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! 🙂

The Audio Book Tag!

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I’ve been meaning to do this tag ever since I saw it on Nicki, and then on Meggy’s fabulous blogs so I’m happy to have finally got to it today!

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Teddy Ruxpin is a bit creepier looking than I remembered!

HAVE YOU ALWAYS LISTENED TO AUDIOBOOK OR WHEN DID YOU BEGIN?

I used to enjoy audio books on cassette as a young child (I played the tapes in my Teddy Ruxpin!) but then stopped listening to books for a long time. I started again when I began my English Literature degree as a mature student a few years ago. I always liked to read a book all the way through before going back to read it slowly and making notes when I was studying so doing my first read through on audio book during my two hour round trip commute each day (five days a week) helped me get my reading done. I discovered how much I loved listening to books and have enjoyed them ever since, and now I couldn’t read as much as I do without them!

 

 

WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE AUDIOBOOK?

Gosh, that’s a tough question. I recently listened to Daisy Jones and The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reids on audio and that was such a brilliant listen, I recommend it! I also really loved Just Kids by Patti Smith, it added to the book for me that Patti reads her book herself. I also have a real fondness for Michel Faber’s The Book of Strange New Things, narrated by Josh Cohen. I also just finished The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon (read by Paula Wilcox) and it was sheer perfection, the narration is spot on for the book!

 

WHAT IS YOUR LEAST FAVOURITE THING ABOUT AUDIOBOOKS?

The only thing I can think of is the inability to make notes or highlights of favourite paragraphs. I love highlighting on my kindle and I put loads of sticky tabs in books that I’m enjoying so I do miss being able to do that with audio books. Oh, and if I fall asleep reading on my kindle it opens to the page I was on whereas on audio it can be really difficult to find my place again!

 

WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE DIFFERENCE IN EXPERIENCE BETWEEN PHYSICALLY READING A BOOK AND LISTENING TO IT?

For me, there isn’t really a difference. I can take in a story and remember it just as well when reading as I can when listening. I suppose when I think about it the biggest difference for me is that audio books allow me to keep ‘reading’ on the days when I physically can’t hold a book or turn pages, or when my eyes are particularly bad and I can’t focus to read.

I also find that some books seem to naturally work better for me on audio and some on the page, and I find that really interesting.

 

HOW AND WHEN DO YOU LISTEN?

I listen via either my iPhone or iPad mostly. I love how audio books give me much needed distraction when my pain levels are very bad and I can’t physically do much of                                        anything. I also listen when doing my physio exercises as they allow me to focus on two things at once which is really important for learning how to balance equally on both of my legs. I’ve also been known to listen to a couple of minutes of my audio book on my way up and down stairs (my stairlift is quite slow)!

 

WHAT STYLE/GENRE DO YOU PREFER?

I pretty much listen to audio books in the same genres I enjoy reading so non-fiction, memoir, thrillers, general fiction, historical fiction.

 

WHAT ARE SOME AUDIOBOOK/NARRATOR RECOMMENDATIONS?

I highly recommend Daisy Jones and The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid, which has multiple narrators and is so well done. I also recently listened to The Wych Elm by Tana French, and found the narrator Paul Nugent perfect for this novel so it really enhanced the reading experience for me. The Blue Bench by Paul Marriner (narrated by Colleen MacMahon) was a brilliant listen for me so I recommend that one too. I also really enjoyed Dead in Venice by Fiona Leitch, it was a good story and the narrator Deryn Edwards really brought the book to life. Oh and I have to mention Lucy Mangan’s Bookworm, that was such a lovely listen and I do love when an author of non-fiction narrates their own book.

 

*I’m a paid member of Scribd (as mentioned above) and they have given me a code that will allow you to sign up and get two months free (and I would get one month free). If you’d like to try them out here is the link. I love Scribd and highly recommend them.

 

Do you listen to audio books? Do you have any recommendations to share?

 

My Top Non-Fiction Reads 2018!

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Today I’m sharing my non-fiction reads from 2018! I read 290 books last year and 79 of those were non-fiction so I’ve picked my top 12. Yesterday I shared my favourite fiction reads of the year and you can find that here if you’d like to read it.

Illusion of Justice by Jerome Buting

I was late getting to Making a Murderer but I finally watched season one earlier this year  and immediately looked to see if there were any books on the case. This is written by one of Steven Avery’s lawyers and was a really fascinating read. I watched season 2 as soon as it was on Netflix and see that there’s a possibility that these lawyers could have done more but at the time of reading it felt like a really good insight into the case and that they’d done all they could within the restraints they had.

My Life in Football by Kevin Keegan

I listened to this on audio and really enjoyed it. It was a hard listen at times being a Newcastle United fan and hearing in Keegan’s own words how badly he was treated at the club. It was interesting to learn more about Keegan’s life though and I found this book near impossible to stop listening to.

How Not to be a Boy by Robert Webb

I got this for Christmas in 2017 and it’d been calling to me from my TBR all year so I was glad to finally read it. It’s such an open and honest memoir and I found it such an interesting read.

The Looming Tower by Lawrence Wright

This is a really in-depth book about what led to 9/11. It’s obviously not always an easy subject to read about in terms of what happened but the way this book is written makes it one you don’t want to put down. It gave me a much better understanding of what happened in the years preceding 9/11. It’s such an important book and one I definitely recommend.

Knowing the Score by Judy Murray

I very much enjoyed this book having been a fan of Judy Murray for a while now. It gave such insight into her character and her strength and I was so inspired by just how much she’s done for female tennis players over the years. I have a full review of this book so if you’d like to know more click the title above.

Life to the Limit by Jenson Button

I listened to this as an audio book after buying it in an Audible sale a few weeks ago. I used to be such big F1 fan so was keen to know more behind the scenes of Button’s career. There is much of that but this is also a love letter to his late father, John and I found is so much more moving than I expected.

So Here It Is by Dave Hill

I initially wanted to read this because I grew up hearing Slade as my late mum was a huge fan. The book is so well-written and is so full of honesty and openness that I enjoyed it on its own merits. I have a full review of this so if you’d like to know more about what I thought click the title above.

Bookworm by Lucy Mangan

This book was sheer joy to read! I love books about books anyway but this one really grabbed me as I’m assuming Mangan is a similar age to me as we read many of the same books in childhood. It was a real nostalgic read and led to me buying copies of childhood books that I loved but had sadly long since lost. I recommend this to all bookworms!

The Light in the Dark by Horatio Clare

This is a beautiful, lyrical journal about the changing of the season into winter. It’s a mediation on all the changes that occur as winter hits. This book struck such a chord with me and gave me such comfort and solace at a time of year that I needed it most. This is a book I will return to again and again.

This Is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay

This was another Christmas gift from 2017, which I read fairly early on in 2018 but it’s stayed with me ever since. It’s a funny book, and a sad book but mostly it’s just an honest diary of a junior doctor’s experience of working in the NHS.

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara

I bought this as soon as it came out as I can’t resist well written true crime. This was a fascinating account of one woman’s growing obsession with the Golden State Killer and her feeling that she had his name almost within her grasp. The author sadly died before she finished this book so there is a real poignancy in the reading experience because of that. It’s a brilliant book though.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (and Spark Joy) by Marie Kondo

This had to be my number one non-fiction book of the year because it has changed my life. Spark Joy I read for the first time in 2018, whereas The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up was a re-read (although the first time I read it, I didn’t grasp the good bits as I was too focused on what felt odd in her methods). I read these books at the start of the year and immediately wanted to follow her method properly as my house was over-run with stuff. It really worked for me this time and I’ve spent months going through every single item that I own and have finally got rid of all the clutter. I naturally want to hoard things but I’m now so much better at just getting rid of things that I don’t love. I’ve never had so much space in my own home before and it feels wonderful. I’ve definitely got the decluttering bug now as every time I’m dusting I immediately put in the charity box anything that doesn’t make me happy.

 


 

So that’s my favourite non-fiction that I read in 2018. Did you read any good non-fiction last year? I’d love to know what your favourite book (or books!) was. Don’t forget you can find my favourite novels in yesterday’s post here if you’d like to see my fiction book picks of the year.

Stacking the Shelves with a new #bookhaul (14 July 2018)!

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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!

 

I didn’t manage to post a Stacking the Shelves last week so this book haul is from the last fortnight. I’ve had a tough couple of weeks with various things happening so I did treat myself to quite a few new books…

 

The first four in my post today are books that I’d had on my wish list for ages and decided to treat myself to them last week. They all arrived together and I’m really looking forward to reading them soon.

 

I Like You Just Fine When You’re Not Around by Ann Garvin

The Good Goodbye by Carla Buckley

Hugo and Rose by Bridget Foley

Wrecked by Maria Padian

A Noise Downstairs by Linwood Barclay

I was sent an ARC of this book last week and I read the whole novel in one sitting earlier this week. Once I picked it up I literally couldn’t put it down, I simply had to know what was going on! I’m part way through writing a review so hopefully I’ll get that posted in the next week.

The Great Unexpected by Dan Mooney

This book arrived this week and was a total surprise. It says on the blurb that it will appeal to people who loved The Easy Way Out (you can read my review of this here if you’d like to) which I did really love so I’m definitely adding this one to my TBR.

How to Remember by J. M. Monroe

I was offered the chance to receive an ARC of this book and I immediately said yes as I am always drawn to books that explore grief and complicated family relationships. I’m really looking forward to getting to this book.

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Mansfield and Me by Sarah Laing

I treated myself to this graphic memoir from @eyeandlightning books over the weekend. I hadn’t heard of this indie publisher before but they had a great offer on at the weekend and I saw this memoir and I knew I had to get my hands on it. It arrived yesterday and it’s beautiful, I can’t wait to read it.

My husband took me out for coffee this week and I spotted a bookshop so we had to go in! I’m working on my standing again at the moment and I managed to stand up with my crutch to look at the books in one section of the shop. I felt like deserved a reward to I treated myself to these three books…

Blame by Jeff Abbott

This book was a (sort of) cover buy as I’d never heard of it before but the cover is so striking that I noticed it immediately. Once I read the blurb I knew I had to get it. I’m really enjoying twisty thrillers at the moment so I expect I’ll be reading this one soon.

The Lost by Mari Hannah

I love Mari Hannah’s writing so I’ve been meaning to grab a copy of this book for a while now. It seemed the perfect time to buy it this week so I’m keen to read it as soon as possible.

The Day She Disappeared by Christobel Kent

This has also been on my wish list ever since it first came out so I was thrilled when I spotted it on the shelves.

 

No Further Questions by Gillian McAllister

This was a kindle pre-order from a while ago and it appeared on my kindle last week and I’m so keen to read it soon. I might pick it up as soon as I’ve read the couple of review books that I have on the go at the moment.

Into the Black by Rowland White

I’ve always been obsessed with space travel so when I spotted this book about the space shuttle Columbia in the kindle sale I snapped it up. It’s quite a long book so I might start it soon and dip in and out of it.

The Accusation by Zosia Wand

I love Zosia Wand’s previous novel Trust Me (you can read my review of Trust Me here if you’d like to) so when I saw she had a new book out I couldn’t one-click fast enough! I don’t think this will be on my TBR for very long!

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

I’ve yet to read anything by Celeste Ng (although I do have her previous book on my TBR) but I feel sure she’s an author I’ll love. I grabbed this book in a kindle deal earlier this week and I’m so keen to read this. I think I might make this the first book I read by this author.

Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin

This book passed me by when it was on the Man Booker International long list but I’ve recently seen a review of it that made me really want to read it so I decided to treat myself.

The Flight of Cornelia Blackwood by Susan Elliot Wright

I requested this on NetGalley as I was really intrigued by the blurb so I was thrilled when I was approved to read it. The novel’s not due out until next year so I might try and hold off reading it for a little while yet. I am really keen to read it though!

 

Bookworm by Lucy Mangan

I treated myself to the audio book of this as I was having a really bad day and wanted a book that would pick me up a bit. This book was perfect and I utterly adored it. I think the author is a similar age to me as she read so many of the same books as me in childhood so it was a real trip down memory lane.

Worth Dying For: The Power and Politics of Flags by Tim Marshall

I bought this on a whim when it was an Audible deal of the day last week. I’ve read other books by Tim Marshall and found him really informative but easy to follow so I was keen to read more by him. This one sounds fascinating and I’m hoping to listen to it soon.

 


 

Have you got any new books recently? I’d love to know. Have you read any of the books in my book haul? Are there any that you recommend me getting to sooner rather than later? Feel free to leave a link to your own Stacking the Shelves post in the comments! 🙂

 

This Week in Books (11 July 2018)! #TWiB

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Today I’m taking in part in This Week in Books, which was started by Lipsyy Lost and Found! If you want to join in you just need to share what you’re reading now, what you’ve read over the last week, and what you hope to read next.

 

Now

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

This is one of those books that I was certain I’d already read but when I saw the advert for the new TV adaptation it wasn’t familiar to me at all. So I looked it up on my Goodreads and alas I haven’t read it! I’m reading it now though and am hooked! As soon as I’ve finished the novel I’ll be watching the TV series and hoping it lives up to the book.

Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge

I’ve had this on my TBR for a while and after finishing The Hate U Give this week I wanted to pick up some non-fiction about race and this one caught my eye.

F*** You Very Much by Danny Wallace

If I’m to be honest I’ve only read one chapter of this since last week but I am planning to finish it so I’m adding it to my current reading again this week. The idea of this book is really good but the execution isn’t just hitting the mark for me.

 

Then

A Noise Downstairs by Linwood Barclay

I picked this book up yesterday mid-afternoon and I read it in one sitting, I just couldn’t put it down. It’s the best book I’ve read by this author and I recommend it. I hope to get a review written for it very soon.

Bookworm by Lucy Mangan

I treated myself to the audio book of this a couple of days ago and I’ve loved listening to it. Lucy must be a similar age to me because we have so many books in common from childhood; it made this a lovely read down memory lane. I think this will be a book I go back to when I need some comfort listening. The only thing now is that I want to get copies of all the childhood books I loved and no longer own!

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

I finally picked this book up over the weekend and I can honestly say that it’s a book that deserves every single plaudit that it’s received. It’s a brilliant novel and one that will really stay with me.

The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning by Margareta Magnusson

I listened to the audio book of this as my obsession for all things de-cluttering continues. It was an okay book but it didn’t give me any great insights or advice so it I don’t think it’s a book that will stick in my head. I’d recommend it if you’re new to reading about de-cluttering though.

A Patient Fury by Sarah Ward

I loved this book! It was so great to be back with DC Connie Childs again and to work through another crime mystery with her. I’ve already reviewed this so you can read more of my thoughts here if you’d like to.

 

Next

An Unwelcome Guest by Shari Lapena

I didn’t manage to get to this book this week as I planned but it’s definitely going to be the very next book I start. I’m so looking forward to this, it sounds brilliant!

Old Baggage by Lissa Evans

I was sent a copy of this book to review recently and I’m so keen to read it so I’m going to add it to my pile of books for the coming week.