The dreariness of February can always be felt deep in your bones. Gone is the cheer of the holidays, and all that remains is the cold, grey winter. Cold nights are spent lying in wait for the prospect of spring and its new beginnings. This February feels particularly bleak, with the unknowns of COVID potentially stretching into summer. Even if we are confined to our homes, we are blessed with one thing that allows us to travel to different, more exotic locations—books. Here are some of the best books that will enable you to experience sunny weather without leaving your couch.
Shipped by Angie Hockman
Hockman's debut romance novel is one of drive, grit, and the beauty of falling in love on the Galapagos beaches. When fiery, golden-hearted Henley discovers she is up for promotion to her dream job, she's over the moon—until she finds she’s competing for the position with her office nemesis, golden boy Graeme. The two must each put together a marketing strategy for their company while aboard a cruise to the Galapagos. While the enemies-to-lovers trope is notoriously played out, the dynamic between these two characters is crafted in a way that will make your heart soar. Shipped takes readers along the coasts of the beautiful and remote Galapagos Islands through intricate descriptions of local scenery and endemic species. Hockman’s novel isn’t just a gorgeous love story, it also calls for action in conserving the Galapagos, and encourages women to find their own power and smash the patriarchy in the professional world.
Less by Andrew Sean Greer
Andrew Sean Greer’s Pulitzer Prize Winning LGBTQ+ novel, Less, was described as “musical in its prose,” and is the perfect getaway this February. Encroaching on his fiftieth birthday, has-been author Arthur Less discovers that his one great love is now engaged to another man. In an act of desperation to run from his mortality and the wedding invitation, he decides to do something uncharacteristic, accepting dozens of previously set-aside invitations to various literary events across the world. Travel along with Arthur down the romantic streets of Paris, through a sandstorm on the Moroccan Sahara, and to a desert island in the Arabian Sea—just to name a few. Along the way, he meets a cast of colorful characters that help him break out of his shell and grasp life for what it is—an experience.
Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton
Inspired by her grandparents, who were forced to flee Cuba in the wake of Castro's regime, Chanel Cleeton’s Next Year in Havana is the story of a woman chasing her Cuban origins. Elisa is a woman of Cuban high society whose privileged life is turned upside down as she experiences love and loss in the wake of the 1950s Cuban revolution. Fifty years later, her granddaughter, Marisol, returns to Cuba to scatter Elisa's ashes. In Havana, Marisol encounters the pain of the revolution still hanging in the air, but discovers that Cuban culture and its people have grown stronger since Castro's dictatorship days. Cleeton guides the reader through these two women's tales using the sights and smells of the Cuban culture and landscape, leaving the reader hungry to experience Cuba in the flesh.
Winter in Paradise Trilogy by Elin Hilderbrand
If you're looking for an incredible who-done-it read with a backdrop of gorgeous Bahama beaches, Hilderbrand has crafted the perfect trilogy for you. Upon hearing the news of her husband’s untimely death, Irene is astonished to find out that he, despite seeming normal and loving, has been living a double life on the island of St. John. Shocked, Irene flies to the Bahamas with her two sons, and their lives change in a series of events that leaves the reader breathless as secrets spiral out of control. Hilderbrand’s prose is so deep that each character in the trilogy becomes a close friend and the reader can practically smell the sea breeze.
The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See
On the Korean island of Jeju, Haenyeo (or women of the sea) grow up learning to dive the reefs to harvest fruits of the sea. This close-knit matriarchal society encourages women to be the breadwinners of the household, and the tradition has endured since the 1600s. Set in the mid-20th century, Lisa See’s The Island of Sea Women is about Mi-Ja and Young-sook, two young divers who bond while learning and perfecting their craft. As the decades wear on and the area is torn apart by war, loss, and tragedy, the women's bond tightens as the world crashes around them. This book is the ideal combination of history, culture, and the female bond. Not to mention, it takes place on the gorgeous beaches of Jeju, and beneath the mysterious waves of the Pacific.
Even in the crisp air of February, you can stay warm and safe experiencing the summer sun in the pages of some of these novels. Did you add any of these to your own reading list? What other books are keeping you warm this year? Let us know by tweeting to us @bookclubdotcom.