10 Thought-Provoking Books To Read In 2022

From potent essay collections to moving memoirs and urgent calls for action, there is a wealth of reads that are motivating and inspiring change this year – whether it’s on a personal, societal or global scale. KATIE BERRINGTON rounds up 10 compelling books to buy for their change-making potential


Out of the Sun: Essays at the Crossroads of Race by Esi Edugyan

These five piercing essays from Esi Edugyan demonstrate the Canadian author’s commitment to finding and sharing stories of Black lives that history has failed to record – just as her body of fiction does. Spanning topics of art, identity, representation and imagination, she brings in her own experience, as the daughter of Ghanian immigrants, asking challenging questions about reckoning with the past and considering the future. Out from February 3

Brown Girl Like Me by Jaspreet Kaur

This part-memoir, part-manifesto from spoken-word artist and writer Jaspreet Kaur aims to “equip women with the confidence and tools they need to navigate the difficulties that come with an intersectional identity”. Kaur tackles issues such as the media, education, the workplace, mental health and the body, incorporating academic insights and interviews with South Asian women of all walks of life, in order to educate, inspire and call for action. Out from February 17

Burning Questions: Essays and Occasional Pieces by Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood turns her gaze to answering some burning questions in a collection of characteristically prescient essays on the human experience – covering the climate crisis, Donald Trump, the pandemic and granola, blending intellect and wit in a way only she can. Out from March 1

The Invisible Kingdom: Reimagining Chronic Illness by Meghan O’Rourke

Shedding light on the silent epidemic of chronic illnesses and autoimmune diseases, and how they are poorly understood, marginalized and often go undiagnosed altogether, Meghan O’Rourke investigates the category of “invisible” disease. Combining personal experience with the political and universal dimensions, she makes the case for radical change in our understanding of – and approach to – illness. Out from March 1

Body Work: The Radical Power of Personal Narrative by Melissa Febos

Melissa Febos examines the emotional, psychological and physical work of intimate storytelling in this bold and enlightening look at writing – navigating questions such as, “How might we go about capturing on the page the relationships that have formed us?” and “How do we write about our bodies, their desires and traumas?” and, crucially, “To whom do our most intimate stories belong?” Febos draws on her own experiences – as writer, author and professor, via addiction and recovery, sex work and academia – to give a candid and empowering take on storytelling. Out from March 15

Tangled in Terror: Uprooting Islamophobia by Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan

Poet, writer and activist Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan explores how deep-rooted Islamophobia is in our everyday lives – from education and employment to healthcare and legal systems – and how it harms some of the most vulnerable in society. She investigates the ways it divides on an international political level and looks at how it can be truly uprooted by focusing not only on what it is, but on what it does. Out from March 20

This Woman’s Work: Essays on Music by Kim Gordon and Sinéad Gleeson

Edited by musician Kim Gordon and writer Sinéad Gleeson, and featuring an array of esteemed contributors, this book celebrates the women who have pioneered and politicized music – with the female creatives writing about the artists who have inspired them. Offering a “radical departure from the historic narrative of music and music-writing being written by men, for men”, This Woman’s Work challenges the sexism in – and male dominance of – the industry. Out from April 4

Gathering Blossoms Under Fire: The Journals of Alice Walker by Alice Walker and Valerie Boyd

The edited journals of Alice Walker’s work are gathered and released together for the first time to offer an intimate portrait of the acclaimed author’s work as an artist, activist and intellectual over five decades. They encompass both personal and political events, showcasing why the Pulitzer Prize-winner is one of the most eminent literary voices of our time. Out from April 12

Ugly by Anita Bhagwandas

From beauty journalist Anita Bhagwandas comes an interrogation of beauty myths: she questions why our lives are shaped by limited ideas about beauty, why they’ve been perpetuated for so long and how they can be broken once and for all. It will also detail her own journey of growing up in south Wales and her experience as a plus-sized, dark-skinned woman of color working in an industry that, in her words, “never loved her back”. Out from August

The Story of Art Without Men by Katy Hessel

Katy Hessel, art historian, curator and founder of @thegreatwomenartists, brings her dedication to championing female artists to a book revealing the often-overlooked part of art history. Interrogating questions such as, “Who makes art history?” and “Did women even work as artists before the 20th century?”, Hessel takes us through the art world – from the Renaissance to the artists defining the present day – to tell its history as we’ve never heard it before. Out from September

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