5 alluring books to read in February

Experimental memoirs, a collaboration between literary greats and more

Opened book, pages shaped to form a heart
February is for book lovers
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Whether you're looking for a gift for your bookish Valentine or something to stimulate your mind, this month's book releases will not disappoint. Here are a few books to look forward to reading this February. 

'Fourteen Days' by The Authors Guild, edited by Margaret Atwood and Douglas Preston  (Feb. 6)

In what sounds like a bibliophile's dream group project, 36 writers gathered to collaborate on what The Guardian called "a spirited Decameron-style collection of shaggy dog stories and tales of lost love." Set in a Lower East Side apartment building at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns, a cast of neighbors trade stories to pass the time. 

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Helmed by editors Margaret Atwood and Douglas Preston, the contributors list is a who's who of the literary elite, including John Grisham, Celeste Ng, R.L. Stine, Tommy Orange and the editors themselves. The shorts are "both anonymous and not", The Guardian explained, "a list at the end of the book will tell you who wrote what, but within the text itself, you will have no idea." "Fourteen Days" is an "immensely enjoyable product of an immensely unenjoyable time," the outlet added. It is "lively, freewheeling and, with its skillfully paced denouement," The Guardian noted, "an impressive achievement." Preorder here.

'Alphabetical Diaries' by Sheila Heti (Feb. 6)

Continuing in the vein of literary experiments, with "Alphabetical Diaries" Canadian author Sheila Heti deeply delves into a decade's worth of her personal journals, weaving them together in alphabetized sentences. Heti started the project in 2014 in the hopes of rediscovering herself. She poured 500,000 words from her journals into an Excel spreadsheet, and the resulting list morphed into her forthcoming project. 

"With the sentences untethered from narrative, I started to see the self in a new way: as something quite solid, anchored by shockingly few characteristic preoccupations,"  Heti told The New York Times in 2022. Whether it is "considered a memoir or something else entirely," Time mused, Heti's latest "looks at how we see ourselves and how we'd like to be seen." Preorder here.

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

Award-winning journalist and The Atlantic contributor Bianca Bosker returns seven years after she released "Cork Dork," a deep dive into the wine business, with another gripping investigation, this time into the world of fine art. For "Get the Picture," Bosker spent years semi-undercover with "the 1% of cultural capital, in swanky Chelsea galleries and drug-fueled VIP rooms at Miami's Art Basel," The Washington Post explained. "Her goal is to figure out why contemporary art attracts so much money, status and (occasionally) talent."  She spent years doing grunt work in entry-level jobs in galleries and artists' studios, "so she could vividly capture the new class hierarchies in American culture and the subtle cues that mark cultural distinction," the outlet noted. 

This book has appeal for art enthusiasts and also the less informed. "Connoisseurs and neophytes alike will be charmed and captivated by Bosker's boundless curiosity and astute powers of observation," Publishers Weekly wrote. Preorder here.

'Ours' by Phillip B. Williams (Feb. 20)

Poet Phillip B. Williams's "transcendent" debut novel is "a surreal saga set in the antebellum South that looks at the complex nature of freedom," Time noted. After a conjurer named Saint wreaks havoc on Arkansas plantations, she establishes a safe haven for the formerly enslaved and their families just north of St. Louis. After decades of keeping the evils of the outside world at bay, the people living there "begin to worry that they’re experiencing a different kind of subjugation," the outlet added. 

"Ours" is a "gorgeously written, evocative saga of Black American survival and transcendence, blending elements of fantasy, mythology and multigenerational history," per Kirkus Reviews. The story may challenge you to "keep up with worldly and otherworldly happenings." Still, your attention will be anchored by "the rich characterizations and, most of all, the often-startling impact of Williams' poetically illuminated language," Kirkus declared. Preorder here.

'Wandering Stars' by Tommy Orange (Feb. 27)

Tommy Orange follows up his PEN/Hemingway-winning novel "There There" with what Publisher's Weekly described as "a stirring portrait of the fractured but resilient Bear Shield-Red Feather family in the wake of the Oakland powwow shooting that closed out the previous book." During a lecture at the Harvard Art Museums last year, Orange said his new novel would be both "a prequel and a sequel" to his first. Orange uses "incandescent prose and precise insights" to mine "the gaps in his characters' memories and finds meaning in the stories of their lives," Publisher's Weekly added. Preorder here

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