Favorite Non Fiction Books of 2022

It’s Monday again and I’m back with my second favorites post of the year – this time for the Nonfiction books I’ve read this year.

One of my reading goals for 2022 was that a quarter of my reading for the year should be nonfiction. And while I haven’t finished updating my spreadsheet, I think I’ve managed to achieve this goal, despite some ups and downs. It definitely helped that I read a lot of nonfiction in the first quarter of the year as well as during Nonfiction November and since, so the blips in the mid of the year didn’t make too much of a dent in my %.

What I do feel I’ve done a bit differently this year is a read a bit outside my usual nonfiction subgenres. I tend to stick to current affairs/politics, some history and celebrity memoirs – but this year I managed to also include a few healthcare related books and other random reads which caught my fancy.

So, let me not delay anymore and list down some of my favorite nonfiction reads of the year. These are not in any particular order but I will note my most favorites at the bottom.

I enjoy following a couple of lawyers on twitter like Elie Mystal and MJC, and when they recommend a book, I check it out, and that’s how I came to read Lady Justice. This is an excellent collection of profiles about women lawyers across the country who have been and are currently working hard to provide legal services and get justice for the causes that they support. It was very inspiring to get to know some of the women who were behind getting injunctions in the initial days of the Muslim ban, get convictions for the people involved in Charlottesville white supremacist riots, providing the necessary legal support for migrants and their children on the southern border, and many more. Definitely worth a read.

Making a Scene might not be a conventional memoir where the author from childhood to current time period in her life, but it’s really enjoyable, particularly if you checkout the audiobook. Constance brings all of her theatre background into her narration and gives us a very entertaining and dramatic account of various important events in her life. Along with the funny anecdotes, we also get to understand her experiences with sexual harassment and suicide and overall, it makes for an engaging listen about one of the prominent current artists from the Asian American community.

I’ve had Disfigured on my tbr for a while now because one of my dear friends recommended it to me, but I only got the opportunity to read it this year. And this turned out to be an enlightening read coz the author uses her own experience as a person with cereal palsy, as well as her critical analysis of various fairytales to show us how these stories always other people and treat those differently who are considered as not “normal”. It’s so eye opening to understand how much of a negative impact such stories can have on young kids who are perceived as different by the world, and how disheartening it is when kids can’t find examples like themselves in stories. This is a great read if you want to learn a bit about disabilities and ableism and I think especially all of us who love reading should check it out.

In a similar vein, another book which I found to be very enlightening was The Invisible Kingdom where the author documents her own life as a person suffering from chronic illnesses and also gives us a general overview of the kind of chronic illness that people can suffer from, as well as the healthcare options available for such cases. It’s a heartbreaking as well as enraging read, and with each horrible experience she has, the author reiterates the importance of developing a more holistic kind of healthcare and how it is even necessary now that there are ever increasing cases of long Covid. A scary but very important book to read for our times.

I’ve been low key obsessed with cdramas since the first time I watched The Untamed and even tried my hand at learning a bit of Mandarin on Duolingo (though I’m not good following through). So, when I first encountered Kingdom of Characters book, I immediately wanted to read it. And it was so fascinating. This is partly a story of how Simplified Chinese came to be, partly how we are now able to electronically communicate using Chinese language, and partly a history of all the people involved in making this possible. I had never before given a thought to how we are able to type in various languages on our phone keyboards, so it was very informative to read the journey of the Chinese language to be a part of Unicode. This book may not be for everyone but if you have a fascination for languages, you can’t miss this.

Jason Kander is one of my favorite people to follow on twitter, so it was never in question that I would read his memoir Invisible Storm. I still remember the day when he suspended his KC Mayor campaign and announced that he was suffering from PTSD because it was a brave thing to do by someone who seemed like a very future presidential prospect. And this book is no different. It’s a chronicling of his experiences in the warzone and what happened after he came back home, the years of suffering from nightmares and paranoia but never giving it a name, and finally acknowledging that he needed help. It was also very eye opening to get his wife Diana’s POV and how living with a person suffering from intense PTSD can do to her own mental health. This is a very candid and honest memoir and anyone who wants to read more about mental health in general should check it out. And do checkout the audiobook because Jason is a very good narrator.

I read On Tyranny after the Russian war on Ukraine started and it was frankly scary to read the book because it is so prescient about authoritarianism. There is not much I can say about it coz it’s a short book but if you are also someone who is worried about the rise of fascism everywhere, you can start your reading about the topic with this one before moving onto other important literature.

Patrick Radden Keefe turns part historian and part investigative journalist in Empire of Pain to bring to light the rise of the Sackler dynasty right from the time their patriarch arrived in the US as an immigrant till their greed and callousness got exposed during the opioid crisis. It’s a relatively normal read for most of the first half albeit giving us a hint as to the kind of practices they are ready to follow to make money but it turns into an enraging read once the story moves onto the production and distribution of Oxy and their actions (or more rightly, their inactions) during the epidemic that followed. It’s still awful to learn that they’ve never apologized for their role in so many deaths in the country and the money they have been sued for feels so minimal in front of the suffering they have caused. Definitely a very important read, if you can stomach it.

Anupama Chopra is my favorite film journalist from India whom I’ve followed for years now and ofcourse I was gonna read her book, A Place in my Heart. And this was the perfect book to read during the pandemic because it was pure indulgence in Bollywood nostalgia. With each chapter about a movie or artist or filmmaker or song, Anu shares her thoughts and memories related to it and I had such fun recollecting my own memories associated with them. If you are a quintessential Bollywood fan – of the stars, the glitz, the glamor – you really should check this out. Be careful though coz it’s chock full of spoilers.

I had previously really enjoyed the author’s A Thousand Ships, so I wanted to see how a nonfiction book by her but about the same greek myths she writes about would be like. And Pandora’s Jar turned out to be such an interesting look at how narratives about women can change across centuries. Each chapter in this book is about a woman from Greek mythology, the most popular version of her story and then the author’s analysis from the earliest available historical sources about the woman, and how her portrayal has changed in the following decades based on the whims of the artist or the society of the times. While I loved getting to know this kind of history, it’s always so anger inducing and sad to see how women’s narratives have been erased or silenced or warped in historical works because of misogyny and it’s only now we are getting to know about the many available alternate versions of their stories. Definitely recommend this if you are a fan of Greek mythology.

Now let’s talk about my most favorite nonfiction books of the year:

There have been documentaries and even a mini series made about the story of Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes, but nothing beats the source all those were made from – Bad Blood by John Carreyrou, who was the first investigative journalist to raise questions about the illicit business practices of the startup which was being lauded by everyone as the future, which could have had a significant impact on many people’s lives, but which turned out to be a fraud. This might a book about the life and times of Holmes and her company, but it reads like a thrilling novel and the author is great at keeping our interest throughout the narrative. And it’s another book that will make you extremely angry at the way capitalism works in this country and who this system considers eligible to be lauded as belonging to the upper echelons of the business world. Definite must read.

Ace by Angela Chen was more than a book for me, it was a life changing experience. It is very profound and moving to realize that the way you have felt for years within yourself may not be the norm in society but that doesn’t make you bad or wrong, just different. My coming to terms with my asexuality was not too difficult once I realized that there was a term for it, but the journey to reach that stage was often confusing. However, this book felt so reassuring to me as an ace person, while also showcasing the difficulties that exist in nagivating this world as an ace person, because this is not a world built for people who are challenging the norms of compulsory sexuality. Absolute must read for everybody but definitely if you are ace or exploring that part of yourself.

I don’t think I need to talk much about I’m Glad My Mom Died because for anyone who’s read this memoir this year, I feel like it’ll be on their favorites list. This is a harrowing read and I am still marveling at how Jennette managed to inject humor into her life story amidst all the turmoil she had to go through. It’s excellently written, even better narrated by the author herself and one of the best books of this year period.

RISE is definitely my favorite of the year. It’s just such a love letter to all the artists across various mediums who have brought up the profile of Asian America as a whole in this country and it’s beautifully compiled in different formats. This is a book I feel you should totally show off on your bookshelf, especially if you are also an Asian American. And I thought it was also nice to read such a positive and lovely book in these times of extreme rise in Anti-Asian hate crimes in the country.

There are many more I read this year but these are definitely the books that have left a lasting impression on me. I’m also currently in the middle of a couple of nonfiction books and who knows if they’ll become my favorites after I post this. But I do hope you enjoyed reading this list and maybe you’ll find something you wanna checkout here. I have a couple more lists coming this week and next and I’m definitely excited to end the year with some activity on the blog.


20 thoughts on “Favorite Non Fiction Books of 2022

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    1. Thank you !! Invisible Kingdom was very eye opening… there’s another which I didn’t mention called The Pain Gap which was about the inequalities in healthcare for POC women and I liked it too though hoped it went into more detail..

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Another great wrap up post! I’m glad you liked Disfigured.. it was one of my fav non fic reads last year too😊 I have Ace on my to read list since ages and as a fellow ace who has come out only to her closest friends and probably some people on the internet community, I know this is one book that will be a hit for me too, whenever I read it😊

    I’ll add Rise to my list too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I totally added Disfigured to my tbr just because you loved it. Definitely trust your recs a lot 😊😊😊 And it was a very interesting perspective. I can’t wait for you to read Ace and hopefully we’ll get to chat more about it when you do.

      Liked by 1 person

          1. Oh my gosh!!! I’m super honoured!!😊 I wish I could get physical copies of the books you recommend too but most of them are not available in India sadly. I tried so hard to get my hands on physical copies of a celestial trilogy, monk and robot books, murderbot diaries but no luck. So now I’m listening to murderbot on storytel and will probably read a psalm built in the wild on my kindle😊

            Liked by 1 person

          2. 😊😊😊
            I know how difficult it is to find everything over there… Celestial trilogy copies are hard to find here also. Even I read only ebooks. It had a limited print run I think.
            Murderbot works well on audio though.. maybe just a tad bit confusing at the beginning.. Kevin Free does a cool job narrating that series…
            Psalm probably wouldn’t be worth it to find a physical copy I feel.. it’s too small and will probably cost a lot. Kindle ebook might be cheaper…

            Liked by 1 person

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