“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
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.
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
Although outdated now, this book should be read by all- it led to the understanding most of us have about the effect we as a species has on our planet.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!
4. A Brief History of Time – Stephen Hawking
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Enjoyed this? Why not have a look at 30 books to read before you’re 30.