The Best Fiction Books Of February 2017

by Melissa Ragsdale

It's so easy to get bogged down with the February blues. The good news is that no matter how dreary it is out in the world, reading lets us live full, adventurous lives. And with this month's haul of new fiction books, you certainly won't have a dull moment.

These books are filled with characters that you're going to love getting to know. Complicated inner lives are at a premium, and even the most action-heavy books on this list are also brimming with introspective ideas. You're going to come out of this reading with a fresh, new perspective on the world.

Plus, some of these books get deliciously dark. With the supernatural coming out to play, you never know what direction your characters might go, and what horrors they may find there. (But after all, aren't those often the best rides?)

We've got short story writers turned novelists, and novelists putting out short story collections. We've got space ships, mysterious VHS tapes, time travel, ghosts, and mysterious disappearances. We've got books that will make you cry, and books that will make you throw them across the room in nerdish glee.

February may be cold and gloomy, but as readers we have big hearts and big imaginations. So find yourself a new book to love and let's get reading.


'The Stars Are Legion' by Kameron Hurley (February 7; Saga)

Feminist space opera? Yes, please. For starters, there are only women in this universe, which is completely awesome. Plus, Legion is a fleet of world-ships in the midst of a civil war. When Zan wakes up with no memory, she's told that she's the only one capable of controlling the one ship that can get them out. Violent and imaginative, The Stars Are Legion is exactly the book you've been craving.

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'The Refugees' by Viet Thanh Nguyen

After winning the Pulitzer Prize for his book, The Sympathizer, Viet Thanh Nguyen delivers a collection of short stories, all written over a period of twenty years.

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'Swimming Lessons' by Claire Fuller (February 7; Tin House)

Ingrid writes letters to her husband about the truth of their marriage, hiding them in the pages of his library. After she writes her last letter, she disappears. Years later, her husband thinks he sees her in a bookshop, and their daughter, Flora, comes home to hunt down answers about what really happened. Beautifully written, this is a story that will fascinate you through the very last page.

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'Universal Harvester' by John Darnielle (February 7; Farrar, Straus, and Giroux

I've been on the edge of my seat for the next book by John Darnielle, leading man of the popular band The Mountain Goats. This book is set in a Video Hut in small town Iowa in the late '90s. When mysterious, creepy footage starts appearing on the VHS tapes at the store, Video Hut worker Jeremy begins to investigate.

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'All Our Wrong Todays' by Elan Mastai (February 7; Dutton)

Tom Barren's 2016 looks just like utopian paradise that the people of the '50s imagined — complete with flying cars. But after a time travel mishap, Tom lands himself in our 2016, which is a dystopian wasteland in comparison. But as he becomes connected to his alternative life, he must decide whether or not to set history back on course.

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'Pachinko' by Jin Min Lee (February 7; Grand Central Publishing)

If you're looking for a big, sweeping read to sink your teeth into, Pachinko is just the book for you. This novel follows a Korean family over several generations, beginning in 1900s Korea and following them as they immigrate to Japan. It begins when Sunja becomes unexpectedly pregnant, and discovers that the father is already married, leading her to make a desperate decision. Filled with delectable amounts of drama, politics, and history, this book will captivate you until the very last page.

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'Lincoln in the Bardo' by George Saunders (February 14; Random House)

The first novel from renowned short story writer, George Saunders, Lincoln in the Bardo is one of the most anticipated books of the year. Set two days after the death of Abraham Lincoln's eleven-year-old son, the book follows the president over the course of one night as he stays into the crypt to be with his deceased son.

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'Things We Lost in the Fire' by Mariana Enríquez (February 21; Hogarth)

This is a short story collection to get excited about. Often compared to the work of Shirley Jackson, Mariana Enríquez uses horror and the supernatural to make commentary on the harsh realities of life.

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'Running' by Cara Hoffman (February 21; Simon and Schuster)

Set in the red light district of Athens in the 1980s, this is the story of an American woman, Bridey, who has fled from her life in Washington and takes up with a British couple, Jasper and Milo. The mesmerizing whirlwind of a novel centers on their days working as hustlers in Athens, but also flashes back to their lives before.

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'A Piece of the World' by Christina Baker Kline (February 21; William Morrow)

Based off of the painting Christina's World by American painter Andrew Wyeth, A Piece of the World utilizes fact and fiction to imagine the full and complicated life of the subject of the painting. Set in the farmlands of Cushing, Maine, A Piece of the World follows Christina, a young, disabled woman whose only options are marriage or maintaining her family's farm.

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