Best Social Science of 2022

In-depth explorations of racism, divorce, and money. The best social sciences titles of 2022.

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Alexander, Elizabeth. The Trayvon Generation. Grand Central. ISBN 9781538737897.

Alexander’s book expands upon her viral New Yorker essay about the ongoing issue of race being at the center of the American experience. Like many mothers, she looked at her own sons and other children to examine the challenges and dangers that Black youths face. What’s different about this book is that she combines her analyses with others’ groundbreaking art, enabling readers to clearly see the realities that many people of color experience. 

Bailey, Jonathan T. When I Was Red Clay: A Journey of Identity, Healing, and Wonder. Torrey House. ISBN 9781948814638.

This unique combination of stories and poetry depicts Bailey’s growing up gay in a rural Mormon town in Utah. The book directly addresses trauma, mental health, wonder, and discovery; it pleasantly incorporates humor as well.

Nabongo, Jessica. The Catch Me If You Can: One Woman’s Journey to Every Country in the World. National Geographic. ISBN 9781426222269.

Many may say they want to travel around the world, but Nabongo actually did it. She is the first Black woman to have visited all of the world’s 195 countries. Her book is much more than a travelogue; it’s a global celebration of cultures and of Nabongo herself. An essential, eye-opening connection to people and traditions worldwide.

Perry, Imani. South to America: A Journey Below the Mason-Dixon To Understand the Soul of a Nation. Ecco. ISBN 9780062977403.

Perry’s book is filled with surprising info and revelations. What makes this book rise above others about the South is Perry’s extensive, immersive research and her willingness to view her beliefs (shaped by being a Black woman born in Birmingham, AL) with fresh eyes. She makes the sound argument that society must understand the South’s history and present to know what it means to be American and how to improve the American condition.

Soundararajan, Thenmozhi. The Trauma of Caste: A Dalit Feminist Meditation on Survivorship, Healing, and Abolition. North Atlantic. ISBN 9781623177652.

Soundararajan, a Dalit American, makes a boisterous call to action to end the caste system that exists, unseen by many people, in the United States. This book demonstrates that caste, one of the oldest systems of exclusion in the world, is still thriving in the United States and South Asia. Issuing an urgent plea to act, Soundararajan offers ways that both oppressor and oppressed can transform collective suffering.

Thomas, Etan. Police Brutality and White Supremacy: The Fight Against American Traditions. Edge of Sports. ISBN 9781636140568.

Thomas, a former NBA player, reveals his own stories and utilizes interviews with families and victims of police brutality to show that there’s still an incredible amount of work to do to achieve racial equality in the United States. The interviews in this book are evocative and haunting commentaries on life for people of color in this country. It warrants a close read.

Trauma, Tresses, and Truth: Untangling Our Hair Through Personal Narratives. Lawrence Hill. ed. by Lyzette Wanzer. ISBN 9781641606707.

These collective episodes explicitly expose the struggles that women of color endure in the many places where their natural hair has been weaponized against them. These real-life emotional experiences increase awareness about a form of systemic racism that is shocking to many; it also challenges readers to respect all hair types, a healing quest.

White, April. The Divorce Colony: How Women Revolutionized Marriage and Found Freedom on the American Frontier. Hachette. ISBN 9780306827662.

A well-researched example of excellent storytelling about women divorce-seekers in Sioux Falls, SD, known as the United States’ “Divorce Colony” in the 19th century. Told from the perspectives of four historical women, this book sheds light on what empowerment meant to women then and the obstacles they had to overcome in order to get out of unhappy marriages.

Williams, Nikesha Elise. Mardi Gras Indians. LSU. ISBN 9780807178706.

Two-time Emmy Award–winning producer Williams uses her extraordinary narrative skills to share revelations and much research about the Black community members of New Orleans who pay tribute every Mardi Gras to the Indigenous peoples along the Mississippi River who gave refuge to enslaved people seeking freedom. This book is a fascinating celebration of cultures and traditions.

Women Talk Money: Breaking the Taboo. S. & S. ed. by Rebecca Walker. ISBN 9781501154324.

Walker expertly highlights essays from 29 women who represent a wide range of socioeconomic backgrounds, experiences, and relationships with money. The women’s stories are their authentic takes on how money has impacted their specific situations and influenced their approaches to life. The tales are packed with the power to make readers seriously reflect on their own perspectives about money and why personal finances should be a topic of open discussion from now on.

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