10 Books We Can’t Wait to Read in February

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It’s cold, it gets dark at 5 p.m. and we’re mighty tempted to just stay home, curl up under our warmest blanket and crack into a new book. From a gothic mystery about a decrepit house haunting a broken family to a modern retelling of one of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales by Zadie Smith, here are ten of the most fabulous new books to read in February.

The Best New (and New-Ish) Books to Read for Black History Month

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1. I Have Some Questions for You by Rebecca Makkai

Bodie is content to forget her past. There’s the family tragedy that marred her adolescence, her four largely miserable years at a New Hampshire boarding school and the 1995 murder of a classmate. But when her alma mater invites her back to teach a two-week course as a successful film professor and podcaster, Bodie finds herself drawn to the murder case and its increasingly apparent flaws. Did the school and the police overlook other suspects? Is the real killer still out there? As she falls down a rabbit hole she was determined to avoid, Bodie begins to wonder if she wasn't as much of an outsider as she'd thought—maybe she even knew something back then that might have held the key to solving the case.

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2. Burn the Boats: Toss Plan B Overboard and Unleash Your True Potential by Matt Higgins

In this actionable book, serial entrepreneur, investor and television personality Matt Higgins makes the case that burning the boats (a bold tactic of leaders throughout history that basically means eliminating a plan B so you’re forced to forge ahead) isn't just advantageous in times of war or crisis, but a strategy we can all use to achieve our dreams. In Burn the Boats, Higgins uses learnings from his own rags-to-riches life to show readers how to challenge themselves to take the leaps necessary to accomplish goals.

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3. A Spell of Good Things by Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀

After Eniola’s father loses his job in modern day Nigeria, the young man spends his days running errands for the local tailor, collecting newspapers and begging when he must—all the while dreaming of a big future. Meanwhile, Wuraola is the perfect child of a wealthy family, set up for success. But when a local politician takes an interest in Eniola and sudden violence erupts at a family party, Wuraola’s and Eniola’s lives become intertwined. In her second novel (after 2018’s Stay with Me), Adébáyọ̀ highlights the gaping divide between the haves and have-nots in contemporary Nigeria, as well as the shared humanity that lives in between.

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4. Brutes by Dizz Tate

Described as The Virgin Suicides meets The Florida Project, this debut novel is a coming-of-age story set in Falls Landing, Florida, a town that’s home to theme parks, swampy lakes and something sinister. It’s where a group of 13-year-old girls obsessively orbit around Sammy, the daughter of the local preacher. When Sammy goes missing, the girls edge ever closer to discovering a dark secret about their town and the cruel cost of a ticket out.

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5. She Is a Haunting by Trang Thanh Tran

When Jade arrives in Vietnam for a visit with her estranged father, her goal is to survive five weeks pretending to be a happy family. Pretending shouldn’t be so hard; she's always lied to fit in—to be straight enough, Vietnamese enough, American enough. Her family’s house, however, has other plans. Night after night, Jade wakes up paralyzed. The walls make a humming sound while bugs shed their legs in places they don't belong. She finds strange traces of her ancestors in the gardens they once tended, including a cryptic warning from the ghost of the beautiful bride. No one believes her, but with the help of another girl, Jade is determined to prove that the house will not rest until it destroys them. And maybe this time, she can keep her family together.

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6. It’s Always Been Ours: Rewriting the Story of Black Women’s Bodies by Jessica Wilson

Jessica Wilson is an eating disorder specialist and storyteller who, in her first book, challenges readers to rethink the politics of body liberation by centering the bodies of Black women in discussions of self-image, food, health and wellness. Blending historical documents, the work of popular authors and stories of clients, friends and celebrities, Wilson examines the ways that ideas about women’s bodies have harmed Black women, challenging what it means to have the “right” body and encouraging Black women to find joy in their bodies and their identities.

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7. The Wife of Willesden by Zadie Smith

In her stage-writing debut, Zadie Smith (White Teeth, Swing Time) brings to life a comedic, 21st century translation of Geoffrey Chaucer's classic The Wife of Bath. Her version follows Alvita, a Jamaican-born British woman in her mid-50s, as she tells her life story to a band of strangers in a small pub on the Kilburn High Road. Wearing fake gold chains and dressed in knock-off designer clothes, Alvita recalls her five marriages in outrageous detail, rewrites her mistakes as triumphs and shares her beliefs on femininity, sexuality and misogyny.

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8. The Neighbor Favor by Kristina Forest

Shy and bookish Lily has always felt inadequate compared to her accomplished family. She dreams of becoming a children's books editor, but she's been stuck in nonfiction for years. She finds escapism in her correspondences with her favorite fantasy author, and what begins as two lonely people connecting over email turns into a friendship and possibly something more…until he ghosts her. Months later, Lily is still crushed, but determined to find a date to her sister's wedding. Enter Nick, her charming, attractive new neighbor who, little does Lily know, is her favorite fantasy author. Nick soon realizes that she’s the same Lily he fell in love with over email months ago, but is it too late to make amends?

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9. The Unfortunates by J.K. Chukwu

Sahara is not OK. A queer, half-Nigerian student at an elite college, she’s enraged and exhausted by the racism at her university, not least because the few Black classmates she has are vanishing. Believing she could be the next target, she writes a thesis to the powerful University Committee in what might be her last chance to document the Unfortunates’ experience before she joins their ranks.

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10. Hello Sleep: The Science and Art of Overcoming Insomnia without Medication by Jade Wu

Anyone who’s ever had a hard time sleeping knows how frustrating and anxiety-inducing the experience is. Jade Wu, a behavioral sleep medicine specialist and researcher, understands. Her first book, Hello Sleep, is a guide for people with insomnia to help them shift their relationship with sleep, so that it stops being a battle and starts being enjoyable and natural again. She provides in-depth but understandable scientific explanations of how sleep and insomnia work; anecdotes about real patients’ experiences with overcoming insomnia; tips for how to problem-solve common pitfalls and more.

sarah stiefvater
Sarah Stiefvater

Wellness Director

Sarah Stiefvater is PureWow's Wellness Director. She's been at PureWow for ten years, and in that time has written and edited stories across all categories, but currently focuses...
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