What to Read

Gray and dreary February packs pleasant and colorful fictional surprises from Italy, Britain and the U.S.

By Salon's critics

Published February 23, 2005 9:00PM (EST)

We're not sure who designated February as the month of surprises, but every new release we've picked up recently has been filled with them. Not that we're complaining. What could be better for the last month of winter than to be an armchair discoverer, charting new and exciting territory in the dreariest looking places?

Each of the five recommend books herein has given us something unexpected; whether it be an alternate reality that seems more true than real life, or the discovery that there are still exciting stories to be told about suburbia. Even the overextended category of World War II novels gets a fresh and exciting entry with a tale of Italian resistance to Nazism. And in a debut novel that we almost missed because it was so small, we found some impressively strong storytelling.

So pull up a comfy chair, put up your feet, and take out your compass. We promise you won't regret it.

Our first pick: Reality TV takes an insane and resolutely un-p.c. turn, with hilarious results

Salon's critics

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