12 Must-Read Nonfiction Books of 2024

By Joanne Camas
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Don’t sleep on these highly anticipated reads.

Nonfiction books have the ability to open readers’ minds and hearts with their fresh perspectives. This year’s new crop of books is no exception, spanning searing historical accounts to moving personal memoirs and insightful deep dives.

Ghosts of Segregations

By Richard Frishman and B. Brian Foster

In Ghosts of Segregation, award-winning photojournalist Richard Frishman partners with sociologist Dr. B. Brian Foster to create a striking visual portrait of institutionalized racism in America. Frishman spent five years and covered 35,000 miles crisscrossing the U.S. to photograph vestiges of America’s history of slavery and segregation, from the New Orleans Slave Exchange and the former site of New York City’s slave market to the old “colored only” entrances to movie theaters in Washington State and Texas. Foster, a Mississippi native and University of Virginia professor of sociology and Black culture, captures the Black experience in America today with a series of personal essays, poignantly reflecting on his life and family. The result? A powerful and necessary photo-history collection that bears witness to the past, grapples with the present, and gazes resolutely into our shared future.

Publication date: February 6, 2024

The Manicurist's Daughter

By Susan Lieu

In this deeply moving new memoir, Susan Lieu shares her story as the daughter of refugees and of her determined search for answers in the wake of a personal tragedy. After five failed attempts, Lieu’s parents escaped Vietnam for California in the 1980s. Lieu’s mother was the guiding force of the family; she established two successful nail salons and built a new life for her loved ones in America. But heartbreak struck when Lieu was 11 years old and her mother died from a botched tummy-tuck operation. After the funeral, family members refused to talk about what happened — but Lieu was determined to get to the truth. The Manicurist’s Daughter follows Lieu as she reckons with the shocking loss of her mother and tracks down the negligent surgeon who carried out the operation. Lieu’s resiliency echoes that of her immigrant parents, and she tells her story with the love and wit that helped her emerge from grief.

Publication date: March 12, 2024

Puppy Brain: How Our Dogs Learn, Think, and Love

By Kerry Nichols

Inviting a puppy into your life is a major commitment and a great deal of fun — but how best to take care of your furry new friend? In Puppy Brain, Kerry Nichols, canine educator, advocate, and founder of Nicholberry Goldens, guides puppy parents and the generally dog-obsessed through the surprising science of canine development with hands-on advice and tips. When should a dog be spayed or neutered? What’s the best approach to crate training? How do you provide a nurturing home for your pup so they’ll grow into a loving canine companion? Nichols shares her knowledge with humor and a straightforward, practical manner, making Puppy Brain an indispensable guide for owners and trainers and a must-read for dog lovers of all stripes and breeds. 

Publication date: April 30, 2024

cover of the fury

Trippy: The Peril and Promise of Medicinal Psychedelics

By Ernesto Londoño

When he signed up for a psychedelic retreat run by a mysterious Argentine woman deep in Brazil’s rainforest in early 2018, Ernesto Londoño, a veteran New York Times journalist, was so depressed he had come close to jumping off his terrace weeks earlier. The ayahuasca trips provided Londoño an instant reprieve from his depression and became the genesis of a personal transformation that anchors Trippy, a sweeping journalistic exploration of the booming field and shifting landscape of medicinal psychedelics. Londoño’s in-depth and nuanced book will be surely pivotal in guiding policymakers and readers as they make sense of the perils, limitations, and promises of turning to psychedelics in the pursuit of healing.

Publication date: May 7, 2024

The Demon of Unrest

By Erik Larson

Erik Larson, the acclaimed narrative nonfiction author of The Devil in the White City and The Splendid and the Vile, returns with a mesmerizing new release. The Demon of Unrest focuses on the pivotal months in America between Abraham Lincoln’s election in November 1860 and the start of the Civil War in April 1861. Larson excels at saturating his historical narratives with vivid detail and unforgettable true-life figures, and this gripping book on American history is true to form. The author’s painstaking research reveals personality clashes, miscommunications, tragic errors, ambition, betrayal, and more as 19th-century America teeters on the brink of all-out war. 

Publication date: April 30, 2024

I Heard Her Call My Name

By Lucy Sante

Lucy Sante lived the first 60-plus years of her life as a man. So why did she decide to embark on the gender transition process so late in life? In her upcoming LGBTQ+ memoir I Heard Her Call My Name, Sante reflects on her initial reluctance to acknowledge what she later realized was her true identity, and outlines the societal forces at play. She also discusses the practical and physical details involved in transitioning. In a style that’s both sensitive and engaging, Sante offers a powerful look into her evolving sense of self as well as an insightful glimpse at the writer’s life.

Publication date: February 13, 2024

Grief Is for People

By Sloane Crosley

Sloane Crosley was blindsided by the sudden death of her closest friend. They’d shared so much together. In Grief Is for People, she bravely, honestly shares her journey into despair and then back to living life. Crosley’s wit adds dark humor to this memorable memoir of loss and rebirth. “Is it wrong to say that a memoir about loss and grieving is fun to read?” asks author Susan Orlean. “If so, I’m in trouble, because I enjoyed every word of this book.”

Publication date: February 27, 2024

Whiskey Tender: A Memoir

By Deborah Jackson Taffa

Native identity, assimilation, and history coalesce with extraordinary results in Deborah Jackson Taffa’s Whiskey Tender. Taffa was born on the California Yuma reservation and raised on Navajo territory in New Mexico, and she experienced life both on and off the reservation. Her grandparents had been forced to attend missionary-run boarding schools, while her parents were offered training from the government and opportunities for assimilation. Taffa takes the next steps in her family’s journey, working to reconcile her parents’ emphasis on education as a path to the elusive “American Dream” with the Indigenous traditions and beliefs of her culture. The author’s childhood experiences shine throughout Whiskey Tender, and her focus widens to explore larger topics such as tribal identity and the history of forced relocation.

Publication date: February 27, 2024

Rabbit Heart

By Kristine S. Ervin

When Ervin was just 8 years old, her mom was abducted from a mall parking lot and later murdered. Of course, the trauma of losing her mother to violence at such a young age turned Ervin’s life on its head. Functioning as both a memoir and a searing true crime narrative, Rabbit Heart is a profound discussion of loss, grief, and the search for justice. Ervin invites us into the case and her life with open arms, and she explores her experiences and various theories about gender-based violence, grief, and identity.

Publication date: March 26, 2024

Be a Revolution

By Ijeoma Oluo

Ijeoma Oluo, the New York Times bestselling author of So You Want to Talk About Race, continues her work on antiracism and activism in her new book, Be a Revolution. The book’s subtitle really says it all: How Everyday People are Fighting Oppression and Changing the World — and How You Can, Too. In a time when world problems seem overwhelming and we might feel small, Oluo encourages us to use our personal power for good. It’s an educational but also inspirational book, designed to help readers channel their frustrations over inequality and discrimination into practical, positive action.

Publication date: January 30, 2024

Knife: Meditations After an Attempted Murder

By Salman Rushdie

Booker Prize–winning author Salman Rushdie’s latest book, Knife, is his harrowing account of the August 2022 attack that left him seriously injured and in the hospital for six weeks. Rushdie lost his sight in one eye and the use of one of his hands after being violently assaulted on stage. “This was a necessary book for me to write: a way to take charge of what happened, and to answer violence with art,” the prolific writer explains. Knife is a survival story as well as Rushdie’s personal reflections on life, violence, and the power of art to overcome. 

Publication date: April 16, 2024

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