Happy February to all my nonfiction friends! We may be in the shortest month of the year, but there is no shortage of good books coming our way. Here are ten new nonfiction books out in February that I’m super excited about. We have multiple takes on Black history and climate change, as well as a biography of Edgar Allan Poe that focuses on his mysterious death. There’s also an accessible book about modern psychology and two workplace memoirs — from a museum security guard and an emergency room doctor. And to top it all off is a lovely little book to help you find joy wherever you go.
For Black History Month, we have a few unique offerings, including a deep dive into the past, present, and future of Black horror films; a stunning collection of essays about the connections between race and nature; and a memoir about lost love and the miscalculations that led to it.
Science, memoir, history, biography, nature writing, the arts — whatever you fancy, it’s all here. As always, you can find 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.
All the Beauty in the World: The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Me by Patrick Bringley
When his brother was diagnosed with cancer, Patrick Bringley needed to escape the daily hustle of working at The New Yorker. So he became a guard at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, quietly strolling among some of the world’s best treasures and wearing out nine pairs of company shoes in a decade. All the Beauty in the World is a unique workplace memoir that tells the tale of the museum and the people who keep it running.
The Black Guy Dies First: Black Horror from Fodder to Oscar by Mark H. Harris and Robin R. Means Coleman
From the creators of the film documentary Horror Noire, about the rise of Black horror, comes The Black Guy Dies First, a deep analysis of the history and legacy of Black horror films. It covers the themes, traits, and tropes that are regularly applied to Black characters in horror films, as well as the religious and political undertones to those roles. With modern movies like Get Out and Lovecraft Country taking the world by storm, this is a timely and informative book for all horror fans.
The Climate Book by Greta Thunberg
Climate hero Greta Thunberg has compiled the words of scientists, historians, engineers, philosophers, and more in The Climate Book. It’s a handbook for how we can ensure the planet stays inhabitable for future generations. Alongside the wisdom of others are her own stories about demonstrating, as well as essays revealing the truth about greenwashing and the systemic failures that got us here.
Code Gray: Death, Life, and Uncertainty in the ER by Farzon A. Nahvi
Farzon A. Nahvi is an emergency room doctor, and his memoir, Code Gray, is the story of one of his routine shifts. It’s an eye-opening view of what it’s like to bounce from patient to patient, saving and losing lives. Along the way he shares other pivotal stories from his time at the hospital, like the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. He also muses on the failures of the healthcare system.
A Darker Wilderness: Black Nature Writing From Soil to Stars Edited by Erin Sharkey
A Darker Wilderness is a beautiful collection of essays about nature from a series of Black writers. Each essay is tied to an archival object of Black history — Benjamin Banneker’s 1795 almanac, a statue of a Haitian revolutionary, a photo of a woman at a civil rights demonstration — and the writer’s personal connection to it and nature. The book works as a scrapbook of history, politics, racism, and beauty.
The Darkness Manifesto: On Light Pollution, Night Ecology, and the Ancient Rhythms That Sustain Life by Johan Eklöf, Translated by Elizabeth DeNoma
Over the last 150 years, humans have extended the length of our days — hi, light bulbs! — but at what cost? In The Darkness Manifesto, conservationist Johan Eklöf examines the beauty of the night sky and the consequences of light pollution, like insects who splatter into streetlights. Unnatural light affects humans, too: an out-of-sync circadian rhythm contributes to a slew of ailments. This is an educational book, but also one that offers insight for embracing the darkness for a little while.
Dyscalculia: A Love Story of Epic Miscalculation by Camonghne Felix
When Camonghne Felix lands in the hospital after a major breakup, she finds every facet of her life to be of vital importance to her healing. Dyscalculia, a disorder that makes it difficult to learn math, serves as her reality and a metaphor for how she handles relationships. Her stunning literary memoir, Dyscalculia, muses on her road to healing.
Microjoys: Finding Hope (Especially) When Life Is Not Okay by Cyndie Spiegel
Cyndie Spiegel is here to show us how to find any tiny joy at any moment in her lovely and hopeful book, full of essays about the things that buoyed her in a time of anguish. Microjoys will teach you how to look for the little things, like hidden wisdom and ordinary delights, that are all around, as long as you know what you look for.
A Mystery of Mysteries: The Death and Life of Edgar Allan Poe by Mark Dawidziak
This biography of Edgar Allan Poe starts at the end: with his mysterious death, fit for any one of his horror stories. A Mystery of Mysteries is told with a dual timeline, alternating between Poe’s final months and how he got there. Mark Dawidziak expertly debunks myths about Poe and reveals a new theory about his cause of death.
Psych: The Story of the Human Mind by Paul Bloom
Psych is an accessible guide to the modern science of psychology, written by psychologist Paul Bloom and based on a popular course at Yale. The book answers questions like what the function of certain emotions is and whether Freud was right about all that talk of sexual desires. It’s not all hard science, though; it’s full of humor and humanity, while also digging into moral and political issues and how to live a happy life.
For even more nonfiction goodness, be sure to check out our nonfiction archives.