Need a new book for February?
Here’s a roundup of the new books by women being released in February, with a focus on women from historically underrepresented and underserved communities.
If you are curious about which books I focus on, see my Review Policy. These are just guidelines and I reserve the right to include (or not!) any books I see fit.
I’ll probably add to this list as I learn of others; if you have a suggestion, please place it in the comments below!
“I love An American Marriage, and I’m so excited for this book to be in the world. Tayari’s novel is timely, thoughtful, and beautifully written. Reading it, I found myself angry as hell, laughing out loud, choking up and cheering. A gem of a book.” – Jacqueline Woodson, author of Another Brooklyn and Brown Girl Dreaming
“An American Marriage is a stunning, epic love story filled with breathtaking twists and turns, while bursting with realized and unrealized dreams. Skillfully crafted and beautifully written, An American Marriage is an exquisite, timely, and powerful novel that feels both urgent and indispensable.” – Edwidge Danticat, author of Breath, Eyes, Memory
“Vibrant, complex, and refreshing . . . a soulful and hilarious debut.” – Booklist, starred review
“Effervescent.” – Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Charming, funny, and true-to-life . . . This deserves a place on every shelf, though it will not stay there long.” – VOYA, starred review
“An earnest, funny, and emotional story.” – Book Riot
“Beard has taken a project of momentous impact and injected a human element into it. […] This is approachable, intelligent, and highly satisfying historical fiction.” – Booklist starred review
“Fans of historical fiction will devour this complex and human look at the people involved in the creation of the atomic bomb. A fascinating look at an underexplored chapter of American history.” – Kirkus
“I fell head-over-heels with the darkly lush world of The Belles. A book to read when you want to be transported somewhere dangerous and beautiful, where nothing is as it seems, and secrets abound.” – Megan Shepherd, New York Times bestselling author of The Madman’s Daughter series, The Cage series, and the forthcoming Grim Lovelies
“The Belles is a powerful discussion about the cost of beauty and what we are willing to do for it. Dhonielle Clayton creates a world both lush and dark, with prose so delectable you will savor every word.” – Zoraida Cordova, author of Labyrinth Lost, The Circle Unbroken, and The Vicious Deep series
“The Body Is Not an Apology is a gift, a blessing, a prayer, a reminder, a sacred text. In it, Taylor invites us to live in a world where different bodies are seen, affirmed, celebrated, and just. Taylor invites us to break up with shame, to deepen our literacy, and to liberate our practice of celebrating every body and never apologizing for this body that is mine and takes care of me so well. This book cracked me open in ways that I’m so grateful for. I know it will do the same for you.”
– Alicia Garza, cocreator of the Black Lives Matter Global Network
In this powerful exposé, Bloomberg TV journalist Emily Chang reveals how Silicon Valley got so sexist despite its utopian ideals, why bro culture endures despite decades of companies claiming the moral high ground (Don’t Be Evil! Connect the World!)–and how women are finally starting to speak out and fight back. – Amazon
“Oloomi’s rich and delightful novel… crackles throughout with wit and absurdity… [Call Me Zebra] is a sharp and genuinely fun picaresque, employing humor and poignancy side-by-side to tell an original and memorable story.” – Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
“This fierce meditation, a heady review of literature and philosophy as well as a love story, is a tour de force from the author of Fra Keeler that many will read and reread.” – Library Journal
“An arresting exploration of grief alongside a powder keg of a romance.” – Booklist
Deeds Not Words: The Story of Women’s Rights, Then and Now by Helen Pankhurst
“Combining historical insight with inspiring argument, Deeds not Words reveals how far women have come since the suffragettes, how far we still have to go, and how we might get there. It is essential reading for anyone who wants to explore one of the most central and pressing conversations of our time.” – Amazon
“Within the deliberately fractured text, themes echo and time folds and unfolds. A spare, artfully constructed meditation on loss, both personal and national.” – Kirkus
“Verónica Gerber writes with a luminous intimacy; her novel is clever, vibrant, moving, profoundly original. Reading it made me feel as if the world had been rebuilt.” – Francisco Goldman
“Lest you forget that Zadie Smith’s output encompasses several masterful careers, please allow Feel Free, her new collection of essays, to remind you…Incisive and often wry…these pieces are as relevant as can be. They are reminders of how much else there is to ponder in this world, how much else is worth our time, and how lucky we are to have Smith as our guide.” – Vanity Fair
“An elegant, moving, thoughtful meditation on grief, friendship, healing, and the bonds between humans and dogs.” – Buzzfeed
“Quietly brilliant and darkly funny… [The Friend is] rigorous and stark, so elegant—so dismissive of conventional notions of plot—it hardly feels like fiction. Breathtaking both in pain and in beauty; a singular book.” – Kirkus, starred review
“Heart Berries by Terese Mailhot is an astounding memoir in essays. Here is a wound. Here is need, naked and unapologetic. Here is a mountain woman, towering in words great and small… What Mailhot has accomplished in this exquisite book is brilliance both raw and refined.” – Roxane Gay, author of Hunger
“An inspirational journey through black fashion in America from the twentieth century to the present, featuring the most celebrated icons of Black style and taste.
One of the few surveys of Black style and fashion ever published, How to Slay offers a lavishly illustrated overview of African American style through the twentieth century, focusing on the last thirty-five years.” – Amazon
“Harkup’s fun potpourri of science and history should prove satisfying to both science readers and literary aficionados.” – Publishers Weekly
“A lucid and entertaining book.” – Kirkus
“[A] witty, deep memoir [that] digs into the power and the glory of female friendships…Where to start unpacking the good news that Kayleen Schaefer broadcasts in her timely, nimble, essential memoir…Every page of this book has something valuable to impart about the necessity of fostering female bonds and tending them with the same care we give to our relationships with family, spouses, and children.” – Elle
“Fiercely argued and solidly grounded, this an excellent primer on understanding and resisting the common distortions about Appalachia’s past and present.” —Anthony Harkins, author, Hillbilly: A Cultural History of an American Icon
Feb. 8 (for Kindle, hardback in April)
“[An] immensely readable suffragette epic, with its full cast of the charismatic stars, character actors and the vast chorus who bravely and ingeniously dedicated–and risked–their lives to achieve the first modern, militant struggle in twentieth-century political theatre…” – Rachel Holmes, author of Eleanor Marx: A Life
“Sophfronia Scott has written a book of truth and grace. Clear-sighted in every way, Love’s Long Line has much to teach us about family, about the challenges the world gives us, about the journeys we make toward forgiveness. This is a book for the mind and the soul.” – Lee Martin, author of Pulitzer Prize finalist The Bright Forever
“Built is a terrific book–a necessary reminder of the wonderful human ingenuity behind the world’s greatest engineering projects, from Roman aqueducts to London’s magnificent Shard, which stands on foundations designed by the author herself. Lively, informative and exciting, Built will inspire readers of every stripe.” – Erica Wagner, author of Chief Engineer
“Roma Agrawal’s Built is a book about real engineering written by a real engineer who can really write.” – Henry Petroski, author of The Road Not Taken: The History and Future of America’s Infrastructure
“Melissa Dahl provides a fascinating (and often hilarious) examination of the underdiscussed feeling of awkwardness. Her practical, penetrating insights reveal that understanding what’s ‘cringeworthy’ can help us understand ourselves better–and create happier lives.” –Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project and The Four Tendencies
“Khan demonstrates a superior ability to inject moving portrayals of the individual faces of an ongoing humanitarian crisis into a suspenseful story line.” Publishers Weekly starred review
“In her mind-blowing debut, Emezi weaves traditional Igbo myth that turns the well-worn narrative of mental illness on its head, and in doing so she has ensured a place on the literary-fiction landscape as a writer to watch . . . Emezi’s brilliance lies not just in her expert handling of the conflicting voices in Ada’s head but in delivering an entirely different perspective on just what it means to go slowly mad. Complex and dark, this novel will simultaneously challenge and reward lovers of literary fiction. A must-read.” – Booklist starred review
“Stunning. Kim Fu explores the lifelong ripple effects of tragedy, writing with wit, heart and precision. A cast of characters both flawed and fascinating. I was utterly transfixed by this book.” – Katrina Onstad, bestselling author of Everybody has Everything
“The characters in Kim Fu’s dark, deftly woven fable align and disperse like planets, bound in their separate orbits to a shared, definitive moment in time. Fu traces those orbits with a master astronomer’s care and observation, mapping in clear and rich prose a hidden universe of girlhood and becoming” – Michelle Orange, author of This Is Running for Your Life
“If you’ve ever wondered if all those Disney movies you watched as a kid really screwed up your adult life, this one is for you. Described by the author as “a self-help book for people who hate self-help books” Jen Kim’s Love And . . . is a hilarious and eye-opening journey through your muddled past relationships as well as Kim’s own, as she looks at the science and psychology behind why we love (or, you know, don’t) in the ways that we do. Just in time for Valentine’s Day.” – Bustle
A story about groundbreaking Iranian poet Forough Farrokhzad, this debut was described by Tayari Jones, author of An American Marriage and Silver Sparrow: “Written with the urgent tenderness of a love letter, this soaring novel is a heart-breaker and heart-mender at once—a gorgeous tribute to the brave and brilliant poet remembered in its pages.”
Who can argue with that recommendation?
My review will be coming soon!
“Lorena Hickok is a woman who found love with another lost soul, Eleanor Roosevelt. And love is what this book is all about: It suffuses every page, so that by the time you reach the end, you are simply stunned by the beauty of the world these two carved out for themselves.” – Melanie Benjamin, author of The Swans of Fifth Avenue
“So rich they read like dreams—or, more often, nightmares—the nine stories in Sachdeva’s otherworldly debut center upon the unforgiving forces that determine the shape of our lives. . . . A strikingly unified collection, with each story reading like a poem, or a fable, staring into the unknowable. . . . They are enormous stories, not in length but in ambition, each an entirely new, unsparing world. Beautiful, draining—and entirely unforgettable.” – Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“The nine stories in Sachdeva’s intriguing debut collection raise challenging questions about human responses to short-circuited desires. . . . These inventive stories will challenge readers to rethink how people cope with thwarted hopes.” – Publishers Weekly
When Hazel Johnson and Mari McCray met at church bingo in 1963, it was love at first sight. Forced apart by their families and society, Hazel and Mari both married young men and had families. Decades later, now in their mid-’60s, Hazel and Mari reunite again at a church bingo hall. Realizing their love for each other is still alive, what these grandmothers do next takes absolute strength and courage. – Amazon
Melissa Harris Perry says: “I was waiting for an author who wouldn’t forget, ignore, or erase us black girls as they told their own story…I was waiting and she has come–in Brittney Cooper.”
Michael Eric Dyson says: “Cooper may be the boldest young feminist writing today. Her critique is sharp, her love of Black people and Black culture is deep, and she will make you laugh out loud.”
The Golden Hairpin by Qinghan Cece
In ancient China, history, vengeance, and murder collide for a female sleuth.
At thirteen, investigative prodigy Huang Zixia had already proved herself by aiding her father in solving confounding crimes. At seventeen, she’s on the run, accused of murdering her family to escape an arranged marriage. Driven by a single-minded pursuit, she must use her skills to unmask the real killer…and clear her name. – Amazon
“Powerful and heart-wrenching, Krystal Sital’s beautifully written memoir, Secrets We Kept, details her family history on Trinidad, as her grandmother and mother finally unleash their voices to uncover the brutal truth of who her grandfather truly was.”
– Jean Kwok, author of Mambo in Chinatown and Girl in Translation
Freedom’s Dance: Social Aid and Pleasure Clubs in New Orleans by Karen Celestan
Freedom’s Dance provides a photographic and textual overview of the social, aid and pleasure club (SAPC) parade culture in New Orleans, tracking its origins in African traditions and subsequent development in Black New Orleans culture. Containing over 175 photographs by Eric Waters, Freedom’s Dance offers the first complete look at the SAPC Second Line tradition, ranging from ideological approaches to the contributions of musicians, development of specific rituals by various clubs, and parade accessories such as elaborately decorated fans and sashes. – Amazon
“A Girl Like That is unlike any YA book I’ve ever read: a fascinating and disturbing glance into the gender discrimination and double-standards as seen through the eyes of a teenage girl in Saudi Arabia. It raised awareness for me, and is certain to inspire discussion and raise questions about equality, justice, and basic human rights.” – Jodi Picoult, #1 NYT Bestselling Author of Small Great Things and Leaving Time
“Is it wrong that I wanted to underline every single word in this book? Simmons brilliantly crystallizes contemporary girls’ dilemma: the way old expectations and new imperatives collide; how a narrow, virtually unattainable vision of ‘success’ comes at the expense of self-worth and well-being. Enough As She is a must-read, not only for its diagnosis of the issues but for its insightful, useful strategies on how to address them.” – Peggy Orenstein, author of Girls & Sex
“If not you, then who? If not now, then when? We need more women to speak up and make their voices heard. Young women have valuable experiences and perspectives. We need you in this fight.” Senator Elizabeth Warren, from a Girl’s Guide to Joining the Resistance
“I know what it means to work really hard to conceal the pain, struggle, and heartache in one’s life, to appear ‘fine’ just for the sake of other people. Because the reality of my life might have made others momentarily uncomfortable, I’d hide my own discomfort. It’s a hard habit to break and one that women have become adept at, one that is reinforced in the way our society treats, talks about, and engages with women who are ill or struggling. Thank you, Michele, for freeing us from the burden of being fine and shining a light on all the hidden pain women have been working so hard to conceal.” – Nora McInerny, podcast host for Terrible, Thanks for Asking and author of It’s Okay to Laugh
“…a nonfiction book of deeply personal essays by marginalised people operating at the intersection of feminism, witchcraft, and resistance to summon power and become fearsome in a world that would prefer them afraid. With contributions from twenty witchy femmes, queer conjurers, and magical rebels, BECOMING DANGEROUS is a book of intelligent and challenging essays that will resonate with anyone who’s ever looked for answers outside the typical places.” – Fiction & Feeling
Uncertain of the exact release date but pre-order yours soon!
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