You might have a lot on your mind this February. It’s an increasingly busy time of the year, and it’s also a period where the overarching form of the year begins to take shape. Finding a new book to read in the midst of that can be a challenge — do you seek out something that’ll give you a new perspective on work or relationships, or would you rather take in something abounding with plot and atmosphere? Our recommendations for this month’s reading have a little bit of both, whether you’re looking for a deep dive into countercultural histories or a gripping trip into the uncanny.
Tamara Tenenbaum, The End of Love: Sex and Desire in the Twenty-First Century (Feb. 6)
The last few years have brought with them a number of memorable reads on questions of intimacy, desire and power — and The End of Love looks to be a compelling addition to that canon. Written by journalist Tamara Tenenbaum — who’s chronicled some of the issues covered here before — and translated into English by Carolina Parodi, The End of Love has earned some enticing advance praise.
Cookie Mueller, Garden of Ashes (Feb. 20)
In the later decades of the 20th century, a Chelsea Hotel-based publisher called Hanuman Editions published a host of memorable countercultural titles. Now, a new iteration of the press has arrived on the scene with new editions of several of Hanuman’s original titles. Among them is this collection from Cookie Mueller, whose work has been having a renaissance of its own with the 2022 publication of Walking Through Clear Water in a Pool Painted Black.
Wesley Stace (editor), Music Stories (Feb. 13)
Wesley Stace is a busy man. There’s his own critically acclaimed work as a musician and his wide-ranging bibliography, which encompasses everything from homages to Victorian literature to considerations of Bruce Springsteen. His Cabinet of Wonders live shows bring together a fascinating array of musicians and writers, and if that’s any indication of the curatorial spirit he’s brought to this anthology of notable authors reckoning with music, it’ll be an enthralling read.
J. Robert Lennon, Hard Girls (Feb. 20)
To read much of J. Robert Lennon’s fiction is to encounter a world where reality itself is malleable and allegiances are ever-shifting. (He also co-edited one of InsideHook’s favorite books of last year.) Lennon’s fiction has frequently shared qualities with noir, and so it’s not entirely shocking to see that his latest book heads deeper into the world of crime fiction — following two sisters seeking to uncover the truth about their mother’s disappearance.
Carrie Sun, Private Equity (Feb. 13)
What happens when a potentially lucrative job in finance turns out to have more ethical quandaries than expected? That’s the dilemma at the heart of Carrie Sun’s new memoir Private Equity, which recounts Sun’s time working at a hedge fund and struggling to find her place in the world. As Anna Wiener noted in a recent essay in The New Yorker, it’s a memorable addition to a growing genre.
Aisha Sabatini Sloan, Dreaming of Ramadi in Detroit: Essays (Feb. 20)
Over the years, Aisha Sabatini Sloan has amassed one of the most wide-ranging bibliographies out there, from a collaboration with her photographer father (Captioning the Archives) to an incisive recounting of traveling through Alaska (Borealis). This new essay collection brings together several of her interests into a single volume, chronicling everything from road trips to explorations of art and considerations of mortality.
Ajay Singh Chaudhary, The Exhausted of the Earth: Politics in a Burning World (Feb. 13)
Late last year, the New York Times wrote about Ajay Singh Chaudhary’s work as the founder of the Brooklyn Institute for Social Research, dedicated to — as per its website — “rigorous but accessible scholarly study.” That wide-ranging approach can also be seen in Chaudhary’s new book, which explores the effects of climate change from several angles — and ponders where we might go from here.
Is the Algorithm Inevitable? This Book Argues It’s Not.Kyle Chayka on the making of “Filterworld”
Kelly Link, The Book of Love (Feb. 13)
Over the last 20 or so years, Kelly Link has written some of the most memorable short stories in recent memory. Her most recent collection saw publication last year, to much acclaim, and now her first novel is set for publication. Link’s description of the book? “[T]hree high school students come back from the dead and find themselves up to their ears in various mysteries.” Interest piqued yet?
Tricia Romano, The Freaks Came Out to Write: The Definitive History of the Village Voice, the Radical Paper That Changed American Culture (Feb. 27)
Tricia Romano knows alt-weeklies. She spent eight years working at the Village Voice and later worked as the editor-in-chief of Seattle’s The Stranger — all of which makes her eminently qualified to write about the paper that is perhaps most strongly associated with the concept of the alt-weekly. At a time when underground newspapers’ histories are grounds for fascinating books, this should be essential reading for anyone interested in the Voice and how it helped shape culture.
John Oakes, The Fast: The History, Science, Philosophy, and Promise of Doing Without (Feb. 13)
We live in a time when fasting has become a hot topic — whether that involves going without technology or avoiding certain foods or drinks for a period of time. But what does the seeming increase in popularity of fasting mean for us and for society as a whole? That’s one of the questions that John Oakes asks in this new book, which takes a holistic approach to all things fasting-related.
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