8 Non-Fiction Books for Your Reading List

Reading a great book in bed with a huge cup of tea while it pours down rain outside is one of my simple pleasures. I can’t always count on the weather to make this scenario come true, but I can always count on great books to be available. I wanted to start a series to share some of my favourite reads from different genres. First up; non-fiction books.

In important areas of their lives, almost none of my patients with serious disease had ever learned to say no.

As a person who strongly believes that wellbeing is both a mental and physical pursuit, this book resonated with me. I stumbled upon it in a random post from Instagram’s explore section, and I’m really glad I did. Maté asks questions around whether stress and our emotional selves can impact our physical health, and if so, how?  It explores the role stress may play in various chronic illnesses from cancers to multiple sclerosis and even Alzheimer’s disease. More than this, it looks at how habits we develop when we are young can lead us toward lives which are high in stress and low in boundaries. Despite the number of times it mentions psychoneuroimmunology, it is easy to read and I believe, very eye-opening.

You believe someone not because you have no doubts about them. Belief is not the absence of doubt. You believe someone because you don’t have enough doubts about them.

Malcolm Gladwell is a famous author who, strangely, I hadn’t heard of before this book. He’s been writing narrative non-fiction for 20 years now and many of his books are bestsellers. Talking to Strangers is his latest release from 2019. It’s a book that I found hard to put down. Talking to Strangers is all about the assumptions we make about the people we don’t know, and the ones we thought we did. It’s about how our own biases allow us to trust or not trust a stranger. It’s hard to explain without giving away all the best details, so instead I’ll say this; if you enjoy true crime, you’ll probably enjoy this book. It felt almost like reading the script to a Netflix docuseries and I binged it in only a few sittings.

Shyness is the fear of social disapproval or humiliation, while introversion is a preference for environments that are not overstimulating. Shyness is inherently painful; introversion is not.

The first time I identified as an introvert was through Susan Cain’s TED Talk. It really was a revelation. Reading her book, Quiet, was the next level. It explores what it means to be an introvert, how our culture promotes an extrovert ideal and how introverted personalities can find their space in a loud world. If you’re an introvert, this is a very validating read which can help you understand your personality on a deeper level. If you’re an extrovert, this book could help you make sense of your introverted friends, family and partners.

When women attribute their enormous achievements to luck, they discount other, far more relevant factors. Factors like hard work, honed skills and natural talent. This is the true source of their success. They weren’t just lucky. They were really good at their jobs.

Women joined the workforce less than 100 years ago. Let that sink it.

Of course, women have always worked. But we’ve only had one century where we’ve been seen as workers. Is it any wonder we don’t feel like we deserve to be there? Jamila Rizvi’s insightful book is about recognising that women’s success in the workplace is earned, it’s not just luck. There were a lot of ‘aha’ moments for me while reading this book. I could see a number of ways that I’d undermined myself, my success or my work. Whether you identify as male, female or non-binary; this book can help to unpack your career experiences and professional self-worth.

We love seeing raw truth and openness in other people, but we’re afraid to let them see it in us. We’re afraid that our truth isn’t enough – that what we have to offer isn’t enough without the bells and whistles, without editing, and impressing.

Brené Brown is like most of us; she wants to avoid failure, awkwardness and shame. What started as researching how to avoid these less desirable parts of life became a journey to understand why they are essential. The core idea from this book is that shame and vulnerability are the necessary pre-cursors to true belonging. If we prevent ourselves from feeling shame or being vulnerable, we also keep ourselves from experiencing whole-hearted acceptance. Daring Greatly helped me begin to see the value in vulnerability. It’s one of the resources that has allowed me to share more in my writing, to be authentic with less fear of judgement. It’s not the only resource I’ve used for that purpose, but it’s one of the most empowering.

If you’d rather watch than read, Brené Brown has a special feature on Netflix which covers much of the same information as the book.

Do we settle for the world as it is, or do we work for the world as it should be?

You don’t have to know me well to know I’m a massive Michelle Obama fangirl. When I finally dove into her memoir, she didn’t fall off her pedestal – she climbed higher. This is not a political book, despite being about the journey into one of the world’s most powerful political positions. Michelle hates politics. It’s the story of a woman who wants to do good for the world and who finds herself in a unique position to do just that. Whether you’re a fangirl like me or not, Becoming is full of poignant observations and wise advice about growing up, building strong relationships and finding your power to make a difference.

There are no gods, no nations, no money and no human rights, except in our collective imagination.

Sapiens stands alone as an interesting introduction to the human scientific and cultural evolutions, though the follow up Homo Deus is still on my to-read list. This book combines sociology, anthropology, history and many other academic fields. That’s not meant to put you off! It’s actually a highly accessible way to grasp some academic concepts, for example nationalism and the imagined community. Accessibility is what I enjoyed most about this book; it is readable, engaging and informative. It’s a good way to test the waters of your academic interests without diving in too deep.

This is mental illness. It is vicious waves slamming you onto a rocky shore, and your tired body dragging itself up, and vicious waves slamming you back onto the rocks, and your tired body dragging itself up, over and over, until you think you might as well lie down on the sharp edges and  let the water subsume you.

That Was When People Started to Worry is a series of short stories about mental illness. Each chapter is defined by a single illness and a single female character who was based upon hundreds of hours of interviews with women about their real-life experiences. If you’ve experienced mental illness, you may find a lot of truth in these pages. If you haven’t, it will almost certainly help you understand all the things left unsaid by a person struggling with their mental health. The stories are raw and they are real, and they help to narrate what it feels like to not just feel anxious or depressed but to be consumed by anxiety, self-harm, disordered eating or other mental illnesses.

If you’ve read any of these non-fiction books already, feel free to share your thoughts below – I’d love to hear them!