28 Reads for the 28 Days of February


In honor of our shortest month of the year, here are 28 Parnassus-staff-approved reads for February. Whether you’re looking for a big new novel, a series you can dig into for the rest of winter, mind-blowing nonfiction, or some poetry, your next favorite read is probably somewhere on this list.

(We’d love to say we did this on purpose, but honestly, our favorites just happened to total 28 this time. You know what? Never mind. We did it on purpose.)

Recommended by Karen

Golden State Cover ImageGolden State 

Golden State is set in a near-future where lying, even about the smallest thing, is a crime. Odd premise, but in the hands of the author who wrote Underground Airlines, it leads to a propelling and engrossing story.

Recommended by Katherine

The Last Romantics: A Novel Cover ImageThe Last Romantics

I love big, sweeping novels like The Goldfinch and A Little Life that transport me into the lives of characters so vivid that I keep thinking about them later. I was completely swept up by story of the four Skinner siblings, narrated nearly a hundred years later by the youngest sibling Fiona, a renowned poet.

Recommended by Keltie

Golden Child: A Novel Cover ImageGolden Child

Set in the lushness of Trinidad, and written in the melodic lilt of the island, the story draws you in slowly, and then, without warning, confronts you with the violence that lurks just beneath the surface. Ever wondered if your parents loved one sibling more? Here, there is no doubt about who is the Golden Child. If you liked A Place for Us, try this one. You’ll find yourself asking: what the h@#% just happened?

Recommended by Mary Laura

The Dreamers: A Novel Cover ImageThe Dreamers

If you loved Walker’s first novel, The Age of Miracles – a coming-of-age story set against the backdrop of planetary disaster — you’ll love this one, too. (And if you’ve never read the first one, now you have TWO great new reads!) The Dreamers is also about everyday people whose lives are upended by crisis; but this time it’s a mysterious illness sweeping through a college town. I stayed up past 1 a.m. to finish it.

Recommended by Mary Laura

Bowlaway: A Novel Cover ImageBowlaway

Elizabeth McCracken fans, rejoice! The novel we’ve been waiting for begins with Bertha Truitt, a mysterious woman who shows up one day in Salford, Massachusetts, with a bowling ball and a bunch of secrets. Bertha establishes herself among the locals and opens a candlepin bowling alley, which serves as the backdrop for this unusual and entrancing multigenerational family saga.

Recommended by Steve

We Cast a Shadow: A Novel Cover ImageWe Cast a Shadow

Set in an uncomfortably near future American South where overt racism has once again become the norm, this is the tale of a father, who is black, and who wants nothing more than to acquire enough money to “cure” his biracial son of the dark spots on his skin. It’s a witty and weird ride through thematic territory that might look familiar to fans of Friday Black.

Recommended by Rae Ann

The Light Over London Cover ImageThe Light Over London

Two compelling storylines intertwine in this novel set in London: a modern-day antiques dealer trying to solve the mystery of a box of mementos, and a WWII teenager who joins the Gunner Girls in the British army.

Recommended by Stephanie

Saga, Volume One Cover ImageSaga (Series)

I inhaled all nine currently available volumes of this incredible series over the course of two delirious days, and… wow. Saga has incredible writing, ambitious storytelling on a scale that’s literally universal, and Fiona Staples’ breathtaking art. Its readership should not be limited to fans of the genre (science fiction) or the format (graphic novel). This is an epic story with something for everyone.

Recommended by Kathy

The Wife Between Us: A Novel Cover ImageThe Wife Between Us

These authors have a new thriller out (An Anonymous Girl), but start with this last one, now in paperback. Whom do we believe? The ex-wife, the fiancée, or the devious man they both love? A page-turner to keep you guessing

Recommended by Rae Ann

The Weight of a Piano: A novel Cover ImageThe Weight of a Piano

This is a mesmerizing story of a piano’s journey — from 1962 Soviet Union to modern-day California — and the two families it connects. I loved it!

Recommended by Joy

McGlue: A Novella Cover ImageMcGlue

This short novel packs a serious punch. At first I didn’t know what had hit me until I realized that the disorientation was an integral part of the plot — because the protagonist is drunk for the entire book. It manages to be somehow high-minded and low-brow at the same time. If pirates, blood, and literary disillusionment are your thing, this little book is for you.

Recommended by Sissy

The Silent Patient Cover ImageThe Silent Patient 

I’m known for loving a good trashy murder mystery, but this thriller will also satisfy those who read on the more literary side. It’s beautifully crafted, not slow at all, with a thoroughly surprising ending.

Recommended by Sarah

The Hiding Place: A Novel Cover ImageThe Hiding Place

You can usually count me out for all things scary and sinister, so I wanted an accessible, engaging read with just the right amount of creepiness to begin my foray into the thriller genre. This was the suspenseful, twisting story I was looking for.

Recommended by Catherine

The Far Field Cover ImageThe Far Field

In this debut set in Bangalore and Kashmir, Vijay places the inner turmoil of her narrator amid the political and class tensions of her world so expertly you’ll completely lose yourself in the story.

Recommended by Kevin

The Fifth Season (The Broken Earth #1) Cover ImageThe Fifth Season (#1 — The Broken Earth Series)

After handing this book to every customer who entered the store at the end of last year and gushing praise until I lost my breath, it’s time to make my love for this series official. It earned an unprecedented three consecutive Hugo awards for three books, and the hype is totally justified.

And now in paperback…

An American Marriage (Oprah's Book Club): A Novel Cover ImageAn American Marriage

One of our First Editions Club picks from 2018 (not to mention an Oprah’s Book Club selection) is available in paperback! Catherine recommended this one last year and said, “An American Marriage is a story about love and marriage, but also about independence and becoming. It deals with injustice. It looks at the pressures that push us in one direction or another. It is a story about being a person in the world, but also specifically being a black person in America.” Pick up a copy in the new format!

Recommended by Betsy

Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love Cover ImageInheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love 

To concur with all the buzz: Inheritance will be my favorite book of 2019. I inhaled it in one sitting. On a whim, Dani Shapiro takes a DNA test and discovers that her biological father isn’t the father who raised her. What follows is the stormy and expansive process to integrate her newfound origins with her identity. To know who we are, must we know where we come from? Be prepared to lock yourself away and read.

Recommended by Mary Laura

The Collected Schizophrenias: Essays Cover ImageThe Collected Schizophrenias: Essays 

Graywolf Press publishes some of the best memoir-ish nonfiction on the planet. (See also: Paul Lisicki’s The Narrow Door, Belle Boggs’ The Art of Waiting, and Leslie Jamison’s The Empathy Exams.) Wang joins those ranks with her new account of living with mental illness. If you enjoy medical memoirs — or just beautiful writing in general — this one’s a must-read.

Recommended by Mary Laura

Dreyer's English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style Cover ImageDreyer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style 

Get this for everyone you know who writes anything, from memoirs to memos. Then grab another copy for yourself, read it from cover to cover, and go forth knowing your emails will be snappier forevermore.

Recommended by Keltie

The Last Whalers: Three Years in the Far Pacific with a Courageous Tribe and a Vanishing Way of Life Cover ImageThe Last Whalers: Three Years in the Far Pacific with a Courageous Tribe and a Vanishing Way of Life

You have to love an author who commits in a big way. Doug Clark spent three years living on a remote Indonesian island with a tribe of subsistence whale hunters, the Lamalerans. Never heard of the Lamalerans? Me, neither. But this story has me rooting for their survival. Filled with the dynamics of complex families, encroaching modernity, and the violent beauty of the hunt, this book had me at “Baleo”!

Recommended by Steve

Go Ahead in the Rain: Notes to a Tribe Called Quest Cover ImageGo Ahead in the Rain: Notes to a Tribe Called Quest 

Part cultural history, part memoir, part criticism, part eulogy, this book is like an all-night hangout session with a really smart friend. Abdurraqib writes about A Tribe Called Quest as a fan, but also as a thinker with a finely tuned sense of what’s at stake in their music. Brilliant.

Recommended by Keltie

Love in a Tuscan Kitchen: Savoring Life Through the Romance, Recipes, and Traditions of Italy Cover ImageLove in a Tuscan Kitchen: Savoring Life Through the Romance, Recipes, and Traditions of Italy 

In the spirit of St. Valentine, I recommend this sweet (and tasty!) memoir. Despite not speaking Italian, Sheryl fell in love with Tuscan chef Vincenzo over his decadent Hot Chocolate Cake. If you’ve ever had or ever hoped for a later-in-life BIG love story, this book will warm your heart. (Plus it includes a recipe for Lavender Ginger Biscotti that I sometimes dream about.) That’s amore!

Recommended by Sissy

High: Everything You Want to Know About Drugs, Alcohol, and Addiction Cover ImageHigh: Everything You Want to Know About Drugs, Alcohol, and Addiction 

This is the best combination of fact, memoir, science, and anecdote I’ve ever seen when it comes to addiction. A father and son discuss drugs and alcohol openly and frankly, and share just how explosive they can be when mixed with genetic or emotional risk factors. For parents and teens.

Recommended by Kevin

The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power Cover ImageThe Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power 

I’d been feeling guilty about chucking my sister’s new Alexa out the window into the backyard on Christmas morning, but then I read this book. Turns out smart-home tech is one of many “hooks” being used to collect unprecedented data about us — and for purposes more troubling than targeted ads. Zuboff reveals the disturbing underlying economic theory with beautiful writing and impressive scope.

Recommended by Andy

The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America from 1890 to the Present Cover ImageThe Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America from 1890 to the Present 

Treuer calls his book “counternarrative” to Dee Brown’s classic Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. He writes, “I came to conceive of a book that would dismantle the tale of our demise by way of a new story… making visible the broader and deeper currents of Indian life that have too long been obscured.” Treuer points out that more survived the massacre than died; this is their story.

Recommended by Andy

In the Company of Trees: Honoring Our Connection to the Sacred Power, Beauty, and Wisdom of Trees Cover ImageIn the Company of Trees: Honoring Our Connection to the Sacred Power, Beauty, and Wisdom of Trees

A beautiful book that illustrates how trees connect to our lives. Through stories, facts, and quotes as well as incredible photographs, Fereshte writes of rare, historic, and majestic trees from around the world — as well as some from our own backyards.

Recommended by Steve

The Twenty-Ninth Year Cover ImageThe Twenty-Ninth Year

As the title implies, this collection is a reckoning with time. It’s an almost recklessly lyrical procession of poems about coming apart and trying to make yourself whole again, whatever that might mean. Intense and rewarding.

First Editions Club: February Selection

The Falconer: A Novel Cover ImageThe Falconer

There’s something special about a debut novel. It’s a literary rite of passage of sorts; the author is making an entrance. The book is a product of years (if not decades) of hard work and creative energy, all wrapped up and bound as an offering to readers. An author publishes a debut novel only once, and while sometimes that leads to a lot of hype, who can help but get caught up in the excitement?

Thinking of the debut novel as a “coming of age” is especially apt in this case. Dana Czapnik’s poignant first novel, The Falconer, is an astonishing and unflinching coming-of-age story. I wish I could have read it in high school, yet it feels just as valuable now. Czapnik has created something timeless and magical.

So we at Parnassus are doubly delighted: to share this magic with you and to welcome a bold new talent to the literary family.

Yours in reading,
Catherine Bock
Inventory Manager

More about our First Editions Club: Every member receives a first edition of the selected book of the month, signed by the author. Books are carefully chosen by our staff of readers, and our picks have gone on to earn major recognition including the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and the PEN/Faulkner Award. Plus, there’s no membership fee or premium charge for these books. Build a treasured library of signed first editions and always have something great to read! Makes a FABULOUS gift, too. 

Parnassus Book Club — Upcoming Meeting Schedule  

screen shot 2019-01-15 at 1.08.39 pmFebruary – Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly (the 2019 Nashville Reads selection!)
Monday, February 11 at 6:30pm
Wednesday, February 13 at 6:30pm
Thursday, February 14 at 10am

March – Tangerine by Christine Mangan
Monday, March 18 at 6:30pm
Wednesday, March 20 at 6:30pm
Thursday, March 21 at 10am

Classics Club – The Moviegoer by Walker Percy
Monday, March 25 at 10am and 6:30pm

Are you a member of our store book club? Would you like to be? Parnassus Book Club and Classics Club meetings are free and open to anyone. Buy the book, read along, and join the discussion!

“It’s all about the book.” More thoughts on reading from Kathy Schultenover, Parnassus Book Clubs Manager:

“Reading is no good unless it is fun…the one quality I look for in books (and it is very hard to find). But I love that childhood quality of gleeful, greedy reading, can’t get enough of it, what’s happening to these people, the breathless kind of turning the pages. That’s what I want in a book.” –Donna Tartt

I’ve been thinking about this quote from a bookmark passed on to me recently by a book friend and what it means to me as a book club leader. I don’t think I always achieve this quality in my book selection — that of making readers feel the “gleeful, greedy reading” we all crave in our book club life. Sometimes I think I look for the literary fiction work that seems “appropriate” for a book club, and it doesn’t necessarily turn out to be a good read. Sometimes it’s hard to know what will make us feel “the pull of the book.”

Screen Shot 2019-02-02 at 5.10.05 PM.pngSunburn by Laura Lippman definitely fits that bill. We read it in the Parnassus Book Club last fall, and if your club hasn’t picked it yet, now’s a great time to consider this suspenseful psychological thriller that will have you trying to guess the truth about each character. The story involves two people with shady pasts and big secrets. After drifting into a small Delaware town one summer, Polly and Adam fall into a passionate affair. Their backstories and hidden agendas are slowly revealed as you begin to suspect that both people, despite loving each other, are capable of violence to get whatever they want. Elements of noir fiction — the femme fatale, the handsome suitor, the electric connection between lovers, the inexorable sense of doom — make this such an effective work of suspense. I strongly recommend this for a book club! You’ll feel the pull of “gleeful, greedy” reading, and you’ll love debating the choices Polly and Adam make as their love story plays out to its end.

Is your club part of our book club registry? Local book groups can order and purchase their club’s reading selections at a discount! Your club’s chosen titles are also displayed in the store on the book club shelf with the club’s name, so members can come in and find their selections easily. Registered clubs also receive notices of special book-club-related author events and seminars. To register a club, simply stop by the store and fill out a short form at the counter.

Want to meet the folks who write your favorite books? Check out the special author events coming up on our online calendar — click here!