Back for more, I see. I don’t blame you. There aren’t many things that can consistently make your day better, but I’m of the firm belief that a good book can turn a bad day around completely.
For pretty much my entire life, I’ve been an exclusive reader of fiction. Fantasy, modern or contemporary, historical, science fiction, horror; as long as it never happened, I was a fan. It’s only now, 23 years later, that I’ve finally fostered an interest in the real.
My interest in non-fiction has exploded, as evidenced in Part 1 of this series: 12 Non-Fiction Books to Read in 2021 (Part 1). Now, you may be like I was only a year ago, so lend me your attention for just a few minutes while I make my case for this underappreciated genre.
A Case for the Proliferation of Non-Fiction
Fiction is—undeniably—something the world needs. You cannot have escapism, imagination, or even inspiration without the ability to conceive of places that don’t exist. The annals of the human mind exist to spark with colour, birthing vibrant worlds from one breath to the next as easily as we close our eyes at night.
Non-fiction offers something else; an analysis of the known, a bounded imagination that has given rise to some of the most heart-wrenching perspectives of life on this hunk of rock. We’re all inherently born with a single perspective: ours. Reading non-fiction doesn’t necessarily allow us to take on new perspectives, but it does grant us temporary access to someone else’s plane of existence, their take on life, and their often unique philosophies on existence.
As we page through a non-fiction work, we’re wandering the halls of another consciousness that have not been built by imagination, but by experience. I cannot express to you how special that is. We can pick and choose what we integrate into our own lives and minds, informing our own opinions by navigating through the fog of someone else’s.
I’m in love with this thought. If any part of it resonates with you too, then I implore you: pick that non-fiction book up. Don’t be intimidated by it, don’t limit yourself because you think you’re not smart or elevated enough; it’s just you and the pages. Learn.
Here are six more books to get you going!
Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert
Big magic. Yes, it sounds a little airy-fairy, but if you can work past some of the more spiritual language, this book is revolutionary.
Gilbert conceives of inspiration as fickle sprites that flit between people. To her, creative living means making space in your life for these moments to take root, and it is not restricted to the fine art majors, the painters, and the tortured artist.
Gilbert makes it clear that creativity is for everyone and embracing it will enhance every aspect of your life.FIND IT HERE
Smoke Gets in Your Eyes & Other Lessons from the Crematory – Caitlin Doughty
Where better to learn about life than from someone who deals in death? The Western world treats death with a somewhat avoidant bent, but Caitlin Doughty eschews this approach in favour of celebrating lessons the everlasting sleep can bring.
Not only is this book incredibly interesting, but it also doesn’t take the sombre tone most people would expect. Doughty is sanguine about death, offering a unique perspective in her writings that makes the journey across the Styx (and our time before it) far more interesting.
In fact, she has her own Youtube channel where she expands on this book. She calls her viewers ‘deathlings’, which is just bloody charming.FIND IT HERE
Playing Dead: A Journey Through the World of Death Fraud – Elizabeth Greenwood
This book is a thriller, there’s just no other way to put it. Faking one’s death is far more prevalent than I expected and learning about the insane world of death fraud from the perspective of an in-debt student…. Let’s just say I can relate.
In the 21st century, disappearing yourself is much harder than it used to be, but there are some who are successful. Greenwood takes on the task of ‘playing dead’ herself, journeying through seedy underbellies to find out how you can truly put the last nail in your identity’s coffin.
Please, please read this book. If you need any more convincing, Greenwood was interviewed by true-crime podcast Wine and Crime. She dives into the book’s creation and purpose there.FIND IT HERE
The Runaway Species: How Human Creativity Remakes the World – Anthony Brandt & David Eagleman
In this book, Brandt and Eagleman turn to history and scientific study to unearth creativity’s potential.
These two authors rifle through society, ransacking history for a glimpse at the purpose of human creativity. One comes from his perspective as an accomplished composer, whereas the other applies his knowledge as a neuroscientist.
This book is a dynamic read, filled with excellent stories, diverse takes on existence, and one constant message: human creativity is what makes us special. You may be searching for a way to understand yourself better, or you might just be looking for an excellent read.
Either way, you will close this book satisfied.FIND IT HERE
The Next Great Migration – Sonia Shah
Sensationalism in the news pushes us all to believe that the patterns of movement we’re seeing in the animal kingdom are to be seen with alarm. However, Shah—a prize-winning journalist—takes the reader on a deep-dive of great migrations to allay these fears.
By following current misinformation back in time, Shah pinpoints the roots of these fears in anti-immigration policies. Not only that, but she also makes a case for a future in which this movement is seen for what it is: a natural animal response.
We are, after all, animals. Therefore, to move, change, and migrate is part of who we are. If you’ve ever wondered what you should really believe about immigration, travel, borders and the balance of nature, this book will get you one step closer to a conclusion.FIND IT HERE
Me and White Supremacy – Layla F. Saad
Featuring a foreword from Robin Diangelo—a tenured professor of multicultural education—‘Me and White Supremacy’ is an insightful look into Layla F. Saad’s experiences and thoughts.
While the book features biographical stores to punctuate her point, Saad has not created a biography here. Instead, she’s tailored a course to the white reader, helping them to identify how they have been aided in their life by white supremacy, and how it’s impacted their non-white peers. Even better, it teaches us to take ownership of this privilege and sit the f*ck down.
Saad—a black author and prominent speaker on anti-racism in the US—articulates difficult concepts with incredible approachability. A topic such as systematic racism has the potential combative. However, while the reader is forewarned that the journey to awareness and anti-racism will not be easy, they are also guided through the process of ‘doing the work’ with care.
If you are a white reader, this book is—in my opinion—compulsory. If you are not a white reader, this book addresses Saad’s goal to become a good ancestor; if that is something that resonates with you, I highly recommend cracking it open.
Pair it with her Good Ancestor podcast for some soul-healing listening.FIND IT HERE
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