Yesterday I posted my Top Ten fiction reads of 2016 (which you can read here if you missed it) and today I’m sharing my Top Ten Non-Fiction reads. I’ve always enjoyed reading non-fiction but I tend to lean more towards fiction so this year I’ve made a real effort to read more non-fiction. Out of the 211 books I read in 2016, 67 were non-fiction. I’ve read quite a wide variety of books and these are the ten that have stayed with me.
A Mother’s Reckoning by Sue Klebold
This book is an honest memoir by the mother of Dylan Klebold, one of the Columbine shooters. She writes this book in a very open way, it felt like she held nothing back. It really showed the pain she feels at what her son did, but also the pain she feels at not realising what was going on his life leading up to the shooting. She is also a mother grieving the loss of her son, she raised him and has happy memories from when he was younger and you can feel the conflict and confusion and sheer pain radiate from the page. It’s one of the most honest memoirs I’ve ever read, it really felt like a no-holds-barred read and deserves all of the praise it has received.
Another Day in the Death of America by Gary Younge
This is a very involving, very moving and shocking account of the deaths of young people in America in the course of one day. All the young people were killed in shootings – some were innocent bystanders, some were caught up in gangs. The bigger picture is examined to a degree as to how and why this is happening. I found this to be a difficult read but it’s an important one and I would highly recommend it.
In Plain Sight by Dan Davies
This is an examination of the life and the despicable crimes committed by Jimmy Savile. It’s a long and detailed read that looks at what Jimmy Savile did and how he got away with it. It’s not an easy read in terms of subject matter but it’s well-written and really gives an insight into how and why people collude in such terrible crimes.
Unbecoming by Una
This is a graphic non-fiction book, one of the first I’ve ever read and I found it incredibly moving. It’s one woman’s story of her rape as a young teenager, whilst she was living in Yorkshire at the time the Yorkshire Ripper was still on the loose. The way she tells her story really got to me and there were times I had to take a break from reading before I could carry on. It’s such an important story and one of the best I’ve ever read on the subject of rape and abuse.
Death at Seaworld by David Kirby
I feel very passionately that killer whales should not be kept in captivity anyway but this book opened my eyes to the level of mistreatment that these beautiful creatures are put through purely for the public’s entertainment. I’ve been to Seaworld, when I was a teenager, and it shocked me to see how tiny the pools were that the whales are kept in. Later on the same holiday I was lucky enough to go on a whale watching boat trip to see killer whales in the wild and it was shocking to see the difference between the captive whales and the wild ones. David Kirby’s book looks at these differences and explores what could be done with the captive whales in order to give them a better life given that they probably can’t be put back into the wild.
On Bowie by Rob Sheffield
This book was a joy to read. It’s not an in-depth biography and it doesn’t pretend to be – it’s basically a love letter to David Bowie from a fan, and reading it as a fan myself it was wonderful. It’s quite a short book, and it didn’t contain anything that I didn’t already know about David Bowie, or his music, but reading it in the aftermath of his death just felt like solace. It’s a moving and heartfelt book that I would highly recommend this book to all Bowie fans.
1971: Never A Dull Moment by David Hepworth
My husband isn’t much of a reader – he collects records like I collect books – so when his mum bought him a copy of this for his birthday last year it was one that we both wanted to read. We ended up getting another copy of it on audible and we listened to it together. It was a lovely way to share the experience of reading a book. The book is set out with one chapter for each month of 1971 and whilst he does widen the narrative beyond each month, he always brings it back to the point nicely. At the end of each chapter is Hepworth’s song picks from that month so my husband made a playlist of all of the songs and it was fun to listen to after we’d finished the book.
Spectacles by Sue Perkins
This was one of my Christmas presents in 2015 and I’d been so looking forward to reading it at the time but got sidetracked with review books. When I finally did pick it up after my reading slump in the summer I found that I couldn’t put it down. It’s a wonderful book and I think it’s one I may re-read in the future.
Breaking the Silence by Jo Milne
This was a review book that I read a few weeks ago but have somehow forgotten to ever post my review so I will share a full review this month at some point. This is the story of Jo Milne was was deaf her whole life and then began to go blind. It was at this point that she was offered surgery to attempt to give her hearing. The story of Jo’s life up to the point she had the surgery was fascinating, it’s a real insight into what it must be like to be deaf. The story post-surgery had me in tears on more than one occasion. It’s a great read and I highly recommend it.
Rise by Sian Williams
I was drawn to this book because I’d seen interviews with Sian on TV and was really interested to read her account of trauma. I’ve suffered with cPTSD in the past and whilst I consider myself to be recovered now, I do still have to be mindful of my triggers and probably will always be hyper-alert to certain things. It doesn’t affect my life anymore though. This book was so much more than I thought it would be. It’s a really honest account of what happened to her, but it’s also a very accessible look at various treatments and the different ways trauma affects people. It looks at why some people go on to be diagnosed with PTSD and others don’t. I highlighted so many parts of this book and am sure I’ll re-read it in the future. it’s a really interesting read and I’d definitely recommend it.
So, that’s my Top Ten non-fiction reads of 2016! Did you read much non-fiction last year? What were your stand-out books? I’d love some more non-fiction recommendations as I definitely want to carry on reading more in 2017.
If you missed my Top Ten Fiction reads of 2016, you can read it here.
16 thoughts on “My Top Ten Non-Fiction Reads 2016”
I loved the Bowie book as well – just was so heartfelt and personal, that it spoke to us all…
It’s such a lovely book – so moving and perfect. It’s one I’ll treasure. I still can’t believe Bowie is gone though.
I know what you mean. Since the age of 11 or so, I’ve been having conversations with him, as a sort of mentor. Some have imaginary friends – he was mine.
Great Top Ten, some new titles there for me to look into 👍 I think I’d like to read more non-fiction this year! 😊
Thank you. I really enjoyed reading more non-fiction again and am planning to keep on with it this year. I can definitely recommend all the books on my list, they’ve all really stayed with me since I read them and all gave me pause for thought. I hope you find some great non-fiction. 🙂
You really have such a fantastic variety of books here. They range across so many different topics, too. Thanks for sharing your picks for the year.
Thank you. I was quite surprised when I looked back over the year at the variety I’d read, it’s something I definitely want to continue this year.
I definitely need to read more non-fiction! I’ve heard a lot about the Gary Younge and it touches on important contemporary issues so I’ll make a point of looking it out.
It’s an excellent read – harrowing at times but it really hits home what’s happening in America regarding gun crime. I hope you manage to read some more non-fiction this year.
I must admit I’m hopeless at reading non-fiction – I think I managed two last year! But I like the sound of several of those you’ve listed here, particularly the first two.
I used to read more non-fiction when I was younger but got out of the habit in recent years. I’ve really enjoyed reading more last year and will definitely keep it up in 2017. I hope you can find some more non-fiction this year that you’ll enjoy. The two you like the sound of on my list are definitely worth reading. They’re tough subject matters but written in a way that makes you not want to put the book down.
Tough subjects are good – I guess that’s why these two appealed to me! It’s really good that you made a concerted effort to read more non-fiction and that it paid off!
I’m really pleased that a third of what I read was non-fiction – I hadn’t realised that I’d read so much, which I guess shows how much I was enjoying it rather than it feeling like I was forcing myself. I found that the more non-fiction I read, the more I was wanting to read other books on similar subjects and it spread from there. I hope you manage to read the two you liked the sound of and that it leads to you reading others.
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