On the whole, novels tend to be my thang. I am often aghast with my dad, who almost point-blank refuses to read fiction, instead opting for books that add to his seemingly endless fountain of knowledge. But as I get older, and my reading tastes broaden and grow, I have begun to venture further into the realm of non-fiction. And while fictional titles can offer both escapism and fantastical worlds in their droves, they often don’t inspire in the way their non-fiction counterparts do. And so, in honour of Books are My Bag’s non-fiction week, I thought I’d compile a list of my very favourite non-fiction reads. That have taught me to be brave, given me a thirst for adventure, a better understanding of mental illness, inspired me to run a marathon and taught me that maybe, just maybe, anything really is possible.
I have a list of my top seven favourite ever books, and Wild is the only memoir that makes the cut. Haunting, heart-breaking and heroic, it’s a compelling read about how one woman’s grief led her to the greatest adventure of her life. A rollercoaster journey of the most epic sort, Cheryl Strayed’s memoir is as brave as it is beautiful. Read it to incite a love of the outdoors and a longing to live fully every day.
One of the very best books I’ve read this year – second only to the astonishing A Little Life – is Daniel Flynn’s Chapter One. Part business guide, part memoir, it’s an honest account of the ups and downs of Flynn’s mission to launch a business to eradicate global poverty. Read it, and you will think slightly differently forever.
As not only a huge fan of Eat Pray Life, but also an aspiring writer of sorts, Elizabeth Gilbert’s guide on how to live life creatively was an eye-opening read that is both motivating and inspiring in equal parts. Told with her token wit, it offers its reader a much needed hunger to live beyond the bounds they’ve set themselves. Read it to help live life creatively.
So inspired was I after reading Alexandra Hemminsley’s Running Like a Girl – a memoir of Hemminsley’s transition from non-runner to marathon-extraodinaire, that I signed up to run the London Marathon. A brilliantly written book, it offers an insight into the life of a runner and how, despite crossing the finish line of one of the hardest human feats, you never quite feel like one. Read it, and run.
I read The Year of Living Danishly while on holiday in Hawaii – quite the juxtaposition to a book centred around candles, and quilts and all things cosy. Author Helen Russell speaks honestly about the highs and the lows of leaving behind the city lights of London to live in remote Denmark, and it certainly gave me food for thought. Read it to understand more about the art of Hygge.
I adore Telegraph columnist Bryony Gordon, and I loved her even more after reading Mad Girl – her memoir on living life with a mental illness. Both heart-warming and breaking, it’s an honest account and a hugely important read in a time where depression is still very much a taboo to many. Read it for a better understanding of mental health.