February 2023 Reads for the Rest of Us – Ms. Magazine

Each month, I provide Ms. readers with a list of new books being published by writers from historically excluded groups.

The aims of these lists are threefold:

  1. I want to do my part in the disruption of what has been the acceptable “norm” in the book world for far too long—white, cis, heterosexual, male;
  2. I want to amplify indie publishers and amazing works by writers who are women, Black, Indigenous, Latinx, APIA/AAPI, international, queer, trans, nonbinary, disabled, fat, immigrant, Muslim, neurodivergent, sex-positive or of other historically marginalized identities—you know, the rest of us; and
  3. I want to challenge and encourage you all to buy, borrow and read them! 

It’s February and in Wisconsin it’s grey, cold, snowy and dark. 

But it’s also sparkly, comforting, restful and reflective. 

Between the weather, the world and the whims of the astrological waves, I can hardly put cohesive sentences together! But I’ve focused my attentions and written you a column of books that I hope will help you feel your way through the month as you dream of blossoms and sun, springtime and fun. 

Enjoy these 33 February releases! 

Strange and Difficult Times: Notes on a Global Pandemic

By Nanjala Nyabola (@nanjalaone). Hurst. 224 pages. Out Feb. 1.

Among the first new books examining the global COVID pandemic, this collection of essays offers imperative reflections on Western responses that led to exacerbated inequities throughout the Global South in particular. 

Call and Response: Stories

By Gothataone Moeng (@onemoeng). Viking. 304 pages. Out Feb.7.

The stories in Moeng’s debut collection are grounded in her experience of life in Botswana. Focused on everyday life and families there, the book incorporates both unique and universal themes of relationships, infidelity, loss, sexuality, community, opportunity and love.

Choosing Family: A Memoir of Queer Motherhood and Black Resistance

By Francesca T. Royster. Abrams Press. 288 pages. Out Feb. 7.

The latest book by Francesca Royster will have you Feeling. The. Love. This insightful memoir celebrates the author’s chosen family, which includes her white wife and their Black adopted daughter, and illustrates the ups and downs of adoption, parenthood and queer, interracial relationships. 

Healing Justice Lineages: Dreaming at the Crossroads of Liberation, Collective Care and Safety

By Cara Page and Erica Woodland (@ebmore1). North Atlantic Books. 320 pages. Out Feb. 7.

Dorothy Roberts describes this as “an essential guide for all abolitionists,” and I need no more convincing. Get it, read it, live it, pass it on.

Hijab Butch Blues: A Memoir 

By Lamya H (@lamyaisangry). The Dial Press. 304 Pages. Out Feb. 7. 

This is an exciting and candid new memoir in essays from a queer hijabi Muslim immigrant who makes sense of her attraction to women through stories from the Quran. It’s being heralded as a new queer classic.

The House of Eve

By Sadeqa Johnson (@SadeqaSays). Simon & Schuster. 384 pages. Out Feb. 7.

If you’ve read Sadeqa Johnson’s other books, you’ll know her extraordinary talent for writing historical fiction that breaks the mold by challenging dominant narratives and encouraging readers to rethink their assumptions. Her latest offering is a powerfully moving story of womanhood, motherhood, race and redemption.

It’s Always Been Ours: Rewriting the Story of Black Women’s Bodies

By Jessica Wilson (@JessicaWilsonRD). Hachette Go. 288 pages. Out Feb. 7.

When Roxane Gay deems a book “necessary”, I take notice, as I did with Jessica Wilson’s ode to Black women’s bodies, health and wellness. A Black, queer dietitian and expert in disordered eating, Wilson invites readers to reflect, rethink, reclaim, resist and reimagine living a life of pure joy.

My Nemesis

By Charmaine Craig. Grove Press. 208 pages. Out Feb. 7.

Written by the outrageously talented Charmaine Craig, My Nemesis tells the stories of two women, their marriages and their deceptions. Brilliantly speaking to themes of gender, friendship, loyalty, perception and identity, this one will have you thinking.  

Our Share of Night: A Novel 

Written by Mariana Enriquez. Translated by Megan McDowell. Hogarth. 608 pages. Out Feb. 7.

This is the first novel written by Argentine author Mariana Enriquez to be translated into English, and it is getting all the accolades. It’s also a dark, dystopian, supernatural, queer, occult horror, so sign me up!

So We Can Know: Writers of Color on Pregnancy, Loss, Abortion, and Birth

Edited by Aracelis Girmay (@aracelisxgirmay). Haymarket Books. 320 pages. Out Feb. 7.

An anthology of true beauty and depth, So We Can Know explores the pregnancy, abortion, miscarriage and birth experiences of writers of color. Girmay has brilliantly assembled a moving volume of poems, essays and other contributions by Elizabeth Alexander, Cheryl Boyce-Taylor and more.    

Stealing: A Novel 

By Margaret Verble (Cherokee). Mariner Books. 256 pages. Out Feb. 7.

With this latest novel, Pulitzer Prize finalist Margaret Verble examines friendship, family ties and the violence of colonialism in this harrowing story of a Cherokee child stolen from her family and sent to a boarding school in the 1950s.

Sterling Karat Gold: A Novel

By Isabel Waidner (@isabelwaidner). Graywolf Press. 192 pages. Out Feb. 7. 

The U.S. debut of the Goldsmiths Prize winning author Isabel Waidner, this surreal satire is focused on a nonbinary migrant who seeks justice after being attacked and arrested. It is strange, powerful, witty, kaleidoscopic and well, a bit deranged in all honesty… in only the best of ways.  

VenCo: A Novel 

By Cherie Dimaline (Georgian Bay Métis) (@cherie.dimaline). William Morrow. 400 pages. Out Feb. 7.

Luckily for me, Cherie Dimaline—one of my favorite writers—has been exceptionally busy of late! Not only has she written this magical story centering witchy women everywhere, but she’s also got a haunting YA novel coming on April 4 (Funeral Songs for Dying Girls, Tundra Books) and she’s sharing a candid personal essay on Feb. 16 (An Anthology of Monsters: How Story Saves Us from Our Anxiety, University of Alberta Press). Just read ‘em all; I’m going to!

Where I’m Coming From 

By Barbara Brandon-Croft. Drawn & Quarterly. 184 pages. Out Feb. 7.

In 1989, Barbara Brandon-Croft was the first Black woman cartoonist to enter national syndication with her comic strip Where I’m Coming From. This beautiful book celebrates Brandon-Croft and her trailblazing work.

When Trying to Return Home: Stories 

By Jennifer Maritza McCauley. Counterpoint. 272 pages. Out Feb. 7.

Centering on Black American and Afro-Puerto Rican perspectives, these stories will beguile and intrigue. They are equally tender and sharp, gentle and defiant, delicate and resilient.

Read the rest of the list at Ms. Magazine