Best nonfiction of 2022
Every year our staff vote for their favourite books of the past 12 months. Here are the nonfiction books of the year, as voted for by Readings’ staff, and displayed in alphabetical order by author.
Reasons Not to Worry by Brigid Delaney
This is Brigid Delaney’s fascinating, hilarious and highly practical guide to using the philosophy of Stoicism to help you deal with the vicissitudes of everyday life. From dealing with the fear of missing out, to being aware that most things are out of your control, including money, health and your reputation, this book will have you relaxing and enjoying every moment more – particularly because death might be just around the corner.
This book is a calming balm for anyone who has been through a pandemic, or is fearful about the future – basically all of us!
Ten Steps to Nanette by Hannah Gadsby
Many will know Australian comedian Hannah Gadsby from her highly successful standup performance, Nanette. A watershed moment for live comedy, Gadsby’s masterful control and delivery of humour, tension and rage had audiences transfixed. Now Gadsby has returned, this time via memoir, to talk about her life and work.
Ten Steps to Nanette explores Gadsby’s experience of growing up queer in Tasmania and her diagnoses of autism and ADHD as an adult, while also unpacking her changing relationship to comedy. Both deeply moving and extremely funny, this memoir cements Gadsby as an inimitable voice of our time.
big beautiful female theory by Eloise Grills
Part memoir, part cultural analysis, this illustrated work from Melbourne-based artist Eloise Grills is confrontational, honest and everything great nonfiction should be.
Grills' sharp analysis – often punctuated with a dark wit – fiercely explores beauty standards, misogyny, historical erasure and many more themes with satisfying complexity; it is a work concerned with picking apart the unseen structures that bind us. Incredibly intimate yet sweeping in scope, this is a liberating read that acknowledges and respects the lived trauma of those most damaged by society. There is solidarity here, while offering an alternative way forward.
Raised by Wolves by Jess Ho
Jess Ho has seen everything the Melbourne hospo scene has to offer – the good, the bad and the entitled. This straight-talking, sharp-shooting memoir of their life covers many of their professional triumphs and trials, offering a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the hospitality and food industry. It is also many other things: a bracing examination of the exhaustive labour it takes to endure such work, the emotional turbulence of their relationship with family and friends, and above all, the genuine connection people have with food.
Ho’s curiosity is voracious and their honesty is bracing. Raised by Wolves is a fascinating memoir to be savoured, and it will have you unpacking how you relate to food, and how you relate to the people responsible for bringing that food to your plate.
Bedtime Story by Chloe Hooper
This is the very personal story of writer Chloe Hooper's journey through her partner's cancer diagnosis. It is also a universal story about the classic novels that have comforted us through childhood. Faced with her partner's illness, Hooper turns to classic children’s literature to help her find a way to tell their young children. In these books, she finds words of both solace and hope.
This remarkable memoir, exquisitely written and with stunning illustrations by Anna Walker, shows the power of words and literature to comfort us during the darkest moments of our lives.
Old Vintage Melbourne 1960–1990 by Chris Macheras
Those who loved the previous volume of Old Vintage Melbourne will be enamoured with this latest volume of photography.
This book is pure joy; it shows our beloved city in all its glory before mobile phones, filters and selfies. It captures a time when the old was making way for the new. Where bigger was better, from shopping centres to hair styles, and the skyline was going up. The people of Melbourne were moonwalking into the modern era. As you pore over the photos and their captions you will see the beginning of what Melbourne is today. It is sure to spark some memories and great stories from those who lived through the times.
The Successor by Paddy Manning
Award winning investigative journalist Paddy Manning turns his attention to one of the world's most influential media figures in The Successor, the first major biography of Lachlan Murdoch. A public enigma despite a life lived in the spotlight, Manning's biography probes at many of the burning public questions surrounding his politics, personal life, and what fate lies ahead for the legacy media magnate.
Drawing on unprecedented access to Murdoch’s inner circle, Manning's unflinching book is about power, apprenticeship, and succession.
Astronomy: Sky Country by Karlie Noon & Krystal De Napoli
The latest book in the First Knowledges series explores the fascinating connections between cultural and environmental practices and the behaviour of celestial bodies, particularly the Earth's moon. It shows how ancient Aboriginal knowledges and stories provide important information about the waxing and waning moon, the tides, and much more.
This is a fascinating and highly engaging deep dive into astronomy and the sky from a First Nations perspective.
On Helen Garner: Writers on Writers by Sean O'Beirne
In this essay, Sean O'Beirne marvels at and dissects Helen Garner's ability to write as her self, her whole self, honest, open and full of contradiction. Something he admits as a writer he is unable to do, unwilling to do. O'Beirne looks at Garner's works across her lifetime, discussing when she has distanced herself from her writing, putting her career in jeopardy, and when she has embraced it wholly, producing astounding work but putting herself on the line. He does not shy away from the big questions.
This is a beautifully crafted essay full of great respect for a great writer, but also an insight into the craft of writing and the inner workings of two authors.
I Want to Die But I Want to Eat Tteokbokki by Baek Sehee & Anton Hur (trans.)
This recently translated Korean bestseller is a punchy blend of memoir and personal development.
Over a 12-week period, author Baek Sehee recorded each session with her psychiatrist and the transcripts from these sessions are what make up the bulk of this text. The result is an incredibly personal and candid insight into one person’s ongoing mental health journey.
Of course some of the best nonfiction releases of 2022 have snuck in as part of the big Christmas push, and outside our voting deadline, including Nikki Savva's highly-anticipated book about the fall of Scott Morrison, Bulldozed; Haruki Murakami's exquisite memoir Novelist as a Vocation; and Freedom, Only Freedom: The Prison Writings of Behrouz Boochani. Browse our new nonfiction collections here for more.