Young woman reading a book on train

Here’s our pick of the top new books – novels, essay collections, and non-fiction – that we recommend you to read in February.

1.

Figuring by Maria Popova examines the interconnected lives of several historical figures across four centuries in an attempt to better understand life. Figuring asks what it means to live a good life and to leave a lasting mark on the world. It explores the complexities of love and the human search for truth and meaning through the interconnected lives of several historical figures across four centuries—beginning with the astronomer Johannes Kepler, who discovered the laws of planetary motion, and ending with the marine biologist and author Rachel Carson, who catalyzed the environmental movement.  Publication date: February 5, 2019

2.

The Last Romantics by Tara Conklin. The New York Times bestselling author of The House Girl explores the lives of four siblings in this ambitious and absorbing novel in the vein of Commonwealth and The Interestings. When the renowned poet Fiona Skinner is asked about the inspiration behind her iconic work, The Love Poem, she tells her audience a story about her family. The Skinner siblings were loyal and deeply connected as young adults.  Two decades later, they find themselves confronted with a family crisis that forces them to question the life choices they’ve made.  Publication date: February 5, 2019

3.

More Than Words by Jill Santopolo. From the New York Times bestselling author of The Light We Lost comes a tender and moving new novel about a woman at a crossroads after the death of her father, and caught between the love of two men. Nina Gregory has always been a good daughter. Raised by her father, owner of New York City’s glamorous Gregory Hotels, Nina was taught that family, reputation, and legacy are what matter most. And Tim – her devoted boyfriend and best friend since childhood – feels the same. But when Nina’s father dies, he leaves behind a shocking secret. Nina begins to see the men in her life – her father, her boyfriend, and unexpectedly, her boss, Rafael – in a new light. – Publication date: February 5, 2019

4.

Bowlaway by Elizabeth McCracken. The National Book Award finalist and author of The Giant’s House returns with a new novel. At the turn of the 20th century, a woman is discovered unconscious and nearly frozen in a New England cemetery with only a bowling ball, a candle pin, and 15 pounds of gold on her. – Publication date: February 5, 2019

5.

Merchants of Truth: The Business of News and the Fight for Facts  by Jill Abramson. The former New York Times managing editor and the first woman to serve as the paper’s Washington bureau chief reports on the disruption of the news media over the last decade. – Publication date: February 5, 2019

6.

Such Good Work by Johannes Lichtman is a debut novel about a creative writing teacher whose efforts to stay sober land him in Malmö, Sweden in 2015. There, drugs are scarce but the refugee crisis forces a different kind of reckoning.  The city is struggling to cope with the arrival of tens of thousands of Middle Eastern refugees. Driven by an existential need to “do good,” Jonas volunteers with an organization that teaches Swedish to young refugees. But one young man will force Jonas to question whether “doing good” can actually help another person.Publication date: February 5, 2019

7.

American Pop by Snowden Wright. Moving from Mississippi to Paris to New York and back again, this novel is a saga of family, ambition and tragedy that brings to life a Southern dynasty: the Forsters, founders of the world’s first major soft-drink company. We follow the rise of the patriarch of the family, and watch as he tries to determine who should control the company after he’s gone.  – Publication date: February 5, 2019

8.

The Age of Light by Whitney Scharer. This buzzed-about debut set in a glittering 1930’s Paris centers on the relationship between iconic photographer Man Ray and his real-life muse, Lee Miller, who yearned to be an artist in her own right. A captivating debut novel by Whitney Scharer, The Age of Light tells the story of Vogue model turned renowned photographer Lee Miller, and her search to forge a new identity as an artist after a life spent as a muse.– Publication date: February 5, 2019

9.

Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James. We don’t usually read sci-fi but we’re making an exception for this. Teased as the “African Game of Thrones,” this epic fantasy by the Man Booker Prize winner (A Brief History of Seven Killings) is set to kick off a new trilogy called The Dark Star. – Publication date: February 5, 2019

10.

How to Be Loved by Eva Hagberg Fisher is the story of the harrowing fallout after the rupture of an undiscovered mass in the author’s brain at age 30. It’s a thank-you as well to the people — a few friends in particular — who helped bring her back to herself.  – Publication date: February 5, 2019

11.

The Collected Schizophrenias by Esmé Weijun Wang. The author won a prestigious Whiting Award for this utterly unique book of essays: a deep, illuminating, and explosively written dive into a life of living with mental illness. The essay collection tracks the author’s affliction and also discusses the limitations of diagnosis, and the mixed blessing that labeling an affliction entails. – Publication date: February 5, 2019

12.

Notes from a Black Woman’s Diary: Selected Works of Kathleen Collins by Kathleen Collins. The revival of Kathleen Collins, artist, filmmaker, and writer, began in 2016 with Whatever Happened to Interracial Love? Now comes another posthumous collection, this time short stories, a screenplay, a script, and, perhaps most intriguing, diary entries. Collins’s exploration of black identity, femininity, and class is vital reading. – Publication date: February 5, 2019

13.

Magical Negro: Poems by Morgan Parker. The much anticipated follow-up to There Are More Beautiful Things than Beyoncé excavates archetypes and folk stories from black American culture, exploring both blackness and femininity. – Publication date: February 5, 2019

14.

The Lost Girls of Paris by Pam Jenoff. In 1946 Manhattan, one woman discovers the secrets of a ring of female spies during World War II. – Publication date: February 5, 2019

15.

The Source of Self-Regard: Selected Essays, Speeches, and Meditations by Toni Morrison. A new nonfiction collection of essays, speeches, and meditations on society, culture, and art, spanning four decades. It’s divided into three parts: the first is introduced by a powerful prayer for the dead of 9/11; the second by a searching meditation on Martin Luther King Jr., and the last by a heart-wrenching eulogy for James Baldwin.  – Publication date: February 12, 2019

16.

American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson. It’s 1986, the heart of the Cold War, and Marie Mitchell is an intelligence officer with the FBI. She’s brilliant – and carrying the burden of being a young black woman working in an old boys’ club. Her career has stalled out. So when she’s given the opportunity to join a task force aimed at undermining the charismatic revolutionary president of Burkina Faso, she says yes. Even though she secretly admires the work he’s doing for his country. One reviewer exclaims that this “unflinching, incendiary debut combines the espionage novels of John le Carré with the racial complexity of Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man.” Say no more. We’re in!  – Publication date: February 12, 2019

17.

Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli. In this new novel, a family road trip across America collides with an immigration crisis at the southwestern border. A family of four sets out on a summer road trip from New York to Arizona. Their destination: Apacheria, the place the Apaches once called home. Why Apaches? asks the ten-year-old son. Because they were the last of something, answers his father. As their journey progresses, it becomes a story of how we document our experiences, and how we remember the things that matter. – Publication date: February 12, 2019

18.

Leading Men by Christopher Castellani. In July of 1953, at a glittering party thrown by Truman Capote in Portofino, Italy, Tennessee Williams and his longtime lover Frank Merlo meet Anja Blomgren, a mysteriously taciturn young Swedish beauty and aspiring actress. Their encounter will go on to alter all of their lives. What keeps two people together and what breaks them apart? Can we save someone else if we can’t save ourselves? The author weaves fact and fiction to illustrate the tensions between public figures and their private lives.Publication date: February 12, 2019

19.

The Heavens by Sandra Newman. Set in New York City in late summer, 2000, this novel follows a young couple who fall in love at a party in a spacious Manhattan apartment, hosted by a wealthy young activist. Kate has had a recurring dream since childhood in which she’s living as Emilia, the mistress of a nobleman in Elizabethan England. Her new beau thinks nothing of it, but this dream becomes increasingly real and threatens to overwhelm her life. It’s described as “a poignant testament to how the people we love are destined to change, and a masterful exploration of the power of dreams.”Publication date: February 12, 2019

20.

Rutting Season: Stories by Mandeliene Smith is a debut collection of short stories about girls behaving badly and families on the brink of collapse. In barnyards, office buildings, and dilapidated houses, Smith’s characters fight for happiness and survival, and the choices they make reveal the power of instinct to save or destroy. – Publication date: February 12, 2019

21.

The Cassandra by Sharma Shields. Inspired by the classic Greek myth, this 20th-century re-imagining of Cassandra’s story follows a woman who goes to work in a top secret research facility during WWII, only to be tormented by visions of what the mission will mean for humankind. Mildred Groves is gifted (and cursed) with the ability to see the future. She takes a secretarial position at a military facility focused on testing and manufacturing a mysterious product. Only the top officials there know that it’s processed plutonium, for use in the first atomic bombs. Based on an actual location, this novel’s assessment of the impact of patriarchy and militancy feels ripped-from-the-headlines. – Publication date: February 12, 2019

22.

Dinner for Everyone: 100 Iconic Dishes Made 3 Ways–Easy, Vegan, or Perfect for Company by Mark Bittman. This new cookbook is billed as “the one book a cook needs for a perfect dinner--easy, fancy, or meatless, as the occasion requires.” It’s responsive to the flexibility that real life requires, and written in a voice that’s straightforward and pragmatic – Publication date: February 12, 2019

23.

Bangkok Wakes to Rain by Pitchaya Sudbanthad. In this novel, a house in Bangkok is the site of a confluence of lives shaped by upheaval, memory, and the lure of home. The stories include those of a missionary doctor; a post-WWII society matron; a jazz pianist; a political activist. – Publication date: February 19, 2019

24.

The Study of Animal Languages by Lindsay Stern. This first novel tells the story of a married couple – both experts in language and communication – who nevertheless cannot seem to communicate with each other. Ivan is a tightly wound philosophy professor who reveres logic.  His wife, Prue, is the opposite, full of life and feeling. An odd distance has settled in between them. Might it have something to do with the arrival of the college’s dashing new writer-in-residence, whose novel Prue always seems to be reading? – Publication date: February 19, 2019

25.

The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls by Anissa Gray. Althea, the eldest sister and substitute matriarch of the Butler family, is a force to be reckoned with. Her younger sisters are as stunned as the rest of the community when she and her husband are arrested. As Althea awaits her fate, her younger sisters must come together in the house they grew up in to care for their sister’s teenage daughters. What unfolds is a stunning portrait of the heart of an American family.Publication date: February 19, 2019

26.

Vacuum in the Dark by Jen Beagin. From the Whiting Award-winning author of Pretend I’m Dead comes a new novel about a cleaning lady and her struggles to move forward in life. Mona is twenty-six and cleans houses for a living in Taos, New Mexico. She moved there mostly because of a bad boyfriend, and her efforts to restart her life since haven’t exactly gone as planned. For one thing, she’s got another bad boyfriend. This one happens to be married to one of Mona’s clients. What follows is an eccentric, moving journey of self-discovery. – Publication date: February 26, 2019

27.

The Future Is Feminist: Radical, Funny, and Inspiring Writing by Women, introduction by Jessica Valenti. A roster of iconic women – poets, essayists, activists, actors, and professors – write about what it means to be a feminist yesterday, today, and tomorrow.