Books to read this February

Multiple books stacked on top of each other sitting on a wooden table.
A look at some of the reads Brianna Peterson recommends for the month of February. Photo supplied by Brianna Peterson

By Brianna Peterson

Brianna Peterson is a mom of three and a resident of the Kitchissippi area. She runs an active book-related Instagram account @capitalcityreader. Brianna compiled a list of some of her favourite books to help KT readers embrace the season of love.

Although the month of February is thrilling for the winter sports enthusiasts among us, for others its more likely to bring long hours indoors (preferably by a fire with a warm beverage!).

For the indoor cats — and maybe even for those seeking a good read après ski — February is a great month to dig into some good books. Here are some recommendations as the deep freeze sets in!

Nothing says atmospheric mystery like the icy isolation of -20C weather.  Your first inclination might be to reach for a good old fashioned cozy mystery set in a small English village where the vicar is undoubtedly the guilty party. However, there are some excellent books set in Canada that combine mysterious happenings with a chilly, snowy ambiance reminiscent of your own surroundings.

The Three Pines” series by Louise Penny: This 18-book series fronted by Inspector Armand Gamache of the Quebec Surété offers a cozy (and often snowy) Eastern Townships setting, with excellent character development and unusual crimes, as well as overarching police intrigue. “Still Life”, the first book in the series, is an excellent place to start. And there are 17 more books and an Amazon Prime television adaptation to keep you entertained this winter.

The Break” by Katharena Vermette: This book is an artfully crafted page-turner. A crime has been committed, the reader doesn’t know the exact nature of the crime, who committed it or why, but the pieces slowly unravel as the narrative switches perspectives across several different characters in Winnipeg’s North End. Its powerful, heart wrenching and unputdownable.

February is Black History Month and while there are always great books to pick up by Black authors, this month presents a great opportunity to dig into the rich trove of Black-authored nonfiction books exploring Black history in Canada, the US and globally.  There are a couple of relatively recent books that make for excellent reading in this context.

“The Warmth of Other Suns” by Isabelle Wilkerson: This ambitious book is such an informative and fascinating read. It not only follows the outbound journeys of three Southern-born Black people, but it maps the conditions in the Jim Crow-era South that drove the migration of six million people out of the Southern United States and the challenging contexts that awaited them in large Northern and Western cities upon their arrival. Expertly written and researched this is an eye-opening piece of narrative non-fiction.

“How the Word Is Passed” by Clint Smith: Part tourist guide, part memoir, part historical essay collection, this book takes an unflinching look at a number of United States tourist destinations and how history is commemorated, communicated and often misrepresented. The writing is crisp, clear and poetic and its interrogation of history is haunting and thought-provoking.

Finally, what kind of February reading guide would this be without acknowledging that this is the month of love, in all its forms? Whether its Valentine’s or Galentine’s Day you’re celebrating, there are plenty of literary options if romance and relationships are on your mind.

“Seven Days in June” by Tia Williams: This is a second chance romance in which two compelling characters who spent seven intense days together in their late teens unexpectedly reconnect 15 years later at a literary event at which they are panellists. This is an engaging read with rich character development and swoon-worthy romance. And, if you pick this one up this month, you can join The Gloss Ottawa Book Club on Feb. 22 to chat about it!

“Love and Saffron” by Kim Fay: If you’re interested in reading about love but not necessarily romance, you could try this epistolary novel about friendship, food and connection that transcends time and distance. It is a short, sweet and heartwarming reminder that love can be found in unexpected places.

If you’re looking to pick up these or other books this February, you should check out Elmdale Public School’s BookFest, which is making its exciting return this Feb. 23-25, after a two-year hiatus. In addition to selling a wide array of used books, BookFest will also include a bake sale table, book raffle and storytelling/author readings. Public hours are Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. and Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

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