Last year was a big one for nonfiction (you’ve read Educated, right?), and we’re hoping for another winning year with plenty of revelatory memoirs from voices we’ve never heard before, groundbreaking historical works and must-read essay collections. Here are the 15 nonfiction books we can’t wait to read in 2019 . . . with more to come!
Deep Creek: Finding Hope in the High Country by Pam Houston
Norton | January 29
The latest collection of personal essays from beloved author Houston invites us into what she calls the greatest adventure of her life: her 120-acre ranch in rural Colorado. Surrounded by the Rockies, the ranch has become a sanctuary to Houston—a place of self-discovery, wonder and healing.
Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls by T Kira Madden
Bloomsbury | March 5
Essayist Madden’s debut is high on the list of the year’s anticipated memoirs, as she shares the story of her coming of age as a queer, biracial teenager in Boca Raton, Florida.
For readers who enjoyed Jon Meacham’s The Soul of America or Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Leadership, the trend of history books that re-examine U.S. presidents in light of the current political climate continues with this collaboration from Isenberg (White Trash) and Burstein (The Passions of Andrew Jackson). It offers an intimate family drama about Presidents John and John Quincy Adams as well as critique of their prophetic warnings about demagogues in democracy.
Everything in Its Place: First Loves and Lost Tales by Oliver Sacks
Knopf | April 23
From the late, acclaimed storyteller and neurologist Sacks comes a posthumous collection of never-before-published essays that explore his varied interests (from swimming to the natural world), his youth and career, and his final case histories of dementia, schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s.
Nanaville: Adventures in Grandparenting by Anna Quindlen
Random House | April 23
Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist and columnist Quindlen showed readers just how much she’s enjoying middle age with her frank and humorous Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake. Now she’s sharing her thoughts and observations on being a grandmother, a role very different from motherhood.
Becoming Dr. Seuss: Theodor Geisel and the Making of an American Imagination by Brian Jay Jones
Dutton | May 7
In previous books, critically acclaimed biographer Jones has captured the stories of Jim Henson and George Lucas. His new work delves into the life and career of another American icon: Theodor Geisel, the beloved Dr. Seuss.
Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee by Casey Cep
Knopf | May 7
Cep’s first book taps into the eternal mystery that was Harper Lee’s life while exploring an incredible story of an Alabama serial killer—a case that Lee investigated with the hope of writing a true crime book.
The Pioneers: The Heroic Story of the Settlers Who Brought the American Ideal West by David McCullough
Simon & Schuster | May 7
From the two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award comes a chronicle of the founding of the Northwest Territory (Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin) by a group of pioneers determined to begin a new settlement that must uphold three conditions: freedom of religion, free universal education and prohibition of slavery.
Aloha Rodeo: Three Hawaiian Cowboys, the World’s Greatest Rodeo, and a Hidden History of the American West by David Wolman and Julian Smith
William Morrow | May 28
In 1908, three Hawaiian cowboys traveled to Cheyenne, Wyoming, for a grand rodeo competition. Initially dismissed by the white cowboys who considered themselves the only “true” cowboys, the Hawaiians proved everyone wrong and walked away as American heroes. This is the tale to remake—and reinvigorate—our love of the American West.
Outrages: Sex, Censorship, and the Criminalization of Love by Naomi Wolf
HMH | June 18
It’s always news when feminist icon Wolf (Vagina, The Beauty Myth) announces a new book, and her latest is particularly intriguing. Outrages will tell the untold story of how homosexuality, and specifically gay male identity, became codified and demonized in the 1850s.
Late Migrations: A Natural History of Love and Loss by Margaret Renkl
Milkweed Editions | July 9
Renkl is a frequent op-ed writer for the New York Times, where she captures the spirit and contemporary culture of the American South better than anyone. Her articles often include mediations on the natural world, a topic which will feature prominently in her first book, a melding of flora, fauna and family.
They Called Us Enemy by George Takei, Justin Eisinger, Steven Scott & Harmony Becker
Top Shelf | July 16
Takei may be most recognized for his role as Captain Sulu in “Star Trek,” but the 81-year-old actor has also been a tireless activist for human rights and social justice. In this graphic memoir collaboration, Takei writes about his childhood experience of living inside Japanese internment camps during World War II and how legalized racism in America shaped his life.
Coventry by Rachel Cusk
Farrar, Straus and Giroux | August 20
The award-winning author of the Outline trilogy has put together her first collection of essays, which promises to be a mix of memoir and literary and cultural criticism.
Make It Scream, Make It Burn by Leslie Jamison
Little, Brown | September 24
We adored Jamison’s The Recovering, which combined an investigation into the cultural depiction of alcoholism with the story of her own descent into addiction. But she first began to attract readers with her astute essay collection The Empathy Exams (2014), and now she’s heading back to the form with a new volume that will focus on longing and obsession.
In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado
Graywolf | October 1
The author of the National Book Award finalist Her Body and Other Parties has turned to a deeply personal and painful subject for her first memoir: a tumultuous and psychologically abusive relationship. In what is promised to be a frank and in-depth look at queer domestic abuse, Machado synthesizes her own memories and experiences with historical research and important cultural tropes. Her Body established Machado as a master of the short story, and In the Dream House is poised to do the same in nonfiction.