Having looked at all the non-fiction I’ve read this year, I’ve decided to split them up into science, politics and feminism, and biography and memoir, otherwise I would have a really long blog post summing it all up! I can’t quite believe I’ve managed to read 22 non-fiction books this year! and there’s still a few weeks left… what if I read another incredible book before January?
These are my favourite non-fiction science reads for the year, out of the ones I have read this year, not that they were necessarily published this year. Click on the images to go to my longer reviews.
Inferior: How Science Got Women Wrong – and the New Research That’s Rewriting the Story – Angela Saini.
Inferior is a wonderful look at the history of scientists letting their own attitudes to women get in the way of the science they are doing. It looks at difficulties faced by female scientists through history, and the discrimination they faced which was then thrown back at them as ‘well look, women just aren’t as good at science’. You wouldn’t let double Nobel prize winning Marie Curie join the French Academy of Sciences because she was not a man. Imagine what all these women could have done with support and access to scientific education!
It looks at what are the actual scientific differences between the sexes, and is a rallying cry to get more women into science to end the dominance of old white men. Ok, that last bit may just be more my feelings after reading it. As well as being really easy to read and understand, it’s funny (see my review for a bit more on this!).
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks – Rebecca Skloot.
Straying into the world of cell biology with this one. Henrietta Lacks was a poor, black women whose cancer cells were taken from her without permission. She died from this aggressive cervical cancer. Her cells turned out to be an immortal cell line (they keep dividing and don’t seem to have a limited number of divisions before they die, like most cells). They have revolutionised many areas of medical research and are known to scientists as HeLa.
The story of the cells would be interesting enough, but the real genius of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is the story of Henrietta’s family. Her children didn’t find out about the cells until 25 years after the original sample was taken. The family had not received any science education and didn’t know what a cell was – they imagined the scientists had Henrietta chopped up in labs, and all sorts of horrific ideas. By the time Rebecca Skloot investigates the story it is a further 20 years later.
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is a celebration of the advancement of science, and a heart breaking story about the human, and the family, behind those little samples of cells.
Ad Astra: An Illustrated Guide to Leaving the Planet – Dallas Campbell
This is a beautiful book full of pictures and stories and facts and history all related to leaving planet Earth. Dallas Campbell has found the most interesting stories about the history of space travel, the current state of space travel, and where it might go in the future. You will read about space cats and tortoises, things smuggled into space, astronaut testing, and moon rock detectives. It’s a book I know I will find myself dipping back into many times to re read.
Quiet: the Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking – Susan Cain
Quiet is about the strengths of introverts. We live in a society that seems to put all the value on extrovert qualities, yet introverts have brilliant things to offer the world. Quiet can help people understand their own introversion, help them accept and recognise its value, and can help extroverts understand the introverts around them.
I’m very clearly an introvert and it was nice to read a book all about how great that is. It also deals with a personal bugbear of mine: that being quiet and being shy are not always the same thing 😀
Here are all the non-fiction books I read this year (click to go to my review):
- Between the World and Me – Ta-Nehisi Coates
- Me Talk Pretty One Day – David Sedaris (hmmmmm controversial… is it fiction or non-fiction? I just want it to be more non-fiction, so I’m included it :-D)
- Dancing With Myself – Billy Idol
- The Polysyllabic Spree – Nick Hornby
- Night – Elie Wiesel
- The Diet Myth: the Real Science Behind What We Eat – Tim Spector
- The Story of My Life – Helen Keller
- Welcome to Biscuit Land: a Year in the Life of Touretteshero – Jessica Thom
- The Good Immigrant – ed. by Nikesh Shukla
- Lion – Saroo Brierley
- Quiet: the Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking – Susan Cain
- Men Explain Things to Me – Rebecca Solnit
- Inferior: How Science Got Women Wrong – and the New Research That’s Rewriting the Story – Angela Saini
- Nasty Women – 404Ink
- Anger is an Energy: My Life Uncensored – John Lydon
- Hope In The Dark – Rebecca Solnit
- Believe Me: A Memoir of Love, Death, and Jazz Chickens – Eddie Izzard
- Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? – Jeanette Winterson
- What Happened – Hillary Rodham Clinton
- The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks – Rebecca Skloot
- Under My Thumb: The Songs That Hate Women and the Women That Love Them – ed by Rhian Jones and Eli Davies
- Ad Astra: An Illustrated Guide to Leaving the Planet – Dallas Campbell