Some possible rewordings of this text could be: – Keep an eye out for upcoming nonfiction releases in 2024 – Notable nonfiction books to anticipate in 2024 – Exciting nonfiction titles to watch for in 2024 – Anticipated nonfiction works coming in 2024 – Nonfiction reads to keep on your radar for 2024
What are the current trends in the genre of nonfiction? It seems that nature writing and major biography are declining, while history and health topics continue to gain popularity. However, many publishers’ lists contain books that defy categorization and lack a clear focus, such as group biographies of well-known individuals, essay collections with no central theme, and works that blend fact and fiction in an attempt to make complex subjects seem more relatable.
However, let’s not dwell on that. Instead, let’s try to make sense of this confusion. We’ll start with the body. I am intrigued by the title of How We Break; Navigating the Wear and Tear of Living (Allen Lane, January) written by Vincent Deary, a psychologist who specializes in fatigue. Another book that caught my attention is Why We Remember: The Science of Memory and How It Shapes Us (Faber, March) by Charan Ranganath, a neuroscientist at the University of California. This book has been praised by Pulitzer prize-winning biologist Siddhartha Mukherjee as “life-changing”. Additionally, The Anxious Generation: How the Great Rewiring of Childhood Is Causing an Epidemic of Mental Illness (Allen Lane, March) by Jonathan Haidt, a social psychologist best known for co-authoring the bestselling book The Coddling of the American Mind, seems like a thought-provoking read. On a more controversial note, Johann Hari has returned with Magic Pill: The Extraordinary Benefits and Disturbing Risks of the New Weight Loss Drugs (Bloomsbury, May). It is worth mentioning that Hari has personally tried Ozempic, a drug discussed in his book. (And yes, it seems that by 2024, most books will be required to have lengthy and explanatory subtitles.)
Moving forward to the subjects of history, politics, and current events, we have some highly anticipated books being released. Sathnam Sanghera’s Empireworld: How British Imperialism Has Shaped the Globe (Viking, January), the follow-up to his popular Empireland, is generating a lot of buzz. Another highly anticipated release is Peter Pomerantsev’s How to Win an Information War: The Propagandist Who Outwitted Hitler (Faber, March). This book tells the incredible true story of Sefton Delmer, a figure largely forgotten from World War II who was an expert in disinformation. In The Picnic: An Escape to Freedom and the Collapse of Iron Curtain (Bodley Head, January), Matthew Longo, an academic, recounts the events of August 1989 when a group of activists boldly crossed into the militarized zone between Hungary and Austria, making it the largest border breach in Cold War history. Finally, in Final Verdict: A Holocaust Trial in the Twenty-first Century (W&N, March), journalist Tobias Buck shares the story of Bruno Dey, a 93-year-old former concentration camp guard who was found guilty in 2020 of being an accessory to the murder of 5,232 people.
I came across a talk by journalist Yuan Yang discussing her debut book, Private Revolutions (Bloomsbury, May), which delves into the current social structure in China through the experiences of four young women. I was immediately eager to read it. With an upcoming election that could result in a loss for the Conservative party, Bloody Panico: Or, Whatever Happened to the Tory Party (Verso, May) by the insightful Geoffrey Wheatcroft seems like essential reading. Additionally, Sexed (Polity, June) by Susanna Rustin provides a timely and significant look into the history of British feminism.
In the beginning of 2024, there are not many traditional biographies available. However, I am excited for two upcoming books: Trailblazer by Jane Robinson, which is a biography of feminist Barbara Leigh Bodichon, and Hardy Women by Paula Byrne, which looks at the life of Thomas Hardy through the perspective of those who influenced him. In the crowded genre of memoirs, I am eager to read Me and Mr Jones by Suzi Ronson, which is about her relationship with David Bowie, and Naked Portrait by Rose Boyt, which is a memoir about her father, artist Lucian Freud. Another book I am looking forward to is The Quality of Love by Ariane Bankes, which tells the story of twin sisters Celia and Mamaine Paget and their relationships with notable figures such as George Orwell. This book may provide a counterpoint to some of the claims made in Anna Funder’s recent book, Wifedom, about Eileen Orwell.
Salman Rushdie’s “Knife: Meditations After an Attempted Murder” (published by Cape in April) is expected to generate a lot of buzz this year. Charles Spencer, also known as Earl Spencer, will contribute to the growing criticism of boarding schools in his memoir “A Very Private School” (published by William Collins in March). In “American Mother” (published by Bloomsbury in February), acclaimed novelist Colum McCann ventures into nonfiction for the first time, co-writing with Diane Foley about her son James Foley, a journalist who was killed by Islamic State in 2014.
Let’s end with some books that are harder to categorise. No Judgement (Virago, March) is a collection of vaguely interconnected essays about, among other things, literature, gossip and the attention economy by the funny and pugnacious American critic Lauren Oyler (and I can hardly wait for it), while We Are Free to Change the World (Cape, January) is a biography-cum-manifesto in which the professor of human rights Lyndsey Stonebridge looks at the life and work of the philosopher Hannah Arendt and wonders what lessons she might offer for our own times. More soothing than these, though perhaps no less exhilarating, is The Garden Against Time (Picador, May), in which Olivia Laing recounts her efforts to restore a walled garden in Suffolk, a project that leads her to investigate notions of paradise.
Sophie Elmhirst’s highly anticipated book, Maurice and Maralyn (published by Chatto in February), is generating a lot of buzz. It follows the story of a married couple who become stranded on a small raft in the middle of the Pacific. Similarly, Emma Tarlo’s Under the Hornbeams (published by Faber in January) tells the tale of Nick and Pascal, a couple who choose to live and sleep outdoors in London, despite not considering themselves homeless. And let’s not forget My Family and Other Rock Stars (published by Fleet in May), where Tiffany Murray shares her childhood memories of growing up at the renowned Rockfield Studios in Wales, where her mother worked as a chef for famous musicians such as David Bowie, Queen, and Motörhead. It’s a mouth-watering read.