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.
I. What non-fiction book would you recommend to everyone?
Quiet  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).
IV. A non-fiction book that you found particularly insightful?
Affluence Without Abundance: The Disappearing World of the Bushmen  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.
V. A non-fiction book that made you sad or angry?
Hillsborough: The Truth  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.
History of Science/Medicine – The Butchering Art: Joseph Lister’s Quest to Transform the Grisly World of Victorian Medicine  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  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  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.
VII. What non-fiction book has been on your TBR list for longest?
Dopesick  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  by Stephen Hawking.
IX. A non-fiction book (not a future or recent release) you are hoping to read soon?
Still Me  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 . 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.
X. Name a future (recent) book release you are excited to read?
The Mosquito: A Human History of Our Deadliest Predator  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?