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 politics and feminism reads for the year, out of the ones I have read this year, not that they were necessarily published this year. I can’t believe I thought I didn’t like books about politics before this year… how very wrong I was! Click on the images to go to my longer reviews.
Hope In The Dark – Rebecca Solnit
I came to this after hearing it mentioned on the Bookshambles podcast many, many times by Josie Long (this is also why I now have the first Elena Ferrante book on my shelves waiting to be read!). I loved reading this this book with every fibre of my being.
It’s under 150 pages and is a collection of essays on the role of hope in politics, environmental issues, and social problems. The dark is the unknowable future. It’s about how small acts of activism can have huge consequences. It’s about how hope is what’s needed to be an activist. There are examples of all of these things in Hope in the Dark.
Hope in the Dark was written in the aftermath of the re-election of Bush as President of the USA in 2004. I read a version updated to 2016 with a few extra essays about the intervening years. It inspired me to become more politically active – even in small ways – because that can make a difference. While it’s easy to feel like the world is falling apart around us – politically, socially, and environmentally – rather than stepping back and feeling despair and hopelessness (because that shit will get nothing done), we all need to feel hope and take steps to change the future to help change these things. I feel like I can do that after reading Hope in the Dark.
What Happened – Hillary Rodham Clinton
17 hours of Hillary Rodham Clinton reading her book to me (audiobook!) and I feel sadness at what american voters did last year, I feel like I understand the issues much better than I did before reading this. I know much more about her Clinton’s whole career and the chapters on feminism are excellent. I cried several times during this audiobook, I was so moved by how she talks about the loss of the election and compares it to personal grief, but I left this book feeling hopeful, and empowered.
The Good Immigrant – ed. by Nikesh Shukla
I wasn’t sure where to put The Good Immigrant in my crude categorisation of all non-fiction books, but I decided on politics because immigration is political. Brexit is political and has negatively impacted of the lives of BAME people in the UK. So here it is, in the politics category.
The Good Immigrant is 21 essays by BAME writers living in the UK. The stories deal with many themes, often about how feeling ‘other’ is rubbish, and stories about racism, but there’s also plenty celebrating positive aspects of being an immigrant in the UK. I enjoyed every single essay and it has also given me more writers to follow and find their other work. I would class The Good Immigrant as essential reading for anyone living in the UK. I’ve bought it for several people already! My longer review also inspired some good post-Brexit swearing *bonus*.
Men Explain Things to Me – Rebecca Solnit
Another collection of essays, another by the amazing Rebecca Solnit, from 2014. This time she is dealing with feminism, and she does it so well. I read Men Explain Things To Me and wished I could have all these perfect arguments at the tip of my tongue whenever I talk about feminism.
The title essay is the one that brought about the phrase mansplaining (though Solnit dislikes the term) and highlights this phenomena many of us have experienced. The rest of the essays deal with other aspects of just why feminism is still needed and necessary. There is also beautiful artwork between the essays by Ana Teresa Fernandez.
She has a new collection of feminism essays out: The Mother of All Questions : Further Feminisms. I have a copy of this but haven’t started it because I already don’t want it to be over!
Nasty Women – 404Ink
I love this collection of essays (theme!!! I didn’t even know how much I like essay collections before this year!). This time the essays are about being a woman in the 21st century. It was inspired by the Trump election, and of course his nasty woman jibe to Hillary Clinton.
The essays cover a huge range of themes: being fat and taking a flight, gendered violence in punk rock, being Puerto Rican and living under a Trump presidency, contraception, pregnancy, class, racism, loving Courtney Love, being a black woman in Scotland, and many more.
It also introduced me to the music of The Petrol Girls, and I am very grateful for this because they are brilliant!
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