In this post, I introduce two websites that can be used to find the best new non-fiction books, plus seven of the best non-fiction books I have read recently.
How to find good non-fiction English books
In the last few years, what with learning Japanese, becoming a dad and job stuff I haven’t had much time to read books in English as much as I would have liked. But when I can find the time I’ve been reading a lot more non-fiction than before. In my teenage years and twenties, I remember I would hardly ever go to the non-fiction section of libraries or bookshops. But since becoming a dad, I think I’ve wanted to find out more about how life and the world we live in works, rather than wanting to escape from the world through fiction.
To find good books to read I use two websites a lot. The first is the Guardian newspaper’s website. At the end of every year, they do a round-up of the best books in every genre. They have readers, writers, academics, celebrities and prominent people from all walks of life give their recommendations for books of the year.
In addition to the end of the year roundup, I think the Guardian is a good place to find new books as it has a superb books section in their daily newspaper online and in print, and they are very committed to book culture. The books section contains:
- New books reviews
- Interviews with writers
- A book of the day
- A poem of the week
- A books podcast
- News articles related to book industry news
- Non-fiction and children’s books sections
So if you want to read non-fiction or any other genre of book I recommend you check out the Guardian’s books section, you won’t be disappointed.
Another recent source of good books has been Bill Gates’s website. You know Bill Gates? He was one of the founders of Microsoft, and it’s boss during their early years and period of world domination. Since retiring from Microsoft, he works mostly as an investor and philanthropist.
Bill Gates is also the owner of gatesnotes.com where he writes articles about the best books he has read in the last six months.
Due to his experience as the boss of one of the world’s leading computer companies and his continuing prominence as one of the world’s leading investors and philanthropists any book that he recommends I think is worth considering. There cannot be many people more informed than him on subjects such as the future of the planet, science, technology and business.
7 of the best non-fiction books
Here are seven of the best non-fiction books I have read in the last few years. For English learners these are all advanced level books. But even if you are not at an advanced level, if they are books you would read in your own language, or you find interesting, I still recommend you to read them. It may take a bit longer, but it will be rewarding and enjoyable.
Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
Kahneman is one of the world’s top thinkers, psychologists and economists. His work in the field of human judgment and decision making is world renowned. Thinking, Fast and Slow outlines important insights and discoveries he has made through his research.
This book is full of insights into how the human mind works, and it will certainly make you think again about just how rational humans are. I’m reading this book at the moment, and I would say it is a challenge for even myself who is a native English person with a background in psychology. So I would say this book is definitely for advanced English readers comfortable with academic language in the fields of psychology and economics.
Daily Rituals by Mason Currey
Daily Rituals is a fascinating insight into the daily habits of 100 artists such as Van Gogh, Mozart, Picasso, Kafka, Stravinsky, Joseph Heller, Maya Angelou and Oliver Sacks. In his book, Mason Currey describes how many of these greats of art, music, literature, science and philosophy organised their days, how they got down to work and how they relaxed.
I think this book can give a lot of benefit to anyone concerned about how to organise their day and how to be effective. As Currey shows, many genius artists and scientists did not always work non-stop throughout the day. In fact, for many of them, time off from work, away from their desks or workplaces, relaxing and refreshing their minds was something essential to their productivity and built into their daily habits.
Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Survive by Jared Diamond
Life seems to have got precarious in the last few years with increasing global uncertainties and many countries experiencing more natural disasters, poor leadership and dire economic, environmental and social conditions. Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Survive by Jared Diamond illustrates why some societies have failed or survived in the past when faced with the problems mentioned above, and how we can learn from these experiences. This is another thought-provoking book and one that is super relevant for the uncertain times we live in.
Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari
Yuval Noah Harari has regularly been at the top of bestsellers lists in the US and UK in the last few years. I found this book, actually the second in a series of 2, through Bill Gates’s website and have just finished it. In Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow, Harari talks about the future we face (rise of the machines, fewer jobs) and whether we as humans would be comfortable letting machines make decisions for us. It is a very thought-provoking book and a book anyone interested in the future (i.e. everyone) should read.
DarkMarket: CyberThieves, CyberCops and You by Misha Glenny
Or the alternative title:
DarkMarket: How Hackers Became the New Mafia
DarkMarket by Misha Glenny is about the world of hackers and cyberthieves. Glenny uncovers the fascinating story of how cyberthieves operating anywhere in the world can steal from bank accounts in one continent, cash out the money in another while sitting behind their computers in a third continent. Glenny writes about how law enforcement officials have struggled to combat the rise of cybercrime and how international cooperation eventually stopped one darkmarket from operating. To get the correct details Glenny spent over 200 hours interviewing people for this book.
This book is at times like a thriller, as Glenny tells the story of online marketplaces where scammers, credit card fraudsters and other hackers meet and exchange information on the latest technologies before carrying out attacks all over the world. Glenny outlines how this is not the story of geeky computer nerds but about how gangsters and governments have become involved in the world of the cybercriminal too.
Hack Attack by Nick Davies
In Hack Attack Davies tells the story of the hacking scandal that originated in the British tabloid newspapers (particularly the Sun and the media company owned by Rupert Murdoch). He shows how those at the top of British newspapers abused their power to hack into the private lives of politicians, celebrities and normal people deemed newsworthy and then covered up what they did in one of the worst scandals in modern history.
An eye-opening and shocking account of the hacking scandal that showed where true power really lies in the UK.
Adventures in Human Being by Gavin Francis
Adventures in Human Being is a great book for anyone with interest in medicine and the body. In it, Gavin Francis an experienced doctor tells the story of different parts of the body. Each part of the body has a chapter dedicated to it (the brain, head, chest, upper limb, abdomen, pelvis, lower limb) and essays on the organs or key features of that part of the body are told with humour, skill and wonder.
I also introduced seven of the best non-fiction books that I have read recently. Have you read any of these before? If so, what did you think about them? Leave me a comment in the comments section below or tell me about any other non-fiction book you have read and would recommend to others!