Are you ready to add a whole lot of excellent nonfiction to your spring TBR? I hope so, because there is so much of it coming out in the next few weeks. There was a time, years ago, when I didn’t read nonfiction, and while I am grateful every day that this is no longer the case, I am also overwhelmed by the sheer number of nonfiction books on my TBR. If you have the same problem, I am very sorry to tell you that I am not here to help you with it. I am here to make it worse (better).
These April releases are especially rich in genre-expanding nonfiction, but there are also plenty of memoirs and some fantastic history books if that is what you love! You’ll find two brilliant Asian American memoirs that tackle American history and contemporary life through intimate family stories. I’ve got a fantastic memoir about drag for you that features art and photographs alongside the writing! And if that kind of hybrid book is your jam, I’ve got another treat in store: a collection of writing about trees and the natural world featuring illustrations that will take your breath away. I’ve also highlighted some new books by some of today’s most brilliant scholars and poets, including Christina Sharpe and Maggie Smith.
Ready? I promise it’s okay to just preorder and/or place library holds for the entire list.
A Living Remedy by Nicole Chung (April 4)
In her second memoir, Nicole Chung writes with incredible grace and tenderness about grief, class, health care inequality, and familial separation during COVID. The memoir centers around the death of her parents, and Chung’s openness, intimacy, and willingness to write her grief onto the page is truly extraordinary. She also has an incredible gift for connection and for illuminating not only her experiences, but how those experiences are a part of a larger, devastating story about America. This is a must-read book made up of anger, loss, and healing.
The Language of Trees by Katie Holten (April 4)
In this beautiful collection celebrating nature and excavating our relationship to it, words and illustrations blend to create a new language of trees and the natural world. Irish artist Katie Holden fills the book with her extraordinary illustrations of trees, which are accompanied by pieces by over 50 writers, including Robin Wall Kimmerer, Ross Gay, and Aimee Nezhukumatathil. The book also features older writing from a diverse array of artists, from Plato to Ursula K. Le Guin.
The Big Reveal by Sasha Velour (April 4)
Is illustrated nonfiction becoming a thing? I hope so! In this hybrid blend of memoir, photography, and original art, drag legend Sasha Velour shares her life story alongside the story of drag and queer life more broadly. She writes about her own journey as an artist, her successes and failures, and the people who’ve inspired her along the way. Along the way, she digs into drag in pop culture and queer history. This is a vibrant book, a celebration of and love letter to drag queens everywhere.
Ordinary Notes by Christina Sharpe (April 25)
It is absolutely an event when the incredible scholar Christina Sharpe blesses us with new book, so mark your calendars! In this collection of notes, Sharpe writes about the cadences of Black life. These singular notes — about loss, memory, art, writing, culture, family, music, history, and more — build and blend and coalesce into a symphony that is both celebration and elegy. Like so much of Sharpe’s work, this book transcends and reinvents genre.
Project 562 by Matika Wilbur (April 25)
This book is the culmination of Indigenous author and artist Matika Wilbur’s years-long project to visit with and photograph people from the 562 Tribal Nations recognized by the U.S. government. Over the course of a decade, Wilbur traveled from one end of the country to the other, listening to and learning from the stories of Indigenous people. She shares many of those stories in this book, which is full of photographs, narratives, and interviews with dozens and dozens of Native people. It’s a beautiful celebration of contemporary Indigenous life, art, and culture.
You Could Make This Place Beautiful by Maggie Smith (April 11)
In this genre-expanding memoir, Maggie Smith writes about the end of her marriage — and all the places, ideas, and new ways of being that stem from this monumental event. Told in a series of moments, vignettes, meditations, and musings, it’s not a straightforward memoir but a nonlinear collection of memory and possibility. Smith explores marriage, womanhood, parenting, forgiveness, and the art of narrative itself, all with a poet’s attention to language and detail.
Mott Street by Ava Chin (April 25)
My favorite memoirs are the ones that tell a big story through a personal lens. Chin does this beautifully in Mott Street. In her search to understand her own family’s history, she traces the history of Chinese Americans and Chinese immigrants, as well as the history of racist immigration laws, including the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. She shares the stories of the families whose lives were forever impacted by this law, and rediscovers her own roots — and those of her wider community — in a building in Chinatown. It’s a visceral, vital book that exposes some of America’s most shameful history, while uplifting the people who resisted and thrived despite it.
The Rediscovery of America: Native Peoples and the Unmaking of U.S. History by Ned Blackhawk (April 25)
Raise your hand if you didn’t learn Indigenous history in school — or if you only learned a racist, white-centric, colonizer version of it. Infuriatingly, the prevalence of harmful myths about Native history is still far, far too common. In this comprehensive history of Native America, Ned Blackhawk adds his voice to the growing chorus of Indigenous scholars and historians who are fighting back against this erasure.
Looking for more nonfiction to read this spring? Check out some of the best nonfiction that came out in January, February, and March — there are so many great books on these lists, about everything from nature and technology to basketball and spirituality! You can find also a full list of new releases in the magical New Release Index, carefully curated by your favorite Book Riot editors, organized by genre and release date.