Friday 13 January 2023

Top 10 Non-Fiction Books of 2022

Over the past couple of years, I’ve struggled with the question of whether I prefer reading. fiction or non-fiction. At some moments, I’ve tended towards non-fiction, and others I’ve preferred novels. More recently I’ve come to the kind of obvious conclusion that I don’t have to have a preference. Fiction and non-fiction can serve different purposes in my life and as long as I’m finding and reading books that I enjoy and/or learn from then that’s all that really matters. Last week I shared the 10 best novels I read in 2022, and today I thought I’d share the 10 best non-fiction books I read in 2022 too! I would love to hear what you thought of these books if you’ve read them, and if you have any recommendations you think I would like. 

1. First Comes Love by Tom Rasmussen

I have recommended this book to so many of my friends. It is absolutely brilliant and I couldn’t put it down, Tom’s writing is addictive. I would love to read more of their writing. First Comes Love is Tom’s struggle over marriage – it is something they want but is at odds with their values and feels exclusionary to them as a non-binary person. Yet it is still something they are drawn to. I loved reading Tom’s thoughts and discussions on marriage. It’s something I too find myself considering almost as a theoretical concept. Tom considers marriage from their perspective as a non-binary, working class northerner; its place within their culture, how their friends view it, how their family view it, their past experience with weddings and marriage of people they know, and consistently comes back to the question of whether or not marriage is for them. I loved this book and I’m sure I’ll come back for a re-read at some point soon! I first heard about First Comes Love when Tom was a guest on my favourite podcast All the Small Things with Venetia La Manna. I would highly recommend listening to that episode too!

2. Becoming Abolitionists: Police, Protests, and the Pursuit of Freedom by Derecka Purnell

Becoming Abolitionists was a book I read quite slowly. A chapter here and there. It was a lot to take in and had a lot of information, but that’s okay, some books are meant to be read slowly and sometimes it can be better to read slowly rather than rushing through. This book is part memoir, part political manifesto. Using her own experiences, those of her friends, and many many case studies, Derecka Purnell picks apart violence to show how and why it is perpetuated by the prison industrial complex and how we can find solutions in our communities, not in more policing. She looks at disability justice, sexual and gender-based violence and even the climate crisis. If you’re not sure why we need prison abolition or how it would work, give this book a read.

3. Hands: An Anxious Mind Unpicked by Lauren Brown

After a conversation about my dermotillomania and trichotillomania – disorders which mean that I compulsively pick at my skin and pull out my hair – my friend Rosie lent me this book (which was actually on loan to her by another friend!). The author, Lauren Brown, writes about her own experiences of dermotillomania both as a child and as an adult. I’ve known the name of these disorders for a long time and recognized that I had them for a long time too, but I wasn’t really taking the impact they had on me seriously. Reading this book was the final push that got me to finally go on medication for my anxiety and I’m grateful to it for that. 

4. All About Love by bell hooks

I read this book in a day. I couldn’t put it down. hooks is brilliant. We already knew that. She is so missed and still has so much impact on us. Her writing had a huge impact on my when I was younger and still does today. I think I read it almost too quickly. I feel like I need to go back and read more slowly and in a more considered way. Even though I read it too fast, I still got so much out of All About Love, and needed to hear the thing hooks says in it. It got me reflecting a lot on my past romantic relationships, and how I value love in my life now, but also how love is valued in climate movements and impacts how we carry out climate action. I may have more thoughts on a slower reread, who knows!   

5. Conversations on Love by Natasha Lunn

I read this book immediately after All About Love and honestly, these two go together so well I feel that my experience of each of them cannot be separated. Natasha Lunn’s discussions on the different kinds of love are wonderfully and eloquently written. She looks at friendship, family, and romantic love in such a clear and comprehensive way that feels almost like you’re finally exhaling after holding your breath for a while. This book felt like therapy, and the end made me cry while I was having a cup of tea in a Costa. I have since given several copies to friends, both just because and as birthday presents. I think everyone should read this. 

6. Experiments in Imagining Otherwise by Lola Olufemi

This book is top tier in every single way. I shed a few tears reading this, and it filled my heart with joy, love and hope, with the belief that change will come and that that change is in community. I started reading it while visiting my parents after I’d just handed an assignment in. I lay in my teenage bedroom unable to put this book down until I’d got to the end in the early hours of the morning. It is simply gorgeous. A few pals have borrowed it recently and had similarly reactions to it. I have a feeling I will revisit many times in the future. Lola Olufemi, you are the writer of this generation. 

7. Abolishing the Police edited by Koshka Duff

So much writing about police and prison abolition is US-centric. That can make it easy to think that the prison industrial complex or police violence is ‘only an American problem’, when that really is not the case. This book, edited by Koshka Duff, is a selection of essays by academics and campaigners all around the theme of police, prison, and border abolition and how the systems that abolitionism seeks to dismantle operate in the UK. Topics range from everyday borders and how we display carceal ideology in our everday behaviour to the arms trade and fascist panic. Throughout some specific terminology is set in bold with a definition so that you don’t have to already have a level of knowledge on abolition, policing and borders to be able to read and comprehend the text. 


8. Burnt: Fighting for Climate Justice


You could call my timing reading this book ironic. It was one of the books that I brought with me on my family summer holiday, when we went back to where I grew up in Wales to stay with my grandparents. I ended up reading this book days after there had been several unprecedented wildfires in my home county during the extreme heat, including one in a recycling plant and another across the clifftops of beaches I had grown up on. The title of this book was not lost on me. This book highlights the scale of the climate crisis and sets out the Green New Deal as a starting point to its solution. I wrote a longer review of it in this blog post if you want to find out more! 

9. The Transgender Issue: An Argument for Justice by Shon Faye

The Transgender Issue is essential reading for everybody, cis or trans. It is as so much information that both sets out the reality for trans people living in the UK and the systemic inequality that faces them, as well as highlighting what needs to be changed. This information is so accessibly presented and Shon’s writing so engaging that anyone can pick up this book and get so much out of it. If you want to learn about trans rights, or find understanding trans issues hard or considering how the media talks about trans people, this book is perfect for you. Please read this!

10. Border Nation: A Story of Migration by Leah Cowan

Another one of Pluto Press’s Outspoken series that I absolutely loved! In Border Nation, Leah Cowan looks at borders – how we interact with them on a daily basis, how they impact our movements, how they are monetized through the prison industrial complex and the colonial history of their formation. Cowan begins the book with some vital context, looking at the history of borders and migration in the British Empire (including Windrush), colonial wealth disparities, and the myth of the migrant ‘outsider. This book is brilliant for grounding the realities of migration in Britain and gaining an understanding of how borders operate to enforce oppressive systems.

Honourable Mention (or a little something extra): Takeaway: Stories from a Childhood Behind the Counter

When I was considering what books to include this list I was stuck at 11 when I’d decided to only include 10. I still wanted to mention all of those books here because sharing is caring. I picked this book up from The Book Bar in London the day before my birthday and adored it. Part memoir, part cook book, Angela Hui recounts her childhood growing up in a small village in the Welsh Valleys as a second-generation Chinese immigrant whose family ran the local Chinese Takeaway. Each chapter ends with recipes Angela ate with her family and is mentioned in their corresponding chapter. A wonderful book that deserves more acknowledgement! 

If you liked this post you might like: 10 Best Non-Fiction Books I Read in 2021

1 comment:

  1. Novelty socks dance on feet like playful dreams, adorned with quirky designs that spark laughter and whimsy, a touch of lighthearted magic to stride with.