Following the release of her sophomore album ‘French Bath,’ the musician compiles incisive texts by modern female authors

As of late, Dimes Square has become a cultural icon unto itself: What Paris’s Les Deux Magots was to Hemingway and Sartre, the Lower East Side’s Le Dive is to cigarette smokers with five-digit Instagram followings. While this corner of Chinatown is more a loose collection of nouveau-hipster businesses and their patrons than a genuine neighborhood, it has nonetheless become a reified cultural concept in the internet’s imagination. Last year’s The Come Up promised an insightful look into the life of the aforementioned ilk—the second episode title coronated its cast, the “Jewels of the Dimes Square Crown”—only to produce empty, uncritical portraits of similarly naïve subjects. Enter: May Rio, the rising star whose deceptively saccharine songs critique the Downtown-cool facade, indie-scene creeps, and bad art.

While you might not know her by name—if you’ve heard The Dare’s breakthrough sensation “Girls” or Blaketheman1000’s underground hit “Blake 2”—you already know Rio’s voice. The alumna of bedroom-pop band Poppies developed her solo project in the pits of the pandemic, and then began a brutal regimen of near-nonstop gigs as venues reopened in the summer of 2021. While her manic performance schedule has since cooled down, Rio is still hard at work; today, she’s touring for her weeks-old sophomore album, French Bath.

Unified by an infatuation with women in distress, the artist’s booklist for Document compiles some of the most incisive texts by modern female authors. But don’t be mistaken by her subject matter of choice: May Rio does not need saving. She is a heroine unto herself.

“Don’t be mistaken by her subject matter of choice: May Rio does not need saving. She is a heroine unto herself.”

Second Place by Rachel Cusk
“‘Some people write simply because they don’t know how to live in the moment and have to reconstruct it and live in it afterwards.’ I’m always stung by Cusk’s writing.”

The First Bad Man by Miranda July
“I wish she’d write more of these—these meaning books. Totally weird.”

The Woman Destroyed by Simone de Beauvoir
“One of the most engaging books I’ve read in the past few years. A healthy dose of disequilibrium.”

In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado
“Rich and exquisite prose. She lets the reader feel just as thrown and helpless as the protagonist. It’s sort of a reinvention of what a memoir can be.”

Galatea by Madeline Miller
“A slim but potent retelling of the odd Greek myth Pygmalion. Based on an artist’s dark idea that the only woman who could be worth enough to be his wife is a woman that he has created himself. Can read in one (delayed) subway ride.”

The Faster I Walk, the Smaller I Am by Kjersti Annesdatter Skomsvold
“This novel left me a little broken, and yet, I love how Mathea views the world; she is delighted by so little. Emotional without being too sentimental. I haven’t yet had the pleasure of reading another quite like it.”