If you follow any book lovers on social media, you’ve probably already heard about Non-Fiction November. The idea is pretty self-explanatory: for the month of November, read only non-fiction! For many people, this is nothing new, but if you’re usually a fiction fiend then this is a great challenge to get you reading something different.
For a long time, I read nothing but fiction, but over the last few years I’ve been picking up more non-fiction and really enjoying it. So today I thought I’d share with you seven of my favourite non-fiction reads, and hopefully give you some inspiration about what to read this November!
Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari
This is my go-to non-fiction recommendation for everyone. Harari traces the history of humanity, from the earliest years of our evolution to the present day. It’s very readable, and Harari takes a fascinating, stepped-back approach that examines our turbulent, fascinating past from as objective a viewpoint as possible. I think it’s essential reading for all humans!
Names for the Sea by Sarah Moss
This is an autobiography of a year in the life of Sarah Moss and her family, when they lived in Iceland in 2009. It’s a perfect read for this time of year because of her descriptions of the cold and unforgiving yet stunningly beautiful landscapes of Iceland, contrasted with the warm welcome she received there, and the cosiness of hot meals and knitted jumpers. Enjoy with a cup of tea and a blanket.
I Am, I Am, I Am by Maggie O’Farrell
Not one for the fainthearted, O’Farrell narrates the story of her life through a series of near-death experiences. From bumping into a dangerous man on a lonely road in Scotland, to going through a traumatic birth, O’Farrell has come close to death many times, and she writes about it with tense, breathless, page-turning beauty. It’s not an easy read, but it can make every moment feel a little more precious.
At the Pond by various authors
If you’re in the mood for something wholesome and life-affirming, I highly recommend this collection of short essays about swimming at the Ladies’ Pond on Hampstead Heath. Various writers describe their experiences of swimming in the pond and becoming part of the community that loves this small, quiet body of water in the heart of London. My favourite essays are about winter swimming – beware, it might just make you want to try it!
Educated by Tara Westover
This memoir about growing up in rural America, in an off-the-grid family dominated by religious doctrine, received loads of hype last year – and rightly so. Westover’s writing is utterly compelling, and her story often made my jaw hit the floor. She writes movingly about her struggles with her family and her own identity, and her discovery of her voice through education.
The Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe by Steven Novella et al.
This book ties into the brilliant podcast of the same name, in which a team of sceptics discuss science news, dismantle pseudoscience and promote rational thinking. This chunker of a book will teach you all about logical fallacies, the tricks our minds play on us and how to be a better sceptic (with plenty of sci-fi references thrown in for good measure!).
An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth by Chris Hadfield
I couldn’t write a list like this without recommending a space book, and this one of my favourites. Chris Hadfield, former commander of the International Space Station, writes about what it’s like to be an astronaut, and how the lessons he learned from space travel have helped him to live better on Earth. It’s a cracking read, even if (like me) you prefer to keep your feet firmly on solid ground.
I hope you find something in this list that appeals to you, and if you have any corking non-fiction recommendations of your own, do leave me a comment down below. I wish you a fascinating and fact-filled November!