The Lists

The Perfect Books to Read in the Month of February

What are the best books to read in February 2020? Well, dear reader, we’ve shared our top picks of 2019 and our most-anticipated new releases for 2020. We’ve also shared a list of the fantastic new book releases in February 2020. But if you still want more ideas, here’s our take on the perfect books to read that capture the mood of the month of February. Any February.

recommended reads

So many books, so little time! Reading can be one of life’s sweetest luxuries. But how to quickly find the next great volume to dive into? To lend a hand, every month we’ll share our Dandelion Chandelier Recommended Reads: books that we’ve personally read and loved – some brand new, and some published long ago. Selected to suit the season, we think they deserve a place on your nightstand. Or your e-reader. In your backpack. Or your carry-on bag. You get the idea.

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what books capture the true mood of february?

For some people, February is like the state of nature: nasty, brutish and short. Too far from Christmas, and too distant from spring.

For others, it’s a month of romance – of declarations and promises, hearts and flowers.

For those who love winter, it’s the best possible moment: right in the middle of the snow season, with fresh powder and fresh air on the menu. Others have flown south for the winter, and are happily basking like snowbirds in the sun.

It’s the start of a new year on the lunar calendar, and also the beginning of the liturgical season of Lent. In short, it’s a time of high emotion – anguish, euphoria, passion, repentance, despair, bliss. It can be a lot to take, this February thing.

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what’s the perfect read for the month of february?

So what’s the perfect read in February? Here at Dandelion Chandelier, we’re all in with matters of the heart this month.

We think the situation demands tales of those who have been fools for love – who’ve crossed deserts, or toiled in an orchard; who’ve waiting patiently (or impatiently) for years on end, or who’ve taken crazy personal risks. Stories of those who have thrown caution completely to the wind, all in the name of love.

Of course, somewhere in this mix there has to be a smart sexy romance, because of Valentine’s Day and all. There should also be love letters. That feels important.

But we’re not just talking about romantic love. A great February reading list should encompass as many types of love as there are in the world: platonic, familial, parental, sensual, patriotic, and even cerebral (after all, a meeting of the minds can sometimes be more difficult to find in life than a meeting of two hearts).

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perfect books to read in the month of february

Here are 10 books that pair perfectly with February: you can dip into these after finishing off a box of Valentine’s Day chocolates; or on your way to a date; or après-ski. They’d be good company on a grey winter day curled up on the sofa – or on a lounge chair at the beach. You could even read one instead of watching the Super Bowl – we won’t tell if you won’t.

Perfect books to read in the month of February. Courtesy Photos.

1. Dear Mr. You by Mary-Louise Parker.

If you ask us, the whimsical and delightful book Dear Mr. You by Mary-Louise Parker wins the prize for “most February.” It’s a series of letters that actress Mary-Louise Parker composes to the men, real and hypothetical, who have informed the person she is today. Some are love letters. Some are cries from the heart. It’s her first book, and it has the exuberance and freshness of an author finding her voice. It’s a fantastic read: funny, sobering, tender and warm — almost every kind of love is here, along with some resentment, disappointment and hard-earned confidence. What could be more February than that?

Perfect books to read in the month of February

Perfect books to read in the month of February. Courtesy Photos.

2. Night Boat to Tangier by Kevin Barry.

Night Boat to Tangier by Kevin Barry is one of the most beautifully written, atmospheric and intelligent novels we’ve read in a long while. No surprise, as it was named one of the 10 Best Books of 2019 by the New York Times Book Review. In a desolate transit terminal on the coast of Spain, two middle-aged Irish gangsters anxiously await a passenger who may be arriving by boat from Northern Africa. Or perhaps she’s departing.

“She’s a small girl. She’s a pretty girl.  Dilly Hearne is the girl’s name.” They repeat the refrain, plaintively, threateningly, sorrowfully, hopefully. She’s the daughter of one of these men. As they wait and wait, the two men recite and relive the consequences of their many sins. They’re broken in body and spirit. And yet, there’s still hope and fire in them. The prose is diamond-sharp and the atmosphere is tangibly misty and fogged with regret. This is a stunning read.

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3. Come with Me by Helen Schulman.

With a premise similar to the film Sliding Doors, Come With Me by Helen Schulman explores the life of a middle-aged wife and mother in Palo Alto who is struggling with a nagging sense of regret about a long-ago relationship and a lost child. Her husband, unemployed, has deep frustrations of his own. And their three sons face pressures and traumas all too familiar from today’s headlines. What would change if any one of them could go back in time and make different choices? Atmospheric, sexy, twisty and deeply moving, this tale is equal parts cerebral and emotional, and hugely enjoyable.

Perfect books to read in the month of February

Perfect books to read that capture the mood of the month of February. Courtesy Photos.

4. Winter by Ali Smith.

What could be a better read for the month of February than a book entitled Winter? Winter by Ali Smith is the second in the series of four volumes in the Seasonal Quartet by the Man Booker Prize-nominated author. While it’s set on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, it’s anything but warm and cheerful. This novel hit us like a snowball to the face – it’s hard, and cold, and demands one’s full attention.

Winter is filled with foreboding, and regret and a sense of an ending. There are absent fathers, crumbling houses, estranged sisters and displaced people. There’s even a benign floating head. As when one is hit unexpectedly by ice or snow, it takes a moment to recover one’s bearings. Because this book is deeply strange, deliberately so. But it’s worth all the hard work involved. Stay with it, dear reader. And just like being showered with ice, you’ll emerge from this novel as one does from the bracing cold. Fully awake. And fully aware of the need to stay that way.

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5. Eucalyptus by Murray Bail.

Eucalyptus by Murray Bail. Once upon a time, on a property in western New South Wales, a man named Holland plants hundreds of varieties of eucalyptus trees, then decrees that only the suitor who can name each and every one of them will be worthy to marry his beautiful daughter, Ellen. So begins a tale that poses several interesting questions, not the least of which is: how far would you go to win the love of your life? Atmospheric and evocative of Australia, you’ll learn a great deal about native plants — and even more about the inner workings of the heart.

Perfect books to read in the month of February

Perfect books to read that capture the mood of the month of February. Courtesy Photos.

6. Mating by Norman Rush.

Mating: A Novel by Norman Rush. A woman, a vast desert, and the man she thinks she desires more than anything in life on the other side of it. What’s a girl to do? She starts walking. The narrator of this heroine’s journey is an American anthropologist at loose ends in the South African republic of Botswana. Her PhD thesis has gone off the rails, and she’s become enamored of a charismatic intellectual who is rumored to have founded a secretive and unorthodox Utopian society in a remote corner of the Kalahari—one in which he is virtually the only man. So she sets out to find him. Smart, sharp and funny, this is a love story for those who generally don’t like love stories. And for those who generally do.

7. Bel Canto by Ann Patchett.

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett is quite simply, one of the best books we’ve ever read. The book jacket copy pretty well says it all: “Somewhere in South America, at the home of the country’s vice president, a lavish birthday party is being held in honor of the powerful businessman Mr. Hosokawa. Roxanne Coss, opera’s most revered soprano, has mesmerized the international guests with her singing. It is a perfect evening — until a band of gun-wielding terrorists takes the entire party hostage. But what begins as a panicked, life-threatening scenario slowly evolves into something quite different, a moment of great beauty, as terrorists and hostages forge unexpected bonds and people from different continents become compatriots, intimate friends, and lovers.” Patchett has gone on to write other brilliant novels — but this was the one that deservedly first put her on the map.

Perfect books to read that capture the mood of the month of February. Courtesy Photos.

8. The Improbability of Love by Hannah Rothschild.

We read The Improbability of Love by Hannah Rothschild on a rainy afternoon one February, and we think it readily earns a place on this list. It’s a hysterically funny and insightful look into the art world and the passions that fuel it, narrated by . . . a painting. A young woman is working as an assistant to two somewhat sinister art dealers when she purchases a painting in a dusty antique shop that turns out to be lost masterpiece. The painting chimes in regularly to recount its history, taking us from the glamour of a London auction house to a flamboyant eighteenth-century-style dinner party, and a modest home in Berlin. Food, art, romance and mystery — what more could one want in February?

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9. Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid.

A hopeless burning passion is the perfect basis for a February read. Which is why Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid is on our must-read list for this month. The author of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo returns with an “oral history” of a fictional 1970’s rock band, Daisy Jones and the Six. Daisy is beautiful, strong-willed and wildly talented as a singer and songwriter. Billy Dunne is the lead guitarist in a band that seems to going sideways. Until his producer realizes that putting the two together will spark an irresistible fire. 

He’s right, and the on-stage sparks are not for show. There’s an intense creative kinship between the two, who together write several songs in rapid succession that top the pop charts. There’s also an undeniable sexual attraction. The only problem? Billy’s married, and trying to stay sober. Daisy’s single, and deep into drugs. Suffice it to say, it becomes a bit difficult for them to work together. To be clear: we’re not aficionados of 1970’s rock and roll. But that didn’t turn out to matter. The romance and the tales of the road – the joy and agony of the art of song-writing – are riveting. And now whenever we hear Fleetwood Mac, we kind of get it.

Perfect books to read that capture the mood of the month of February. Courtesy Photos.

10. the fire next time by James Baldwin.

The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin. This incredible cri de coeur from a brilliant man might actually be the most powerful love letter ever written to or about one’s native land. First published in 1963, this iconic work consists of two “letters,” written on the occasion of the centennial of the Emancipation Proclamation. It’s an exhortation to Americans, both black and white, to attack the terrible legacy of racism – and Baldwin’s clarion call still rings true today. Consider this required reading.

perfect books to read in the month of february

There you have it. Ten books to fuel your February adventures. Pascal wrote: The heart has its reasons which reason knows nothing of. Perhaps this month the best plan of action is just to follow your heart.

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