Culture

The 13 Best Books Coming Out In February

This month, we’re super into destructive friendships, an indie sleaze era-novel, and fresh takes on reality TV.

In the wise words of a recent TikTok I watched, we were put on this earth to look pretty and read books. Can’t argue with that! Read on for more of the books we’re most excited about in February.

Vladimir by Julia May Jonas - Avid Reader Press, February 1

In this darkly funny debut novel about impossibly charismatic academia elites, a popular English professor’s husband is under investigation at a liberal arts college for having inappropriate relationships with former students. (A tale as old as time!) Meanwhile, she becomes increasingly more infatuated with Vladimir, a hot, married young novelist who’s just arrived on campus. We’re hoping for chunky sweaters, Moleskins and pretentious reading lists!

Avid Reader Press

When We Lost Our Heads by Heather O’Neill - Riverhead Books, February 1

Opulence, destructive female friendships, high society, innocence vs. depravity, old-school repression, brothels? All the ingredients for a delicious piece of historical fiction.

Penguin Random House

Penguin Random House

Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century: Stories BY KIM FU - TIN HOUSE, FEBRUARY 1

Things get weird in this mesmerizing debut short story collection featuring 12 stories about macabre, beautifully dark images (not unlike a Lana Del Rey song) like a girl growing wings on her legs, a group of children who steal a haunted doll, and a runaway bride who encounters a sea monster. Think: sexuality, guilt, contradictions, drama!

Tin House

Tin House

Path of Totality by Niina Pollari - Soft Skull Press, February 8

Path of Totality is a gorgeous poetry collection that contends with the sudden passing of a child. Niina Pollari’s poems capture the specific, devastating feeling of fixation: not only on spurts of grief but on the small strange things you pay attention to in the wake of it, as if your brain can only hold so much.

Soft Skull Press

My Mess is a bit of a Life: Adventures in Anxiety by Georgia Pritchett - Harper Collins, February 8

Like many of us, TV comedy writer Georgia Pritchett (who’s written for all your favorite shows, including Succession and Veep), has struggled with anxiety her whole life. She went to a therapist, who suggested she write down a list of things that worried her. Instead, she wrote this book of essays that captures anxieties from wondering if the monsters under her bed as a kid were comfy enough to apologizing to the doctor to let him know she was in labor.

HarperCollins

HarperCollins

THE MUSIC GAME BY STÉFANIE CLERMONT, TRANSLATED BY JC SUTCLIFFE, BIBLIOASIS, February 8

Let’s hear it for an indie sleaze-era novel. After their friend commits suicide, three women go out into the world of 2010s Canada to California and back, where they navigate class issues, deep friendship, betrayal, a gender transition, and anti-globalization protests. You know, just millennial stuff.

Biblioasis

Biblioasis

THE NINETIES: A BOOK BY CHUCK KLOSTERMAN, PENGUIN PRESS - FEBRUARY 8

Gen X icon Chuck Klosterman is back, and this his time he’s vamping on the 90s. We’re interested to hear the takes from the man who surmised that Weezer frontman Rivers Cuomo (no relation to NY’s disgraced former governor) is devoid of the irony he purports to have. In his new book, Klosterman talks about Titanic, phone books, Oprah, and Alan Greenspan, and will include the painfully Klosterman line: “The video for ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ was not more consequential than the reunification of Germany.”

Penguin Press

Penguin Press

Be Here To Love Me at the End of the World by Sasha Fletcher - Melville House Books, February 8

This debut, surrealist novel from poet Sasha Fletcher is described as “a love story set in a bad dream about America,” AKA just another day in Brooklyn, the season and place in which this novel is set. Sam and Eleanor are a young couple using freelance checks to pay rent and making Alison Roman-level dinners while the world is on the brink of collapse: frequent extreme climate events, nuclear annihilation, and secret police, and a president whose about to make a wild announcement that’s certain to bring calamity. Sound familiar?

Melville House

Melville House

Nightshift by Kiare Ladner - Mariner Books, February 8

I can’t wait for this debut novel about female friendship turned toxic obsession, when Meggie decides to emulate Sabine by trading her hours to work the nightshift with her, throwing away everything good in her life to live alongside her otherworldly friend.

Mariner Books

Cleopatra and Frankenstein by Coco Mellors - Bloomsbury, February 8

A 24-year-old painter from England meets a wealthy 44-year-old while living in New York City on a student visa. They impulsively decide to get married to get her a Green Card — setting off shockwaves in their own lives and those around them. But we’re just as interested in the B-plot of the guy’s sister going on sugar daddy dates to support herself after she’s cut off!

Bloomsbury

Bloomsbury

Foreverland: On The Divine Tedium of Marriage by Heather Havrilesky, February 8

Heather Havrilesky’s advice column Ask Polly has helped readers answer everything from what to do about partners that refuse to change to where to put all the rage you carry. Now, the essayist is talking about marriage — exploring the aggravations, contradictions, small joys, and everything in between about an institution that feels like it makes less and less sense.

HarperCollins

HarperCollins

New Animal by Ella Baxter - Two Dollar Radio, February 15

Amelia Aurelia — a name I’ll forgive because of how good this novel sounds — is approaching 30, maintains lackluster relationships on the dating apps, works as a cosmetic mortician, and is preoccupied with the idea of adopting a snake. But when her mother unexpectedly dies, she goes to seek solace with her birth father in Tasmania and finds herself entrenched in the local BDSM community.

Two Dollar Radio

Two Dollar Radio

True Story: What Reality TV Says About Us by Danielle J. Lindemann - MacMillan, February 15

There’s too much to say about reality TV and its effects on our lives — from early reality TV like The Real World to the omnipresent Real Housewives franchise to the Kardashians to Trump. Here, sociologist Danielle Lindemann looks at it all from a scholarly view, laying insights with social theory to try to understand how this medium has defined our culture.

Macmillan