14 Nonfiction Books To Read In February About Race, Mental Illness, Gun Violence & More

When you’re a book-lover, there is always something to look forward to. New books are coming out all the time, and you get to read them, you lucky thing, you. As we head into February, rest assured that the month’s nonfiction new releases are worthy of excitement; this list should offer all the proof you need.

February is bringing a host of solid nonfiction books. There is work from the great American writer Toni Morrison, best-selling author and journalist Dave Cullen, and a variety of others skilled with the pen (or computer, as the case may be). You can count on stirring memoirs, rich essay collections, and enlightening explorations of important and intriguing topics.

Remember: It’s not too late to set a reading goal for the year. If you haven’t yet, these upcoming titles may inspire you to get to it. Meanwhile, if you’re already working on one, they can definitely help you reach your magic number. Whatever the case, read to your heart’s content and keep looking for books that spark joy.

Below, you’ll find 14 nonfiction books, all coming out in February, that you may want to read ASAP. Make sure to mark your calendar!

‘Rock Needs River’ by Vanessa McGrady (Feb. 1; Little A)

In Rock Needs River: A Memoir About a Very Open Adoption, Vanessa McGrady writes about how bringing home her daughter, Grace, changed her life even more than she expected. After the adoption, Grace’s parents became homeless, so McGrady decided to let them stay with her. Her memoir shares the complicated, compelling ride.

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‘The Collected Schizophrenias’ by Esmé Weijun Wang (Feb. 5; Graywolf Press)

Esmé Weijun Wang combines her research background with own experiences with schizoaffective disorder to shine a light on mental illness in The Collected Schizophrenias: Essays. She weaves together anecdotes and research to bust myths, share information, and increase understanding. Her essays explore coping, diagnosis, the dangers of institutionalization, and more.

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‘The Unwinding of the Miracle’ by Julie Yip-Williams (Feb. 5; Random House)

The late Julie Yip-Williams turned a terminal diagnosis into a moving memoir. Her book, The Unwinding of the Miracle: A Memoir of Life, Death, and Everything That Comes After, looks back at her life, from her unlikely survival after being born blind in Vietnam to her years as a lawyer, wife, and mother of two. In telling her story, she shares heartbreak, humor, and inspiration.

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‘Figuring’ by Maria Popova (Feb. 5; Pantheon Books)

Writer Maria Popova looks at the interconnected lives of several historical figures in Figuring. Her subjects include scientists, artists, and writers such as the poet Emily Dickinson, the astronomer Maria Mitchell, the biologist Charles Darwin, and more. Through their stories, Popova delves into issues of love, legacy, happiness, and meaning.

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‘Brown White Black’ by Nishta J. Mehra (Feb. 5; Picador)

Nishta J. Mehra writes about her family in Brown White Black: An American Family at the Intersection of Race, Gender, Sexuality, and Religion. As a brown woman with a white wife and a black son, she has plenty of stories about dealing with American attitudes about race, gender, and sexuality. Her essays share these experiences, ranging from her coming out story to her ongoing effort to teach her son how to be a black man in America.

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‘Brave, Not Perfect’ by Reshma Saujani (Feb. 5; Currency)

Reshma Saujani’s expanded her TED talk into a book with Brave, Not Perfect: Fear Less, Fail More, and Live Bolder. She discusses the way girls are taught to play it safe and aim for perfection, and the negative impact that can have on their lives. Saujani argues for another approach — one that encourages bravery and imperfection.

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‘Hard to Love’ by Briallen Hopper (Feb. 5; Bloomsbury Publishing)

Romantic love isn’t the only kind that matters — that’s the case Briallen Hopper makes in Hard to Love: Essays and Confessions. She looks at all different categories of love, running the gamut from friendship and affection between siblings to the love one feels toward a job or a TV series.

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‘The Source of Self-Regard’ by Toni Morrison (Feb. 12; Knopf Publishing Group)

The latest nonfiction book from acclaimed author Toni Morrison is The Source of Self-Regard: Selected Essays, Speeches, and Meditations. It draws from the past four decades, making it something of a “greatest hits” collection. You’ll be able to read her poignant eulogy for James Baldwin, a prayer she wrote for the victims of 9/11, and even sharp commentary on her own work.

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‘Parkland’ by Dave Cullen (Feb. 12; Harper)

Parkland: Birth of a Movement by Dave Cullen is a look at the February 2018 tragedy in Florida and how it created a powerful group of teen activists. The book looks at how the school shooting, and the subsequent March for Our Lives movement, has changed their lives. Drawing on interviews with families and friends, he shares their stories of PTSD, dealing with heartbreak, overcoming setbacks, success, and more.

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‘Women Warriors’ by Pamela D. Toler (Feb. 26; Beacon Press)

Historian Pamela D. Toler recounts fascinating war stories in her new book. Called Women Warriors: An Unexpected History, it is full of tales of women who went into battle, whether cross-dressing as men or openly leading the troops. Her subjects range from African queens to Vikings to WWII Russian fighter pilots.

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‘Don't Label Me’ by Irshad Manji (Feb. 26; St. Martin’s Press)

Irshad Manji takes on bigotry and advocates for diversity and humanity in Don't Label Me: An Incredible Conversation for Divided Times. She reminds everyone that labeling your opponents creates barriers and that we all have to work together for the sake of progress. To do so, she opens up about her past as a refugee, being a Muslim in the United States, and even overcoming her fear of dogs.

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‘Say Nothing’ by Patrick Radden Keefe (Feb. 26; Doubleday)

Patrick Radden Keefe revisits a notorious killing in Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland. The story isn’t just about the abduction and slaying of a Belfast mother, though; it’s about the aftermath of the violent conflict and the lasting scars on both sides.

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‘Evil’ by Julia Shaw (Feb. 26; Abrams Press)

In Evil: The Science Behind Humanity's Dark Side, Julia Shaw explores why we’re fascinated by the sinister subject. Taking it further, she explores how definitions of evil depend on your cultural lens, and what that means. Along the way, she enlists the help of case studies, making for a riveting exploration of the topic.

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