The 15 Best Nonfiction Books Coming Out In December 2017

Before the clock runs out on 2017, the year has more to offer us. While that might scare you given some of 2017’s more unpleasant developments and events, I promise there is good to come. Topping that list, at least for me, is the arrival of more quality nonfiction books than any of us can probably handle. Publishers have a smorgasbord of new releases that are just waiting to find their way onto our bookshelves, digital or otherwise, no matter if we’re looking to gift them or keep them.

Among the biggies coming in December are works about infamous figures in the world of pop culture, including Olympic figure skater Tonya Harding and the rap group N.W.A. Also notable are memoirs by big names such as actress Tiffany Haddish and barrier-breaking sportscaster Lesley Visser. You’ll also find an unconventional self-help book from a Bachelor producer, political writings from Noam Chomsky, and a history of public opinion regarding marijuana. And that is just a sampling of the many titles on deck.

Get out your gift list and TBR, because December books are making the end of the year merry. The 16 nonfiction new releases below are on their way, so prepare yourself accordingly.

'Diversifying Diplomacy' by Harriet Lee Elam-Thomas (Dec. 1; Potomac Books)

If you like stories about women overcoming obstacles — and why wouldn’t you? — you’ll appreciate Diversifying Diplomacy: My Journey from Roxbury to Dakar. Written by Harriet Elam-Thomas with Jim Robison, the book details how she fought the status quo to embark on a successful and lengthy career in the Foreign Service.

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'Global Discontents' by Noam Chomsky (Dec. 5; Metropolitan Books)

Bestselling author Noam Chomsky looks at contentious situations around the world in Global Discontents: Conversations on the Rising Threats to Democracy. Through 10 interviews with broadcaster and writer David Barsamian, he offers his thinking on various issues. Chomsky also gives the reader a window into his own intellectual development.

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'Cuba on the Verge,' Edited by Leila Guerriero (Dec. 5; Ecco)

The president has made it more complicated to go to Cuba again, so exploring the island nation via books might be your best option. Fortunately, there is plenty of reading material to choose from, including Cuba on the Verge: 12 Writers on Continuity and Change in Havana and Across the Country. Edited by Leila Guerriero, the essay collection paints a picture of contemporary Cuba.

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'No Time to Spare' by Ursula K. Le Guin (Dec. 5; Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

Acclaimed author Ursula K. Le Guin takes a break from fiction with her new book, No Time to Spare: Thinking About What Matters. The work is a collection of her reflections on subjects such as aging, America today, and even cats.

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'The Last Black Unicorn' by Tiffany Haddish (Dec. 5; Gallery Books)

Actress and comedian Tiffany Haddish gets personal in The Last Black Unicorn. Her humorous and honest essay collection dives into her childhood, her love life, adjusting to fame, and more.

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'Fire on Ice' by Abby Haight and J.E. Vader (Dec. 5; Three Rivers Press)

With I, Tonya soon hitting theaters, infamous U.S. figure skater Tonya Harding has come back into the spotlight. Her story is the subject of Abby Haight and J.E. Vader’s book Fire on Ice: The Exclusive Inside Story of Tonya Harding. With help from Oregonian staff, they revisit the Olympian’s complicated past and notorious downfall.

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'You’re Not That Great' by Elan Gale (Dec. 5; Grand Central Publishing)

Bachelor producer Elan Gale offers a not-so rose-tinted approach to self-help in You’re Not That Great (But Neither Is Anyone Else). Instead of highlighting positivity, his book makes a case for the power of negativity.

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'Parental Discretion Is Advised' by Gerrick D. Kennedy (Dec. 5; Atria Books)

Whether or not you saw Straight Outta Compton, there’s more to be learned about N.W.A. The groundbreaking group is the subject of music reporter Gerrick D. Kennedy’s new book, Parental Discretion Is Advised: The Rise of N.W.A and the Dawn of Gangsta Rap. It looks at their many highs and lows, controversies and successes, as well as their lasting impact.

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'Grass Roots' by Emily Dufton (Dec. 5; Basic Books)

It might feel like the stigma against marijuana is lessening, but if you like to imbibe, don’t get too comfortable yet. Emily Dufton delves into the fascinating history of the drug in Grass Roots: The Rise and Fall of Marijuana in America. Through her book, she shows how pot once gained wider acceptance in the past, only to later lose it.

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'Anesthesia' by Kate Cole-Adams (Dec. 5; Counterpoint Press)

Fortunately for us, anesthesia has become a staple in U.S. operating rooms; in spite of this, the list of questions even experts can’t answer remains long. Kate Cole-Adams seeks to shed light on those unknowns in Anesthesia: The Gift of Oblivion and Mystery of Consciousness. Her book incorporates patients’ strange, real-life experiences, including stories of waking up mid-surgery, hallucinating, and facing other unusual outcomes.

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'Jane on the Brain' by Wendy Jones (Dec. 5; Pegasus Books)

So many of us adore Jane Austen as ardently as Mr. Darcy loved Elizabeth Bennet, but if you ask Janeites, you’ll probably hear different reasons why. Psychotherapist Wendy Jones has her own unique take, and she shares it in Jane on the Brain: Exploring the Science of Social Intelligence with Jane Austen. The result is a happy marriage of literature and science.

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'Women and Power' by Mary Beard (Dec. 12; Liveright)

Mary Beard returns to the origins of misogyny in Women and Power: A Manifesto. While this isn’t exactly a fun trip down memory lane, it is interesting to see how much has stayed the same, even as so much has changed. Beard incorporates the examples of both real and fictional powerful women, past and present.

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'The Danger Within Us' by Jeanne Lenzer (Dec. 12; Little, Brown and Company)

As if we didn’t have enough to worry about in regard to health care, Jeanne Lenzer highlights more grim problems in The Danger Within Us: America’s Untested, Unregulated Medical Device Industry and One Man’s Battle to Survive It. There is a lot that is alarming, from lack of regulation to corruption, and all the medical risks those issues pose.

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'Why You Eat What You Eat' by Rachel Herz (Dec. 26; W. W. Norton Company)

The best time to sit down with Why You Eat What You Eat: The Science Behind Our Relationship with Food is probably after all your holiday gorging is behind you. Written by neuroscientist Rachel Herz, the book explains the myriad of factors that guide and affect our eating habits. You’ll learn about cravings, surprising triggers, startling facts, and more.    

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'Sometimes You Have to Cross When It Says Don’t Walk' by Lesley Visser (Dec. 26; BenBella Books)

Lesley Visser writes about her groundbreaking career in sports journalism in Sometimes You Have to Cross When It Says Don’t Walk: A Memoir of Breaking Barriers. Her memoir recounts the challenges of making it in the male-dominated field, along with the wisdom she gained along the way. Plan to be inspired.

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UPDATE: According to publisher Hachette, How To Die Young by Angelina Fanous has been suspended indefinitely. The book has been removed from this list.