The Non-Fiction Book Tag

I read a lot of non-fiction books (see also my list of 10 Fascinating Non-Fiction Books), so I decided to create this tag to draw attention to some fascinating books in the non-fiction genre. As usual, I do not tag specific bloggers and, if you read non-fiction, feel free to participate.

QuietI.  What non-fiction book would you recommend to everyone? 

Quiet [2012] by Susan Cain; introverts will feel at home with this book – more so than with any other book out there. This book is about introversion and how introverts can make a real impact in this world, especially if others differentiate them from shy people and let introverts flourish and achieve things in an environment that suits them best. Modern society is so preoccupied with “fast-business”, “first impressions” and with “immediate, loud success” that there is often no place for the quietness of thought, and deep analysis and insight that come from prolonged thinking and solitude. Our modern, commercialised society also does not seem to concern itself that much with honesty or loyalty (something that can only be seen through long-term relationships – a forte of introverts), but is all about expert communication skills, fast advertising and the “right” kind of external presentation (a forte of extroverts). Susan Cain makes it clear that, unlike in the West, Asian countries regard silence as a sign of deep intelligence, while talking is a sign of that in the West, and makes examples of introverted people who revolutionised the world or became leaders. The thesis of Susan Cain is that introverts have much to offer, including in the positions of leadership, if only others can shed stigma concerning “quiet” people and realise that they too can make an invaluable societal contribution. 

II. What is your favourite non-fiction sub-genre?

I like reading book related to the history of science, philosophy and medicine, and I also like books that focus on mysteries, be it mysteries of the universe or of the human mind. This means I read books on mental illness, psychiatry, dreaming and consciousness, human abnormalities, as well as on quantum physics and solar system. Other sub-genres I enjoy are true crime mysteries, history and travel-writing.

III. What sub-genre in non-fiction do you tend to avoid?

I do not read business, politics or self-help books (unless the latter relates to mysticism, Buddhism or yoga). I also do not read memoirs or books on cooking all that much (unless the latter relates to cocktails). 

Affluence Without Abundance SuzmanIV. A non-fiction book that you found particularly insightful?

Affluence Without Abundance: The Disappearing World of the Bushmen [2017] by James Suzman; this eye-opening book is the result of a quarter of a century of the author’s work with southern Africa’s San peoples. Suzman writes engagingly about the life of the “last” Bushmen in Africa, introducing great characters while telling the story of the change and adaptability of people in Africa in the time of globalisation and increasing opportunities. Upon commenting on the ways of hunter-gatherers, the book then asks how we, individually and as a society, can change our ways to live happier lives while needing less for that. 

Hillsborough Book CoverV. A non-fiction book that made you sad or angry? 

Hillsborough: The Truth [2016] by Phil Scraton; After decades of fighting to have the truth finally be told, the relatives of the victims of the Hillsborough disaster can finally be somewhat relieved because the truth is out and Scraton lets everyone know in this book what really happened during that match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest at Hillsborough Stadium in England on 15 April 1989. On that date, 96 people, some as young as 10, were brutally crashed to death by the force of other people pushing and left to die, as well as another 766 suffering injuries (through gross negligence, authorities’ inaction, organisational oversight and the lack of immediate medical help). Another shocking thing was still to come, though, which is the shameful “cover-up” of the incident by the high authorities and the police, as well as the blaming of innocent victims for their own “drunken” behaviour and disorder by the media (thanks, The Sun) – yes, accusing killed victims as young as ten for somehow contributing to bringing about their own death. The fact that something like this happened on the English soil is unbelievable. The Hillsborough disaster is truly one of the most shameful chapters in the UK history. 

VI. Pick three non-fiction sub-genres and make from them three recommendations.

The Butchering Art CoverMiracle in the AndesTouching from a Distance Book

History of Science/MedicineThe Butchering Art: Joseph Lister’s Quest to Transform the Grisly World of Victorian Medicine [2017] by Lindsey Fitzharris; this was a fascinating read which detailed the rise of surgeon Joseph Lister with his revolutionary methods and insight that pathed the way to the progress made in the germ theory and antiseptic treatments. Fitzharris deals with the topic unflinchingly, and we read all the gruesome details of how dangerous it really was to fall ill and have a surgery or just simply have minor cuts in the Victorian era.

Travel/Survival Writings – Miracle in the Andes [2006] by Nando Parrado; this was one of the most inspirational books I have ever read and I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Parrado is modest and humble in his story as he tells of the sacrifices made and bravery showed by others – all victims of an airplane crash high in the Andes on the territory of Argentina in 1972. This is a truly moving story about the importance of never giving up no matter how hopeless one’s situation appears to be.

Biography – Touching from a Distance: Ian Curtis and Joy Division [2005] by Deborah Curtis; This is a heart-breaking story of the lead singer of an alternative rock/punk band Joy Division, one of the pioneers of a new sound in music (for example, hear “Love Will Tear Us Apart” or “She’s Lost Control“). Ian Curtis is portrayed as a very imperfect, introverted and misunderstood individual behind some of the most ingenious tunes and lyrics of the band. Suffering from epileptic fits, he led an uneasy life and committed suicide in 1980 at the age of just 23. This biography is particularly special because it is written by the wife of Ian, Deborah Curtis, an individual who knew him best.

Dopesick Book CoverVII. What non-fiction book has been on your TBR list for longest?

Dopesick [2018] by Beth Macy; this book may not have been on my TBR for longest, but I have heard a lot about it and it seems now like it has been a long time since I first wanted to read it. I believe that the drugs epidemic in the US is something real and far-reaching, especially now that the victims are not only the poor but also the rich middle class who gets addicted through post-operation pain-relief prescriptions, as well as through dietary and sleeping pills. The situation can slowly grow out of control for these people, and some devastating consequences can occur. The author in this book “reveals the disturbing truth behind America’s opioid crisis and explains how a nation has become enslaved to prescription drugs“. 

VIII. A non-fiction book you read (used to read) (too) many times? 

A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes [1988] by Stephen Hawking.

Still Me Christopher ReeveIX. A non-fiction book (not a future or recent release) you are hoping to read soon?

Still Me [1998] by Christopher Reeve, which I know will be moving and inspirational. Christopher Reeve was once a real star in Hollywood – “ridiculously” handsome, intelligent and talented – destined for success. He was THE Superman, starring in a critically-acclaimed film Superman [1978]. Just to show his extreme popularity in the early 1980s, it is suffice to say that he was offered and turned down roles in such “big” films as Fatal Attraction, Pretty Woman, Romancing the Stone, Lethal Weapon and Body Heat. Reeve suffered a tragic horse-riding accident in 1995, which left him quadriplegic (paralysed from the neck down and unable to breathe on his own). Still Me is his first book after the accident in which he tells us how he never gave up his idea to lead an active life after his accident and, with the enormous support from his family and friends, tried to make a difference in other people’s lives. It turned out that supermen do exist in real life and one of them was truly Christopher Reeve

Mosquito A Human HistoryX. Name a future (recent) book release you are excited to read? 

The Mosquito: A Human History of Our Deadliest Predator [2019] by Timothy C. Winegard; this book sounds fascinating. It is said to be “driven by surprising insights and fast-paced storytelling…telling the extraordinary untold story of the mosquito’s reign through human history and its indelible impact on our modern world order” (Amazon). The book’s importance is clear since it says that “the mosquito has determined the fates of empires and nations, razed and crippled economies, and decided the outcome of pivotal wars, killing nearly half of humanity along the way” – “dispatching an estimated 52 billion people from a total of 108 billion throughout our relatively brief existence” (Amazon). 

Do you read non-fiction? What is your favourite non-fiction book?

35 thoughts on “The Non-Fiction Book Tag

  1. I read many non-fiction books, and there is no way I could pick a favorite. I suppose the closest is Guns, Germs, and Steel. But then there are the incredibly fun science books like Eels, or anything Mary Roach writes, like Gulp, or Packing for Mars, wonderful history books like American Moonshot, or analytical books like The New Rules of War or The Plot to Destroy Democracy, Dark Money, The Divide, Griftopia, The Family, or insightful history books, or only a gazillion more. Non-readers of non-fiction are missing out on sooooooo much.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I am still to read Guns, Germs and Steel! I could not get through Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach, but I am curious to check out her other books. Packing for Mars sounds so fun, too! And, I totally agree, those who do not read non-fiction are missing out.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love narrative nonfiction!

    A few of my fav nonfiction include:
    The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson
    The Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann
    Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
    Leadership in Turbulent Times by Doris Kearns Goodwin
    Unbroken by Laura Hilenbrand (also Seabiscuit)

    I enjoy some memoirs…they need to have some substance (I.e. not self indulgent meandering reflections)….
    some fav memoirs include:
    In Pieces by Sally Field
    Inheritance by Dani Shapiro (although a bit repetitive and long for my taste)
    The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls
    Hillbilly Elegy by J D Vance
    Wait Til Next Year by Doris Kearns Goodwin
    We Beat the Streets by Sampson Davis (the 3 doctors)
    Tattoos on the Heart by Gregory Doyle
    (Mental Health) A Way Out: A Memoir of Conquering Depression Social Anxiety by Michelle Balge

    I think I need my own post!!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for sharing this great list! I loved Killers of the Flower Moon, too. I have Just Mercy by Stevenson high on my TBR list, and The Warmth of Other Suns and Unbroken sound like very important books, too. As for memoirs, I am planning to review Hillbilly Elegy for my Appalachian Reading Challenge, and am very interested to read the autobiography of Sally Field, I love her in drama and comedy. We Beat the Streets sounds very inspirational, too.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I loved Quiet – I found the chapter on how schools are designed for extroverts especially interesting – definitely a trend in the UK as well as the US. I don’t normally read history for fun because I have to read it for work, but I also really enjoyed The Butchering Art.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I haven’t read that much non-fiction books but I intend to read more starting next year. Among the few that I’ve read, my favorite is Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand and The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls.
    This is a very interesting read, I’m taking note of several books! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I have found so many fascinating nonfiction books since I started blogging and reading other blogs. I wish I could read much more.

    Some of my favorites have been In the Kingdom of Ice, Age of Wonder, Just Mercy, Being Mortal, I Don’t Want to Talk About It, The Book of Joy, Animals in Translation.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I love adventure/survival/exploration non-fiction, so In the Kingdom of Ice and Age of Wonder sound fascinating to me. On this topic, others also recommend to me The Worst Journey in the World by Apsley Cherry-Garrard, which is about one expedition to the South Pole. Being Mortal also sounds interesting. Just recently, I checked out to read The Denial of Death by Ernest Becker, which also talks a lot about how we view death and what is the final meaning of it all.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I know you would love In the Kingdom of Ice and Age of Wonder — both a brilliant combination of history and science. I can’t recommend them highly enough! Being Mortal brings up a very important and overlooked topic, not so much death as the aging years and how they are not served by our current medical model. It’s also beautifully written, always nice to encounter in a book by a doctor.

        Liked by 1 person

          1. I don’t even know why I picked it to read — I never thought I would love a book about polar exploration so much! It turned out to be about so many other things as well and just brilliantly done. Enjoy.

            Liked by 1 person

  6. I don’t really read non-fiction but that is probably because I haven’t found the books that insterest me. «Quiet» sounds amazing. I definitely can relate to the “loud appearances”, my work demands it from me, as well as constant communications with clients and people in general. Usually after a long day at work I feel so emotionally drained that I spend the whole evening trying to avoid talking to anyone (which can be difficult when I also need to spend some time with the family).

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I know how that feels! The ironic irony that struck me as I was reading about “Quiet” is how the people who interview for a job the most effectively often aren’t the best people for the actual job. (I’ve been on a lot of hiring committees that made hires based on interview performance that turned out to be a mistake.)

      Liked by 2 people

      1. This is very interesting. My interview record as an interviewee is not very good at all and I am not saying it is because I am an introvert, but no one really makes a better first impression like an extrovert does, well usually 🙂

        Like

  7. Another great tag post! I’ll definitely want to try this at some point, as my nonfiction reading has been slowly increasing. I also feel like I’ve had Dopesick on my TBR for ages… Quiet hasn’t really been on my radar, but I’m adding it to my TBR now- it sounds excellent!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, and I will be very interested to read your answers. I hope you enjoy Quiet, too! It is a great book and I also love it because Susan Cain drew public attention to an issue which concerns so many people and empowered introverts to be themselves and not to be embarrassed about their introversion – being bookish and quiet is also being normal. I remember I enjoyed the author’s TED talk on this topic, too.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ooh, I’ll be sure to check out the TED talk as well! Anything that argues quiet bookishness is normal is sure to be a success for me!

        Liked by 1 person

  8. I don’t read much nonfiction, but every once in a while, I’ll see something that catches my interest. One recent example is “The White Mountain” by Dan Szczesny, which is an eclectic mix of the science, history, and culture associated with Mount Washington in New Hampshire. The other is “The Maid Narratives: Black Domestics and White Families in the Jim Crow South,” which is the result of an oral history project. I bought the book looking for insight into the relationship between my grandmother and her black maid in the late 1950s, early 1960s. The book provided that and also detailed the research methodology of oral history, which I’d been curious about.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “The White Mountain” sounds fascinating! It must also be interesting to explore southern oral history. “The Maid Narratives” sounds like a real eye-opener.

      Like

    1. I have just read the synopsis to “The Story of the Human Body” and I need to read asap, will add it to my TBR list! Thanks! I have heard about the fact that our bodies were not really evolved to lead a kind of lifestyles we currently do and, perhaps, by going back to our “roots”, including intense physical exercises, we can become healthier. All this is so fascinating.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I love this tag and I love your answers as well. It reminds me, I have Quiet on my kindle, but never read it. We have a decent amount of overlap in the non-fiction we read. My copy of A Brief History of Time is literally falling apart… I will definitely do this tag at some point.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. What a great tag. I try to pick up nonfiction in my reading and find when I do I tend to enjoy what I’ve learned.

    Quiet is one that been on my shelf for a while but I have plans to read it in January. Your comment – “there is often no place for the quietness of thought, and deep analysis and insight that come from prolonged thinking and solitude.” I find this an important observation and very true. I find at times too many things happening or too many people can be over stimulating to me

    Liked by 1 person

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