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Favourite non-fiction?

(34 Posts)
WanHeda Sun 01-May-16 20:00:47

I am looking to buy a new book with my amazon voucher, and fancy some non-fiction for a change. I have recently read Do No Harm by Henry Marsh, which I enjoyed.

What is your favourite non-fiction book?

Sadik Sun 01-May-16 20:17:51

I'm not sure I have a 'favourite' non-fiction book, because they're so very varied depending on topic, IYKWIM. But I recently read The Life Project by Helen Pearson which is absolutely fascinating, all about the birth cohort studies that have been running in Britain since 1948.

CoteDAzur Sun 01-May-16 21:03:56

I have about 20 favourite non-fic books.

Can you narrow down the question a bit?

Biography? Historical? Scientific?

Hygellig Sun 01-May-16 21:44:59

I enjoyed "Behind the Beautiful Forevers" by Katherine Boo, although it makes for harrowing reading in parts.

For something lighter, I love Bill Bryson's books. In terms of memoir/nature writing I've also recently read H is for Hawk and The Outrun.

In science The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot is fascinating.

The Life Project is on my to-read list.

WanHeda Mon 02-May-16 10:17:10

I'm open to anything, so can't narrow it down! Feel free to give me your favourite title from each section biogrpaphy/historical/scientific. I really will read anything that grips my attention.

Thanks Sadik, that book does sound very interesting, my sort of thing!

Hygellig, I shall look those up! Thank you.

MermaidofZennor Mon 02-May-16 13:37:17

Some biographies I've enjoyed - Writing Home and Untold Stories by Alan Bennett, Not My Father's Son by Alan Cummings, Spectacles by Sue Perkins, My Animals and Other Family by Claire Balding, The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson, My Life in Houses by Margaret Forster, The Life and Loves of A He Devil by Graham Norton, H is For Hawk by Helen MacDonald, Recipe for Life by Mary Berry, Love Nina by Nina Stibbe, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal by Jeanette Winterson, The Skeleton Cupboard by Tanya Byron.

MermaidofZennor Mon 02-May-16 13:38:51

That should say autobiographies/biographies/memoirs etc ...

Headunderthecovers Mon 02-May-16 13:53:06

'If this is a woman' Sarah Helm is very well written and one of the category of 'should be read' and have also read all of Lyn McDonald's 1st World War books which opened up my Grandfather's experience to me. A woman in Berlin is definitely worth reading. Blue sky July Nia Wyn stayed with me is -an account of a mother whose child suffers a brain injury. In a different vein, I really liked Clive James' memoirs - made me laugh in several places.

CoteDAzur Mon 02-May-16 17:28:42

The Worst Journey In The World (about Scott's Arctic expedition)

The Strangest Man (on quantum physicist Paul Dirac who mathematically discovered antimatter, but also about the race to the atom bomb)

Alan Turing: The Enigma

Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World

Hot Zone: The Chilling True Story of an Ebola Outbreak

Bach: Music In The Castle Of Heaven

The Man Who Couldn't Stop (about OCD)

Confessions of a Sociopath

Into Thin Air (about the 1997 Everest disaster)

Quantum Theory Cannot Hurt You

Operation Mincemeat (about a fascinating story of deception during WWII that quite possibly won the war for the Allies)

My Stroke of Insight (about a brain scientist's experience of a stroke and road to recovery)

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running (Haruki Murakami's quasi-autobiography)

Hygellig Mon 02-May-16 18:04:02

Sarah Helm's book is another to add to my reading list. On a similar theme, I also enjoyed (not sure if that is the right word) Born Survivors by Wendy Holden.

Also Far from the Tree by Andrew Solomon (definitely one to get on Kindle as it is huge) and David Eagleman's books on the brain.

AgentCooper Mon 02-May-16 18:07:09

Wise Guy by Nicholas Pileggi is the true story that Scorsese's film Goodfellas was based on, about a young guy rising up through the Mafia and it all going nuts. It's fascinating.

HoggleHoggle Mon 02-May-16 18:12:42

'The Moth' is brilliant - 50 short true stories taken from a worldwide (iirc) spoken word event series.

The Skeleton Cupboard by Tanya Byron was great - stories from her psychologist training.

I loved the Mitford sisters' letters.

I read a lot of history and find anything from Antonia Fraser really interesting.

Confessions of a Sociopath sounds fascinating.

OP it's worth looking at say the last five years of the shortlist for the Samuel Johnson prize. They always have a wide range of topics included.

TroysMammy Mon 02-May-16 18:16:36

I love crime novels. DCI Banks by Peter Robinson. So much better than the tv adaptations. Scott Cullen by Ed James. I've bought loads for my Kindle, some free, some a couple of quid. Much prefer British crime to American books.

tobee Thu 05-May-16 15:02:16

The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe
1913, The Year Before the Storm by Florian Illies
The Beauty and the Sorrow by Peter Englund
The Secret Race by Tyler Hamilton and Daniel Coyle
Coming Back to Me by Marcus Trescothick'
High Hopes by Ronnie Corbett

vladthedisorganised Thu 05-May-16 15:26:07

If you enjoyed Do No Harm, OP, you might also enjoy Oliver Sacks' books - The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat is the best known, but Hallucinations is also excellent.
Historical - The Bolter is very good, as is '1913: In Search of the World Before The Great War'.
My go-to book when I'm not feeling well and need cheering up is Bill Bryson's At Home - it's full of interesting facts and is like reading a giant hug.

CharleyDavidson Thu 05-May-16 21:33:03

I love anything by Bill Bryson. His travel books are good fun and make me want to see more of the world. His short history of nearly everything is far from short, but excellent.

As far as scientific is concerned, I loved 'Life at the extremes' by Frances somebody. About how different organisms cope with extreme conditions. Very interesting.

Slightly gruesome, but well written is 'Stiff'. The secret life of a cadaver. An exploration of what happens to our bodies after death, especially if donated to science etc.

As a teacher I really enjoyed reading all the Torey Hadyn books (but I think there's a fair amount of fiction in them!)

cressetmama Sat 07-May-16 20:34:41

The SHepherd's Life by James Rebanks. Just came out in PB, and my favourite book this year (so far) by miles.

MashesToPashes Sat 07-May-16 20:41:22

Last Chance to See by Douglas Adams and Mark Carwardine.

^“You’re proposing twenty hours on a boat-”
“A small boat,” added Mark.
“On violently heaving seas-”
“With a three-day-old dead goat.”
“I hardly know what to say.”^

cheapandcheerful Sat 07-May-16 20:48:02

I usually go for Biographies smile

Mozartinmyfanjo Sat 07-May-16 20:53:28

Three cups of tea by Greg Mortensen. About a mountain climber who by chance became involved in building schools for girls and kids in remote villages in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Very inspirational, l laughed out loud and l cried. Really recommend.

CakeUpWall Sat 07-May-16 20:58:02

Highly recommend Nothing to Envy by Barbara Demick.

It's an inside view of life in North Korea, collating interviews with refugees/escapees. It's been raved about on MN before, and rightly so. Absolutely gripping.

tumbletumble Sat 07-May-16 20:59:39

Mine is Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman.

bibbitybobbityyhat Sat 07-May-16 21:04:33

I mainly read non-fiction, so have very many favourites!

I do think Experience by Martin Amis (his memoir) is an exceptional book and I keep going back to it.

There is also a little gem of a book recommended to me by a Mumsnetter some years ago - The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande. It is just so brilliantly written, again I can read it again and again.

There is a biography of Peter Cook by Harry Thompson which I am very fond of. I loved Peter Cook and knew the author slightly, he died at a terribly young age.

I also read a lot of travel books - Jan Morris, Bill Bryson, Patrick Leigh Fermor.

Some of my favourites:

The Worst Journey in the World

Into the Silence

Fanny and Stella

SatsukiKusakabe Sun 08-May-16 23:23:22

The Railway Man, heartbreaking, gripping, unforgettable.

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