The Best Nonfiction of 2022


Yesterday I examined fiction that received the most love in 2022 from book reviewers. Today I will look at nonfiction. I compiled 30 notable lists with more than 600 books, including our own favorites from the Cook Memorial Public Library District staffers. Thirty-seven books, from memoirs to nature to social commentary, rose to the top. I’ve added links to our catalog for book descriptions, and listed the Cook staffers who recommended the titles. Did any of your favorites make it?

If you are looking for even more great books, come to the library to pick up the booklet featuring our Staff Nonfiction Favorites of 2022 (they are also on our website). Looking for fiction? Check out my post on the best fiction of the year.

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15 Mentions:

AN IMMENSE WORLD by Ed Yong, recommended y staffers Melissa, Jean, Sarah and Amy V.

STAY TRUE: A MEMOIR by Hua Hsu, recommended by Jo.

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14 Mentions:

IN LOVE: A MEMOIR OF LOVE AND LOSS by Amy Bloom, recommended by staffer Dorota.

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12 Mentions:

CONSTRUTING A NERVOUS SYSTEM by Margo Jefferson.

LOST AND FOUND by Kathryn Schulz

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11 Mentions:

THE INVISIBLE KINGDOM by Meghan O’Rourke, recommended by staffer Amy V.

10 Mentions:

DUCKS: TWO YEARS IN THE OIL SANDS by Kate Beaton (Graphic Memoir), recommended by Sonia and Joe

THE REVOLUTIONARY: SAMUEL ADAMS by Stacey Schiff, recommended by staffer Rob

SOUTH TO AMERICA: A JOURNEY BELOW THE MASON-DIXON TO UNDERSTAND THE SOUL OF A NATION by Imani Perry.

9 Mentions:

AMERICAN MIDNIGHT: THE GREAT WAR, A VIOLENT PEACE, AND DEMOCRACY’S FORGOTTEN CRISIS by Adam Hochschild

ByY HAND NOW KNOWN: JIM CROW’S LEGAL EXECUTIONERS by Margaret A. Burnham, recommended by staffer Joe.

EASY BEAUTY: A MEMOIR by Chloé Cooper Jones.

SOLITO: A MEMOIR yby Javier Zamaora, recommended by Becky.

THE SONG OF THE CELL: AN EXPLORATION OF MEDICINE AND THE NEW HUMAN by Siddhartha Mukherjee.

8 Mentions:

ALSO A POET: FRANK O’HARA, MY FATHER, AND ME by Ada Calhoun

THE MAN WHO COULD MOVE CLOUDS: A MEMOIR by Ingrid Rojas Contreras.

STRANGERS TO OURSELVES: UNSETTLED MINDS AND THE STORIES THAT MAKE US by Rachel Aviv

7 Mentions:

FINDING ME by Viola Davis

HIS NAME IS GEORGE FLOYD: ONE MAN’S LIFE AND THE STRUGGLE FOR RACIAL JUSTICE by Robert Samuels and Toluse Olorunnipa.

THE HURTING KIND by Ada Limón (Poems)

UNDER THE SKIN: THE HIDDEN TOLL OF RACISM ON AMERICAN LIVES AND THE HEALTH OF A NATION by Linda Villarosa.

6 Mentions:

ANCESTOR TROUBLE: A RECKONING AND A RECONCILIATION by Maud Newton

RIVER OF THE GODS: GENIUS, COURAGE, AND BETRAYAL IN THE SEARCH OF THE SOURCE OF THE NILE by Candice Millard, recommended by Jean.

SANDY HOOK: AN AMERICAN TRAGEDY BECAME A BATTLE FOR TRUTH by Elizabeth Williamson

5 Mentions:

CAMERA MAN: BUSTER KEATON, THE DAWN OF CINEMA, AND THE INVENTION OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY by Dana Stevens

THE ESCAPE ARTIST: THE MAN WHO BROKE OUT OF AUSCHWITZ TO WARN THE WORLD by Jonathan Freedland

G-MAN: J. EDGAR HOOVER AND THE MAKING OF THE AMERICAN CENTURY by Beverly Gage.

THE GRIMKES: THE LEGACY OF SLAVERY IN AN AMERICAN FAMILY by Kerri K. Greenidge.

HALF AMERICAN: THE EPIC STORY OF AFRICAN AMERICANS FIGHTING WORLD WAR II AT HOME AND ABROAD by Matthew F. Delmont.

I’M GLAD MY MOM DIED by Jeanette McCurdy.

INDIGENOUS CONTINENT: THE EPIC CONTEST FOR NORTH AMERICA by Pekka Hämäläinen.

SHY: THE ALARMINGLY OUTSPOKEN MEMOIRS OF MARY RODGERS by Mary Rodgers and Jesse Green, recommended by Becky and David

SUPER-INFINITE: THE TRANSFORMATIONS OF JOHN DONNE by Katherine Rundell

TIME IS A MOTHER by Ocean Vuong (Poems).

THE TRAYVON GENERATION by Elizabeth Alexander.

WHAT MY BONES KNOW: A MEMOIR OF HEALING FROM COMPLEX TRAUMA by Stephanie Foo.

Sources: Amazon, American Library Association’s Carnegie Medal Long List, Barnes & Noble, BookListBookPage, Book Riot, Chicago Public Library, Chicago Tribune, Cook Memorial Public Library Staff Favorites, EW (Entertainment Weely), Goodreads, Esquire, Good Housekeeping, Kirkus, Library Journal, Literary Hub, Los Angeles Times, New York Public Library, New York Times, New Yorker, NPR, Oprah, Publishers Weekly, Real Simple, School Library Journal, Time, USA Today, Vogue, Vulture, Washington Post. 

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