this one. Here's a look at some of the more enticing science fiction and fantasy books being published in May. Use this as your starting point for finding captivating reads.

Nebula Awards Showcase 2013 edited by Catherine Asaro

If you want a good overview of what the science fiction and fantasy field currently offers, look no further than Nebula Awards Showcase 2013. This anthology features both Nebula Award-winning and nominated fiction from the premiere writers in the field. Like any anthology, it's a great cross-section of fiction with a wide variety of ideas and storytelling styles. This year's volume includes stories by Kij Johnson, Geoff Ryman, Carolyn Ives Gilman, Ken Liu, Nancy Fulda, Katherine Sparrow, E. Lily Yu, Brad R. Torgersen and more. This is a book that will keep you interested the whole way through.

The Collected Stories of Carol Emshwiller: Vol. 2 by Carol Emshwiller

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This is another book of short fiction, but rather than being an anthology of multiple authors, this one is a collection of fiction by a single author—but what a fantastic one. This is the second volume to showcase the 50-plus year career of Carol Emshwiller, a writer whose imagination seems to lack limits, especially when considering her amazing selection of high-quality output. This volume alone contains 56 stories. Like the previous volume, this one offers stories that defy any single categorization. They will delight, amaze and challenge a reader's imagination.

Yellowcake by Margo Lanagan

Another must-read collection is Yellowcake by Margo Lanagan, which brings together 10 of her short stories in one volume. This single author collection includes stories that that range from fantasy to horror to science fiction—but they all have one thing in common: They are full of wonder. Margo Lanagan has proven herself to be a writer capable of evoking strong emotions. This collection will show you why.

The Human Division by John Scalzi

If you are not the kind of person who likes to consume stories in a serial fashion over several months, and you've been biding your time until the completion of John Scalzi's new, serialized story set on the Old Man's War universe...your wait is oveLife on the Preservationr. The Human Division is now available as a single novel. The story kicks off when the people of Earth learn the truth about the existence of hostile alien forces which the government has been keeping secret. The story revolves around Lieutenant Harry Wilson and his efforts to save the Colonial Defense Union. Despite being published as self-contained, individually published stories, The Human Division is remarkably cohesive as a novel with a substantial story arc. 

Life on the Preservation by Jack Skillingstead

Jack Skillingstead presents a premise that is both imaginative and harrowing. Set in a bizarre post-apocalyptic world, the story is about a young girl—an apocalypse survivor on the run from dangerous creatures—who is seeking to destroy the Preservation, a domed city that its alien curators keep within a time loop such that its occupants experience the same day over and over. But is there something more going on?

The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson

#1 New York Times best-selling author Brandon Sanderson tries his hand at young adult fiction by launching a new fantasy adventure series. The story takes place in a magical world where "Rithmatists" have the power to give life to two-dimensional chalk drawings. They are mankind's only defense from the Wild Chalklings—the evil creatures that leave mangled corpses in their wake. Joel, the son of a chalkmaker, wants to be one of these saviors of humanity.  He may have the chance to prove his mettle when he is enlisted to solve the mystery of students who disappear from the rooms of the Armedius Academy.

Fearsome Journeys: The New Solaris Book of Fantasy Edited by Jonathan Strahan

Kicking off a brand new fantasy anthology series is no small feat, but at the hands of the very capable Jonathan Strahan, there's no need to fear. Longtime editor and anthologist Strahan has assembled the strongest voices in modern fantasy to launch the series. Inside this book you will find stories by Saladin Ahmed, Daniel Abraham, Elizabeth Bear, Trudi Canavan, Glen Cook Kate Elliott, Jeffrey Ford, Ellen Klages, Scott Lynch, Ellen Kushner & Ysabeau Wilce, and more. Fearsome Journeys offers a great selection of stories for the fantasy fan.

The Healer byThe Healer Antti Tuomainen

The Healer is about one man's search for his missing wife set in a bleak, dystopian future Helsinki. Tapani Lehtinen is a struggling poet who is one of the last people left in the city. Most of Helsinki's residents having fled the climate catastrophes and decaying social order for safer places. But when Tapani's wife Johanna, a newspaper journalist, goes missing, he embarks on the dangerous path of finding out the truth. Johanna's disappearance might be related to the story she was investigating about a politically motivated serial killer who's known as "The Healer." 

One Small Step: An Anthology of Discoveries Edited by Tehani C. Wessely

Editor Tehani C. Wessely challenged some of Australia's best women writers to create a story of speculation based upon the idea of discoveries, new beginnings, or literal or figurative "small steps." The result is a surprisingly varied compilation of original fiction that will make you want to seek out more of each author's work. One Small Step includes stories by Joanne Anderton & Rabia Gale, Deborah Biancotti, Jodi Cleghorn, Rowena Cory Daniells, Thoraiya Dyer, Kate Gordon, Lisa L. Hannett & Angela Slatter, Tansy Rayner Roberts, Cat Sparks and more.

John DeNardo is the editor of SF Signal, a Hugo Award-winning group science-fiction and fantasy blog featuring news, reviews and interviews. He also has an unhealthy obsession with bagels. You can follow him on Twitter as @sfsignal.