Essays from Margaret Atwood, memoirs from Kit De Waal and Minnie Driver, and guides to loss, life and love – start planning your non-fiction reading list here.
2022 is set to be an incredible year for non-fiction. Whether you’re a fan of comedy writing, factual histories or want something that evokes the visceral power of Lisa Taddeo’s Three Women, there is a new wave of memoirs, essays, self-help guides and investigative journalism to help you make sense of the world. Exploring how we can address global issues while finding hope in our own personal lives, these books are smart, readable conversation starters.
This year’s non-fiction includes highly anticipated new releases from Margaret Atwood, Kit De Waal and actor Minnie Driver; books that dive deep into the dark money-making tactics of influencers; practical ways to fight systemic racism; an insider’s experience of the first year of Covid-19; and society’s impact on women’s bodies, finances and economic standing.
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There are also so many hopeful memoirs from funny and brilliant women including the journalist Sarah Hughes, who sadly died last year, author Jami Attenberg, screenwriter Abi Morgan and comedian Sadia Azmat. Grace Lavery details her trans journey, Delia Ephron delightfully tells the unexpected story of love after grief and Jonathan Joly reveals how invisible childhood friends gave him a safe space. There are also insightful reflections on navigating heartbreak, rejecting hedonism for peace and rethinking intersectional beauty. Basically, 2022 is a cornucopia of non-fiction brilliance. Enjoy…
Burning Questions by Margaret Atwood
Covering 2004 to 2021, The Handmaid’s Tale and everything else, Margaret Atwood tackles all of life’s big questions: from asking whether she’s a bad feminist to navigating this pandemic. Funny, thoughtful and wise, it’s an excellent book of essays to have on your bedside (out 1 March).
Shop Burning Questions by Margaret Atwood (£20, Vintage) at Bookshop
I Came All This Way To Meet You by Jami Attenberg
If you’re not familiar with the comic and very human writing of Jami Attenberg then may we suggest you remedy that right now. This memoir is a good place to start: it’s a brilliant reminder that being unsure, leading a messy life and, above all, trusting yourself to get where you need to go, can apply to us all (out 13 January).
Shop I Came All This Way To Meet You by Jami Attenberg (Profile) at Bookshop, £14.99
Holding Tight, Letting Go by Sarah Hughes
Sarah Hughes was a writer who brought joy and passion to everything she did. Whether writing odes to bonkbusters or overseeing The Guardian’s weekly Games Of Thrones recaps, she was smart, insightful and generous. After being diagnosed with terminal cancer, this memoir is her celebration of life and how to make the most of it. She’s very much missed (out 31 March).
Shop Holding Tight, Letting Go by Sarah Hughes (Bonnier) at Bookshop, £16.98
The Cost Of Sexism by Linda Scott
Written by Linda Scott, an expert on women’s economic development, this book is an analysis of global gender inequality and why there is a desperate need for women’s economic empowerment.With statistical evidence and original research, Scott outlines a real plan for change that will benefit entire societies (out 3 March).
Shop The Cost Of Sexism by Linda Scott (Faber) at WH Smith, £10.99
Left On Tenth by Delia Ephron
Delia Ephron, bestselling novelist and You’ve Got Mail screenwriter, has written one of life’s most jaw-dropping memoirs. Recovering from the death of her husband, Delia wrote an op-ed for the New York Times and was contacted by Peter, who’d she’d been on a date with 54 years earlier (set up by her late and beloved sister Nora). The pair fell in love in true romcom style, and then Delia was diagnosed with leukaemia… (out 14 April)
Shop Left On Tenth by Delia Ephron (Transworld) at Bookshop, £16.99
Without Warning And Only Sometimes by Kit De Waal
The much-loved My Name Is Leon author has written a memoir covering her childhood, growing up mixed race in Moseley, Birmingham, in the 60s and 70s. Unpredictable, full of humour and emotion, it’s one of 2022’s most anticipated books (out 18 August).
Shop Without Warning And Only Sometimes by Kit De Waal (Headline) at Foyles, £16.99
Totally Fine by Tiffany Philippou
An account of podcaster and writer Philippou’s life after the suicide of her boyfriend Richard, this book explores the aftermath of grief, shame and why not dealing with these emotions is not an option (out 17 March).
Shop Totally Fine by Tiffany Philippou (Thread) at Waterstones, £8.99
In The Shadow Of The Mountain by Silvia Vasquez-Lavado
Like Wild before it, this is Silvia Vasquez-Lavado’s account of taking a group of abused young women on an epic trek to Mount Everest base camp before climbing the mountain herself and how this experience healed her own trauma of alcoholism, repression and abuse (out 3 February).
Shop In The Shadow Of The Mountain by Silvia Vasquez-Lavado (Octopus) at Bookshop, £15.99
Ugly by Anita Bhagwandas
From the smart and questioning beauty writer Anita Bhagwandas, this book is set to explore the intersectional notions of what is beautiful, why our limited views of beauty can cause so much damage and how to break free of them (out 23 June).
Shop Ugly by Anita Bhagwandas (Blink) at Amazon, £16.99
Managing Expectations by Minnie Driver
British actor Minnie Driver broke into public consciousness as queen of 90s films such as Good Will Hunting and Grosse Pointe Blank. However, this smart and savvy woman came to question whether this career was what she actually wanted and, in this book of essays, brings a fresh take on what we really need out of life (out 12 May).
Shop Managing Expectations by Minnie Driver (Manilla) at Amazon, £20
Queer Body Power by Essie Dennis
Described as a “radical book that starts a conversation about body image and mental health that queer people are so often left out of” and covering gender, sexuality, reclaiming your body, food, politics, social media and fatphobia, Essie Dennis encourages you to challenge accepted beauty standards and ideas about body image and mental health while showcasing diverse queer voices and powerful stories (out 21 March).
Shop Queer Body Power by Essie Dennis (Jessica Kingsley) at Waterstones, £14.99
Constructing A Nervous System by Margo Jefferson
The award-winning author of Negroland calls this book “a temperamental autobiography” in which she fragments and rebuilds herself as whole while exploring those who have influenced her life and sense of self in a wildly disparate troupe of people that covers everyone from her family to WEB Du Bois and George Eliot (out 5 May).
Shop Constructing A Nervous System by Margo Jefferson (Granta) at Waterstones, £16.99
Any Girl by Mia Döring
Any Girl is a personal account of surviving rape at age 16, then sexual exploitation and the sex trade in Ireland as a young woman. Looking at the wider impact of why it happens – female vulnerability, the patriarchal system and male violence – the book calls for systemic understanding and change (out 17 February).
Shop Any Girl by Mia Döring (Hachette Ireland) at Foyles, £14.99
The Go-Between by Osman Yousefzada
A coming-of-age memoir set in Birmingham in the 80s and 90s, this is Yousefzada’s funny and fascinating story of moving between two cultures: his ultra-conservative Afghan Pashtun family and school. While known for his fashion label that counts Beyoncé, Lupita Nyong’o and Thandiwe Newton as fans, this memoir a welcome exploration of time and place (out 27 January).
Shop The Go-Between by Osman Yousefzada (Canongate) at Bookshop, £14.99
Vagina Obscura by Rachel E Gross
As the book highlights… the Latin term for the female genitalia, pudendum, means “parts for which you should be ashamed”. This book is what we’ve been waiting for. Described as “a long overdue, necessary revisionist and trans-inclusive scientific voyage” that reclaims women’s bodies through the research of female scientists (out 1 March).
Shop Vagina Obscura by Rachel E Gross (Norton) at Bookshop
About A Son by David Whitehouse
Being touted as one of the most moving and life-changing reads of next year, David Whitehouse’s About A Son is a true story about father Colin Hehir whose son Morgan was killed by a group of young men in Nuneaton in 2015. It’s also about justice, grief and rebuilding – asking why the crime happened and how things can be changed (out 28 April).
Shop About A Son by David Whitehouse (Orion) at Bookshop, £16.98
Sins Of My Father by Lily Dunn
A memoir that tells the story of writer Lily Dunn’s father, who left his family to join the cult of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh in India, fuelled by sex addiction and the lure of money that led to destitution and addiction. This is her attempt to understand the man and the impact his actions had on her and those around her (out 17 March).
Shop Sins Of My Father by Lily Dunn (Orion), £16.98 at Bookshop
Hands by Lauren Brown
Lauren Brown is a 26-year-old writer and journalist from Billingham and this memoir is about the anxiety that led her to start skin-picking. Once her actions begin to affect her daily life, Brown traces their source and why her restless fingers reflect what’s going on inside (out 20 January).
Shop Hands by Lauren Brown (HarperNorth) at Bookshop, £12.99
Poor Little Sick Girls by Ione Gamble
Founder of Polyester zine and a host of The Polyester Podcast, Ione Gamble was diagnosed with an incurable illness two weeks after her 19th birthday that resulted in her spending 20 hours a day in bed. Confined to a sick bed and glued to social media, she begins to explore GirlBoss feminism and the personal branding that has come to define our lives (out 26 May).
Shop Poor Little Sick Girls by Ione Gamble (Little, Brown) at Bookshop, £16.98
Brown Girl Like Me by Jaspreet Kaur
From beauty to menstruation and microaggressions, spoken word artist and teacher Jaspreet Kaur has created a practical guide to navigating life for brown women. Addressing the expectations to bridge generations, cultures and aspirations, it’s filled with interviews and thoughts of women of all ages (out 17 February).
Shop Brown Girl Like Me by Jaspreet Kaur (Pan Macmillan) at Bookshop
Five Steps To Financial Wellbeing by Clare Seal
Clare Seal, aka @myfrugalyear, has tackled the emotions behind money. How consumerism and self-worth affect our approach to buying and saving and how a sense of balance in your finances can create a solid foundation that will impact all other areas of our lives. Sound and caring, this is a book we all need to read (out 3 March).
Shop Five Steps To Financial Wellbeing by Clare Seal (Headline) at Bookshop, £14.99
If Not For You by Georgina Lucas
On 17 November 2019, Grey Atticus Fox was born, nine weeks early, to Georgie and Mike in a Kent hospital. If Not For You is Georgie’s account of the 21 days they had together and its aftermath. Tackling love, grief and also hope, it’s described as “a testament to empathy, care and humanity when life is at its hardest” (out 3 February).
Shop If Not For You by Georgina Lucas (Little, Brown) at Waterstones, £16.99
Please Miss by Grace Lavery
“Grace Lavery is a reformed druggie, an unreformed omnisexual chaos Muppet, and a 100%, all-natural, synthetic female hormone monster.” Finding a new trans identity, Lavery writes a memoir that’s dazzling, witty and unlike anything else you’ll read (out 3 February).
Shop Please Miss by Grace Lavery (Daunt Books) at Daunt Books, £14.99
Notes On Heartbreak by Annie Lord
Starting with the implosion and aftermath of a break-up, Annie Lord’s visceral exploration of love and heartbreak will resonate with us all. Being ghosted, spending too much time Instagram stalking and ruminating over the moments when things started going wrong, this book is going to be a big conversation starter (out 23 June).
Shop Notes On Heartbreak by Annie Lord (Orion) at Bookshop, £14.99
Sex Bomb by Sadia Azmat
A hijab-wearing Muslim woman who also likes sex… Comedian Sadia Azmat holds a light to this supposed contradiction with humour and insight asking why the two have to be mutually exclusive while exploring the moments that have made her who she unapologetically is (out 26 May).
Shop Sex Bomb by Sadia Azmat (Headline) at Bookshop, £16.98
Get Rich Or Lie Trying by Symeon Brown
One of the most essential books you need to read in 2022, this is a deep dive into the influencer economy, asking what lies beneath the beautiful images. From misleading finances to the ecological impact, it’s a thought-provoking and fascinating read that’ll make you rethink the online world (out 3 March).
Shop Get Rich Or Lie Trying by Symeon Brown (Atlantic) at Bookshop, £16.98
Growing Out by Barbara Blake Hannah
Last year saw the launch of the Black Britain: Writing Back series by Bernardine Evaristo, which reissues hard-to-find books by Black writers about Britain. For 2022, they’re releasing a non-fiction selection including the fascinating Growing Out, a memoir by Barbara Blake Hannah who became the first Black reporter on British TV (out 3 February).
Shop Growing Out by Barbara Blake Hannah (Penguin) at Bookshop, £9.99
All My Friends Are Invisible by Jonathan Joly
YouTube creator Jonathan Joly’s memoir will blow you away. Describing a painful childhood of bullying and abuse, in this memoir he explains how he survived by finding a safe space for who he really was, a different sort of child: creative, expressive, and – on the inside – a girl, by creating invisible loving friends who became his lifeline (out 3 February).
Shop All My Friends Are Invisible by Jonathan Joly (Quercus) at Bookshop, £16.98
Lucid by Lucy Holden
Lucy Holden’s Lucid is a book that will resonate with so many people right now. Forced back to her parents’ house during the pandemic, it examines the hedonistic life Lucy had built for herself and the places she’d ended up. With time and space to think and breathe, it asks where does this generation go next? (out 3 February)
Shop Lucid by Lucy Holden (Simon & Schuster) at Bookshop, £12.99
This Is Not A Pity Memoir by Abi Morgan
Abi Morgan is the writer behind films including Suffragette, Shame and TV series The Split and this is her first book. In it she writes about the shock of finding her husband unconscious and then put into coma, how life can veer into unexpected places and what really matters – and how hope can always exist along with humour and love (out 12 May).
Shop This Is Not A Pity Memoir by Abi Morgan (John Murray) at Bookshop, £14.99
The Year The World Went Mad by Mark Woolhouse
Mark Woolhouse is professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh and this is the first-hand history of what really happened during the first year of the pandemic as he advised politicians and the country locked down. Vital reading for understanding where we’re currently at (out 24 February).
Shop The Year The World Went Mad by Mark Woolhouse (Sandstone) at Bookshop, £16.98
Sex, Drugs And Yoga by Birdie Paradise
Cocaine, random sex, anxiety… Birdie Paradise’s diary begins in 2004 in the darkest of places but is also the beginning of something transformative as she moves towards yoga and peace. Immediately arresting, this is an uplifting insight into how rebuilding and rebalancing energy can be done slowly and surely (out 17 January).
Shop Sex, Drugs And Yoga by Birdie Paradise (Lemon Quartz Publishing) at Bookshop, £14.99
How We Can Win by Kimberly Jones
Inspired by political activist Kimberly Jones’ own viral video How Can We Win, this is a takedown of the systemic racism that infiltrates every area of life and a call for Reconstruction 2.0 in the US. Edifying, instructive and vital reading, order this one now (out 18 January).
Shop How We Can Win by Kimberly Jones (Text) at Bookshop, £10.99
Images: courtesy of publishers
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