February’s best new books

In Reading Lists - Best New Books by The Editors

Romance is in the air, along with a cold winter’s chill, so cozy up with your truest of loves … books! With all the fantastic new books coming out, you won’t even notice that you haven’t left your house all month. Read to your heart’s content with picks from Roxane Gay’s brand new book club, a Scribd Original from Gay herself, Elizabeth Kolbert’s latest call to show some love to our planet, and, of course, no February reading list would be complete without some swoon-worthy rom-com happily-ever-afters.

Writing into the Wound by Roxane Gay

February 12

Trauma is a common thread for so many, from personal experience to the collective trauma of racism, climate change, and a global pandemic. Roxane Gay’s personal trauma has shaped her life and work, including her 2017 memoir about her own sexual assault, Hunger. In her new Scribd Original, Writing into the Wound, Gay unpacks the aftermath of Hunger, exploring the public reaction that reopened her wounds once more. The result is a skillful guide to sharing, processing, and healing from trauma through writing. “To change the world, we need to face what has become of it,” she writes. “To heal from a trauma, we need to understand the extent of it.”
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The Removed by Brandon Hobson

Roxane Gay has a new book club, and she already picked The Removed as her Audacious Book Club’s March read. (That’s all we needed to hear to be all in on this one!) In a story alive with the mythology and history of the Cherokee people, a family struggles with grief 15 years after police shot their teenage son dead. The heartbreaking anniversary coincides with the Cherokee National Holiday, cracking open a tale of blurred boundaries between celebration and sorrow, the living and the dead, and the physical world and the spirit world.
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Milk Blood Heat by Dantiel W. Moniz

We’re beyond lucky that two of Roxane Gay’s picks for her new Audacious Book Club drop in February. In addition to reading The Removed next month, Gay selected Milk Blood Heat as her club’s April pick. Set in the Sunshine State, this collection shines a light on the lives of Black women and girls. Brilliant characters grapple with estrangement from church and family, the enthralling bonds of young best friends forever, and revenge. LitHub says, “Every story in this book feels soaked with heat and blood and wanting and a slice — sometimes more — of danger.”
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Land of Big Numbers by Te-Ping Chen

Journalist Te-Ping Chen’s evocative debut short story collection uses magical realism to convey just how surreal real life in China can feel to Westerners. With vivid characters and propulsive settings, like commuters trapped in a subway station, a worker at a government call center fielding calls from her ex-boyfriend, and funeral strippers, each of these 10 vignettes stirs the soul and subverts expectations.
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Milk Fed by Melissa Broder

From the author of sizzling love story The Pisces comes Milk Fed, a simultaneously hilarious and erotic story set in Los Angeles. Rachel, a 24-year-old, calorie obsessed lackey at a Hollywood talent management agency, finally takes a 90-day communication detox from her toxic mother at the urging of her therapist. Shortly after she starts the detox, she meets Miriam, an employee at her favorite fro-yo shop. Rachel, a lapsed Jew fixated on body image, is captivated by Miriam’s zaftig figure and Orthodox Judaism. As the pair grows closer, Rachel begins a new journey marked by mothers, mysticism, and milk and honey.
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Make Up Break Up by Lily Menon

Annika Dev and Hudson Craft are both entrepreneurs whose apps deal in relationships. However, they’re polar opposites: Annika’s app, Make Up, helps resolve relationship problems, while Hudson’s app, Break Up, is known as the “Uber for break-ups.” When the two rivals find themselves in the same office building and competing in the same investment pitch contest, that summer fling in Las Vegas keeps rearing its head. It’s bad enough that Annika’s business is failing while Hudson’s is booming, but when she finds herself drawn to the flashy, shallow playboy things seem even more upside down. Is Hudson not so shallow after all? There’s more than meets the eye in this charming romantic comedy.
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The Project by Courtney Summers

Sadie became one of the biggest YA sensations of the past few years, and now author Courtney Summers is back with another astonishingly tense thriller. Two sisters are driven apart by a car accident that killed their parents: Bea joins The Unity Project, a religious group that’s been accused of being a cult; Lo aspires to be a writer and starts to investigate The Unity Project. At a time where it seems easier than ever to fall prey to a cult online, The Project is an edge-of-your-seat exploration of human psychology.
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Love in English by Maria E. Andreu

Love knows no boundaries or borders, but there are plenty of barriers to language when you’re forced to speak in an unfamiliar tongue. After emigrating to New Jersey from Argentina to reunite with her dad, Ana is forced to brush up on the eccentricities of English while enduring the embarrassments of high school. Love in English is a cute, fun story that will have you falling for language all over again.
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We Run the Tides by Vendela Vida

Set in 1984, We Run the Tides centers on 13-year-old Eulabee and her three friends as they galavant around Sea Cliff, their wealthy San Francisco neighborhood. One day, they stumble upon a mystery that threatens to change everything. A thrilling, nostalgic novel celebrating the complexities of female friendship by Vendela Vida, who co-founded 826 Valencia along with Dave Eggers.
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Under a White Sky by Elizabeth Kolbert

In her Pulitzer Prize-winning book, The Sixth Extinction, Elizabeth Kolbert opened our eyes to human-caused environmental devastation. In her new book, Under a White Sky, Kolbert tackles the urgent issue of finding ways to reverse the damage done. She investigates possible solutions born of the very human ingenuity that got us into trouble in the first place. Could these innovations avert disastrous climate change? Or dig us into a deeper hole?
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Game Changer by Neal Shusterman

National Book Award-winner Neal Shusterman’s latest YA novel is an ambitious work tackling the deconstruction of a privileged perspective. In the first football game of the year, straight, white, cisgendered Ash Bowman gets taken to the ground — and into another timeline where stop signs are blue instead of red. Each game knocks him into a new dimension where things get increasingly off-kilter (segregation is suddenly legal, for instance) and Ash’s eyes are forced wide open. Shusterman employs a simple sci-fi premise to break down barriers.
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A Phở Love Story by Loan Le

An #OwnVoices story about Linh Mai and Bảo Nguyễn, two Vietnamese American kids whose families own rival phở restaurants. Linh and Bảo finally have a real conversation, which starts one of the year’s cutest star-crossed romances. A Phở Love Story will warm your heart (and definitely make you want a bowl of phở!).
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Let’s Get Back to the Party by Zak Salih

Following 2015’s marriage equality ruling, newly single Sebastian longs to settle down, all the while envying the youthful freedom that the queer high school students he teaches are experiencing. When he runs into a childhood friend, Oscar, at a wedding, he sees a second chance; Oscar, however, sees settling down as the death of gay culture, and couldn’t be more on a different page. The two men reexamine their shared history and their places in the world as they both find cross-generational friendships that change their lives: Sebastian with one of his students, and Oscar with an aging AIDS icon.
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American Delirium by Betina González

Strange things are happening in a small Midwestern town. Deer suddenly start attacking people. An ex-hippie septuagenarian trains her fellow senior citizens to hunt the violent wildlife. Parents protest “the system” by dropping out to go live in the woods, leaving their kids behind. And a mysterious hallucinogenic drug is spreading around town. A wonderfully weird romp.
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Reaper of Souls by Rena Barron

Reaper of Souls may be even more brutal than the introductory book of the series, Kingdom of Souls. Arrah is now the only living witchdoctor, and startling revelations about the past continue to haunt her. Rena Barron’s series explores just how much our pasts should, can, and do define us, and how hard and costly breaking cycles of destruction tends to be.
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A Dark and Hollow Star by Ashley Shuttleworth

Ashley Shuttleworth takes some tried-and-true fae tropes and turns them on their head in this intricate urban fantasy full of queer characters. Fae live secretly among humans, but when a series of mysterious murders take place in Toronto, their existence becomes harder to hide. All four of the fae main characters trying to help each other find the murderer will vie to be your favorite.
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