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Best Books to Look Out for in February 2018

Posted on 9th February 2018 by Martha Greengrass

Whether this Valentine's finds you loved-up, love sick, or simply locked away until the whole thing is over and done with, take comfort. Whatever your relationship status, these are the books to fall for this February.

When it comes to new reading, there’s plenty to get excited about in February, as usual headed up by a brilliant selection of our Books of the Month. This month, we’ve got the added thrill of the announcement of the shortlists for our own Waterstones Children’s Book Prize, rounding up the very best reading for all ages, just in time for half-term

We start with profound and powerful non-fiction writing which this month includes Steven Pinker’s much-anticipated new book, Enlightenment Now, (making the case for optimism in the 21st Century), The Last Wilderness, Neil Ansell’s return to the isolation in nature that inspired his bestselling book Deep Country, as well as a landmark publication in Wendy Mitchell’s poignantly reflective memoir – the first written by someone living with dementia – Somebody I Used to Know.

Our fiction choices cross continents and even - in the case of Stuart Turton’s brilliantly inventive debut, The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle - bridge the laws of space and time. We've welcome returns too, from The Dry's Jane Harper, back with her nail-biting new thriller, Force of Nature, and Mick Herron's Spook Street misfits in London Rules.

But February is of course, traditionally the season of romance and whilst we’ve plenty of inspirational books and gifts over on our Valentine’s page, it’s appropriate that many of our highlights this month also touch on the theme of love. As as in life, it’s a story that takes many forms: in Julian Barnes’s latest, it’s The Only Story, a life-long echo with devastating resonance, whilst both Sophie Kinsella’s piercing and witty Surprise Me and Amanda Craig’s  unnerving, blackly funny The Lie of The Land explore the many and unexpected ways people and love can change. 

There’s encouragement, too, to love and care for oneself, from Ruby Tandoh’s passionate refutation of the dieting industry, Eat Up (a book that reminds us of the true joy of food and its place in our lives) to Tara Westover’s extraordinary memoir of a self-made life, Educated.

Lastly, if you’re feeling on the sharp edge of love, Dolly Alderton’s laugh-aloud memoir, takes romance to task, combining her observations as a dating columnist with her own experiences to deliver Everything I Know about Love. A tonic of a read; it’s the kind of book you’ll devour and then immediately want to pass on to all your friends.

Non-Fiction:

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The author of The Black Swan is back, challenging long-held beliefs in his most provocative and practical book yet. Nassim Nicholas Taleb shows that skin in the game, often seen as the foundation of risk management, in fact applies to all aspects of our lives. Just as during the 2007 financial crisis, Taleb's book comes at precisely the right moment to make us rethink everything we thought we knew
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Raised in a religious community with no formal education, Tara Westover didn't step into a classroom until the age of seventeen. Educated is her account of the struggle for self-invention. With acute insight, she has crafted a universal coming-of-age story that gets to the heart of what an education is and what it offers: the perspective to see one's life through new eyes, and the will to change.
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If you follow the headlines, the world appears to be sinking into chaos, hatred, and irrationality. Yet, in a book described by Bill Gates as 'my new favourite book of all time', Steven Pinker shows that this is an illusion - a symptom of historical amnesia and statistical fallacies. A lively, engaging treatise that makes the case for an Enlightenment newly recharged for the 21st century.
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A hauntingly beautiful memoir on nature, solitude and hearing loss from the author of Deep Country. The Last Wilderness chronicles the author's experiences of being alone in nature in remote locations from the moorland to the Scottish Highlands; reflecting on the power of those places and the impact of being alone in nature, rather than outside of it.

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A spot-on, funny and sometimes heart-breaking book about growing up, growing older and navigating all kinds of love along the way from journalist and former Sunday Times dating columnist Dolly Alderton. Weaving together personal stories, satirical observations and a series of vignettes that will make you laugh until you fall over, this is early adulthood in all its grubby, hopeful uncertainty
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Brave, illuminating and inspiring, Somebody I Used to Know is the first memoir ever written by someone living with dementia. Philosophical, profoundly moving and ultimately full of hope, it gets to the very heart of what it means to be human. A phenomenal memoir, it is both a tribute to the woman Wendy once was, and a courageous acceptance of the woman dementia has seen her become.
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In Eat Up, Ruby Tandoh celebrates the fun and pleasure of food. She will arm you against the fad diets, food crazes and bad science that can make eating guilt-laden and expensive. Filled with straight-talking, sympathetic advice on everything from mental health to recipe ideas and shopping tips, this is a book that clears away the fog, to help you fall back in love with food.
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Fiction:

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Would you rather love the more, and suffer the more; or love the less, and suffer the less? A story of first love and lasting consequence, The Only Story is a meditation on time, memory and the long-lasting repercussions of our decisions. It is also a book about emotional resonance and the possibility that love might echo throughout a lifetime.
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London, the bitterly cold winter of 1947. A lonely young Frenchwoman comes into contact with the isolated 'Monsieur Ka' and the mysterious Karenin family and as she begins to learn his life story, she becomes drawn into the mystery of his world. A story of survival, identity and the notion of 'foreignness', Monsieur Ka is a moving novel which questions the extent to which any of us truly belong.
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After being together for ten years, Sylvie and Dan have a comfortable home, fulfilling jobs, beautiful children, and communicate so seamlessly, they finish each other's sentences. Until it's casually mentioned that they could be together for another sixty-eight years... and panic sets in. A astute, laugh-aloud funny, and thought-provoking novel about the hidden layers in even the closest relations
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Quentin and Lottie Bredin, like many modern couples, can't afford to divorce. Having lost their jobs in the recession, they must downsize and move their three children to a house in a remote part of Devon. A suspenseful black comedy, this is a rich, compassionate and enthralling depiction of the English countryside and an endlessly engaging read about life's capacity to surprise.
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Crime and Thrillers:

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A brand new novel from the author of the bestselling Waterstones Thriller of the Month, The Dry. Five women reluctantly pick up their backpacks and start walking along the muddy track. Only four come out the other side. The hike through the rugged landscape is meant to teach resilience and team building but it seems some dangers may run far deeper than anyone knew.
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Described as Gosford Park meets Inception by way of Murder on the Orient Express, this is a novel unlike any other. A glamorous house party, a murdered woman; a night that will repeat itself again and again until the killer is unmasked. One of the most anticipated debuts of 2018, The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is brilliantly original high concept murder mystery from a fantastic new talent.
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The fifth in the Jackson Lamb series from the author described as the 'new king of the spy thriller', London Rules brings espionage bang up to date in a darkly witty novel set against a backdrop of Brexit, political infighting and fake news. As tension mounts in the city, Lamb and his crew are dragged into the centre of the fray where they are sure to make things much, much worse.
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