The Best New Books to Read This Month

Relationship dramas, heartbreaking histories, frothy, fun reads—February has it all! Here are the books that made us take note.

1

A Separation, by Katie Kitamura

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At the start of this spellbinding novel, a couple has split up. But when the husband (a known serial cheater) goes missing in a remote region of Greece, the wife reluctantly agrees to look for him. As her search goes on, she discovers that she knew even less about the man she married than she thought. A profound examination of relationships with a dash of thrilling mystery, this taut novel doesn’t disappoint.

To buy: $18; amazon.com.

Released February 7.

 


2

My (Not So) Perfect Life, by Sophie Kinsella

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Katie Brenner is a whiz at branding. The daughter of a farmer, she has moved to London, where she works as a research associate at a marketing firm, and rebranded herself as Cat, a put-together woman with straight hair, glasses, and a posh accent. But behind her carefully curated Instagram feed, life isn’t as great as it seems: She’s living with terrible roommates, barely making ends meet, and struggling to stay in her boss Demeter’s good graces. When she hits it off with a cute coworker, things are finally looking up—until she gets fired. With her ego bruised and her wallet empty, Katie returns home to help her dad and stepmother launch their upscale glamping business. When Demeter shows up with her family to spend a relaxing weekend in a yurt, Katie learns that perhaps no one’s lives are exactly what they seem. Kinsella (Confessions of a Shopaholic) delivers another fun novel full of wit, charm, and quirky (but relatable) characters.

To buy: $18.50; amazon.com.

Released February 7.


3

The Perpetual Now: A Story of Amnesia, Memory, and Love, by Michael D. Lemonick

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Scientific American opinion editor Lemonick explores our current understanding of memory through the case study of Lonni Sue Johnson. Johnson, a renowned artist who regularly produced covers for The New Yorker, contracted encephalitis in 2007 and the infection destroyed her hippocampus, leaving her severely amnesic. Now she lives permanently in the present: Her memories are wiped clean every 15 minutes and she can only remember parts of her past. Lemonick combines Lonni Sue’s story with another notable case study of amnesia on a patient who was known for years only as “H.M.” to help demonstrate the different ways our brains store information. Fans of Oliver Sacks will appreciate Lemonick’s ability to combine personal stories with science, which makes The Perpetual Now a compelling and approachable read.

To buy: $25; amazon.com.

Released February 7.



4

The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down, by Haemin Sunim

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Korean Buddhist monk Haemin Sunim delivers ancient Buddhist philosophy for the modern age in this book, which has sold more than 3 million copies in Korea. In short stanzas, Sunim offers profound but relatable wisdom on coping with the daily grind—and on keeping sight of what really matters. Leave this book on your nightstand to clear your head before bed.

To buy: $12.50; amazon.com.

Released February 7.


5

All of Our Wrong Todays, by Elan Mastai

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You don’t have to be a sci-fi fan to become totally enthralled with this fresh, time-travel novel by screenwriter Mastai. In Tom Barren’s world, humanity has achieved a techno-utopia with the invention of the Goettreider Engine, which provides an unlimited supply of clean energy. No one is hungry, people travel in Jetson-style flying cars—and Tom doesn’t have much purpose. A disappointment to his genius father, Tom finds himself accepted into a revolutionary time-travel expedition out of pity. When a mishap causes Tom to travel back to the 1965 invention of the Goettreider Engine, his presence causes the experiment to go awry. He then finds himself stranded in our 2016 (the real world as we know it), which, for Tom, seems like a dystopian wasteland filled with war, poverty, and illness. But he also finds an alternate version of his life, one where his mother is still alive, his dad is kind, and he may have just met his soul mate. Does he try to go back and fix the course of history so that his utopian universe is restored? Or does he begin a new life in our unpredictable, dangerous world? Don't get bogged down by the seemingly-complicated set-up—Mastai delivers an utterly clever, entertaining love story.

To buy: $17; amazon.com.

Released February 7.


6

Never Caught: The Washingtons' Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, by Erica Armstrong Dunbar

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You will see George Washington in a new light after reading this powerful historical account. When Washington became president and moved to the country’s then-capital in Philadelphia, he and his wife, Martha, took a select group of slaves. Among them was Ona Judge, who tended to Martha’s wardrobe. Rather than comply with a Pennsylvania law that required enslaved people to be set free after six months of residency in the state, the Washingtons sent Judge and the other slaves back to Virginia just before the clock expired every six months. One day in 1796, Judge slipped out of the executive mansion in Philadelphia and boarded a ship to New Hampshire to begin a new life. At just 22 years old, Judge became the subject of an intense manhunt led by George Washington, who was willing to use his power to reclaim his property. University of Delaware historian Dunbar weaves an unforgettable story about a courageous woman willing to risk everything for freedom.

To buy: $17; amazon.com.

Released February 7.



7

The Woman Next Door, by Yewande Omotoso

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Omotoso tells the story of two octogenarian women—one black, one white—who are neighbors in a fictitious wealthy community in Cape Town. Hortensia and Marion seemingly have much in common—they both like to garden, they both had successful careers in creative industries, and they are both now widows—but they loathe each other. And they have for nearly two decades. When an accident leaves Hortensia injured and Marion in need of housing, the women decide to live together. As the women come to terms with the course their lives have taken, they slowly open up to each other. While the heart of the story focuses on their evolving friendship, Omotoso also addresses the history of colonialism, slavery, race, and class in South Africa—an ambitious and impressive feat.

To buy: $16; amazon.com.

Released February 7.


8

Forever Is the Worst Long Time, by Camille Pagán

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Early in this bittersweet novel, we realize that the narrator, James, is speaking to a child about her mother, Lou, and his memories of her. He begins his story in 1998 when he meets (and instantly falls for) Lou. The only problem is, she’s engaged to his best friend, Rob. James swallows his feelings, but secretly pines for her as his own chances at romance and success pass him by. But when Lou and Rob’s marriage shows signs of strain, James can’t help but be a shoulder for her to cry on—and a mutual attraction is revealed.

To buy: $15; amazon.com.

Released February 7.


9

A Piece of the World, by Christina Baker Kline

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Inspired by Andrew Wyeth's 1948 painting Christina's World, Baker Kline (Orphan Train) weaves fact and fiction to paint an imagined portrait of the real woman depicted in the famous artwork. Meet Christina Olson, a stubborn, stalwart woman who has been left crippled by a degenerative muscle disease. Now in her 40s, she lives as a “spinster” with her brother at their family’s farmhouse in Cushing, Maine. She narrates her life story, flashing between her childhood and present day. As we see her world get smaller and smaller at the hands of her disease—a missed opportunity to go away to school, a lost love—Christina risks closing out everyone until she discovers a kindred spirit in Wyeth. It’s a gorgeous read.

To buy: $18.50; amazon.com.

Released February 21.



10

The Housekeeper, by Suellen Dainty

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Reeling from a breakup (with her boss) and in need of a new job, Anne finds solace in the daily affirmations of Emma Helmsley, a psychologist turned celebrity lifestyle guru. As luck would have it, Anne manages to land a housekeeping job at the Helmsley household. There, Emma’s husband Rob is working on a book about an infamous cult leader. Before long, memories buried deep in Anne’s subconscious begin bubbling to the surface and she begins to journal her strange dreams and recollections. As Anne tries to piece together her past, she realizes she’s been protecting the Helmsley family’s secrets, but they haven’t been protecting hers.

To buy: $16; amazon.com.

Released February 28.