39 Books We Can’t Wait to Read: February 2024

Cover of 39 Books We Can’t Wait to Read: February 2024



The Young of Other Animals by Chris Cander – February 1 (Little A)

The Young of Other Animals is chilling, moving, and urgent, one of those books that demands your full attention until you’ve finished the very last page. Chris Cander’s propulsive, beautifully layered prose tackles cycles of violence and the complicated shame of survival, but this is also a story full of hope–a novel about resiliency, growing up, mothers and daughters, and above all, the way women love and care for one another.” –Kimberly King Parsons, National Book Award-nominated author of Black Light


Almost Surely Dead by Amina Akhtar – February 1 (Mindy’s Book Studio)

“Amina Akhtar isn’t a writer; she’s a word magician, a wonderful comedian who juggles the darkest themes and the ugly things that make us human, the young, smart, fashion-savvy auntie who knows where the bodies are buried and reminds you to call your mom. And she keeps getting better with every book. Almost Surely Dead is a witty, wildly entertaining novel that dips its toes in the supernatural while delivering social commentary, highlighting the realities of the Pakistani diaspora, and dancing with the ghosts and superstitions we all carry in our blood. Don’t miss it.” –Gabino Iglesias, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of The Devil Takes You Home


Still Alive by LJ Pemberton – February 6 (Malarkey Books)

“Here is the highest compliment I can pay a fellow artist—when I reached the last page, the last line, the final word of LJ Pemberton’s Still Alive, it was enough. A love story rendered in a pointillism so wholly convincing it might as well be photo-realism and with just that remove — “It is a comedy, youth” “it is easier to admit how sad I am if I call myself a fool” — that allows us to near the flame and have our own wounds cauterized, not burned. Like watching a skilled surgeon tend to those wounds — figuring out “what is a cut and what is just blood” — and not know which it is that commands the attention, the hurt or the healing. This is what it’s like when, sometime between getting out of bed and returning to it, you encounter a work of art. This is what it’s like when someone else’s truth reads like your own. This is what it’s like to feel less alone.” —Guillermo Stitch, author of Lake of Urine


Corey Fah Does Social Mobility by Isabel Waidner – February 6 (Graywolf Press)

This is the story of Corey Fah, a writer who has hit the literary jackpot: their novel has just won the prize for the Fictionalization of Social Evils. But the actual trophy, and with it the funds, hovers peskily out of reach. Neon-beige, with UFO-like qualities, the elusive trophy leads Corey, with their partner Drew and eight-legged companion Bambi Pavok, on a spectacular quest through their childhood in the Forest and an unlikely stint on reality TV. Navigating those twin horrors, along with wormholes and time loops, Corey learns–the hard way–the difference between a prize and a gift.


Ways and Means by Daniel Lefferts – February 6 (Overlook Press)

Ways and Means is wise, funny, ribald, and suspenseful. Daniel Lefferts moves beautifully through narrative modes, including lavish, obscenely hilarious description, nuanced psychological portraiture, and, when the time is right, propulsive thrillerdom. A love story, a satire, a noir, and a cautionary tale, this novel is a terrific debut.” — SAM LIPSYTE, author of The Ask and No One Left to Come Looking for You


Trondheim by Cormac James – February 6 (Bellevue Literary Press)

A son’s collapse pulls his two mothers together and apart in a novel that probes the limits of love, hope, and forgiveness. In Norway, thousands of miles from home, a student drops dead on the street. A passerby revives his heart, but he remains in a coma from which he may never wake. His mothers rush across the continent to his bedside where they endure the strain of helpless waiting. As the tense hospital vigil continues day after day and they vacillate between extremes of hope, fear, and psychic pain, their troubled relationship is pushed to the edge. A profound exploration of a family in crisis, Trondheim portrays the way each woman copes with the looming tragedy and the possibility of healing in the wake of a life-altering emergency.


Antiquity by Hanna Johansson – February 6 (Catapult)

“In Antiquity, Hanna Johansson probes the most forbidden recesses of desire, aging, and memory in sentences as lucent and incisive as shards of glass. Wily, mesmeric, and utterly disarming, this fabulously translated novel held me captive from the very first page, and its questions and images will linger in my blood for a long time. Rarely have I felt so transported and beguiled by a book, let alone a debut. Don’t miss it.” –Maggie Millner, author of Couplets: A Love Story


Greta & Valdin by Rebecca K. Reilly – February 6 (Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster)

Greta & Valdin feels somehow totally new and beautifully familiar at the same time, like the kind of book you’ve been longing to read your whole life. Part comedy of manners, part family epic and all contained within a compulsive, charming clutch of pages we couldn’t put down. Both ruthless and hilarious, offering hope and a wink for queer romantics everywhere.” –Mikaella Clements and Onjuli Datta, authors of The View Was Exhausting


The Blueprint by Rae Giana Rashad – February 13 (Harper)

The Blueprint is an astounding work, an unflinching portrait of misogyny and racism in a speculative world terrifyingly close to our own. Rae Giana Rashad chronicles the generational ghosts of womanhood, and how we understand ourselves through the stories of those we come from, in a way I’ve never read before. A remarkable new talent, and a timeless literary voice.” — Ashley Audrain, New York Times bestselling author of The Push


Acts of Forgiveness by Maura Cheeks – February 13 (Ballantine Books)

Acts of Forgiveness is the rare novel that lays out a hypothetical public policy and its attendant bureaucracy, weaving a story about family with an imaginative yet realistic exploration of what reparations might look like–what might be missed and what might be achieved. But above all it is a story about family, with all the challenge, ambiguity, interconnection, obligation, and love the term carries. A generous, thoughtful, and thought-provoking novel about inheritance in all its forms.”–Lydia Kiesling, author of The Golden State


The Book of Love by Kelly Link – February 13 (Random House)

The Book of Love showcases Kelly Link at the height of her powers, channeling potent magic and attuned to all varieties of love–from friendship to romance to abiding family ties–with her trademark compassion, wit, and literary derring-do. Readers will find joy (and a little terror) and an affirmation that love goes on, even when we cannot.


I Love You So Much It’s Killing Us Both by Mariah Stovall – February 13 (Soft Skull)

“Mariah Stovall’s prose sounds like driving in a car with your best friend, volume up high on your favorite song. I Love You So Much . . . resurrected feelings I had almost forgotten about what it means to be young in a hard, and nonetheless beautiful, world.” –Vauhini Vara, author of the Pulitzer Prize finalist The Immortal King Rao


Bugsy & Other Stories by Rafael Frumkin – February 13 (Simon & Schuster)

Frumkin’s latest book is a deliciously entertaining collection of five genre-defying stories that range from downright hilarious to brilliantly unhinged. Taken together, they celebrate a wide variety of human experiences.In the title story, a queer young adult with bipolar disorder drops out of college in a fog of depression, aimlessly drifting between maintaining their job at a fast food restaurant and dodging their mom’s texts. But when they fall in with a group of sex workers starring in BDSM films, they find radical freedom, love, and community. With incredible insight, compassion, and honesty, Frumkin unravels each story with tantalizing precision. Sexy and raw–and compulsively readable–this collection offers a look at our innermost selves as we all try to make sense of the world and our place in it.


The Turtle House by Amanda Churchill – February 20 (Harper)

“Spanning generations and continents, The Turtle House is a gorgeous, wise, and assured debut. Amanda Churchill sweeps us through the twentieth century to find, on the other side of war, grief, and isolation, the lasting comfort of family–of home.” — Julia Phillips, author of Disappearing Earth


Ours by Phillip B. Williams – February 20 (Viking)

“Phillip Williams’ Ours is a radical re-creation of our pasts. With a keen eye to historical detail and the expansive imagination of a poet, Williams has constructed a jewel of a novel, a deeply felt exploration of the strengthening ties and broken cords of kith and kin under the weight of complicated histories. In the uncertain future that awaits us, Ours illuminates a greater understanding of what it means to be human and the complex, tangled lives and afterlives of enslavement.” –Kaitlyn Greenidge, author of Libertie


About Uncle by Rebecca Gisler (Translated by Jordan Stump) – February 20 (Two Lines Press)

“Gisler fills each page with breathless and winding sentences that infectiously convey the narrator’s exasperation with Uncle, who acts as a deliciously disgusting foil, spitting when he eats, peeing in bottles, and forever shuffling around the house in dirty sweatpants. It’s a cockeyed yet authentic depiction of the relentlessness of family obligations.” —Publishers Weekly


The Villain’s Dance by Fiston Mwanza Mujila (Translated by Roland Glasser) – February 20 (Deep Vellum Publishing)

Following the international success of his debut novel Tram 83, Fiston Mwanza Mujila is back with his highly anticipated second novel, which follows a remarkable series of characters during the Mobutu regime. The Democratic Republic of Congo, otherwise known as Congo-Kinshasa or DRCongo, has had a series of names since its founding. The name of Zaire best corresponds to the experience of the novel’s characters. The years of Mobutu’s regime were filled with utopias, dreams, fantasies and other uncontrolled desires for social redemption, the quest for easy enrichment and the desecration of places of power.


Green Dot by Madeleine Gray – February 27th (Henry Holt & Company)

“By the time Hera finds out that Arthur is married, it’s already too late–she’s enamored. Gray’s writing skillfully captures the passion of their early trysts. The sex scenes crackle with energy, and the chemistry between Hera and Arthur is believable and seductive. . . A breezy, heartfelt coming-of-age story for Gen Zers concerned with how to grow up without growing cold.” — Kirkus


Violent Faculties by Charlene Elsby – February 27 (Clash Books)

A philosophy professor tests the limits of the soul and body by performing dehumanizing experiments on unwilling subjects, after the department is closed due to budget cuts. Violent Faculties follows a philosophy professor influenced by Sade and Bataille. She is ejected by university administrators aiming to impose business strategies in the interest of profit over knowledge. She designs a series of experiments to demonstrate the value of philosophy as a discipline, not because of its potential for financial benefit, but because of its relevance to life and death. The corpses proliferate as her experiments yield theoretical results and ethical conundrums. She questions why it is wrong to kill humans, what is it about them that makes their lives sacred, and then attempts to find it in their bodies, their words, their thoughts, and their souls–seeking foundational truths with a knife in her home office.


Wandering Stars by Tommy Orange – February 27 (Knopf Publishing Group)

“Here is something rare: a novel as generous as it is genius. The care coursing through these pages–care for people, care for art, care for truth–is nothing short of radical. Orange writes with a historian’s attention to detail and a poet’s attention to language, animating every passage with an energy that only he can conjure, transfixing and transforming. Wandering Stars is not just a book; it is a creature made of song and blood, multitudinous and infinite. This novel is alive.” –Tess Gunty, author of The Rabbit Hutch


The American Daughters by Maurice Carlos Ruffin – February 27 (One World)

“I knew from page one that this wasn’t going to be a typical journey through a familiar history. Wonderfully structured with a genius conceit, Maurice Carlos Ruffin’s The American Daughters is a thoughtful, courageous, exciting invitation to look beneath the surface–to uncover, peel back, find, and examine the hidden, lost, and missing fragments of the record, the recovery of which will lead us to discover the spirit of resistance embodied by our ancestors and awaken it in ourselves. . . . A splendid work.” –Robert Jones, Jr., New York Times bestselling author of the National Book Award finalist The Prophets


Pregaming Grief by Danielle Chelosky – February 29 (Hobart)

Evoking the spirit of Annie Ernaux — who in Simple Passion “experienced pleasure like a future pain” — the unnamed narrator of Danielle Chelosky’s Pregaming Grief seeks destruction to accelerate the inevitable. Whether hiding in abandoned buildings, behind the wheel of a speeding car, or writhing under a stranger’s body, the protagonist finds herself endlessly entangled in a series of escapades fueled by an adolescent lust for annihilation. After an intense love affair is eclipsed by her partner’s escalating addiction, she soon becomes infatuated with an older man who introduces her to a new world of music, wine, and affection blurring the line between pleasure and cruelty. Is this new relationship self-sabotage in disguise, or is it the cure?


Non-Fiction & Poetry 


Alphabetical Diaries by Sheila Heti – February 6 (Knopf Canada)

A little over a decade ago, Sheila Heti–the award-winning author of a string of modern classics including How Should a Person Be?, Motherhood, and Pure Colour–began looking back at the diaries she’d kept over the previous ten years, searching for signs of deeper change inside herself. She loaded all 500,000 words of her journals into Microsoft Excel, to order the sentences alphabetically and seek out patterns and repetitions. How many times had she written, “I hate him,” for example? With the sentences untethered from the narrative of her diaries, she started to see herself–and the Self–in a new way: as something quite solid, anchored by shockingly few characteristic preoccupations. Returning to the project over the years, something more universal and novelistic emerged. Alphabetical Diaries is the sublime and probing result–one that rises to the heights of artistry and insight for which Heti is rightfully acclaimed.


Home Movies by Michael Wheaton – February 6 (Bunny)

“HOME MOVIES gives the reader that experience that so many books try and fail at: the sense of real life streaming in front of you, both quotidian and remarkable. To call Michael Wheaton’s writing relatable does it a disservice; what he provides is depth and examination to the themes of life that we may recognize but too often take for granted: ambition, creativity, parenthood, love, fear, failure. It’s all here–honest, vulnerable and true.” –Lucas Mann


Exploding Head by Cynthia Marie Hoffman – February 6 (Persea Books)

This collection of prose poems chronicles a woman’s childhood onset and adult journey through obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), which manifests in fearful obsessions and counting compulsions that impact her relationship to motherhood, religion, and the larger world. Cynthia Marie Hoffman’s unsettling, image-rich poems chart the interior landscape of the obsessive mind. Along with an angel who haunts the poems’ speaker throughout her life, she navigates her fear of guns and accidents, fears for the safety of her child, and reckons with her own mortality, ultimately finding a path toward peace.


Get the Picture: A Mind-Bending Journey Among the Inspired Artists and Obsessive Art Fiends Who Taught Me How to See by Bianca Bosker – February 6 (Viking)

“Funny, whip-smart, and gorgeously written, Get the Picture will forever transform the way you see. In this engrossing book, Bianca Bosker crashes that most gate-kept of worlds, contemporary art. After embedding herself gonzo-style as a gallery intern, a painter’s assistant, a Guggenheim Museum security guard, and an art dealer, she shines a light on the art world’s foibles while investigating the transcendent role of beauty in our lives. Equally edifying for art lovers and novices, Get the Picture will send you into a torrid love affair with shape, texture, and color. I loved every word.” –Suleika Jaouad, author of Between Two Kingdoms


How to Live Free in a Dangerous World: A Decolonial Memoir by Shayla Lawson – February 6 (Tiny Reparations Books)

Poet and journalist Shayla Lawson follows their National Book Critics Circle finalist This Is Major with these daring and exquisitely crafted essays, where Lawson journeys across the globe, finds beauty in tumultuous times, and powerfully disrupts the constraints of race, gender, and disability. Through a deeply insightful journey, Lawson leads readers from a castle in France to a hula hoop competition in Jamaica to a traditional theater in Tokyo to a Prince concert in Minnesota and, finally, to finding liberation on a beach in Bermuda, exploring each location–and their deepest emotions–to the fullest. In the end, they discover how the trials of marriage, grief, and missed connections can lead to self-transformation and unimagined new freedoms.


Occupy Whiteness by Joaquín Zihuatanejo – February 13 (Deep Vellum Publishing)

Occupy Whiteness is an act of rebellion that reclaims spaces and highlights a history of erasure of Brown life. An unflinching look at the present day, the collection is haunted and blessed by the image of ancestors who braved the river and desert to travel into border states for the opportunity of freedom. These are poems meant to agitate and create unease, to make the reader realize that neither their author nor the immigrant children he describes are Other. Through poems and interspersed photography from the border, Zihuatanejo poignantly depicts this equally beautiful and brutal place we call home.


Ten Bridges I’ve Burnt: A Memoir in Verse by – February 13 (MCD/Farrar Straus and Giroux)

“Written against the sanitized aesthetics of decorous poetry, Brontez Purnell’s no-holds-barred collection, Ten Bridges I’ve Burnt, is an unapologetic–and always thrilling–romp through jizz, poetry fights, daddy (issues), coke, sex for money, and boyfriends of every race. In verse that is at once hard-edged, punk, and nakedly direct, Purnell refuses the terms of dour trauma porn in favor of playful irreverence, even as the poems go deep into the pain of life under hetero-patriarchal racial capitalism.” –Jackie Wang, author of The Sunflower Cast a Spell to Save Us from the Void, finalist for the 2021 National Book Award for Poetry


Entwined: Essays on Polyamory and Creating Home by Alex Alberto – February 19 (Quilted Press)

In these essays, Alex attempts to build two committed relationships at once when no one involved has done it before; develops a powerful bond with the woman their partner loves; sits through a tense Thanksgiving Dinner with religious in-laws; questions the need for rules and hierarchy in their relationships; experiences the intensity of a triad; wrestles with the fragility baked into the nuclear family after their father’s stroke; and explores their queerness and gender identity in English, in New York, while struggling to reconcile their newfound self in their native French-Canadian language and culture. Entwined explores the fuzzy lines between friendship, romance, and family with various essay forms, including a play, an advice column, and a love letter. Rather than wallowing in the throes of jealousy, this collection celebrates the hard work of creating a love life that resists conventional narratives.


Stellar Nursery by K.G. Strayer – February 19 (Quilted Press)

Stellar Nursery follows trans/nonbinary writer and artist K.G. Strayer’s struggle for bodily autonomy. From abortion to top surgery, colliding galaxies to cellular division, Strayer’s lyric prose explores what it means to move through the modern world in a contentious body.


Slow Noodles: A Cambodian Memoir of Love, Loss, and Family Recipes by Chantha Nguon – February 20 (Algonquin Books)

“Chantha Nguon connects to the joy of the sight, scent, taste, texture, and even sound of food, and when there is no food to eat she connects to the memory of food. In this potent narrative of unbreakable, inviolable, female power, each recipe is an act of grace, transformation, resistance, and reclamation.” –Alice Randall, New York Times bestselling author and winner of the NAACP Image Award for Soul Food Love


Splinters: Another Kind of Love Story by Leslie Jamison – February 20 (Little Brown and Company)

“In Splinters, Jamison offers a riveting portrait of rupture that is at once a page-turner about divorce, a romance about parenthood, a mystery of self after splintering, and a promise that however many times we break or are broken, art and love will never fail to mend us.”

–Melissa Febos, author of the National Book Critics Circle Award winner and national bestseller Girlhood


The Bloodied Nightgown and Other Essays by Joan Acocella – February 20 (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Joan Acocella, “one of our finest cultural critics” (Edward Hirsch), has the rare ability to examine literature and unearth the lives contained within it–its authors, its subjects, and the communities from which it sprung. In her hands, arts criticism becomes a celebration and an investigation, and her essays pulse with unadulterated enthusiasm. As Kathryn Harrison wrote in The New York Times, “Hers is a vision that allows art its mystery but not its pretensions, to which she is acutely sensitive. What better instincts could a critic have?” The Bloodied Nightgown: And Other Essays gathers twenty-four essays from the past decade and a half of Acocella’s career, as well as an introduction that frames her simple preoccupations, “life and art.” In agile, inspired prose, the New Yorker staff writer moves from J. R. R. Tolkien’s translation of Beowulf to the life of Richard Pryor, from surveying profanity to untangling in the book of Job. Her appetite (and reading list) knows no bounds. This collection is a joy and a revelation, a library in itself, and Acocella our dream companion among its shelves.


Grief Is for People by Sloane Crosley – February 27 (MCD)

“I have come to rely on Sloane Crosley for her oyster knife humor, bourbon hot observation, and indelible portraits of how we live with each other. Grief Is For People is about how we live without the ones we love. Crosley brings her whole self to this memoir–her gifts, her flaws, her intellect, her wit and emotion. She loves hard, grieves hard, and writes with the beauty and urgency of a white hot star. I wish I didn’t ‘get’ this book as much as I do but Grief Is for People is the book I didn’t know I needed to read.” –Tayari Jones, author of An American Marriage


Dead Weight: Essays on Hunger and Harm by Emmeline Clein – February 27 (Knopf Publishing Group)

“Electric with insight, and suffused with a strange, stubborn tenderness–a deep regard for what intimacy, hope, and resistance might look like in a world where women are taught to devote their lives to destroying themselves.” –Leslie Jamison, author of The Recovering


American Negra: A Memoir by Natasha S. Alford – February 27 (Harper)

“In her searing debut, Alford smartly and candidly examines what it means to be Black and Latina in America, and interrogates identity, class, race and success–on her terms. American Negra is required reading for anyone longing to understand the intricacies of intersectionality in this country, and be inspired in the process.” — Sunny Hostin, 3x Emmy Award-winning co-host of ABC’s “The View” and New York Times best-selling author


Isn’t She Great: Writers on Women-Led Comedies from 9 to 5 to Booksmart– edited by Elizabeth Teets (Read Furiously)

Based on Elizabeth Teets’s program series called “Isn’t She Great” at the Hollywood Theater, this anthology is a collection of the most beloved female-centric comedies and the audiences who adore them. From 9 to 5 to Romy and Michelle to the iconic Elle Woods, the essays in this collection build on our devotion to these films and continue the conversation around funny women and how these characters have shaped so many talented writers.



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