I’ll be the first to admit that fiction is my wheelhouse (yes, I’m an avid member of Booktok). Truthfully, I don’t generally gravitate toward nonfiction. However, there’s always something to be said for trying new things.
So, in that spirit, here are five of the best nonfiction books you should read this year:
The Teachers: A Year Inside America’s Most Vulnerable, Important Profession by Alexandra Robbins
It’s no secret that teachers are one of the occupations most prone to burn out. The job is often thankless and fraught with problems that no one knows how to solve. Couple that with the fact that they’re underpaid and that Covid completely changed the landscape of learning, it’s no wonder a majority of them have considered leaving the profession. The Teachers does a beautiful job of shining a light on these issues, focusing on the stories of a math teacher in the South, a special-education teacher in the West, and an elementary school teacher on the East Coast.
A Fever in the Heartland: The Ku Klux Klan’s Plot to Take Over America, and the Woman Who Stopped Them by Timothy Egan
Timothy Egan brings to life the story of the Klan’s rise in the 1920s, setting the focus on D.C. Stephenson, one of the Grand Dragon’s who helped spread his views on the importance of white supremacy throughout the country. It was Madge Oberholtzer, a woman who Stephenson kidnapped and tortured, who ended his reign of terror with her deathbed testimony that finally brought him to justice.
Unreliable Narrator by Aparna Nancherla
In this collection of darkly funny essays, comedian Aparna Nancherla dives into the intricacies of impostor syndrome while she hilariously recounts her experiences with depression, anxiety and womanhood spent in the public eye.
Just Kids by Patti Smith
Just Kids is Smith’s recounting of her relationship with renowned photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. Set in New York City in the late sixties and early seventies, it’s a fever dream of famous faces, the dreams we have as young people, art, and true love. Smith is an artistic powerhouse, and her book is nothing short of iconic.
Elvis is Titanic by Ian Klaus
In 2005, twenty-five-year-old Rhodes Scholar and author Ian Klaus accepted a job offer at Salahaddin University in Arbil, the largest city in the Kurdistan region of Iraq. His official job would be teaching English and lecturing students on American history. However, he claims that it was his desire to help Iraq on its journey to become a stable and successful country that took him across the world. Elvis is Titanic is thoughtful, insightful, and fresh, offering Americans a unique glimpse into the culture of the Kurds and the young people who are its future.