I’ve always believed that reading non-fiction books is one of the best ways to grow as a person. Whether you’re reading about another culture, way of life, or an event that took place, you’re ultimately viewing the world from someone else’s eyes - someone who has experienced something that is unique to them. Each time we pick up one of these stories, we’re expanding our ability to feel empathy for those who have circumstances or experiences that are different than our own.
Non-fiction November is such a great initiative because it encourages you to challenge not only your reading habits, but the way you view the world. If you need any ideas on where to start, here are five of my favorite non-fiction books:
1. Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig
To me, reading this book was like receiving a giant hug from someone who understands exactly what I have been going through. If you are someone who struggles with depression and/or anxiety, this is required reading. If you have a loved one who struggles with depression and/or anxiety, this is required reading. Haig has a beautiful way of articulating what it means to have depression and all the sensations that come along with it. The chapters are all super short and digestible, some in essay form, some in list form. I really can’t recommend this book enough.
2. Helter Skelter by Vincent Bugliosi
For fans of crime fiction interested in reading non-fiction, finding a great true crime book is a no-brainer. If you haven’t read a true crime story before, Helter Skelter is the perfect place to start. It covers the story of the Charles Manson murders, investigation, and trial. Vincent Bugliosi, the author, was also the prosecuting attorney on the case, giving him an unparalleled insight into the events that took place. Full review here.
3. The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry by Jon Ronson
In The Psychopath Test, Ronson explores what it is to be a “psychopath,” both today and in history. Along the way, he meets an influential psychologist who claims that many high-power businesspeople are, in fact, high functioning psychopaths. He teaches Ronson how to spot psychopaths “in the wild” using a series of questions regarding someone’s traits. With his new psycho-spotting-abilities, Ronson meets people from the criminally insane to legendary CEOs, giving us insights on whether these people can really be considered psychopaths.
4. Arnold: The Education of a Bodybuilder by Arnold Schwarzenegger
Alright, it’s time you all learned this about me: I fucking love Arnold Schwarzenegger. Education of a Bodybuilder honestly changed my life. This book, which is half biography/half fitness guide, gives an inside look into the early life of Schwarzenegger through to his standing as a seven-time Mr. Olympia winner. This book was so impactful to me because Schwarzenegger’s voice really shines through. His determination and drive motivated me in a way that no self-help book has even been able to do. In fact, it’s what pushed me to get my personal training certification. This book won’t be for everyone - maybe you’ll only want to read the biography half - but for fans of this amazing man, it’s a must-read.
5. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Won’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain
It’s hard for me to find the words to describe what this book means to me, but if you consider yourself an introvert (or, generally not an extrovert), then this is something you HAVE to read. Really, I think it’s something that everyone should read; but, as an introvert, this book allowed me to accept myself in a way that I never really had before.