I am growing to love non-fiction. I know that not everyone reads non-fiction, which is fine, but if you don’t have much idea where to start, I thought I’d do a post pairing books popular in the blogosphere with some non-fiction books I love. If you recognise these books, or think you’d enjoy them, then definitely see if you can pick a copy up. I’ve tried to group books that are similar in content and tone, even if they come at it from totally different angles.
These two books match so well! Remember in 2014 when everyone was talking about Extraordinary Means? It effectively parodies the ‘sick-lit’ thing and also has everything you liked about the trope. I really enjoyed it at the time, and related more, because I have actually had TB and I have not had cancer. Quackery is about all sorts of weird and gross medicine. It’s very funny, like Extraordinary Means, and even talks about the specific kind of TB I had, scrofula (did you know that once upon a time, if you had scrofula, it was thought that the tough of the king could cure you?). If you’re intersted in medicine and the human relationship to health, both these books are a good idea.
So I’m obsessed with Foolish Hearts , it is a quite excellent story about learning to go beyond the boundaries of habit and make friends with someone. The Friendship Cure is about the mechanisms which enable this, out circles of friends, and all the types of friendships, and friendship in the modern world. I really appreciated the mix of personal experience and psychology journalism, which is a bit easier to read and relate to if you’re more used to novels.
So I love Final Draft and I also love A Sense of Style. Both are wonderful to read, because the authors have such control of their prose. I read quite a few writing and word books (if you want to know more non-fiction titles, hit me up in the comments!), and A Sense of Style is especially aimed at academic non-fiction. But its message of clarity and precision matches well with Final Draft’s story of perfecting your narrative.
Both of these books are about people who love books. In Bookishly Ever After, Phoebe is an introverted booklover with a tendency to apply what she learns from novels to her real life with disastrous consequences. Michael Dirda is a book critic who works to incorporate books into every aspect of his existenct. Browsings is a collection of columns he has written, almost a diary, about the books he chases and why he loves them.
These books are both about what it means to be popular. In Who’s That Girl, Natalie wrestles with unintentional infamy when she inspires a hit song. In Hit Makers, Derek Thompson examines the factors that make something (especially pieces of media) popular. It’s fascinating. If you’re someone who often wonders about why things happen, or who looks at someone who has ‘gone viral’ and wonders who they are beyond the retweets, you will benefit from reading either of these books.
Invictus is about the power of objects: their value, the time and space they have occupied, the memories they contain, why they must be cherished. In the story, objects and characters become tangled with time, lost in its bast expanse, unmoored from its breath and orientation. If your head is spinning from reading Invictus, you should definitely pick up A History of the World in 100 Objects. It’s a massive book, but each object features on just a few pages, so you can read a few each evening for a month (at least, that’s what I did). There is obviously a lot of things to critique about the British Museum: like the crew of Invictus, they have relied often on theft one way or another. But you can’t fault them for budget, and so this book is stunningly curated, condensing history into digestible chunks, surprising you with the way the world is connected.
If you like dreamy, dense writing, then I highly recommend these books. Both are stronly rooted in place, and are about the power of words. Landmarks pieces landscapes together from the words used to understand them: the result is not clinical, but instead intensely textured and transportative; MacFarlanes lists of words are reminscent of the charms in Spellbook of the Lost and Found. As Olive and her friends piece their town together in fragments, they grown to know the land intimately. If you like to be immersed in words like journeying through a valley, then I suggest you read either of these books.
have you read any of these books? is there any that you want to read now? would you like another post like this one? (if yes, leave novels I’ve read to be paired in the comments)