I enjoy losing myself in a fun piece of fiction as much as the next person. But these past few years have felt like a golden age for new nonfiction book releases. Clever cultural criticisms. Brilliant take-downs of systemic rot. Fascinating historical narratives. Heartbreaking memoirs. Creative nonfiction is having a moment, and I am here for it.
In a year that has already brought us memoirs like T Kira Madden’s Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls and Jayson Greene’s Once More We Saw Stars (hold on one moment while I cry…again), it can be tempting to start looking toward 2020 to see what else is coming down the pike.
But don’t count the rest of 2019 out yet.
New Nonfiction Book Releases to Watch For
There are a ton of new nonfiction book releases still to come before the year is out. Here are the ones I’m most looking forward to.
How to Be a Family by Dan Kois
I’m fascinated by how parents in other cultures raise their children, so this recently released reported memoir immediately piqued my interest. In it, the author and his family travel everywhere from New Zealand to the Netherlands to Kansas in order to get out of their self-described “East Bubble” and see how other families live. Can place change a family? I can’t wait to find out!
Drawing Power edited by Diane Noomin
This comics anthology, also recently released, contains contributions from more than 60 female comics creators, who use the form to share their experiences with sexual violence and harassment. I’ve enjoyed previous issue-driven comics anthologies (Love Is Love and Comics for Choice both come to mind), so I’m curious to see if this one feels just as strong.
Breathe: A Letter to My Sons by Imani Perry
As the neurotic helicopter mother of a 5-year-old, reading about the lessons parents hope to impart to their children just wrecks me. This recent release from Perry, the Hughes-Rogers Professor of African American Studies at Princeton University, contains the hopes and fears she carries for her sons as Black children in an often hateful society.
The Seven Necessary Sins for Women and Girls by Mona Eltahawy
The #MeToo movement has spawned a lot of powerful nonfiction on sexual violence and women’s anger, and this latest book looks particularly interesting. In it, Eltahawy advocates for female empowerment through an embrace of what she calls the “seven necessary sins” that women and girls are not supposed to commit: anger, ambition, profanity, violence, attention-seeking, lust, and power.
Motherhood So White by Nefertiti Austin
As a white thirtysomething mother living in suburban New Jersey, it’s easy for me to find myself reflected in various depictions of motherhood. But when Austin, a single African American, sets out to adopt a Black baby boy, she finds that the lens through which our culture looks at motherhood only serves to exclude her and the family she wants to build. Out on Sept. 20 from Sourcebooks, Motherhood So White delves into the history of adoption within African American communities and also interrogates stereotypes about single, Black motherhood.
Sorted by Jackson Bird
Ever since reading Gender Queer (so fantastic!),I’ve been hungry for other memoirs that just as capably convey the confusion and the angst that can exist around gender identity. On September 24, Tiller Press released this memoir from Jackson Bird, an LGBTQ+ advocate who came out as a transgender man at the age of 25. This is the story of what brought him to this point…and what came after.
Know My Name by Chanel Miller
You may recognize the name Brock Turner, but until recently the woman he assaulted was known only as Emily Doe. On September 24, Viking released Chanel Miller’s memoir of assault, and of a justice system that does more to protect perpetrators than victims.
How We Fight for Our Lives by Saeed Jones
Moving into October (October 8, Simon & Schuster), we have a coming-of-age memoir from poet Saeed Jones, whose name you may recognize either from his previous book (poetry collection Prelude to Bruise) or his various roles at BuzzFeed. In his latest, he writes about growing up as a young, gay, black man in the south.
Unfollow by Megan Phelps-Roper
At this troubled time in our history, it can be different to understand and empathize with those who choose to be a part of communities built around hate. Which is why I’m so curious about Roper’s memoir about growing up in the Westboro Baptist Church (which her grandfather founded!) and, eventually, leaving it. It’s set to be released by Farrar, Straus and Giroux on October 8.
Commute by Erin Williams
I do so love me a good graphic memoir, and Williams’s memoir on female shame, and on being either sexualized or ignored on a daily basis, deeply resonates. It drives me to distraction having to wait until October 8 (Abrams ComicArts) to read this one.
Burn It Down edited by Lilly Dancyger
I’ve already mentioned that female anger has been the anchor of several recent books. On October 8, Dancyger releases her own collection through Seal Press. I’m especially excited about this one because of the work Dancyger has done as an editor at both Narratively and Catapult. She is discerning in the work she chooses to develop and publish, and I expect that the pieces she’s chosen for this anthology will be just as powerful.
She Said by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey
You may have noticed a pattern in this list. I’m drawn to books that interrogate the systemic issues behind rape culture. I can’t help it. I’m a journalist who writes about female sexuality. So I will absolutely be picking up a copy of She Said on October 10 (Penguin Press), written by the two journalists who broke the story around Harvey Weinstein’s serial sexual abuse.
Dear Girls by Ali Wong
This book (out October 15 from Random House) is on this list because I saw both of Wong’s standup comedy specials on Netflix and, because they were so damn relatable and so damn funny, determined that I would follow her to the ends of the earth. The end.
The In-Betweens by Mira Ptacin
Here’s another author I would follow anywhere. Her gorgeously written memoir, Poor Your Soul, was basically a master class in what a memoir could be. Lucky for me, her next book sounds just as amazing. This time, she looks outside the personal and reports on the longest-running camp devoted to Spiritualists and mediums. I mean, how cool is that!? It’s out October 29 from Liveright and promises to be a fascinating read.
Eat Joy edited by Natalie Eve Garrett
Hell, looking at this cover brings me joy and I haven’t even opened the book yet. On October 29, Black Balloon Publishing releases this collection of illustrated essays on how comfort food can help you through difficult times. Contributors include the likes of Carmen Maria Machado, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and Melissa Febos, so really, do I need to explain anything more?
In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado
Speaking of Carmen Maria Machado, I think it’s criminal that two years have passed since Her Body and Other Parties. Am I expected to just not read new work from Carmen Maria Machado for two whole years!? Her previous book was a collection of speculative fiction that explored unapologetic female desire and autonomy. Her latest (out November 5 from Graywolf Press) is a memoir about domestic abuse, in which she struggles to make sense of the damaging relationship in which she found herself, leaning on various narrative tropes in order to unpack events in her life.
Plate Tectonics by Margaux Motin
Finally, I’m looking forward to this graphic memoir (out December 3 from Archaia) in which Motin shares the story of getting divorced, raising a child on her own, and…finding love again? Let me have at it!
Of course, these are just the books I’m looking forward to! I know. It can be difficult to keep up with all of the new nonfiction books that release each week. But god forbid you let something slip through the cracks!
Where to Find New Nonfiction Book Releases
I have a few tricks up my sleeve for keeping on top of new and forthcoming nonfiction book releases. There’s our New Releases Index, of course, plus our various book recommendation podcasts and newsletters (including one specifically for new books). I mean, we’re not called Book Riot for nothing.
But I also eyeball new release listings on sites like Publishers Weekly, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon. I subscribe to the newsletters for my favorite publishers and for my local independent bookstore. I throw my money at various book subscription boxes and other book subscription services, such as our own TBR. I read every list on every lit site I can. I LEAVE NO STONE UNTURNED.