New non-fiction for Spring 2022

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There are so many awesome new non-fiction releases coming out in the next few months! I’ve rounded up some of the most exciting non-fiction to be released this spring, but the list could easily be much longer.

Below you will find memoirs, collections of essays and works of cultural criticism. I’ve included books on motherhood, illness, weather, grief, race, and real estate. There are no simple history, science, or political science books on the list (I’ll be honest, those aren’t my genres), but many of these titles incorporate elements of those genres into their structure. .

I’m constantly looking for my favorite form of non-fiction, the one that’s hard to categorize. Most of the books below reflect this preference: they are varied, innovative and surprising. These books make their case or analyze their subjects from different angles. They may combine history and memory, or perhaps sociology, political science, literature and criticism. Others are more traditional in form, memoirs in particular, and can offer the comfort of the familiar while telling new stories and asking new questions.

A few of these books were released this week, and the others are available for pre-order. Either way, keep an eye out for them and see what you think!

The Trayvon Generation: Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow by Elizabeth Alexander (Grand Central Publishing, April 5)

The Trayvon Generation began as an essay originally published in the new yorker. For the book, Alexander expanded that essay into a broad look at race in America. She interweaves her ideas and observations with works of art by contemporary artists. It is an essential book for understanding the tragedies of the past and present and the current movement for change.

Cover of Susan Cain's Bittersweet book

Bittersweet: How Sorrow and Longing Make Us Whole by Susan Cain (Crown, April 5)

Susan Cain is best known for her 2012 book Quiet. In this new film, she uses a similar method combining research and memory to explore grief and the lessons we can learn from painful experiences. She advocates for the importance of acknowledging grief and the longing and power these experiences hold to bring humans together. She shows how pain can turn into creativity and connection.

cover of Building a Nervous System: A Memoir by Margo Jefferson;  illustration of two dancing women.  One is fully illustrated and the other is made of curvy lines

Building a nervous system by Margo Jefferson (Pantheon, April 12)

In this sequel to his 2015 book Negroland, Margo Jefferson is taking the memoir genre in a whole new direction. She writes in fragments about pivotal moments in life, combining criticism and personal writing to capture how she came to be. With a wide range of cultural references and analysis, this book is dazzling in variety, broad scope, and intimacy.

Book cover of Left on Tenth by Delia Ephron

On the left the tenth: a second chance in life by Delia Ephron (Little, Brown and Company, April 12)

Left at tenth tells a story of heartbreak and new love. Delia Ephron lost her husband and sister to cancer and was in shock when a friend over 50 contacted her. Soon the romance blossomed. But soon after, he was diagnosed with a form of leukemia. Ephron’s memoir is a warm and honest look at life’s ups and downs.

Thin Places by Kerri ní Dochartaigh

Thin Places: A Natural History of Healing and Home by Kerri ní Dochartaigh (Editions Milkweed, April 12)

Thin places is both a memoir and a work of writing about nature. Kerri ní Dochartaigh says she grew up in Derry, a town on the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland. During the Troubles, she was subjected to poverty and violence and found solace and escape in the natural world. His book is an argument for understanding the landscapes that surround us and a call to live in peace with nature and with each other.

Shelter book cover by Lawrence Jackson

Shelter: A Black Tale of Homeland, Baltimore by Lawrence Jackson (Graywolf Press, April 19)

Shelter is a memoir in essays on real estate, fatherhood and race. Jackson returned to his hometown of Baltimore after finding a job at Johns Hopkins. His new neighborhood was shaped by racial pacts and is largely white. In the book, he describes what that move was like as a black man, while exploring his own past and the history of Baltimore.

Cover of the book Find Me by Viola Davis

Finding Me: A Memoir by Viola Davis (HarperOne, April 26)

To find me tells the story of the life of Viola Davis from her childhood in Rhode Island to her time on stage in New York to her success in cinema. It’s an honest and personal story of overcoming adversity and finding your purpose and your voice. It is also an inspiring call for readers to find their own sources of creativity and courage.

Linea Nigra book cover by Jazmina Barrera

Linea Nigra: an essay on pregnancy and earthquakes by Jazmina Barrera, translated by Christina MacSweeney (Two Lines Press, May 3)

Black line is an intimate and philosophical meditation on pregnancy and motherhood. The book is very varied, bringing earthquakes, plants, animals, books and more into the discussion. Barrera, known for her previous book On the headlights (also translated by Christina MacSweeney), calls for a new canon of pregnancy and body literature.

Ill Feelings book cover by Alice Hattrick

bad feelings by Alice Hattrick (Feminist Press, May 10)

bad feelings tells the story of Hattrick’s mother’s struggle with pneumonia, then chronic fatigue syndrome, followed by Alice’s own illness. Alice seemed to have the same illness as their mother but without a physical cause. The book blends memoirs, medical histories, biographies and more to explore Alice and their mother’s illnesses as well as the illnesses of famous women in literature, art and history.

Cover of the book Essential Labor by Angela Garbes

Essential Work: Mothering as Social Change by Angela Garbes (Harper Wave, May 10)

Essential Work is a much-needed look at how little support our society provides for mothers, even though the work of mothering is essential. Garbes uses research and personal experience to explore cultural assumptions about the value of care and work. She offers her perspective as a first-generation Filipino American, showing how this experience affects her understanding of the work of motherhood and its potential to affect social change.

My and Me by Putsata Reang book cover

Mom and Me: A Memoir by Putsata Reang (MCD, May 17)

Putsata Reang’s family fled Cambodia when she was 11 months old. Reang barely survived the trip. Mom and I is a memoir of Reang’s efforts to meet her mother’s high expectations of what a daughter should be like. Reang also described what happens to their relationship when she comes out as gay and marries a woman. Her book is an in-depth look at cultural trauma and family debt.

Embrace the World on Fire Fearlessly by Barry Lopez cover

Fearlessly Embrace the Burning World: Essays by Barry Lopez (Random House, May 24)

This collection of essays brings together new and old works in tribute to the great environmental writer, Barry Lopez, who died on Christmas Day 2020. The pieces include memories, stories, reports and meditations on the landscape. They include travelogues and reflections on Lopez’s teachers. It is a book about the importance of remaining present to the beauty that surrounds us on earth.


Looking for even more non-fiction? Book Riot has you covered. You can check out 20 of the best nonfiction books of the decade, or maybe 50 of the best nonfiction books of the last 100 years. You can listen to our non-fiction podcast, For real, and find more articles than you’ll know what to do with in our non-fiction category. Good reading!

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