Best non-fiction books 2022 to look forward from Margaret Atwood to Matthew Perry

The pause of 2020 seems to have led many to reflect on their lives – subsequently, 2022 is the year of the memoir.

There will be big name autobiogs from the likes of Matthew Perry, Edward Enninful, Minnie Driver and Jarvis Cocker, alongside stories of survival, creativity, grief and motherhood.

We can also expect thrilling new books of essays and ideas, as well as those touching on urgent political issues and recent history. Non-fiction fan? Here’s what you’ll be reading this year. (If you’re looking for a fiction fix, don’t miss our guide to the best novels coming in 2022.)

I Came All This Way to Meet You: Writing Myself Home by Jami Attenberg

What better way to start the new year than by reading a memoir all about getting in touch with your creativity? Whipsmart novelist Jami Attenberg shares how she pieced together a writing career while travelling the world, dissecting what it takes to build an artistic life. Prepare to be inspired. (Jan 13, Serpent’s Tail)

The Cure for Sleep by Tanya Shadrick

Days after having her first child, Tanya Shadrick nearly died. The experience, she says, shocked her into the realisation that she was sleepwalking through life. This hypnotically written debut memoir, all about claiming a bolder, more risk-taking life, reads like a fable. (Jan 20, Weidenfeld & Nicolson)

The BBC: A People’s History by David Hendy

The future of the BBC has been under intense debate this year (and that shows no sign of abating), but what about its past? This timely book charts the history of Auntie Beeb, and makes the case for the broadcasting institution being as much of a national treasure as the NHS. (Jan 27, Profile)

Burning Questions by Margaret Atwood

This new volume of essays from Margaret Atwood covers the rollercoaster ride of recent history, from the Trump presidency to the climate crisis to the pandemic. It may feel like we’re stuck in an onslaught of endless peril, but it’s worth looking to one of literature’s most trusted voices to try and make sense of it all. (March 1, Chatto & Windus)

The Instant by Amy Liptrot

Amy Liptrot’s marvellous memoir The Outrun, about her return to her home on the Orkneys amid the tumult of her early twenties, was so evocative it made us feel the wind billowing in our hair. Her follow-up is about what happened next: Liptrot booked a one-way flight to Berlin and landed in an electric love affair. (March 3, Canongate)

The Shame Machine: Who Profits in the New Age of Humiliation by Cathy O’Neil

What is the relationship between shame and power – and is shame being weaponised? Smart thinker Cathy O’Neil tackles the question in this book, exploring whether public shaming is becoming dangerous. (March 22, Allen Lane)

A Line Above the Sky by Helen Mort

The wonderful prize-winning poet Helen Mort has written a gorgeous memoir all about the great outdoors and the impulse to go to our limits. Exploring her love of climbing and experiences of early motherhood, she neatly dovetails her own story with that of her hero Alison Hargreaves, a record-breaking climber who died aged 30 while descending K2. (March 24, Ebury)

Ten Steps to Nanette by Hannah Gadsby

Hannah Gadsby’s show Nanette won the Edinburgh Comedy Prize, became a Netflix smash hit and has been credited with creating an entirely new genre of comedy. In her first book, she writes about everything that led up to it. (March 29, Atlantic)

When the Dust Settles by Lucy Easthope

Lucy Easthope’s job is to help people rebuild their lives after terrible things happen. As the world’s number one authority on disaster recovery, she’s helped in the aftermath of traumatic events from the 7/7 bombings to the Grenfell Tower fire. In her fascinating memoir, which also covers the work she’s done throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, she shares her experiences of the frontline. (March 31, Hodder)

An Accidental Icon by Norman Scott

Ben Whishaw played Norman Scott in the hugely acclaimed drama A Very English Scandal in 2018, all about his affair with Jeremy Thorpe (played by Hugh Grant) and Thorpe’s subsequent attempt to have him bumped off. Now Scott is telling his story in his own words with this memoir. (April 7, Hodder)

In Love: A Memoir of Love and Loss by Amy Bloom

In January 2020, novelist Amy Bloom took a trip to Switzerland with her husband; they were travelling to the Dignitas clinic so that Brian, who had Alzheimers, could end his life. Now Bloom has written about it, in an unflinching memoir about love and death that’s been described as “transcendent”. (April 7, Granta)

The Palace Papers by Tina Brown

Magazine queen Tina Brown’s book The Diana Chronicles is the only book worth reading on the people’s princess. We’re giddy with excitement that she’s written a follow-up on what’s been going on with the royals since Diana’s death, from the loss of Princess Margaret, the Queen Mother and Prince Philip, to the allegations surrounding Prince Andrew’s links to Jeffrey Epstein. Oh, and a small story you might have heard about called Megxit. (April 26, Century)

The Premonitions Bureau by Sam Knight

Take the addictive storytelling of Patrick Radden Keefe and mix it with the stranger-than-fiction stuff of a Jon Ronson podcast, and you’ll get Sam Knight’s must-read first book. Based on his spellbinding New Yorker article about a 1960s study of people who thought they could predict disasters (launched by the Evening Standard’s Science Editor, no less), it’s a spooky, gripping read about the difference between fate and coincidence – and has already been bought by Amazon in a 19-way auction for the screen rights.  (May 5, Faber)

Managing Expectations by Minnie Driver

All hail Minnie Driver – one of our most underrated actresses is apparently also a rather brilliant writer. Her series of essays, on growing up, fame, family, motherhood and the “messy business of being alive” will be released in the spring.  (May 3, Bonnier)

This Is Not a Pity Memoir by Abi Morgan

As the acclaimed screenwriter of films like The Iron Lady and Suffragette, Abi Morgan usually writes about the lives of other people. For her memoir, she’s turning the lens back on herself, beginning with the day she found her husband collapsed on their bathroom floor, and everything that happened next.  (May 12, John Murray)

I Used to Live Here Once: The Haunted Life of Jean Rhys by Miranda Seymour

The elusive novelist Jean Rhys went off the radar for decades before gaining critical recognition later in life, and endured poverty, depression and addiction. This major new biography of the Wide Sargasso Sea writer covers uncharted territory, exploring the first 17 years of her life in Dominica, which were a great influence on her work – something no biography has yet done. (May 12, William Collins)

Tenants by Vicky Spratt

As house prices continue to rise, Generation Rent look more locked in than ever. This major new book on the history and politics of renting, from Vicky Spratt, Housing Correspondent at the i Paper, will put the issue firmly on the agenda, with personal accounts of those affected. (May 12, Profile)

Good Pop Bad Pop by Jarvis Cocker

This incredibly entertaining book from Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker isn’t so much a memoir as a trip through the things that have made him who he is. He was inspired to write it when he cleared out his loft and found a trail of detritus that has informed his creative life. So basically Marie Kondo, but make it Britpop. (May 26, Jonathan Cape)

None of the Above: Reflections on Life Beyond the Binary by Travis Alabanza

Travis Alabanza’s excellent play Overflow, about a trans woman under siege in a nightclub toilet, was one of the most thrilling bits of new theatre writing to be staged in the last two years. Now they have penned a book all about living beyond the gender binary, and questioning restrictive social frameworks. (Aug 4, Canongate)

Without Warning and Only Sometimes by Kit de Waal

Kit de Waal’s acclaimed debut novel My Name Is Leon is set to be a major BBC drama in 2022, directed by Bush Theatre boss Lynette Linton. It’ll also be the year that de Waal tells her own story: her memoir, all about growing up mixed race in 1960s and 70s Birmingham, hits the shelves in the summer. (Aug 18, Tinder Press)

A Visible Man by Edward Enninful

It’s a year of must-read memoirs – here’s another one to add to the pile. In 2017, Edward Enninful became the first black editor-in-chief of British Vogue; since taking the helm, he’s redefined the magazine and the people that it champions. Now he’s telling his own story – written, as you’d expect, with style. (Sept 6, Bloomsbury)

Wifedom: The Visionary Writer, the Invisible Wife by Anna Funder

Big Brother is watching you, but the literary world often isn’t watching the wives of so-called geniuses, roundly ignoring them instead. This important new book from Anna Funder, shedding light on the life of Eileen Orwell – wife of 1984 author George – has been described as “a blazing feminist masterpiece”. (Sept 22, Viking)

Faith, Hope and Carnage by Nick Cave and Sean O’Hagan

Based on over 40 hours of interviews with journalist Sean O’Hagan, this new book features intimate thoughts from Nick Cave on life, music, grief, and much more. After winning the book in a 10-way auction, Canongate’s publishing director Francis Bickmore described it as “the spiritual vitamin shot we all need right now”. (Sept 22, Canongate)

The Diaries of Alan Rickman

The much-missed actor Alan Rickman started writing a diary in the early 1990s and continued to do so until his death in 2016. In total there are 27 volumes, covering everything from his work on Sense and Sensibility to Harry Potter, to his laser-sharp verdicts on the many plays he went to see. They’ve been collected and edited into a book, which will be published in the autumn. Bound to be a total gem. (Autumn, Canongate)

Matthew Perry’s memoir

Get ready for The One Where Chandler Writes His Memoir. Matthew Perry, aka Chandler Bing, is the first of the Friends cast to write about his life, and the currently untitled book will arrive in the autumn. Documenting life on one of the most popular sitcoms ever, as well as his struggles with addiction, it sounds like Perry’s book will offer Friends fans a lot more insight than the megahyped but distinctly meh 2021 reunion.  (Autumn, Headline)

Prince Harry’s memoir

We’re expecting shockwaves late in the year, when Prince Harry’s memoir is “tentatively scheduled” for publication. The Duke of Sussex is sharing his own account of his life, from childhood through to military service, marriage and fatherhood. Hazza tells us: “I’m writing this not as the prince I was born, but the man I have become.” (Penguin, late 2022)

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