The year may be winding down, but there’s plenty to keep readers busy in the busy weeks ahead. December 2016’s new releases are almost here, and as always, there are more books due out than even those most hardcore of us bookworms can possibly read. If you are looking for the best nonfiction books of December 2016, that’s definitely true; your options are not limited.
Along with its holiday cheer, December is bringing everything from humorous guides to thought-provoking, women-written essay collections to enthralling true crime. Sure, you might be trying to focus on gifts for other people, but no one would blame you if you just so happened to pick up a book (or two... or more) for yourself as well. After all, there’s nothing like a good story to help you relax after a chaotic, last-minute shopping session or a boisterous gathering of friends or family.
Needless to say, this month’s new books will keep your to-read list growing as fast as a holiday to-do list. With all the quality work coming out, it truly is the most wonderful time of year.
Below are 13 books to keep an eye out for in December, whether for gifts or just because.
1. The Chibok Girls by Helon Habila (Dec. 5; Columbia Global Reports)
Novelist Helon Habila examines a real-life tragedy in The Chibok Girls: The Boko Haram Kidnappings and Islamist Militancy in Nigeria. The book digs into how the country’s history has led to today’s conflicts, including the infamous 2014 kidnappings of 276 schoolgirls. Habila also explores the stories of the girls and their families, and looks at the response from the government, global community, and media.
2. Glop by Gabrielle Moss (Dec. 6; Dey Street Books)
Glop: Non-Toxic, Expensive Ideas that Will Make You Look Ridiculous and Feel Pretentious by Gabrielle Moss parodies the lifestyle website GOOP. In the interest of full disclosure, you should know Moss works at Bustle, but her book is so funny that this list wouldn’t be complete without it. Glop will teach you about life’s necessities, such as cashmere yoga pants, drinking your food (to “cleanse,” of course), and all things elitist.
3. The Glass Universe by Dava Sobel (Dec. 6; Viking)
The Glass Universe by Dava Sobel shines a light on the often-forgotten role of women as “human computers” at the Harvard College Observatory in the 1800s. Using excerpts from letters, memoirs, and diary entries, Sobel highlights the women themselves, plus their influential discoveries.
4. A Woman Looking at Men Looking at Women by Siri Hustvedt (Dec. 6; Simon & Schuster)
Acclaimed novelist Siri Hustvedt explores issues from various lenses in A Woman Looking at Men Looking at Women: Essays on Art, Sex, and the Mind. The essay collection covers everything from feminism to neuroscience, examining gender biases, the human condition, and more.
5. Eight Flavors by Sarah Lohman (Dec. 6; Simon & Schuster)
Foodies and non-foodies alike will appreciate Sarah Lohman’s look at the United States’ culinary history, Eight Flavors: The Untold Story of American Cuisine. As the title suggests, it highlights eight flavors common in American cooking. Not only does Lohman revisit our past and how it has shaped how we eat, she uses recipes to make her case. Warning: This book may make you hungry.
6. George Lucas by Brian Jay Jones (Dec. 6; Little, Brown and Company)
The Star Wars franchise is alive and kicking, so Brian Jay Jones picked the perfect time to spotlight its legendary creator. His new book, George Lucas: A Life, examines the filmmaker’s life, work, and lasting impact. There’s even insight from film industry insiders, including Lucas’ former co-workers.
7. The Reporter Who Knew Too Much by Mark Shaw (Dec. 6; Post Hill Press)
Mark Shaw recounts an intriguing case in The Reporter Who Knew Too Much: The Mysterious Death of What’s My Line TV Star and Media Icon Dorothy Kilgallen. Although a coroner concluded that the barrier-breaking reporter’s death was an accident, Shaw raises captivating questions in this true crime book. He even suggests a Frank Sinatra-connection. Tell me you’re not curious.
8. The Way of the Writer by Charles Johnson (Dec. 6; Scribner)
National Book Award winner Charles Johnson offers insight on writing in The Way of the Writer: Reflections on the Art and Craft of Storytelling. This isn’t a straight how-to book, though. While Johnson provides practical lessons and exercises, he also reflects on the craft.
9. Waveform by Marcia Aldrich (Dec. 15; University of Georgia Press)
Marcia Aldrich’s Waveform: Twenty-First-Century Essays by Women features 30 pieces from a diverse group of female writers. The anthology covers a range of topics, themes, and experiences. If that’s not enough to intrigue you, let me just add that its contributors include the likes of Roxane Gay and Cheryl Strayed, among others.
10. An Atheist and a Christian Walk into a Bar by Randal Rauser, Justin Schieber (Dec. 6; Prometheus Books)
Randal Rauser and Justin Schieber may have opposing views, but they join forces in An Atheist and a Christian Walk Into a Bar: Talking about God, the Universe, and Everything. The two authors each share intriguing arguments and entertaining stories as they ponder faith, morality, reason, and more.
11. Get Your Sh*t Together by Sarah Knight (Dec. 27; Little, Brown and Company)
If you have a penchant for self-sabotage, Sarah Knight is here to help with her new "no f*cks given guide," Get Your Sh*t Together: How to Stop Worrying About What You Should Do So You Can Finish What You Need to Do and Start Doing What You Want to Do. She has tips for dealing with anxiety, achieving work-life balance, and just generally improving your life. This is no dry book of advice; her lessons are full of humor.
12. Books for Living by Will Schwalbe (Dec. 27; Knopf Publishing Group)
Will Schwalbe speaks to book-lovers with Books for Living. He looks at works that have impacted his life, from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince to Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird and beyond. If you love to read, you’ll relate.
13. Weddiculous by Jamie Lee (Dec. 27; HarperOne)
Jamie Lee puts weddings in perspective in Weddiculous: An Unfiltered Guide to Being a Bride. The comedian uses her firsthand experience as a bride-to-be to help readers keep from going crazy during the planning process. The irreverent book will make you laugh, whether or not you’ve experienced the madness yourself.