There are dozens of books that you just need to treat yourself to this month. The shelves of our favourite bookshops are jam-packed with the most thrilling and entertaining tales and we only wish we had enough time to read them all.
We’ve whittled our must-reads for February down to eight joyous books that you won’t be able to put down.
Why not ask your significant other for one of these tales as a Valentine’s Day gift or even treat yourself to one?
1: Love Factually by Laura Mucha (Bloomsbury Sigma)
So much of what we know about love centres on the films we watch, the books we read, and what we hear in the media. But in Love Factually, Laura Mucha takes a scientific approach to try and get to the bottom of one of life’s great mysteries and help us find happiness, whether in or out or a relationship.
Exploring research from a range of disciplines including psychology, biology, philosophy and neuroscience, alongside her own interviews with people from all ages all over the world, Laura looks at the problems facing researchers and why it’s so hard to find the truth about love.
From the dopamine-fulled start of a relationship to the compassionate love that underpins something more long-lasting, Love Factually seeks to find the truths about one of our most powerful and revered emotions.
Meet Doris, a 96-year-old woman living alone in her Stockholm apartment. She has few visitors, but her weekly Skype calls with Jenny- her American grandniece, and her only relative- give her great joy and remind her of her own youth.
When Doris was a girl, she was given an address book by her father and ever since she has carefully documented everyone she met and loved throughout the years. Looking through the little book now, Doris sees the many crossed-out names of people long gone and is struck by the urge to put pen to paper.
In writing down the stories of her colourful past- working as a maid in Sweden, modelling in Paris during the 30s, fleeing to Manhattan at the dawn of the Second World War- can she help Jenny, haunted by a difficult childhood, to unlock the secrets of their family and finally look to the future?
And whatever became of Allan, the love of Doris’s life?
All of them are friends. One of them is a killer.
During the languid days of the Christmas break, a group of thirtysomething friends from Oxford meet to welcome in the New Year together, a tradition they began as students ten years ago. For this vacation, they’ve chosen an idyllic and isolated estate in the Scottish Highlands—the perfect place to get away and unwind by themselves.
They arrive on December 30th, just before a historic blizzard seals the lodge off from the outside world.
Two days later, on New Year’s Day, one of them is dead.
The trip began innocently enough: admiring the stunning if foreboding scenery, champagne in front of a crackling fire, and reminiscences about the past. But after a decade, the weight of secret resentments has grown too heavy for the group’s tenuous nostalgia to bear. Amid the boisterous revelry of New Year’s Eve, the cord holding them together snaps.
Now one of them is dead . . . and another of them did it.
Keep your friends close, the old adage goes. But just how close is too close?
What if everything you thought you knew about death was wrong? In With the End in Mind, palliative care doctor Kathryn Mannix challenges the conversation around how we live and die.
In these pages, you will find stories about people who are like you, and like people you know and love. Holly, who danced her last day away; Eric, the retired head teacher, who even with motor neurone disease, gets things done; loving, tender-hearted Nelly and Joe, each living a lonely lie to save their beloved from distress; and Sylvie, 19, who has leukaemia and sews a cushion for her mum to hug by the fire after she has died. In thirty beautifully crafted stories, Mannix shows us normal human deaths, offering models for action and hope. Read this book and you’ll be better prepared for life as well as death.
5: Apple of my Eye by Claire Allan (Avon Books)
Eliana Hughes should be over the moon. She has her dream job, a loving husband and a baby on the way. But when a threatening note arrives at the hospice where she works, Eli’s life begins to spiral out of control. As the person behind the note escalates their campaign to expose Eli’s husband as a cheat, Eli finds herself unable to trust ever her own instincts.
And as pressure builds, she makes a mistake that jeopardises her entire future. Elsewhere, someone is watching. Someone who desperately wants a baby to call their own and will go to any lengths to become a mother- and stay one…
Sydney’s dad is the only therapist for miles around their small Ohio town. He knows everybody’s secrets. He is also unexpectedly dead.
Is grief-stricken Sydney paranoid, or is it kind of weird that the police can’t find an explanation for the car crash that killed him? And why was June Copeland, homecoming queen and the town’s golden child, at his funeral?
Sydney and June grow closer in the wake of the accident, but it’s clear that not everyone is happy about their new friendship.
What is picture-perfect June hiding? And does Sydney even want to know? Sometime’s it’s safer for the truth to stay secret.
Colin Saint James hates his older brother, Freddie- and for good reason. A true psychopath, Freddie has been hell-bent on destroying Colin’s happiness since before he was born. Never one to admit defeat, Colin searches for opportunities to get one up on his sibling, even just once.
When the heats for the last ever Housewife of the Year competition are announced, Colin sees his chance. The only problem is he needs a wife. Luckily, he lives next door to Navan’s best-looking woman, Azra, who happens to be single and anxious to get a ring on her finger. But Azra is also a Turkish concubine and she and Colin don’t exactly see eye-to-eye over her nocturnal activities.
Will Colin be able to park his reservations about his X-rated neighbour if it gives him the chance to emerge triumphant over Freddie for once in his life?
8: The Middle Place by Kealan Ryan (March 2019, Mercier)
One minute Chris had been having a smoke, talking to his wife, and the next minute he was dead, killed with one punch. There’s not a lot about being dead that he likes. He’s stuck in this middle place with the ability to delve into the individual lives he cares about- to know what they are feeling and thinking.
He is beginning to realise that in life he wasn’t such a great guy. In death, he can’t say goodbye to his wife, toddler son and friends. He is determined to figure out how to haunt the person who killed him.
Chris wants to rise again to live again. He wants to feel his wife again, feel the air in his lungs, feel the sea again but something won’t let him go.