Top nonfiction books of 2022

Top nonfiction books of 2022

by Suswati Basu
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Here are our favorite nonfiction books of 2022, several of them just the very best books of the year, touch on some of the most pressing topics of our time, from autocracy to conspiracy to healthcare reform. They vary in form, from reported nonfiction to memoir to a comic guidebook to supervillainy. Whether you’re looking to learn, laugh, or lose yourself in a great story, there’s something here for every kind of reader.

📚 What We Want by Charlotte Fox Weber

Offering a fly-on-the-wall look at her therapy room, Fox Weber explores our 12 most common desires – from power to belonging. 

📚 How to Live When You Could Be Dead by Deborah James

You’d be hard pressed to find a single person who wasn’t moved by the story of Dame Deborah, who passed away this year from bowel cancer. Her legacy continues with this life-affirming book.

📚 Don’t Forget to Scream by Marianne Levy

Every person – parent or not – ought to read these first-person essays on modern motherhood. 

📚 Let’s Talk by Nihal Arthanayake

While this book from the BBC Radio 5 Live presenter will teach you how to be a great conversationalist, its power extends beyond that, offering a path to effective dialogue in an increasingly divided world.

📚 Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before? by Dr Julie Smith

From managing anxiety to dealing with criticism, this is a toolkit of deceptively simple strategies for life’s troubles. Everyone could benefit from the wisdom of Dr Smith, a clinical psychologist.

📚 Bitch by Lucy Cooke

Chronicling examples of dominant, promiscuous, competitive and aggressive female species across the animal kingdom, Cooke turns everything you thought you knew about evolution and female biology upside-down.

📚 Sex Bomb by Sadia Azmat

Azmat is both a sex-loving comedian and a hijab-wearing Muslim. Sex Bomb is the wickedly entertaining story about marrying up these two factors – as well as an important stereotype-smashing read.

📚 The Story of Art Without Men by Katy Hessel

This eye-opening read is an overdue revisionist history of art – ignoring the pale, male canon to celebrate female artists who have been overlooked for centuries.

📚 This is Not a Pity Memoir by Abi Morgan

A heartbreaking account of what happened when The Split creator’s husband went into a coma, only to wake up and need round-the clock care – and also the joyful story of their lives together.

📚 A Heart that Works by Rob Delaney

This tender memoir, about the actor losing his two-year-old son to a brain tumour, is achingly sad but his meditations on loss, family and hope are so profound you’ll come out the other side of this book a different person.

📚 Quilt on Fire by Christie Watson

Subtitled “The Messy Magic of Midlife”, nurse Christie Watson is deliciously funny and candid about life as a perimenopausal woman in all its (sweaty) glory. A book to gift all your sisters, mothers and friends.

📚 Notes on Heartbreak by Annie Lord

After reading this memoir, a raw dissection of Vogue columnist Lord’s break-up and everything that led up to it, your perception of love, life and starting afresh will be altered for the better.

📚 Stolen Focus: Why You Can’t Pay Attention—and How to Think Deeply Again, by Johann Hari

Your focus has probably not been a 10/10 recently. It’s understandable, given everything going on, but there are also proposed solutions given in this book on how you can reclaim your focus and have better control over your attention, even in a chaotic world.

📚 The Trayvon Generation: Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow, by Elizabeth Alexander

This book is an expansion of Pulitzer Prize finalist Elizabeth Alexander’s viral essay about race as an ongoing issue at the center of the American experience. With detailed analysis and profound insight, it looks into both the tragedies and hopes for the young people of this era.

📚 What My Bones Know: A Memoir of Healing from Complex Trauma, by Stephanie Foo

After years of questions left unanswered, Stephanie Foo decided to reckon with her present by exploring her past after being diagnosed with complex PTSD. Ultimately, she learns that though it is nearly impossible to fully move on from trauma, one can be malleable and learn to move with it.

📚 His Name Is George Floyd: One Man’s Life and the Struggle for Racial Justice, by Robert Samuels and Toluse Olorunnipa

A biography by two prizewinning Washington Post reporters, His Name Is George Floyd: One Man’s Life and the Struggle for Racial Justice uncovers how systemic racism shaped George Floyd’s life and legacy—from his family’s roots in North Carolina, to the perennial housing, education, health care, and policing inequality of today. 

📚 The Invisible Kingdom, Meghan O’Rourke

The author describes her wrenching experience searching for a diagnosis in The Invisible Kingdom: Reimagining Chronic Illness, a 2022 National Book Award finalist.

📚 Constructing a Nervous System, Margo Jefferson

In her second memoir, Pulitzer Prize winner Margo Jefferson brilliantly interrogates and expands the form. Constructing a Nervous System finds the author reflecting on her life, the lives of her family, and those of her literary and artistic heroes.

📚 An Immense World, Ed Yong

Journalist Ed Yong reminds readers that the world is very large and full of incredible things. 

📚 Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands, Kate Beaton

In her first full-length graphic memoir, Beaton reflects on her time working with a primarily male labor force in harsh conditions where trauma lingered and loneliness prevailed. 

📚 In Love: A Memoir of Love and Loss, Amy Bloom

Amy Bloom unveils a powerful truth about the slippery nature of time. The book is a beautiful, heartfelt tribute to her husband, and a crucial reminder that what drives grief is often the most profound kind of love.

Remember to check out the interviews with Charlotte Fox Weber and Sadia Azmat on their books.

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