10 Upcoming Nonfiction Titles to Look For in 2022

Super late but better late than never when it comes to looking ahead to the year’s new nonfiction, right? Right!

Here’s what’s caught my eye in new and recent nonfiction releases:

Longshot: The Inside Story of the Race for a COVID-19 Vaccine, by David Heath (January 18) – “Investigative journalist David Heath takes readers inside the small group of scientists whose groundbreaking work was once largely dismissed but whose feat will now eclipse the importance of Jonas Salk’s polio vaccine in medical history. With never-before-reported details, Heath reveals how these scientists overcame countless obstacles to give the world an unprecedented head start when we needed a COVID-19 vaccine.” One of the most important public health developments we’ll see in our lifetime, it feels crucial to better understand the Covid-19 vaccine and how it was developed. Honestly, I want to memorize as much of this as possible so I can quote it verbatim to science deniers. (used or new @SecondSale)

South to America: A Journey Below the Mason Dixon to Understand the Soul of a Nation, by Imani Perry (January 25) – The American South is a fraught and complicated place, but this “story of a Black woman and native Alabaman returning to the region she has always called home and considering it with fresh eyes” from an award-winning African American Studies historian sounds like a nuanced, informative consideration of the complex elements at play here. (used or new @SecondSale)

Emotional Inheritance: A Therapist, Her Patients, and the Legacy of Trauma, by Galit Atlas (January 25) – A psychoanalyst “draws on her patients’ stories—and her own life experiences—to shed light on how generational trauma affects our lives”. This topic of generational trauma is endlessly fascinating to me, considering how many of us are affected by it – I think some without even fully recognizing it. “Emotional Inheritance is about family secrets that keep us from living to our full potential, create gaps between what we want for ourselves and what we are able to have, and haunt us like ghosts.” I’ve been getting so much out of some recent reads about trauma, like The Body Keeps the Score and In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts, so I’m highly anticipating this one. (used or new @SecondSale)

The Glass Wall: Lives on the Baltic Frontier, by Max Egremont (February 8) – The bad geographical luck of being positioned between Germany and Russia set the tone for some very unfortunate national histories in the Baltic region, but nevertheless these are historically and culturally rich locations. This travel narrative crossed with history focuses on Estonia and Lithuania, promising “an extraordinary cast of characters—contemporary and historical, foreign and indigenous—who have lived and fought in the Baltic […] Too often it has seemed to be the destiny of this region to be the front line of other people’s wars. By telling the stories of warriors and victims, of philosophers and Baltic barons, of poets and artists, of rebels and emperors, and of others who lived through years of turmoil and violence, Max Egremont reveals a fascinating part of Europe, on a frontier whose limits may still be in doubt.” (used or new @SecondSale)

A Molecule Away from Madness: Tales of the Hijacked Brain, by Sara Manning Peskin (February 8) – “A college student cannot remember if she has eaten breakfast. By dinner, she is strapped to a hospital bed, convinced she is battling zombies. A man planning to propose marriage instead becomes violently enraged, gripped by body spasms so severe that he nearly bites off his own tongue. One after another, poor farmers in South Carolina drop dead from a mysterious epidemic of dementia.” A cognitive neuroscientist writes about curious times where brain wiring has gone awry, “invit[ing] readers to play medical detective, tracing each diagnosis from the patient to an ailing nervous system” and “entertain[ing] with tales of the sometimes outlandish, often criticized, and forever devoted scientists who discovered it all.” (used or new @SecondSale)

What My Bones Know: A Memoir of Healing from Complex Trauma, by Stephanie Foo (February 22) – I’m currently reading this memoir by a journalist “investigating the little-understood science behind complex PTSD” and “map[ping] her experiences onto the scarce literature about C-PTSD” and it’s outstanding. The writing is compelling, heartbreaking, and somehow hilarious too, and I’m looking forward to how she addresses “the effects of immigrant trauma on the community,” as this intersection of immigration and mental health has been rightfully receiving at least a little more attention recently. It also seems optimistic if realistic: “she discovers that you don’t move on from trauma—but you can learn to move with it.” (used or new @SecondSale)

Off the Edge: Flat Earthers, Conspiracy Culture, and Why People Will Believe Anything, by Kelly Weill (February 22) – Weill traces current conspiracy theories “to the early days of Flat Earth theory in the 1830s, showing the human impulses behind divergences in belief. Faced with a complicated world out of our individual control, we naturally seek patterns to explain the inexplicable. The only difference between then and now? Social media. And, powered by Facebook and YouTube algorithms, the Flat Earth movement is growing.” Exhausting as this topic is, it’s also not going anywhere, and I think it helps to understand where it came from: Our current conspiracy theory nightmares have deep roots. This sounds both disturbing and darkly entertaining, as “we accompany Weill to Flat Earther conferences, where we meet moms on vacation, determined creationists, scammy YouTube celebrities and their victims, neo-Nazi rappers, and even a man determined to fly into space in a homemade rocket-powered balloon”. (used or new @SecondSale)

A Block in Time: A New York City History at the Corner of Fifth Avenue and Twenty-Third Street, by Christiane Bird (March 1) – This microhistory “of a single block in Manhattan from the Age of Exploration to the present” is especially exciting to me as my first home in NYC was a few blocks away on 20th Street. I lived later on 25th, so for years this area was my daily world; even when I didn’t live there as I usually worked nearby. And of course that’s the case for so many others – it’s a major artery in the neighborhood. I couldn’t be more intrigued about what’s happened there to warrant an entire history. (used or new @SecondSale)

The Believer: Encounters with the Beginning, the End, and our Place in the Middle, by Sarah Krasnostein (March 1) – Australian journalist Krasnostein goes on a journey to understand fringe beliefs and “absolute truths”, a topic I’m obsessed with. She’s known for being a compassionate and contemplative writer, especially on topics that require a great deal of empathy, so I expect that “these six profiles of a death doula, a geologist who believes the world is six thousand years old, a lecturer in neurobiology who spends his weekends ghost hunting, the fiancée of a disappeared pilot and UFO enthusiasts, a woman incarcerated for killing her husband after suffering years of domestic violence, and Mennonite families in New York” will take a humanistic approach. (used or new @SecondSale)

Pathological: The True Story of Six Misdiagnoses, by Sarah Fay (March 15) – Fay, the former editor of The Paris Review, “explores the ways we pathologize human experiences, and offers a searing critique of the handbook of modern psychiatry, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (the DSM), revealing how it is based largely in fiction” using her 25 years’ worth of different diagnoses. Strangely, this also “uses a surprising literary device, a fresh and entertaining survey of the rules and history of punctuation, to illuminate how, like pathology, punctuation orders and categorizes, and tries to make sense of what’s otherwise disordered.” I can’t really imagine how this works but I’m curious to find out! (used or new @SecondSale)

31 thoughts on “10 Upcoming Nonfiction Titles to Look For in 2022

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  1. So many fascinating topics, thanks!

    I’m looking at 2 in March:
    The Bald Eagle: The Improbable Journey of America’s Bird, by Jack Emerson Davis (March 1st)
    After the Romanovs: Russian Exiles in Paris from the Belle Époque Through Revolution and War, by Helen Rappaport (March 8)

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    1. I hadn’t heard of The Bald Eagle, what an interesting idea for a micro history! I had heard of the Helen Rappaport book and I loved the two Romanov books I’ve read of hers. The Russian exile community in Paris during that time was such an fascinating one too. Thanks for the reminder about that one!

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  2. The Glass Wall and A Block in Time both sound great – and I’m definitely tempted by Off the Edge too. I have just started to see conspiracy theories pop up in my students’ assignments, which I’ve never seen before, and I find it very worrying – so I am all for more understanding of this topic, even if it’s a tough one.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh wow, how unsettling that they’re starting to crop up in student work! I’m assuming healthcare-related conspiracy theories? That’s indeed worrisome. But I agree, so many people buy into these that’s very important to better understand how and why that’s happening.

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  3. Longshot for sure! After reading Isaacson’s The Code Breaker last year, this one seems like an exciting follow up.

    South to America and Off the Edge also look interesting.

    Thanks for posting these lists. They always give me a few books to look forward to.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It absolutely sounds right up your alley! I think you might like What My Bones Know too…it’s specifically about complex PTSD and it’s excellent. She documents her specific experience connected to childhood trauma so well.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That sounds excellent too. So many good books coming out now on this topic, it’s terrible that there is so much trauma to report on but amazing that people are now able to tell their stories with so much insight and new understanding. I hope it will contribute to the healing process and above all, to prevention.

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      2. I know, that’s the down side of so many more books in this area, to realize how widespread it is. But that was also something I really appreciated in Body Keeps the Score, the realization of how much trauma can actually encompass and how many are affected by it in some way. I liked that a lot about this new memoir too, how she felt very alone in what she went through and realized how much it helps to share experience and connect with others who are on their own recovery journeys. It felt very hopeful.

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  4. Ooh, South to America and What My Bones Know are appealing to me, but what a good selection all in all. I will look out for your reviews of those as not buying / buying very carefully at the moment … (have you SEEN my TBR?!).

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