Our picks for the best books of February include everything from Marlon James’ African fantasy epic to Toni Morrison’s new essay collection. Exploring everything from interstellar politics to schizophrenia to wrongful incarceration, these 10 books (listed in order of release date) deliver stunning reads you won’t want to miss.
Binti: The Complete Trilogy by Nnedi Okorafor
Release Date: February 5th from DAW
Why You’ll Love It: Nnedi Okorafor’s Binti trilogy follows a captivating heroine’s journey through space, and the omnibus (complete with a brand-new story) is the perfect way to read this sci-fi epic.
Description: In her Hugo- and Nebula-winning novella, Nnedi Okorafor introduced us to Binti, a young Himba girl with the chance of a lifetime: to attend the prestigious Oomza University. Despite her family’s concerns, Binti’s talent for mathematics and her aptitude with astrolabes make her a prime candidate to undertake this interstellar journey.
But everything changes when the jellyfish-like Medusae attack Binti’s spaceship, leaving her the only survivor. Now, Binti must fend for herself, alone on a ship full of the beings who murdered her crew, with five days until she reaches her destination.
There is more to the history of the Medusae—and their war with the Khoush—than first meets the eye. If Binti is to survive this voyage and save the inhabitants of the unsuspecting planet that houses Oomza Uni, it will take all of her knowledge and talents to broker the peace.
Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James
Release Date: February 5th from Riverhead Books
Why You’ll Love It: The first book in Marlon James’ Dark Star trilogy kicks off an African fantasy saga that will keep you riveted from cover to cover.
Description: Tracker is known far and wide for his skills as a hunter: “He has a nose,” people say. Engaged to track down a mysterious boy who disappeared three years earlier, Tracker breaks his own rule of always working alone when he finds himself part of a group that comes together to search for the boy. The band is a hodgepodge, full of unusual characters with secrets of their own, including a shape-shifting man-animal known as Leopard.
As Tracker follows the boy’s scent—from one ancient city to another; into dense forests and across deep rivers—he and the band are set upon by creatures intent on destroying them. As he struggles to survive, Tracker starts to wonder: Who, really, is this boy? Why has he been missing for so long? Why do so many people want to keep Tracker from finding him? And perhaps the most important questions of all: Who is telling the truth, and who is lying?
Bowlaway by Elizabeth McCracken
Release Date: February 5th from Ecco
Why You’ll Love It: In her first novel in 18 years, Elizabeth McCracken delivers an epic chronicling the wins and losses that make up the average life. —Bridey Heing
(Read Paste’s full book review here.)
Description: From the day she is discovered unconscious in a New England cemetery at the turn of the twentieth century—nothing but a bowling ball, a candlepin, and 15 pounds of gold on her person—Bertha Truitt is an enigma to everyone in Salford, Massachusetts. She has no past to speak of, or at least none she is willing to reveal, and her mysterious origin scandalizes and intrigues the townspeople, as does her choice to marry and start a family with Leviticus Sprague, the doctor who revived her. But Bertha is plucky, tenacious and entrepreneurial, and the bowling alley she opens quickly becomes Salford’s most defining landmark—with Bertha its most notable resident.
When Bertha dies in a freak accident, her past resurfaces in the form of a heretofore-unheard-of son, who arrives in Salford claiming he is heir apparent to Truitt Alleys. Soon it becomes clear that, even in her death, Bertha’s defining spirit and the implications of her obfuscations live on, infecting and affecting future generations through inheritance battles, murky paternities and hidden wills.
The Collected Schizophrenias by Esmé Weijun Wang
Release Date: February 5th from Graywolf Press
Why You’ll Love It: Esmé Weijun Wang’s compelling essays highlight the humanity behind a schizophrenia diagnosis, delivering a necessary read tackling mental illness.
(Read Paste’s essay on the book here.)
Description: Schizophrenia is not a single unifying diagnosis, and Esmé Weijun Wang writes not just to her fellow members of the “collected schizophrenias” but to those who wish to understand it as well. Opening with the journey toward her diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder, Wang discusses the medical community’s own disagreement about labels and procedures for diagnosing those with mental illness, and then follows an arc that examines the manifestations of schizophrenia in her life. In essays that range from using fashion to present as high-functioning to the depths of a rare form of psychosis, and from the failures of the higher education system and the dangers of institutionalization to the complexity of compounding factors such as PTSD and Lyme disease, Wang’s analytical eye, honed as a former lab researcher at Stanford, allows her to balance research with personal narrative. An essay collection of undeniable power, The Collected Schizophrenias dispels misconceptions and provides insight into a condition long misunderstood.
The City in the Middle of the Night by Charlie Jane Anders
Release Date: February 12th from Tor Books
Why You’ll Love It: Set in the distant future on a colonized planet, Charlie Jane Anders’ gripping sci-fi novel is as much about toxic relationships, blinding love and otherness as it is about the danger facing the planet’s inhabitants. —Josh Jackson
(Read Paste’s full book review here.)
Description: January is a dying planet—divided between a permanently frozen darkness on one side and blazing endless sunshine on the other. Humanity clings to life, spread across two archaic cities built in the sliver of habitable dusk. But life inside the cities is just as dangerous as the uninhabitable wastelands outside.
Sophie, a student and reluctant revolutionary, is supposed to be dead, after being exiled into the night. Saved only by forming an unusual bond with the enigmatic beasts who roam the ice, Sophie vows to stay hidden from the world, hoping she can heal. But fate has other plans—and Sophie’s ensuing odyssey and the ragtag family she finds will change the entire world.
Good Kids, Bad City by Kyle Swenson
Release Date: February 12th from Picador
Why You’ll Love It: Kyle Swenson’s book investigates the true story of “longest wrongful imprisonment in the United States to end in exoneration,” delivering a powerful read about our broken justice system.
(Read Paste’s essay on the book here.)
Description: In the early 1970s, three African-American men—Wiley Bridgeman, Kwame Ajamu and Rickey Jackson—were accused and convicted of the brutal robbery and murder of a man outside of a convenience store in Cleveland, Ohio. The prosecution’s case, which resulted in a combined 106 years in prison for the three men, rested on the more-than-questionable testimony of a pre-teen, Ed Vernon.
The actual murderer was never found. Almost four decades later, Vernon recanted his testimony, and Wiley, Kwame and Rickey were released. But while their exoneration may have ended one of American history’s most disgraceful miscarriages of justice, the corruption and decay of the city responsible for their imprisonment remain on trial.
Interweaving the dramatic details of the case with Cleveland’s history—one that, to this day, is fraught with systemic discrimination and racial tension—Swenson reveals how this outrage occurred and why.
The Source of Self-Regard: Selected Essays, Speeches, and Meditations by Toni Morrison
Release Date: February 12th from Knopf
Why You’ll Love It: It’s Toni Morrison’s new collection of nonfiction pieces; what else do you need to know?
Description: Brimming with the literary prowess and moral compass that are Toni Morrison’s inimitable hallmark, The Source of Self-Regard is divided into three parts: the first is introduced by a powerful prayer for the dead of 9/11; the second by a searching meditation on Martin Luther King Jr.; and the last by a heart-wrenching eulogy for James Baldwin. In the writings and speeches included here, Morrison takes on contested social issues: the foreigner, female empowerment, the press, money, “black matter(s)” and human rights. She looks at enduring matters of culture: the role of the artist in society, the literary imagination, the Afro-American presence in American literature and, in her Nobel lecture, the power of language itself. In all, The Source of Self-Regard is a luminous and essential addition to Toni Morrison’s oeuvre.
The Art of Leaving: A Memoir by Ayelet Tsabari
Release Date: February 19th from Random House
Why You’ll Love It: Ayelet Tsabari’s emotional memoir-in-essays examines grief and the meaning of “home” while chronicling her travels across the globe.
(Read Paste’s interview with Tsabari here.)
Description: This searching collection opens with the death of Ayelet Tsabari’s father when she was just nine years old. His passing left her feeling rootless, devastated and driven to question her complex identity as an Israeli of Yemeni descent in a country that suppressed and devalued her ancestors’ traditions.
In The Art of Leaving, Tsabari tells her story, from her early love of writing and words, to her rebellion during her mandatory service in the Israeli army. She travels from Israel to New York, Canada, Thailand and India, falling in and out of love with countries, men and women, drugs and alcohol, running away from responsibilities and refusing to settle in one place. She recounts her first marriage, her struggle to define herself as a writer in a new language, her decision to become a mother and, finally, her rediscovery and embrace of her family history—a history marked by generations of headstrong women who struggled to choose between their hearts and their homes. Eventually, she realizes that she must reconcile the memories of her father and the sadness of her past if she is ever going to come to terms with herself.
Bangkok Wakes to Rain by Pitchaya Sudbanthad
Release Date: February 19th from Riverhead Books
Why You’ll Love It: Pitchaya Sudbanthad’s lyrical novel is comprised of interwoven stories across generations—all linked to one house in Bangkok. The result is an enthralling debut from an exciting new voice in fiction.
Description: A missionary doctor pines for his native New England even as he succumbs to the vibrant chaos of nineteenth-century Siam. A post-World War II society woman marries, mothers and holds court, little suspecting her solitary fate. A jazz pianist in the age of rock, haunted by his own ghosts, is summoned to appease the house’s resident spirits. In the present, a young woman tries to outpace the long shadow of her political past. And in a New Krungthep yet to come, savvy teenagers row tourists past landmarks of the drowned old city they themselves do not remember. Time collapses as these lives collide and converge, linked by the forces voraciously making and remaking the amphibious, ever-morphing capital itself.
The Good Immigrant: 26 Writers Reflect on America edited by Nikesh Shukla and Chimene Suleyman
Release Date: February 19th from Little, Brown and Company
Why You’ll Love It: This “collection of essays by first- and second-generation immigrants” is as engaging as it is necessary, especially in today’s political climate.
exploring what it’s like to be othered in an increasingly divided America. By turns heartbreaking and hilarious, troubling and uplifting, the essays in The Good Immigrant come together to create a provocative, conversation-sparking, multivocal portrait of America now.
Description: From Trump’s proposed border wall and travel ban to the marching of White Supremacists in Charlottesville, America is consumed by tensions over immigration and the question of which bodies are welcome. In this much-anticipated follow-up to the bestselling UK edition, editors Nikesh Shukla and Chimene Suleyman hand the microphone to an incredible range of writers whose humanity and right to be here is under attack.
Chigozie Obioma unpacks an Igbo proverb that helped him navigate his journey to America from Nigeria. Jenny Zhang analyzes cultural appropriation in ‘90s fashion, recalling her own pain and confusion as a teenager trying to fit in. Fatimah Asghar describes the flood of memory and emotion triggered by an encounter with an Uber driver from Kashmir. Alexander Chee writes of a visit to Korea that changed his relationship to his heritage. These writers, and the many others in this singular collection, share powerful personal stories of living between cultures and languages while struggling to figure out who they are and where they belong.
Four of the books above were also included in our list of the most anticipated essay collections of 2019, which you can read here.
What was the biggest selling book of 2019? ›
Bestselling books of 2019: cleaning guides and diet books hit big.
|Title||Pinch of Nom|
|Author||Kate Allinson and Kay Featherstone|
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens was the bestselling print book in 2019 at outlets that report to NPD BookScan.What is the number 1 most read book? ›
The Bible. Easily the most read book in the world is the Bible for obvious reasons. It is estimated to have sold over 40 million copies in the last 60 years. You can even find it at most hotels.What is the #1 book ever sold? ›
According to Guinness World Records as of 1995, the Bible is the best-selling book of all time with an estimated 5 billion copies sold and distributed.What book is number 1 in selling around the world? ›
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone is one of the most sold books in the world and the book that begins the most sold book series of all time. This wizarding journey of light and dark, and life and death, has inspired hope in readers of all ages.
Best selling fiction authors by estimated sales
William Shakespeare is listed as the best selling fiction author of all time having sold between 2 – 4 billion copies.
Dame Agatha Christie currently holds the title of the world's best-selling novelist, according to Guiness World Records, as well as the most-translated author in history.Who is the greatest author of all time? ›
- Leo Tolstoy – 327.
- William Shakespeare – 293.
- James Joyce – 194.
- Vladimir Nabokov – 190.
- Fyodor Dostoevsky – 177.
- William Faulkner – 173.
- Charles Dickens – 168.
- Anton Checkhov – 165.
The Prize was awarded jointly to Margaret Atwood for The Testaments and Bernardine Evaristo for Girl, Woman, Other. This was the first time the prize was shared since 1992, despite a rule change banning joint winners.What book copy sold the most? ›
- #1 – Don Quixote (500 million copies sold) ...
- #2 – A Tale of Two Cities (200 million copies sold) ...
- #3 – The Lord of the Rings (150 million copies sold) ...
- #4 – The Little Prince (142 million copies sold) ...
- #5 – Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (107 million copies sold)
What is the oldest book still published? ›
The oldest extant printed book is a work of the Diamond Sutra and dates back to 868 CE, during the Tang Dynasty.What is the most read book of all time? ›
The most read book in the world is the Bible. Writer James Chapman created a list of the most read books in the world based on the number of copies each book sold over the last 50 years.What is the most sold book in America? ›
Best-selling books in the U.S. 2023
The best-selling book in the United States as of the week ending March 11, 2022 was "Never Never" by Colleen Hoover with 38.56 thousand units sold. Hoover's books "It Starts With Us" and "It Ends With Us" followed closely behind that week in second and third place respectively.
The Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library holds one of the largest and most dynamic collections of rare books and manuscripts in the world. Its holdings draw hundreds of scholars, artists, and critics from around the world to the reading room each year.What makes a book a #1 best seller? ›
Books can be labeled as a "National Bestseller" once they've appeared on a bestseller list published in a national publication, like The National Post. An "International Bestseller" appears on lists across at least two countries. Books can claim "#1 bestseller" status if, you guessed it, they appeared in the #1 spot.Who has written the most books? ›
According to Guinness World Records, L. Ron Hubbard is the most prolific writer of all time. In addition to founding the controversial religion Scientology, the sci-fi author published 1084 works between 1934 and 2006. Of those works, more than 250 were fiction.How many books sold to be #1 best seller? ›
To achieve bestseller status on the Times not only do you have to sell at least 5,000 – 10,000 copies in one week, but these sales have to be diverse sales. That is, you cannot sell 10,000 books to a pre-existing list of followers through a personal website or thousands from only one marketplace like Barnes and Noble.What is the best selling album of all time? ›
Michael Jackson's Thriller, estimated to have sold 70 million copies worldwide, is the best-selling album ever. Jackson also currently has the highest number of albums on the list with five, Celine Dion has four, while the Beatles, Pink Floyd, Madonna and Whitney Houston each have three.What is the longest book in the world? ›
A la recherche du temps perdu by Marcel Proust
Despite being split into multiple volumes, Marcel Proust's A la recherche du temps perdu is considered the longest novel ever published.
Christopher Paolini was 18 years old when Eragon was published. Although other children have become published authors at younger ages, the Guinness World Records recognizes Paolini as the “youngest author of a bestselling book,” with his book selling more than 33 million copies.
Who is the world's youngest best selling author? ›
The Guinness World Records recognized Christopher Paolini as the "youngest author of a bestselling book series" on January 5, 2011.Who is the greatest American author of all time? ›
1. Mark Twain, 1835 – 1910. Without a doubt, one of the best American authors of all time is Mark Twain. Mark Twain is the pen name of Samuel Clemens, who had an interesting life during the 19th and early 20th century.What American author has written the most books? ›
The most published works by one author is 1,084 by L. Ron Hubbard (USA) whose first work was published in February 1934 and the last in March 2006. Comments below may relate to previous holders of this record.What was book publishing revenues in 2019? ›
The Association of American Publishers (AAP) today released the StatShot Annual report for Calendar Year 2019, estimating that the U.S. book publishing industry generated $25.93 billion in annual revenue, up by 1.1% as compared to 2018. In terms of units the report estimates that 2.76 billion units were sold.How many books were sold in 2019? ›
|Year||Number of print books sold by the year (million copies)|
During the pandemic, fiction book sales soared, jumping from 317 million units sold in 2019 to 347 million units in 2020 and 407 million units in 2021.Who is the richest book publisher? ›
- The largest publishing company in the U.S. is Pearson Education, with a revenue of $4.751 billion and a market share of 40% among all U.S. academic publishers.
- As of 2023, the global book publishing industry has a market size of $114.9 billion.
- At least 1.7 million books are published each year.
Most self-published authors sell 250 books or less, regardless of how many different books they write. Traditionally published books sell around 3,000 copies on average, with only 250 of those sales in the first year. It's rare that books sell over 100,000 copies and even rarer to sell more than a million.How many copies does a book have to sell to make a profit? ›
In the book's lifetime
By comparison, the average traditionally published book sells 3,000 copies, but as I mentioned above, only about 250-300 of those sales happen in the first year. For a traditional publisher to think of a nonfiction book as a success, it has to sell more like 10,000 copies over its lifetime.
OIF tracked 377 challenges to library, school and university materials and services in 2019. This is a complete list of book titles that were banned, challenged, or restricted during the year. Taking too long? Explore additional frequently challenged books by topic, genre, time, and audience.
How many books sell 1 million copies? ›
Of the 500,000+ books that are published each year, less than 20 books sell a million copies (and that includes fiction novels!) Upon hearing that, you might think your odds are 1 in 25,000… But your odds are even lower than that.Which age group reads the most? ›
People age 65 and older also spent the most time reading for personal interest. On the days they read, people age 65 and older read for an average of 1 hour and 47 minutes. They read 24 minutes longer than people ages 15 to 24.What is the most sold fiction book? ›
|SOURCE: NIELSEN BOOK SCAN|
|1||Da Vinci Code,The||5,094,805|
|2||Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows||4,475,152|
|3||Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone||4,200,654|
Amazon is the largest book retailer in the world with a catalog that includes more than 33 million titles, and they will ship them just about anywhere.How many books to sell to make $100,000? ›
To make $100k with those 24books, you'd need to sell 174 copies of each book each month. After the third year, you'll have 36 books published. To make $100k with those 36 books, you'd need to sell 116 copies of each book each month.How many books sell 100 000 copies? ›
At the top end, only 0.4% of books sold 100k copies or more. For a book to be commercially viable, it needs to sell over 5,000 copies. The more frightening statistic is that 86% of books published sell less than the magic 5k break-even number. The fact is, most books don't sell a lot of copies and don't make any money.