I have a method to my reading madness. I always have at least one nonfiction book going in print in addition to an audiobook and a fiction book, typically in digital format.
When I got my Audible stats for 2022, I wasn’t surprised that most of the books I listened to were biographies, memoirs, and personal and professional development. I tend to listen to nonfiction books that I don’t think I’ll highlight and keep.
I’m a learning nerd, so I love reading nonfiction, and I certainly had some favorite nonfiction books of 2022.
My 12 Favorite Nonfiction Books of 2022
I read 132 books in 2022. Of those, I gave 12 nonfiction books perfect grades. Here are my reviews.
1. Dinners with Ruth
Ruth Bader Ginsberg lived an amazing life. And Nina Totenberg’s life and career aren’t exactly boring. I love Dinners with Ruth so much because of the mix of stories about these two women, their careers, and their once-in-a-lifetime friendship.
It’s not surprising that Nina can tell a story, but the way she weaves in their personal relationship with how each worked to break barriers for women makes this book a special read. I recommend it to anyone who loves a story about friendship or strong women.
2. Doing Life with Your Adult Children
We’re in a unique time in our little family. Our children are legally adults, but they’re not quite completely independent yet. This new stage in our family attracted me to Jim Burns’ book, Doing Life with Your Adult Children.
I think all parents in this stage would benefit from reading the book. Because, honestly, you’re still their parents, but you need a roadmap for how to have healthy adult relationships with your children.
3. Finding Me
My love for Viola Davis began with her play Annalise Keating on How to Get Away with Murder. I wanted to be her as a professor, with amazing outfits and fabulous chunky necklaces. Just without all of the, you know, murdering.
I didn’t know much about Viola, but I heard great things about her book, Finding Me, so I listened. Oh my goodness, what this woman has survived. She pulled herself up from nothing to become who she was today. If there was an obstacle — abuse, homelessness, hunger, neglect, bullying, racism — she faced it. And the onslaught certainly didn’t stop as she tried to prove herself as an actress.
After listening to her book, I really don’t know how Viola made it to where she is today, but there’s no question that she’s incredibly strong and brave. I have even more respect for her now.
4. How Are You, Really?
I don’t like to reread books. There are so many amazing books out there that I get sad thinking about how I’ll never get to read everything I want. But I’m going to read Jenna Kutcher’s book, How Are You, Really? again. I listened to the audiobook and need a physical book to highlight and ponder.
You may know Jenna from her podcast, Goal Digger. It’s pretty freakin’ fabulous, but this book is so much better. It’s about trusting your instincts, putting yourself first, and doing what’s really important to live your best, most authentic life. I don’t know if it’s motivational or self-help, but it’s worth reading either way. I love a little inspiration.
5. Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love, and So Much More
Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love, and So Much More by Janet Mock gave me so much to think about. The book is about Janet growing up young, Black, poor, and trans, and the lengths she went to just to become her true self.
Before reading this book, I always thought of parents and family being the biggest challenge for trans people in their youth. It was naive of me to think that, and I now realize how many practical obstacles some trans people face.
6. The Body Keeps the Score
It took me a while to get through The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk, I think mostly because of the part of the book that is super heavy on neuroscience. But as someone who studies emotional trauma, his book is one of the most important I’ve read in years.
It’s about how the brain responds to trauma, and the body physically holds it in the most unexpected ways. Dr. van der Kolk is a top researcher in this area and sprinkled studies throughout the book. I’m not sure how many times I said, “That’s absolutely fascinating,” while reading.
7. The Book of Boundaries
I almost didn’t give The Book of Boundaries a perfect grade. I wasn’t sure Melissa Urban was the best source of boundary information, given how she presented her past struggles at the beginning of the book and because she’s most commonly associated with Whole 30. I’m going through this whole rejecting diet culture thing that made me pause before taking her advice. But then I couldn’t stop thinking about the practical way she wrote this book.
There are multiple books about boundaries out there, probably because we’re not too good at setting or enforcing them. What makes this one different is the scripts. The author provides more than 130 specific scripts to use with the people in your life who aren’t listening to or respecting your boundaries. So, she’s not just telling you that you need to set a boundary. She’s telling you how to do it, even when people refuse to listen.
8. The Family Outing
I’m a little biased when it comes to books written by journalists. I just always think they’re better. Jessi Hempel’s memoir, The Family Outing, gives you a lot to think about. One thing is clear — Jessi’s family wasn’t living authentically, and they were all better off when they let their truths be known.
Jessi is gay. Her sister is bisexual. Her brother is transgender. And her father is gay. He didn’t come out until she was an adult and after years of suppressing who he was because of his religious beliefs.
What looked like a regular middle-class upbringing on the outside was really a house of secrets and shame. And now that everyone in the family is living as they truly are, they allowed Jessi to share their story.
9. The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive
What makes one leader successful and well-liked while another has seemingly endless employee and business problems? In The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive, Patrick Lencioni uses his customary fable style to tell the story of two such leaders and guide readers through critical leadership lessons along the way.
10. The Light We Carry
Michelle Obama is a damn treasure. She gives us the courage and wisdom we need during some of the most challenging times.
In The Light We Carry, the former first lady addresses life after the White House in our current political and societal climate. She also answers the question I’ve been asking: “How long do we have to ‘go high?’” We may not like her answer. Spoiler: It’s forever.
11. The Storyteller: Tales of Life and Music
I think I’ve seen the Foo Fighters three times. I know I saw them at least once (maybe twice) when they were basically a nothing band. Then I saw them in a huge arena. They put on a great show, making me read Dave Grohl’s book, The Storyteller: Tales of Life and Music. Even though I like the band, I didn’t expect to enjoy the book as much as I did.
Dave worked his way to his current fame the way musicians used to. He wasn’t discovered on some TV show. He loved music, practiced hard, and paid his dues. And he still seems like a great guy despite his celebrity. He still tries to do the right thing and be a good person. I appreciate that.
I liked hearing Dave’s stories about playing with other notable musicians, many of whom he met because he was in the right place at the right time. I also enjoyed how he’s still just a big nerd and used to be surprised when people recognized him, even after Nirvana. And, of course, it was chilling to read his accounts of watching Kurt Cobain struggle with drugs and then learning he had ODd and later died.
Reading about Dave’s relationship with his late drummer, Taylor Hawkins, was also pretty special. Taylor ODd after Dave wrote and I read the book.
12. Unmasked: My Life Solving America’s Cold Cases
Holy cow! What did I just read? That’s what I thought after finishing Paul Holes’ book, Unmasked: My Life Solving America’s Cold Cases. Paul’s career as a detective is just unbelievable. He worked on cases including Laci Peterson and Jaycee Dugard, and he was vital in identifying and arresting the Golden State Killer.
But, as you might suspect, devoting your life to solving crimes and coping with surrounding trauma takes a toll on a person. Paul dealt with failed relationships, individual mental health issues, and adverse coping as he worked to help others.
There they are, my 12 favorite nonfiction books of 2022. I hope you find something on the list to read and love. And, of course, I’d love your recommendations. Please share them in the comments.
As always, Happy Reading!
Leave a Reply