Non-fiction books are often overlooked when we’re choosing our next great read. We assume that they are too boring, technical and that they won’t grip us like a novel will. But non-fiction can be just as (if not more) interesting and captivating as fiction. Here are five fascinating and life-affirming non-fiction books that you won’t be able to put down.
1. Talk Like Ted
Business communication expert Carmine Gallo reveals the nine public speaking secrets of the world’s top minds in his book Talk Like Ted. This fascinating book dissects the details of hundreds of TED conferences, combining interviews with the speakers themselves as well as researchers in the field of public speaking to construct an advanced guide to communicating your own ideas in the most effective and inspiring way.
“You cannot inspire others unless you are inspired yourself.” – Carmine Gallo, Talk Like Ted
2. Everything I Know About Love
In Everything I Know About Love, award-winning journalist Dolly Alderton gives a strikingly candid account of her adolescence. Alderton discusses bad dates, female friendships, drugs, alcohol and just about everything else. Her writing is funny, intimate and sometimes uncomfortably relatable, as she recounts stories and anecdotes from her young adulthood, many of which you may have experienced yourself. Everything I Know About Love is both nonchalant and poignant and an absolute must-read for anyone stuck in the midst of their young adult life.
“Love is a quiet, reassuring, relaxing, pottering, pedantic, harmonious hum of a thing; something you can easily forget is there, even though its palms are outstretched beneath you in case you fall.” – Dolly Alderton, Everything I Know About Love
3. When Breath Becomes Air
When Breath Becomes Air is a striking autobiography written by Paul Kalanithi, a young neurosurgeon faced with terminal cancer, published after his death in 2016. He reflects upon his profession as a doctor, his diagnosis of stage IV lung cancer, life, death, and the meaning of all of it. Kalanithi gives a poignant account of his transformation from doctor to patient, intertwining deeper questions of what makes a life worth living and how we survive in the present knowing that a future does not exist. When Breath Becomes Air is a unique piece of non-fiction that masters the delicate art of being both harrowing and life-affirming at the same time.
“There is a moment, a cusp, when the sum of gathered experience is worn down by the details of living. We are never so wise as when we live in this moment.” – Paul Kalanithi, When Breath Becomes Air
Michelle Obama’s Becoming is one of the most beautiful, graceful and honest memoirs that I have read. She seamlessly guides the reader through each moment of her life, from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to Princeton to the White House, meticulously exploring the significance of each step she has taken to get to where she is today. Narrating intimately and candidly with unexpected humour, Michelle recounts the life of the Obamas both in and out of office, unraveling every achievement and challenge authentically and poignantly. She tells her story boldly and catalyses a thought in every reader of who they are and who they want to become.
“For me, becoming isn’t about arriving somewhere or achieving a certain aim. I see it instead as forward motion, a means of evolving, a way to reach continuously toward a better self. The journey doesn’t end.” – Michelle Obama, Becoming
5. Lean In: Women, Work and The Will To Lead
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s international bestseller Lean In is an incredibly motivating and inspiring discussion of gender roles in the workplace and the drastic effect they have on ambition and empowerment. Sandberg makes a compelling argument in Lean In, drawing on her own professional experience working for globally influential companies such as Google and Facebook, as well as thoroughly researched statistics which expose an often overlooked level of gender inequality in both the personal and professional spheres.
Sandberg observes the challenges and double standards faced by women in power in creating an image that is strong and relentless whilst also appearing approachable and stereotypically ‘feminine’. She takes a fierce stance on equal pay and talks candidly about the difficulty of balancing work and home life in this moving encouragement for women to sit at the table, raise their hands and lean into their careers with all the strength they have.
“I want every little girl who’s told she’s bossy to be told instead that she has leadership skills.” – Sheryl Sandberg, Lean In