The Best Grown-Up Reads of February 2018

by the Brightly Editors

Photo credit: jayk7, Moment Open/Getty Images

For the shortest month on the calendar, February can feel awfully long and dreary. The holidays are a distant memory and spring is still far off. However, this February offers an especially enticing group of fiction and nonfiction — books so engaging they’re sure to beat the mid-winter blues.

  • Feel Free: Essays

    by Zadie Smith

    Available from:

    Every new Zadie Smith novel is a cause for celebration, and it always feels like too long until the next one. But the writer of White Teeth and Swing Time is also a prolific essayist, writing on topics ranging from music to race to Facebook in a style that’s entirely her own and instantly recognizable to anyone who’s a fan of her fiction. Read this new collection to think about your world a little bit differently.
    (On Sale: 2/6/18)

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  • I Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen Brushes with Death

    by Maggie O’Farrell

    Available from:

    You get on an airplane and arrive at your destination a few hours later. You step into a crosswalk, pause for the driver racing against the yellow light, then go on your way. You think nothing of these situations, but from a different perspective, they could all be considered brushes with death. In this evocative and insightful memoir, Irish novelist Maggie O’Farrell catalogues 17 of her own, from the minor to the harrowing, and deftly plumbs the depths of what it means to be alive.
    (On Sale: 2/6/18)

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  • The Line Becomes a River: Dispatches from the Border

    by Francisco Cantú

    Francisco Cantú is a former agent for the U.S. Border Patrol who worked along the country’s border with Mexico. In this compassionate, open-minded book, he examines the experiences of the agents who police the invisible line between the two countries, as well as the migrants who risk everything to cross that line and find a better life in the States. Read this story to understand the stakes for both countries behind the headlines about the proposed wall, as well as the immigrant experience in general.
    (On sale: 2/6/18)

  • Text Me When You Get Home: The Evolution and Triumph of Modern Female Friendship

    by Kayleen Schaefer

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    BFFs, mean girls, frenemies, girl squads. Our culture is fascinated with female friendship, but what do these relationships actually mean for women? Kayleen Schaefer sets out to answer that question in this historical, cultural, and personal examination of friendship between women. Through interviews, research, and self-reflection, she seeks to define what female friendship is — and what it’s not. A book for readers whose friends are like family, as well as readers who wish they had more.
    (On Sale: 2/6/18)

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  • High-Risers: Cabrini-Green and the Fate of American Public Housing

    by Ben Austen

    For the second half of the 20th century, Chicago’s Cabrini-Green projects were synonymous with the possibilities of public housing — and its many disappointments. By 2011, the projects, which housed 20,000 residents, had been torn down, but their legacy lives on. Read this incisive history to understand the ongoing challenges of low-income housing and the families affected.
    (On Sale: 2/13/18)

  • The Self-Driven Child: The Science and Sense of Giving Your Kids More Control Over Their Lives

    by William Stixrud, Ph.D., and Ned Johnson

    Available from:

    Anxiety, depression, insomnia, and lack of motivation used to be symptoms of a mid-life crisis, experienced by 40- and 50-year-olds. Today, they’re the complaints of 16- and 17-year-olds, suffering from the pressure to perform and achieve in high school. In this book, a neuropsychologist and a motivational coach caution against driving our kids too hard, and offer advice for how to get kids to genuinely want to succeed and find a path that gives them meaning and satisfaction.
    (On sale: 2/13/18)

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  • The French Girl

    by Lexie Elliott

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    Six British friends rent a French farmhouse and are soon joined by a local French girl, as beautiful as she is inscrutable. Decades later, the French girl’s body is discovered, and the friends must recreate that fateful summer in an effort to find out what happened — and who among them is responsible. This delicious thriller will provide equal amounts of chills and vacation-envy.
    (On Sale: 2/20/18)

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  • Rosie Colored Glasses

    by Brianna Wolfson

    Willow’s mother Rosie is a dream mom, always up for adventure, pro-candy, and unconcerned about homework or bedtime. So when Willow’s parents get divorced, it’s a no-brainer for Willow about which parent she prefers. But there’s a dark side to Rosie’s endlessly fun-loving persona and as Willow slowly learns who her mother is, she is forced to confront hard questions about family, identity, and the true meaning of unconditional love. A great read for mothers and daughters.
    (On sale: 2/20/18)

  • Where the Dead Sit Talking

    by Brandon Hobson

    Sequoyah is a Native American teen growing up in rural Oklahoma in the 1980s. When his addicted mother can no longer care for him he winds up in foster care, where life looks bleak — until he meets Rosemary, a kindred spirit who gives him hope of belonging for the first time. This bracing, uncompromising look at a life on the margins will get under your skin.
    (On Sale: 2/20/18)

  • My Name Is Venus Black

    by Heather Lloyd

    Available from:

    When well-behaved, astronomy-loving Venus commits a crime, no one can understand what she has done — and she’s not telling. Years later, she’s released from prison and with the help of an eclectic assortment of friends, she’s finally ready to come to terms with her past. Despite its dark premise, this book overflows with hope for the possibility of forgiveness, redemption, second chances, and making families wherever you find them.
    (On Sale: 2/27/18)

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What books are you excited to read this month? Let us know in the comments below!