My Favourite Non-Fiction Books! #NonFictionNovember

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This week as part of Non-Fiction November Shelf Aware has set the prompt for us to talk about what makes a book a favourite. What qualities do you look for in non-fiction?

 

I love reading non-fiction and definitely read more of it in recent years than I ever used to before. I’m one of those readers that always has multiple books on the go at once and at least one of my books is always non-fiction.

When I first starting getting into non-fiction it was mainly through reading memoirs and biographies of people that I was interested in and I’m still drawn to them. They’re generally quite easy reads and the focus is on one person so they’re easy to follow. I find them good when my pain levels are high and I need a book that doesn’t require huge amounts of concentration. Alongside my love of memoirs are the easier non-fiction books that read almost like fiction because they’re so unputdownable!

The first grown-up non-fiction book I remember reading is The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank. I read it the summer I was 8 and I can still remember the devastating, eye-opening impact that it had on me. The next biography that made an impact was Still Me by Christopher Reeve. I bought this in hardback the day it was released and I read it in one sitting. I was so moved by his struggle and his openness in the book. I didn’t know when I read it that one day I would be partially paralysed, it doesn’t compare to what happened to him but it does give me even more insight. I’m also recommending The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey. This is a memoir of a woman who whilst ill and confined to bed takes to watching nature, this is such a beautiful book and is one I stumbled across and am so glad it found me. On a lighter note I also included Lucy Mangan’s Bookworm, which is a must-read if you were a child and teenage reader (particularly if you’re in your 40s now). I adore this book! A fun read, also for 40+ year olds is Now We Are 40 which is all about Generation X and I loved it. Finally I recommend The Christmas Chronicles by Nigel Slater – it’s part Christmas memoir and part cookbook and it’s such a gorgeous book to read as the festive season comes around.

 

I also enjoy reading non-fiction to learn and often find myself drawn to factual books when I’ve been reading a novel or watching something on TV and want to know more. I’m more likely to fall down a rabbit-hole of one book leading to another these days and I love it when that happens. It so often ends with a book that is quite a distance subject-wise from where I started which then sends me off on another track.

In this section I’ve included Pain-Free Life by Andrea Hayes and Mindfulness for Health by Vidyamala Burch as both have massively helped me find a way to live with the chronic pain I’m permanently. I recommend them if you’re a pain sufferer. In Plain Sight is about Jimmy Savile and is such a well-written book about how his crimes were discovered. The Emperor of all Maladies and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks are both about cancer. The first is a history of cancer told in such a fascinating way, it’s a brilliant book. The second is about the cells doctors took from Henrietta that are still used today but her family weren’t informed about what was done. It’s such a moving and interesting book. Death at Seaworld is a brilliant book that really opens your eyes to what is happening at Seaworld. This book made me so angry but that’s a good thing and it’s a book more people should read. Hillsborough: The Truth is the full story of what happened and is a must-read. I’ve read it twice and it’s still so shocking for so many reasons. The Looming Tower is an excellent read about the factors that led up to 9/11 and has since been adapted for TV. The Red Parts is a memoir about Nelson’s Aunt’s murder, which happened before she was born and I’ve found this has really stayed with me. Last but not least is Sally Ride: America’s First Woman in Space, which was such an interesting read. It’s incredible to read her story and find out how she came to be an astronaut but also the extra struggles she had being the first woman, and how things had to be considered that never had before.

 

My concentration for more academic non-fiction isn’t great these days but when I want to read something to learn or to gain much more depth on a subject I will still pick these books up. I loved all the academic books that I read when I was doing my degree many years ago but I struggle now I’m out of the habit and do find these books more daunting.

Here I’m recommending just four books. The first is A Literature of their Own, which I bought in my first week at Uni when I heard Elaine Showalter was going to be giving a guest lecture. I’m such a fan of her writing now and want to re-read this one soon. I’ve also included Aspects of the Novel, which I devoured immediately after buying it and really enjoyed it. The Case of Peter Pan came in really useful for an essay I was writing but I’ve since re-read the book and find it such an interesting read. I want to read more by the author. I’m also including James Baldwin and the 1980s, which I’ve only recently finished but it’s sparked me into wanting to read so many other books so it feels right to include it.

Ultimately, I think my favourite kind of non-fiction is books that are the ones where I’m learning more about something but without the book being too academic. It means I can learn whilst enjoying my reading and it feels less pressured for me when my health isn’t so good.

 

Also, I have to squeeze in a mention that I do have something of an addiction to books about de-cluttering. I love Marie Kondo’s books (The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up and Spark Joy as it’s her method that finally clicked with me to sort my whole house out (and it’s stayed tidy ever since! Here is a post about my clutter journey.)  but if I see a book about hoarding or de-cluttering I still have to read them! I also found Banish Clutter Forever, which helped me with re-organising my house after I’d decluttered. It’s based on the idea that we always know where our toothbrush is because we keep it right where we use it so if we apply that principle to everything else we own our homes should be easier to tidy and it should be easier to find things. I’ve reviewed Un*fuck Your Habitat here if you’d like to know more about this one.

 

What are some of your favourite types of non-fiction? What are your favourite non-fiction books? If you have any recommendations for me based on any of the books in this post please let me know, I’m always looking for more books to read! 🙂

My New Book Haul (Stacking the Shelves 20 Jul 2019)!

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Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews and Reading Reality, which is all about sharing the books that you’ve acquired in the past week!

 

Purchased Books / eBooks

The Farm by Joanne Ramos

I’ve had a reservation for this one at the library for ages and I really want to read it so decided to buy the kindle version when it was on a daily deal this week. I can’t wait to get to this!

Till The Cows Come Home by Sara Cox

I bought this one on a whim as I really like Sara Cox and think this will be a fun and interesting read!

Unnatural Causes by Richard Shepherd

I’ve wanted to read this one for a while too so decided to treat myself. I’ve already started reading this and it’s fascinating!

Her Closest Friend by Clare Boyd

I thought I’d already bought this one but I hadn’t so I’ve put that right now and hope to get to this soon.

 

Borrowed AudioBooks

The Spider and The Fly by Claudia Rowe

This was a really interesting read about a reporter’s fascination with a serial killer and her exploration of why she became so fascinated by him.

The Stranger on the Bridge by Jonny Benjamin

This was a really moving book about a man’s battle with mental illness and his relationship with the man that stopped and saved him the day he was planning to jump off a bridge.

Pain-Free Life: My Journey to Wellness by Andrea Hayes

This was such a good book and I’m so glad I listened to it. It reinforced for me the strength I’ve had to get to where I am in my battle to control my pain levels. I recommend this book.

A Better Me by Gary Barlow

I downloaded this from the library after seeing it recommended in an online book group. It was really interesting and I’m glad I got to read it.

 

ARCs

So Lucky by Dawn O’Porter

I am excited beyond words to have a copy of this book! I loved The Cows and have been so eagerly anticipating this new book. It definitely won’t be on my TBR for very long!

The Most Difficult Thing by Charlotte Philby

This is another book that I’ve been interested in for a while so I was delighted to get a copy on NetGalley, I’m really looking forward to reading it!

The Silent Ones by K. L. Slater

I downloaded this one from NG too as I saw the blurb on FB and knew I simply had to read it!

Magic Under the Mistletoe by Lucy Coleman

I got this book for a blog tour later in the year so I won’t be reading it quite yet but I am looking forward to reading it as we get into autumn!

 

Have you bought any new books over the last week? Please tell me below. 🙂 If you join in with Stacking the Shelves please feel free to leave your link and I’ll make sure to read and comment on your post.

WWW Wednesdays (17 Jul 2019)!

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WWW Wednesday is a meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. It’s open for anyone to join in and is a great way to share what you’ve been reading! All you have to do is answer three questions and share a link to your blog in the comments section of Sam’s blog.

The three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

A similar meme is run by Lipsyy Lost and Found where bloggers share This Week in Books #TWiB.

 

What I’m reading now:

The Darkest Summer by Ella Drummond

This book is so good! I really enjoyed Ella Drummond’s first novel and this one is even better, it gripped me from the first chapter and I’m keen to read more asap!

A Question of Trust by Penny Vincenzi

This is one of my 20 Books of Summer picks and I’m thoroughly enjoying this one. I’m trying to savour is because it but it’s hard not to keep reading when I pick it up. I recommend this one!

Gary Speed: Unspoken by John Richardson

I bought this one recently and started reading it straight away. It’s not really the book I thought it was going to be but I do want to finish it. I was hoping for more of a biography but really it’s more his friends sharing memories of him.

What I recently finished reading:

A Simple Favour by Darcey Bell

I’ve had this on my TBR mountain for about a year so when I spotted the audio book on BorrowBox (my local library’s audio book service) I decided to download it and listen. The novel wasn’t as good as I hoped it would be but listening to it on audio kept me engaged when I might have put the ebook down.

A Better Me by Gary Barlow

I also downloaded the audio book of this on a whim from BorrowBox after seeing a recommendation in a book group on FB. I actually enjoyed this more than I was expecting and I’m glad I listened to it.

Pain-Free Life: My Journey to Wellness by Andrea Hayes

This is another audiobook from BorrowBox and the title just caught my eye. I’ve worked really hard on finding ways of treating and coping with my severe neuropathic pain so am interested to read the stories of other people who’ve been through similar. Andrea’s story is so similar to mine in many ways so I found this book really life-affirming and recommend it.

The Spider and the Fly: A Reporter, A Serial Killer and the Meaning of Murder by Claudia Rowe

This is a book I’ve wanted to read for ages but have only seen quite expensive secondhand copies that are in not great condition so I was really pleased to spot the audio book on BorrowBox. I found this an interesting book about a reporter’s obsession with a serial killer, and her exploration of her own obsession.

The Stranger on the Bridge: My Journey from Despair to Hope by Jonny Benjamin

I finally got to read this book which I’ve been wanting to read since it first came out as I’d seen interviews with the author on TV.  This was a really moving book about the author’s struggle with mental illness.

Watching You by Lisa Jewell

I finally read this book having had an ARC on my TBR for over a year. I’m not sure how I missed reading it before now but I’m glad to have read it. I very much enjoyed this thriller and have already reviewed it. You can find my thoughts here if you’d like to know more.

Dead Girls: Essays on Surviving an American Obsession by Alice Bolin

I was really keen to listen to this book but I found myself disappointed with it as it just wasn’t the book it’s made out to be. It’s more about the author moving to L.A. and her obsession with Joan Didion’s work than it is about America’s obsession with young women who have been murdered.

 

What I plan on reading next:

Fire Sermon by Jamie Quatro

This book has been on my wish list for a while so when I spotted it on BorrowBox I decided to request it. I now have the book on my phone so it will be my next audio book.

Looker by Laura Sims

I hoped to read this one over the last week but I could only manage audio books so had to put this one on hold. I’m still keen to read it so fingers crossed for the coming week.

The Closer I Get by Paul Burston

I’ve been desperate to read this book so again I’m hoping I’ll be able to read print this week so that I can get to this one.


 

What have you been reading this week? I’d love to hear. And if you take part in WWW Wednesdays or This Week in Books please feel free to leave your link below and I’ll make sure to visit and comment on your post. 🙂