My favorite nonfiction books from 2022

Published 10:00 pm Monday, January 2, 2023

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I read 120 books in 2022 and these were some of my favorite nonfiction titles! If you’re looking to read more or diversify your reading list in 2023, why not Read Through the Ages with Polk County Public Libraries? Pick up a 2023 reading challenge form at Columbus Library or Saluda Library (or access it at and read books set or written in 20 different time periods.


All Thirteen by Christina Soontornvat

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On June 23, 2018, 12 young players of the Wild Boars soccer team and their coach entered a cave in northern Thailand seeking an afternoon adventure. But when they turned to leave, rising floodwaters blocked their path out. Before long, news of the missing team spread, launching a 17-day rescue operation involving thousands of rescuers from around the globe. 


All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson

In a series of personal essays, Johnson explores his childhood, adolescence, and college years in New Jersey and Virginia. From the memories of getting his teeth kicked out by bullies at age five, to flea marketing with his loving grandmother, to his first relationships, this memoir weaves together the trials and triumphs faced by Black queer boys.


Last Chain on Billie by Carol Bradley

Against the backdrop of a glittering but brutal circus world, this book charts the history of elephants in America, the inspiring story of the Elephant Sanctuary, and the spellbinding tale of a resilient elephant who defied the system even as she struggled to conquer her past, who never lost sight of the life she was meant to have. 


A Rip in Heaven by Jeanine Cummins

It was a headline story in the New York Times and USA Today. This is the intimate memoir of a shocking crime and its aftermath… One family’s immediate and unforgettable story of what victims can suffer long after they should be safe.


The Puma Years by Laura Coleman

Laura was in her early twenties and directionless when she quit her job to backpack in Bolivia. Fate landed her at a wildlife sanctuary on the edge of the Amazon jungle, where she was assigned to a beautiful and complex puma named Wayra. Wide-eyed, inexperienced, and comically terrified, Laura made the scrappy, make-do camp her home. And in Wayra, she made a friend for life. 


Heavy by Kiese Laymon

In this powerful and provocative memoir, Laymon explores what the weight of a lifetime of secrets, lies, and deception does to a black body, a black family, and a nation teetering on the brink of moral collapse.


I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy

A heartbreaking and hilarious memoir by iCarly and Sam & Cat star Jennette McCurdy about her struggles as a former child actor—including eating disorders, addiction, and a complicated relationship with her overbearing mother—and how she retook control of her life.


Did You Hear What Eddie Gein Done? by Harold Schechter and Eric Powell

One of the greats in the field of true crime literature, Harold Schechter, teamed with five-time Eisner Award-winning graphic novelist Eric Powell to bring you the tale of one of the most notoriously deranged murderers in American history, Ed Gein. This book is an in-depth exploration of the Gein family and what led to the creation of the necrophile who haunted the dreams of 1950s America and inspired such films as Psycho, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and The Silence of the Lambs. 


Jen Pace Dickenson is the Youth Services Librarian for Polk County Public Libraries. For information about the library’s resources, programs, and other services, visit or call (828) 894-8721.