2021 in Nonfiction

This year seems to have passed by very quickly, especially after the strangeness that was 2020. It still feels like 2021 is just beginning, but there are only a few weeks left until 2022. Therefore, now is a good time to highlight a few of the nonfiction books that were released during this year, specifically those about current events and issues that have affected many people during this past year.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact various aspects of everyday life, a few people have given some early thoughts and assessments of what the post-pandemic world might look like. One of these is Ten Lessons for a Post-Pandemic World by Fareed Zakaria (303.49 Zakaria). Lessons such as “life is digital,” “inequality will get worse,” and “globalization is not dead” are discussed in individual chapters. Zakaria goes into detail about international relations, economic factors, social interactions, and offers some thoughts and insight about some of the complicated issues that intersect with and affect one another. Because of the wide-reaching nature of the pandemic, there are likely to be many more forthcoming books offering a wide variety of perspectives about health, medicine, public policy, safety, the economy, technology, and other ideas.

Navigating the digital landscape is becoming increasingly important because so much information is now transmitted through online sources. Knowing how to find reputable sources can feel overwhelming, so Viral BS: Medical Myths and Why We Fall for Them by Dr. Seema Yasmin (610 Yasmin) is one source that can help people who are looking for health and medical information. Each chapter covers a specific question (“Do cell phones cause cancer?,” “Is trauma inherited?”) and gives facts and data from medical studies and explains their relevance to both individual and public health.

One health topic that affects many people is the complex and tragic nature of addiction and how to prevent it. The Addiction Inoculation: Raising Healthy Kids in a Culture of Dependence by Jessica Lahey (649 Lahey) is described as “a comprehensive resource parents and educators can use to prevent substance abuse in children. Based on research in child welfare, psychology, substance abuse, and developmental neuroscience, this essential guide provides evidence-based strategies and practical tools adults need to understand, support, and educate resilient, addiction-resistant children. The guidelines are age-appropriate and actionable—from navigating a child’s risk for addiction, to interpreting signs of early abuse, to advice for broaching difficult conversations with children.” This book discusses the genetic nature of addiction and gives tools and resources with which to help children and young people access prevention and treatment for addiction.

And because we all need some positivity, Let Us Dream: The Path To a Better Future by Pope Francis (261.8 Francis) gives some much-needed optimism to today’s current events. Many problems are discussed, but solutions are offered for dealing with both personal and societal crises. This can help the world feel less overwhelming. There are also many examples of ordinary people helping others, starting with simple steps, along with a hopeful reminder that it is always possible to create a better world for the future.