End of Year Reading List: Nonfiction

Nick WilsonBooks, Inside WITS

As 2022 draws rapidly to a close, I find myself thinking about the reading goals I set for myself at the beginning of the year. There are some successes (for instance, I read more comics), and some things that just aren’t going to happen (like reading 100 books). However, within the weeks that remain, there is time to meet a couple of goals if I combine them: read more books that I own and read more nonfiction.

Perhaps like many of you, I have struggled with reading my own books. The siren call of the library and subscription services has been too alluring to resist. I used to read quite a lot of nonfiction but fell out of the habit. There are absolutely no excuses as to why I’m so late in fulfilling this goal. To that point, here are six nonfiction books that I own and would like to get to before the year’s end.

The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee by David Treuer

The idea that Native American history ended with the Wounded Knee Massacre of 1890 has been pervasive. Author David Treuer blends history, reportage, and memoir to counter that narrative. While the book’s main focus is from 1890 to the present, Treuer also goes back from pre-history to the first contact with Europeans. For me, it’s especially important that this story is told by a Native American (Ojibwe).

Amazons, Abolitionists, and Activists by Mikki Kendall and A. D’Amico

Mikki Kendall is best known for her New York Times bestselling book Hood Feminism, but before that she penned this graphic-novel-style history of women’s rights worldwide. The key figures and events behind the advancement of women’s rights are covered, as well as the progressive movements led by women. Artist A. D’Amico’s illustrations are beautifully rendered.

Bad Gays by Huw Lemmey and Ben Miller

Not going to lie, this book had me at the title. Based on the podcast of the same name, Bad Gays asks what we can learn about LGBTQ+ history, sexuality, and identity from its villains and failures. Using life narratives of figures throughout history, Lemmey and Miller challenge mainstream assumptions about sexual identity.

They Called Us Enemy by George Takei, Justin Eisenger, Steven Scott, and Harmony Becker

George Takei was made famous by his role on Star Trek. In this graphic memoir, he recounts his time in an internment camp during World War II. In 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered everyone of Japanese descent to be rounded up and shipped to so-called relocation centers. Takei narrates the effect it had on him and his family, as well as simultaneously grappling with what it means to be an American. The black-and-white art also adds a somber accompaniment to the story.

Care Work by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha

This collection of essays explores the politics and realities of disability justice, a movement that centers the lives and leadership of disabled queer, trans, Black, and brown people. Piepzna-Samarasinha provides a tool kit for everyone who wants to build communities of liberation where no one is left behind. Disability justice isn’t as widely discussed as other topics, so I want to read more about it.

Puerto Rico Strong edited by Marco Lopez, Desiree Rodriguez, Hazel Newlevant, Derek Ruiz, and Neil Schwartz

Puerto Rico Strong is a comics anthology that explores what it means to be Puerto Rican. Even though it is a United States territory, most Americans probably don’t know much about it (myself included). Puerto Ricans exist in all corners of America, and some have struggled to integrate or be accepted. This collection contains stories from all walks of life that are part of the culture that is Puerto Rico.

For more WITS nonfiction recommendations click here and here.