Though we have the excitement of a brand new year ahead of us, we’re fondly reminiscing over some of our favourite non-fiction titles of 2022. This unforgettable and striking selection covers a wide range of fascinating topics, from climate crisis to cinema, psychoanalysis to the pandemic, queer happiness to hidden histories, and beyond.
Whether you want to divulge further in your interests, or discover a new one, this eclectic collection is sure to broaden your knowledge and explore nuances in unique ways that will expand our worldview and understanding.
by David Toms
9781838312657 / Banshee Press / HB / £12.99
For fans of Emilie Pine and Elaine Feeney, David Toms’ Pacemaker is a journey into lyricism and introspection.
Toms deftly blends creative nonfiction, poetry, and diary in an account of resisting, confronting, and living with a rare heart condition. His experience, including his hospitalisation during the Covid-19 pandemic, speaks to all of us in its exploration of what it means to live in a fragile yet resilient body, to walk multiple challenging paths, and to always find a way to keep moving. Pacemaker amounts to a meaningful and profound reading experience, bound to inspire and provoke.
by Christopher Frayling
9781909526884 / Reel Art Press / HB / £39.99
If you’re a vampire or classic horror nerd like me, Vampire Cinema is an absolute must-have.
This coffee table visual feast celebrates a century of classic vampire cinema — mainstream and niche — through the many colourful ways in which the key films have been marketed and consumed, to enter the bloodstream of contemporary world culture. The bloodline has spread from Nosferatu (2022) to Hollywood’s Dracula (1992); from Hamme’s series Dracula to versions of Sheridan Le Fanu’s story Carmilla (1872) and other lesbian vampires; from the best-selling novels Salem’s Lot (Doubleday, 1975) and Interview with the Vampire (Knopf, 1976) to vampires who have shed their capes, hereditary titles and period trappings to become assorted small-town oddballs, addicts, delinquents, psychopaths, rednecks, fashionistas, gay icons, comedians and soap stars in a jugular vein, tormented new romantics, teenage fantasies of sex from the neck up…and even comic-book heroes. The vampires of nineteenth-century literature have remained immortal — even in the age of the democratisation of their blood relatives: still undead after all these years and still scary. This book is dripping with stills, posters, artworks, pressbooks — many of which haven’t seen the light of day for a very long time.
by Kayleen Schaefer
9781524744854 / Dutton / PB / £16.99
For anyone who feels like a kid in adult’s clothes, or anyone who found solace in Dolly Alderton’s Everything I Know About Love, Kayleen Schaefer’s But You’re Still So Young is a masterful and soothing balm that redefines adulthood.
Sociologists have identified the five markers of adulthood as: finishing school, leaving home, marriage, gaining financial independence, and having kids. But repeated economic upheaval, rising debt, decreasing marriage rates, fertility treatments, and a more open-minded society have all led to a shifting timeline today. So why are we measuring ‘adulthood’ by the same metrics that were relied upon fifty years ago? The thirtysomethings in this book envisioned their thirties differently than how they are actually living them. And as Schaefer and her sources show, not being able to do everything isn’t a sign of a life gone wrong.
by Freya Najade
9781914314261 / Hoxton Mini Press / HB / £30
Freya Najade captures moments of unexpected beauty and curious encounters in east London’s abundant Hackney Marshes.
Focussing on the intricate balance of the wildlife and people who find freedom in the open fields and riverbanks, these visually arresting images — many taken during the confined days of the pandemic — remind us of the hidden poetry in the city’s landscapes. From young bathers escaping lockdown to patches of overgrown woodland, Najade embraces the natural exuberance of these wilder spaces while mourning the damage we do to them.
by Jamie Webster
9781916425095 / Divided Publishing / PB / £11.99
Never does the patient seem more ill than when they try to order associations into a logical tale. Classical analysis sees this in terms of a repudiation of sexuality: an attempt to avoid speaking from a place of desire. But why should psychoanalysis reduce everything to sex?
Disorganisation & Sex argues that the sexuality of psychoanalysis is not a reductive materialism, but an archaic remainder that cannot be colonised, endlessly disorienting meaning in our everyday lives. It is our proximity to this terrain that undoes our most tedious habits, and opens onto something revelatory. If sex only ever achieves partial satisfactions, fragments of pleasure, its pursuit creates our subjectivity and our world. Psychoanalysis keeps the subversive possibility of sex alive in an age of cheap pleasures and empty transgressions.
by Paul Behrens
9781911648093 / The Indigo Press / PB / £12.99
A unique, highly readable approach to the environmental crisis, with alternating chapters outlining the effects on society if left unchecked, and the radical actions we can take to prevent it.
The environmental emergency is the greatest threat we face. Preventing it will require an unprecedented political and social response. And yet, there is still hope. Academic, physicist, environmental expert and award-winning science communicator Paul Behrens presents a radical analysis of a civilisation on the brink of catastrophe. Setting out the pressing existential threats we face, he writes, in alternating chapters, of what the future could look like at its most pessimistic and hopeful. In lucid and clear-sighted prose, Behrens argues that structural problems need structural solutions, and examines critical areas in which political will is required, including women’s education, food and energy security, biodiversity and economics. This thoroughly researched new edition brings this title right up to the here and now with sections on Covid-19 and COP26, and will truly change the way we view the climate crisis—a realistic and optimistic guide for the present and the future.
by Hieber, Leanna Renee Hieber, Andrea Janes & Elizabeth Kerr Mahon
9780806541587 / PB / Citadel / £15.99
For readers who also love delving into the dark corners of existence and love the feeling of a chill up their spine; I present to you A Haunted History of Invisible Women!
Sorrowful widows, vengeful jezebels, innocent maidens, wronged lovers, former slaves, even the occasional axe-murderess — America’s female ghosts differ widely in background, class, and circumstance. Yet one thing unites them: their ability to instil fascination and fear, long after their deaths. Here are the full stories behind some of the best-known among them, as well as the lesser-known — though no less powerful.
By Juliet Jacques
9781838390082 / PB / Cipher Press / £11.99
A lot has changed for trans people in the UK since 2007, and we see many of those wonderful and terrifying changes laid out in Juliet Jacques’ brilliant collection of journalism and essays from Cipher Press.
In this seminal collection of trans journalism exploring issues across art, politics and culture, pioneering transgender writer Juliet Jacques tracks the rise of a new and more explicit form of media transphobia in the UK. As pages of Hackney described, “This crucial collection asks what we can learn from the last decade and, importantly, what we can do now. How can new writers take up the struggle for trans liberation? And what will the future of trans writing look like?”. For anyone looking to understand the turbulent representations of trans and non-binary people in British media, look no further.
by Kevin Brazil
9781910312957 / PB / Influx Press / £9.99
In this highly accessible, entertaining and provocative work of nonfiction, Kevin Brazil combines essay and memoir to ask one of the most pertinent questions of our current age: whatever happened to queer happiness?
Exploring the lives of artists and writers from the past, current discourse around queerness, and his own experiences, Brazil argues that art and literature needs to move away from celebrating the pain of queerness and embracing all the positive, ecstatic, collective joy that queer culture produces. A timely, readable and fascinating book for all readers of creative non-fiction.