Top 10 Non-Fiction Books To Expand Your Mind


“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.”
― Charles William Eliot

The value of non-fiction books is so often overlooked in favour of other, more instant sources of knowledge (cough…internet…cough), but sometimes there is nothing so beautiful and thought provoking as a non-fiction book. In no particular order, here are my top ten non-fiction books for expanding your mind. Get learning!

1. A History of the World in 100 Objects – Neil MacGregor

A history of the world in 100 objects neil macgregor

Beautifully presented, easy to read, and we learn about the civilisations of the world, from ancient history to modern day. The objects are intimate, strange and tell such wonderful stories about our predecessors.

A History of the World in 100 Objects

2. Freakonomics – Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner


Explains statistics in laymans terms and somehow, amazingly, makes them exciting, interesting and endlessly entertaining. An excellent way to learn about how statistics are used both correctly and incorrectly.


3. Silent Spring – Rachel Carson

Silent spring Rachel carson

Although outdated now, this book should be read by all- it led to the understanding most of us have about the effect we as a species has on our planet. Particularly pertinent due to high profile climate change deniers!

Silent Spring (Penguin Modern Classics)

4. A Brief History of Time – Stephen Hawking

Stephen hawking a brief history of time

After I had read this, I felt like my brain had doubled in size. I just understood so much more. Incredible facts and theories about the universe we live in.

A Brief History Of Time: From Big Bang To Black Holes

5. The Origins of Totalitarianism – Hannah Arendt


In our modern society, we often look back on Nazi Germany and wonder how it happened, because we wouldn’t vote for that. This important book, written just after WW2 highlights some disquieting similarities to our world now.

The Origins of Totalitarianism

6. The Story of Art – E. H. Gombrich


A beautiful book which will give you a background to the most admired works of art in the world. Make sure you get a recent edition which will include some modern art too.

The Story of Art

7. A Room of One’s Own – Virginia Woolf


‘Feminism’ is so often seen, ridiculously, as a dirty word. Read A Room of One’s Own to see why it is necessary. A quick read, but an important one.

A Room of One’s Own (Penguin Modern Classics)

8. In Cold Blood – Truman Capote


Widely dubbed as the first ever true-crime book, Truman Capote meticulously picks apart and examines the lives of a murdered family, and looks into the motivation behind the horrific crime.

In Cold Blood : A True Account of a Multiple Murder and Its Consequences (Penguin Modern Classics)

9. The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat – Oliver Sacks


Oliver Sacks recounts the tales of patients with neurological disorders. Endlessly fascinating and desperately human stories.

The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat

10. Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen – Christopher McDougall


An amazing eye opener about the capabilities of the human body! If you want to learn what your body can do, this book is a brilliant place to start. Truly inspiring.

Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen

Enjoyed this? Why not have a look at 30 books to read before you’re 30.


11 Comments Add yours

  1. markdini says:

    I read In Cold Blood years ago and loved the cross between fact and fiction. I think it was the first Crime novel I read. Mostly my reading was horror, In Cold Blood Changed that.

    1. I agree. To me, the fact that it really happened makes it so much scarier than traditional horror.

      1. markdini says:

        I think I may need to read it again. It has been a while, strangely I was looking at it on my shelf the other day, but opted for Steven King’s It instead.

  2. Lauren says:

    I loved In Cold Blood!

  3. Number 5 seems like a very interesting read, especially with the current political climate of the world. Definitely in the to read list

    1. Absolutely! It’s quite a scary read.

  4. In Cold Blood and Silent Spring were already on my to-read list, but I’m going to have to check out some of these other ones!

    1. Definitely have a look at The Origins of Totalitarianism!

  5. Janice Wald says:

    Hi Harriet!
    Nice of you to support literacy. I like the word play in your blog name. Stumbling!

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