New month, new books! Book Light is our Dandelion Chandelier curated list of the most-anticipated new book releases every month, and next up is February 2021. If you ask us, the perfect February read is wildly romantic, filled with the crazy things we all do for love – even the non-fiction should be more passionate than usual. So what are the best new books to read coming out in February 2021? Our intrepid team has been exploring and here’s what we found: new books, including novels and non-fiction, coming out this February 2021 that we cannot wait to read.
what are the most-anticipated new book releases for February 2021?
Wondering what to read in February 2021? We’ve surveyed the landscape, and rounded up a list of the best new books coming this February. It’s Black History Month, and as always there are a number of important new non-fiction books about the black experience in America. And in general, there are just a LOT of great new reads coming in February.
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new fiction and poetry
There’s a lot going on the world of fiction this month, including new novels and novellas from Chang-Rae Lee, Rachel Kushner, actor Ethan Hawke and Roberto Bolaño . February will also see the arrival of buzzy debut novels from Cherie Jones, Patricia Lockwood and Dantiel W. Moniz.
Celebrity memoirs and biographies continue their domination of the new non-fiction releases in February 2021. Mike Nichols and Norma Kamali take center stage this month. And there are also new books from Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N. Blain; Wharton professor Adam Grant; Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr.; Mark Bittman; and Elizabeth Kolbert.
the best new books coming in February 2021
Here’s our pick of the top new book releases of February 2021 – novels, essay collections, and non-fiction – that we cannot wait to read. You can pre-order them now if you like.
New book releases the week of February 2, 2021
1. My Year Abroad by Chang-Rae Lee.
The acclaimed novelist returns with My Year Abroad, a picaresque in which a Chinese entrepreneur takes an “average American college student” on a life-changing trip across Asia. In the aftermath, it takes years for the American who’s been abroad to process what it all means. It’s an exploration of “Western attitudes, Eastern stereotypes, capitalism, global trade, mental health, parenthood, mentorship, and more.” Sounds good! – Publication date: February 2, 2021
2. How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House by Cherie Jones.
Set in Barbados in a rapidly-gentrifying resort town, How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House is a buzzed-about debut novel. It’s a sweeping survey of how race and class affect us all. A young girl’s grandmother tells the story of the one-armed sister. It’s a cautionary tale, about what happens to girls who disobey their mothers and go into the Baxter’s Tunnels. Now grown, that same girl is now living in those Tunnels with her husband. They become witnesses to crime, grief and the gritty stuff of life – Publication date: February 2, 2021
3. Land of Big Numbers by Te-Ping Chen.
Land of Big Numbers is another debut – this one a collection of short stories. In it, we see portraits of the Chinese people in the current era. Some are part of the diaspora, others still live in the villages and cities of their birth. In a tumble of history, politics and raw emotion, we are witness to what it means to live in freedom – or not – Publication date: February 2, 2021
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4. Milk Blood Heat by Dantiel W. Moniz.
The debut story collection Milk Blood Heat depicts the sultry lives of Floridians. It examines themes of human connection, race, womanhood, inheritance, and the human capacity for cruelty. These are stories of ordinary people caught up in extraordinary and sometimes violent situations, and they’re already generating a lot of buzz – Publication date: February 2, 2021
5. A Bright Ray of Darkness by Ethan Hawke.
Actor Ethan Hawke is a polymath who also writes fiction. In A Bright Ray of Darkness, his first new novel in 20 years, we follow the story of a young actor dealing with a series of personal crises. His marriage is over, but he still hopes for a reconciliation, and in the meantime he’s drowning his sorrows in whiskey and women. The only steadying factor in his life is the theatrical production he’s working on. Could performing the role of Hotspur in a production of Henry IV under the leadership of a brilliant director actually save his life? – Publication date: February 2, 2021
6. The Removed by Brandon Hobson.
The National Book Award finalist returns with The Removed, a novel “steeped in Cherokee myths and history.” Fifteen years ago, a family loses a son to police violence. In the present day, they’re still grieving and suffering from the aftermath of this tragedy. With the family’s annual bonfire approaching—an occasion marking both the Cherokee National Holiday and their son’s death, the matriarch tries to bring the broken family members together. That triggers a set of inexplicable developments that seem to blur the lines between the living and the dead. And to prove how trauma can be passed from one generation to the next – Publication date: February 2, 2021
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7. We Run the Tides by Vendela Vida.
The author of The Diver’s Clothes Lie Empty returns with We Run the Tides, a story of friendship and betrayal. While walking to their upscale all-girls school in the pre-tech boom era in San Francisco, two friends witness a horrible act. Or do they? They vehemently disagree on what happened, and their rupture is followed by the sudden disappearance of one of the girls—a potential kidnapping that shakes the quiet community to its core. As the city loses its innocence to the dominant forces of tech and commerce, so too the young in this community find the scales falling from their eyes – Publication date: February 2, 2021
8. The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah.
The Four Winds begins in Texas in 1934. The Great Depression and the Dust Bowl era are ravaging millions of families, and the protagonist must decide whether or not to stay and try to survive. Or head West in search of better opportunities – Publication date: February 2, 2021
9. Fake Accounts by Lauren Oyler.
In the ripped-from-the-headlines novel Fake Accounts, we’re propelled into the life of a women who learns that her boyfriend is a potential insurrectionist. On the eve of Donald Trump’s inauguration, a young woman snoops through her boyfriend’s phone and makes a startling discovery: he’s an anonymous internet conspiracy theorist, and a popular one at that. She plots to end their relationship while traveling to the Women’s March in DC. Afterward, she decamps for Berlin and begins to spin her own web of subterfuge – Publication date: February 2, 2021
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10. Milk Fed by Melissa Broder.
The author of The Pisces and So Sad Today returns with Milk Fed, “a tale of appetites: physical hunger, sexual desire and spiritual longing.” A women on the borderline of anorexia decides to take an emotional detox from her mother, the source of her lifelong calorie-counting obsession. She meets a chubby and life-affirming young woman who works at a frozen yogurt shop, and she soon becomes a source of sustenance. And an object of desire – Publication date: February 2, 2021
11. Four Hundred Souls by Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N. Blain.
Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America, 1619-2019 is slated to become one of the most significant books of the year. Ninety writers come together to share the task, each of them taking on a different five-year period from the last four hundred years.
The perspective shifts from writer to writer, looking at history through the lens of historic icons, important places, laws passed, and the eyes of ordinary people. Together the sum of these parts tells the history of African-Americans through the past four centuries, while also rejecting the notion of a monolithic experience – Publication date: February 2, 2021
12. The Three Mothers by Anna Malaika Tubbs.
The Three Mothers: How the Mothers of Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and James Baldwin Shaped a Nation is the untold stories of Alberta King, Louise Little, and Berdis Baldwin. It’s a celebration of Black motherhood, and an account of how these three extraordinary women, born at the beginning of the 20th century, managed to raise three such extraordinary sons – Publication date: February 2, 2021
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13. Think Again by Adam Grant.
In Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know, the Wharton professor and author of Give and Take and Originals makes the case for building our capability to rethink and unlearn what we already “know.” In a world that’s rapidly changing, and in workplaces that are far more diverse, the ability to “embrace the joy of being wrong” and learning how to listen with the intent of being a lifelong learner could be the secret to professional success. And to personal satisfaction and engagement in society – Publication date: February 2, 2021
14. Animal, Vegetable, Junk by Mark Bittman.
Animal, Vegetable, Junk: A History of Food, from Sustainable to Suicidal is an ambitious social history that tells the story of how food – sourcing it, consuming it, manufacturing it – has shaped so much of humanity. From colonialism and slavery to capitalism and mass production, how we secure our food supply and what we eat has profound impact on society and the planet. Having made a wrong turn is costing humanity a great deal – this is an argument for a course correction before it’s too late – Publication date: February 2, 2021
15. Mike Nichols: A Life by Mark Harris.
The protean talent and incredible life story of the improv performer, director and writer is fully examined in Mike Nichols: A Life. The author interviewed 250 people, including his partner Elaine May, Meryl Streep, Stephen Sondheim, Robert Redford, Glenn Close, Tom Hanks and more. Winner of a Tony and an Oscar for the film The Graduate, Nichols led what seemed to be a magical life. But his harrowing childhood – born Igor Peschkowsky to a Jewish couple in Berlin in 1931, and sent to America with his brother on a ship in 1939 – remained both the source of his prodigious talents and a dark influence that he was never fully rid of – Publication date: February 2, 2021
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16. Share Your Stuff. I’ll Go First by Laura Tremaine.
Share Your Stuff. I’ll Go First.: 10 Questions to Take Your Friendships to the Next Level advocates that we all learn to be more open and vulnerable. Without that, it’s nearly impossible to overcome the loneliness and lack of deep friendship and connection that plague many people in an era of social distance and social media. Sharing your “stuff” – the messy details of your daily life – takes courage. But the rewards are significant – Publication date: February 2, 2021
17. What Doesn’t Kill You by Tessa Miller.
What Doesn’t Kill You: A Life with Chronic Illness – Lessons from a Body in Revolt is the harrowing story of what it means to live with a chronic illness. Diagnosed with Crohn’s disease as a twentysomething writer, Miller shares the somewhat shocking statistic that three in five adults in America suffer from a chronic disease (for example, arthritis, asthma, diabetes, endometriosis, multiple sclerosis or ulcerative colitis). Meaning that nearly everyone is touched by this in some way. There is still shame in admitting to being chronically ill and it can be isolating. This is an attempt to shine a light and to open up the conversation about what it means to live fully, even with a lifetime diagnosis – Publication date: February 2, 2021
18. Norma Kamali: I am Invincible.
For the first time, fashion legend Norma Kamali writes about her career and life in Norma Kamali: I am Invincible. At 75, she says that the secret to feeling strong and confident is to “age with power.” Meaning, eat healthy foods, exercise and always believe that our full potential can be reached at any point and any age. It’s a wonderful manifesto about how to live a life of purpose, style and joy – Publication date: February 2, 2021
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New book releases the week of February 9, 2021
19. Super Host by Kate Russo.
In what may be the first novel about Airbnb, in the debut work Super Host we follow the trail of Bennett Driscoll, a Turner Prize-nominated artist who was once a rising star. As he reaches his mid-50’s, however, his wife has left him, his paintings aren’t selling, and his gallery wants drop him. Those circumstances lead him to move into his artist’s studio in the back garden and list his house on the popular vacation rental site, “AirBed.” Three different guests change his entire outlook on life – Publication date: February 9, 2021
20. Bookish Broads by Lauren Marino.
In the illustrated volume Bookish Broads: Women Who Wrote Themselves into History, we’re treated to the profiles and life stories of 50 brilliant female writers, many of whom were overlooked or judged harshly when they were creating their body of work. Placing their writing in the context of their own time gives us a new appreciation for just how hard it was – and may still be – for a woman to write her own truth free of condemnation – Publication date: February 9, 2021
21. Under a White Sky by Elizabeth Kolbert.
The Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Sixth Extinction returns in Under a White Sky with an urgent and comprehensive assessment of the ways in which we might try to reverse the harm already done to our global climate, and to arrest the further development of climate change. In conversation with biologists, engineers, researchers and physicists she paints a wryly comic, dark and frankly frightening look at how time is running out for us to make a real change – Publication date: February 9, 2021
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22. This Is How They Tell Me the World Ends by Nicole Perlroth.
This Is How They Tell Me the World Ends: The Cyberweapons Arms Race is written by The New York Times’ cybersecurity reporter. And you might want to have a stiff drink before you open it. In it, she tells the inside story of a new global arms race that is happening out of our view, but which has potentially devastating consequences. Lots of us have considered cybersecurity an important issue – this work makes it clear that cyber is the new global battlefield. And that the U.S. may be seriously outmanned – Publication date: February 9, 2021
23. Between Two Kingdoms by Suleika Jaouad.
Just out of college and planning a new life as a journalist in Paris, a few weeks shy of her twenty-third birthday, the author receives a shocking diagnosis. She has leukemia, with a 35 percent chance of survival. Between Two Kingdoms: A Memoir of a Life Interrupted is the story of what happened next. After almost 4 years of hospitalization and grueling therapies, she embarks—with Oscar, a scruffy terrier mutt—on a 100-day, 15,000-mile road trip across the country. It’s a poignant examination of how we all move back and forth over the course of our lives between two kingdoms: the kingdom of the well, and the kingdom of the sick – Publication date: February 9, 2021
24. The Panic Years by Nell Frizzell.
The author of The Panic Years: Dates, Doubts, and the Mother of All Decisions has an interesting observation about the lives of women. “There is a period of profound change that many women face, often in their late twenties to early forties, that does not yet have a name.” It begins with a profound question that triggers a series of other queries: should I have a baby? Do I want a baby? With whom should I have a baby? How will I know when I’m ready? She calls this time “The Panic Years.” And she’s offering her life experiences as a guide to help young women survive them – Publication date: February 9, 2021
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25. Dress Codes by Richard Thompson Ford.
Dress Codes: How the Laws of Fashion Made History, written by a law professor and cultural critic, asking a series of fascinating questions about the impact of what we wear on how we are perceived. And how a dress code can become a powerful force for control and exclusion. Even if it’s an unspoken one. From the Middle Ages to present-day Silicon Valley, this is fascinating history of the mores, norms and assumptions about clothing and the impact that “fashion” has had on social movements, race relations, gender equality and more – Publication date: February 9, 2021
New book releases the week of February 16, 2021
26. All Girls by Emily Layden.
The debut novel All Girls follows nine young women as they navigate life at a prestigious New England prep school. Their typical adolescent angst over academic and social success are played out against the backdrop of a scandal. The school is hoping to keep its secrets, but ultimately they’re exposed. And the “girls” begin to see the world as it really is, perhaps sooner than anyone would have liked – Publication date: February 16, 2021
27. Cowboy Graves: Three Novellas by Roberto Bolaño.
In the titular novella of Cowboy Graves the author’s alter ego returns to Chile to fight alongside his comrades for socialism. The second novella, “French Comedy of Horrors,” is set in French Guiana on a night after an eclipse. A young man is recruited into a secret society that operates in the Paris sewers just because he happens to answer when a pay phone rings. And in “Fatherland,” a young poet reckons with the fascist overthrow of his country – Publication date: February 16, 2021
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28. No One Is Talking About This by Patricia Lockwood.
The acclaimed author of the 2017 memoir Priestdaddy returns with a novel. In No One is Talking About This, a woman goes viral on Twitter and then travels the world to meet her adoring fans. It’s not long before the protagonist is left to grasp the insignificance of the Internet as she is faced with unexpected and urgent challenges in her personal life – Publication date: February 16, 2021
29. Moms Don’t Have Time To by Zibby Owens.
In Moms Don’t Have Time To: A Quarantine Anthology, the host of the award-winning podcast Moms Don’t Have Time to Read Books, and the mother of four kids, shares her quarantine journey. If you happen to be a parent of school-aged kids, there’s a possibility that some of her travails might sound familiar. Good to know, we’re not alone – Publication date: February 16, 2021
30. The Daughters of Kobani by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon.
In 2014, an all-female militia faced off against ISIS in a little town few had ever heard of: Kobani. The Daughters of Kobani: A Story of Rebellion, Courage, and Justice tells their story. Drawing from hundreds of hours of interviews, we learn the riveting and inspiring true tales of courage and determination exhibited by the women of the Kurdish militia. They created international hope for ceasing ISIS in Syria – Publication date: February 16, 2021
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31. The Sum of Us by Heather McGhee.
Economics expert McGhee has written a book that is destined to break new ground. In The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper, she examines the ways in which racism is at the root of nearly all of America’s economic failures, ranging from the financial crisis to student debt. In order to demonstrate her point, she travels from Mississippi to California and counts the ways in which racism has cost both white and non-white people more than they ever could have imagined – Publication date: February 16, 2021
32. The Black Church by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
In The Black Church: This Is Our Story, This Is Our Song, the acclaimed professor of African-American Studies shares a new history of the Black church in America. The church has stood as the Black community’s abiding rock and its fortress for generations, and in this companion book to the PBS series that will run in February, we learn why – Publication date: February 16, 2021
New book releases the week of February 23, 2021
33. Infinite Country by Patricia Engel.
The author of Infinite Country is the daughter of Columbian immigrants, and in this novel she shares the tortured story of a divided family of five. Mauro and Elena meet and fall in love in as teenagers in Bogotá. Amid war and strife they emigrate to the U.S. with their firstborn child. Two more children, Nando and Talia, are later born on American soil. When the novel opens, Talia is being held at a correctional facility for adolescent girls in Columbia. Her father – who had been deported from America – is waiting for her in Bogotá with two plane tickets to the U.S. There, her mother and siblings have lived very different lives. Can a splintered family ever retrace its steps? And is Talia actually going to make this plane? – Publication date: February 23, 2021
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34. The Mayor of Leipzig by Rachel Kushner.
The author of The Flamethrowers and The Mars Room returns with her latest work of fiction, The Mayor of Leipzig. In which an unnamed artist recounts her travels from New York City to Cologne and Leipzig. In knowing asides, she breaks the fourth wall and speaks directly to the reader, noting this about artists versus writers: “people who don’t make stuff, who instead try to catalogue and understand art, they never understand the first thing. Art is about taste and a sense of humor, and most writers lack both.” – Publication date: February 23, 2021
35. The Blizzard Party by Jack Livings.
On the night of February 6, 1978, a catastrophic nor’easter struck the city of New York. On that night, in a penthouse in the Upper West Side’s stately Apelles, a crowd gathered for a wild party. Its host, meanwhile has hatched a plan to fake a medical emergency and toss himself into the Hudson River. Hazel Saltwater is age six that night. The strange doings during the blizzard irrevocably alter her life. The Blizzard Party is Hazel’s reconstruction of that night – Publication date: February 23, 2021
36. The Cinema of Sofia Coppola by Suzanne Ferriss.
The Cinema of Sofia Coppola: Fashion, Culture, Celebrity is eye candy for anyone who loves film, fashion and gorgeous scenery. Meaning, pretty much everyone. The author considers the central role of fashion – in its various manifestations – in Coppola’s films. She groups them into two categories. First, films where fashion commands attention (Marie Antoinette, The Beguiled and The Bling Ring). And second, those where clothing and material goods do not stand out, but are essential in establishing identities and relationships (The Virgin Suicides, Lost in Translation and Somewhere) – Publication date: February 25, 2021
37. Confident Women by Tori Telfer.
Confident Women: Swindlers, Grifters, and Shapeshifters of the Feminine Persuasion is exactly what the title promises. It’s a roundup of history’s notorious but often forgotten female con artists and their bold, outrageous scams. Proving, perhaps, that gender identification has no bearing on the capacity for criminality, and the skill with which the crimes are executed – Publication date: February 23, 2021
the most-anticipated new books February 2021
Those are our picks for the best and most-anticipated new book releases coming in February 2021. So many options to answer the pressing matter of what to read in February 2021! What’s at the top of your list? Whatever you decide, stay safe and strong, dear reader.
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