I read widely for work, but when push comes to shove, the books I remember in December are the ones that have woven their narratives tightly to my mind and heart. This year, a bizarre one full of fracture, distress, hope, fear, and introspection, the books I remember were all written by authors of uncommon empathy. After months of listening to candidates tripping over each other to “feel your pain,” it’s easy to forget that actually feeling someone’s pain — and then writing about it, sharing it, granting it legitimacy and the respect of critique — is a rare talent. The books below give voice to people or ideas that are typically ignored, or worse. As is always the case, there were many wonderful nonfiction titles published in 2016, but these are the books that shifted the way I see our world.
When you need to laugh through your tears:
Because you want to know what all the fuss is about:
If your heart bleeds Bernie:
You watched The Wire (or meant to, because Terry Gross kept going on about it):
You believe that children are the future:
Because you want to do something: