So, I’ve been scrolling through the books that I’ve read this year and I realised that there has only been 1 non-fiction book which is pretty unusual. I’ve been looking for recommendations based on the ones I’ve already enjoyed and I thought I would share them with you.
Let’s jump right in…
Inside Alcatraz: My Time on the Rock by Jim Quillen
One man’s searing account of life inside the world’s most notorious prison, from desperation to redemption.
Each day we saw the outside world in all its splendour, and each day that view served as a reminder that we had wasted and ruined our lives.
Jim Quillen, AZ586—a runaway, problem child, and petty thief—was jailed several times before his 20th birthday. In August 1942, after escaping from San Quentin, he was arrested on the run and sentenced to 45 years in prison, and later transferred to Alcatraz. This is the true story of life inside America’s most notorious prison—from terrifying times in solitary confinement to daily encounters with “the Birdman,” and what really happened during the desperate and deadly 1946 escape attempt.
I’ve always been interested in Alcatraz, I would love to go and see it one day. Until then this book really goes into detail about his routine and the treatment while he was on ‘the rock’.
On the Front Line with the Women Who Fight Back by Stacey Dooley
Put yourself in their shoes.
In 2007, Stacey Dooley was a twenty-something working in fashion retail. She was selected to take part in the BBC series Blood, Sweat and T-Shirts which saw her live and work alongside Indian factory workers making clothes for the UK High Street. This sparked her series of hugely popular investigations, establishing her as one of BBC3’s most celebrated presenters.
Through the course of her documentary making, Stacey has covered a variety of topics, from sex trafficking in Cambodia, to Yazidi women fighting back in Syria. At the core of her reporting are incredible women in extraordinary and scarily ordinary circumstances – from sex workers in Russia, to victims of domestic violence in Honduras. In her first book, On the Front Line with the Women Who Fight Back, Stacey draws on her encounters with these brave and wonderful women, using their experiences as a vehicle to explore issues at the centre of female experience. From gender equality and domestic violence, to sex trafficking and sexual identity, Stacey weaves these global strands together in an exploration of what it is to be women in the world today.
I absolutely love Stacey Dooley, I’ve watched all of her documentaries so when I found out that she was writing a book you can imagine my excitement. It was so fascinating getting a behind the scenes look at her interviews and the steps she takes when she is investigating. I really do recommend this one.
The Dark Net: Inside the Digital Underworld by Jamie Bartlett
Beyond the familiar online world that most of us inhabit – a world of Google, Hotmail, Facebook and Amazon – lies a vast and often hidden network of sites, communities and cultures where freedom is pushed to its limits, and where people can be anyone, or do anything, they want. A world that is as creative and complex as it is dangerous and disturbing. A world that is much closer than you think.
The dark net is an underworld that stretches from popular social media sites to the most secretive corners of the encrypted web. It is a world that frequently appears in newspaper headlines, but one that is little understood, and rarely explored. The Dark Net is a revelatory examination of the internet today, and of its most innovative and dangerous subcultures: trolls and pornographers, drug dealers and hackers, political extremists and computer scientists, Bitcoin programmers and self-harmers, libertarians and vigilantes.
Based on extensive first-hand experience, exclusive interviews and shocking documentary evidence, The Dark Net offers a startling glimpse of human nature under the conditions of freedom and anonymity, and shines a light on an enigmatic and ever-changing world.
I think I’ve mentioned it a few times but I find cyber-crime and the dark side of the internet fascinating! The whole idea of how people can take on different persona just by being behind a computer screen and gaining that anonymity. This won’t be for everyone, but if you’re like me then you will definitely enjoy it!
You Have A Very Soft Voice, Susan by Susan Fensten
This is not a typical story of Internet stalking. It is an unusual case of friendship and deception so pitiless and unyielding that it opened a door to Hell into the author’s life. This is an unforgettable story for today’s digital world driven by social media in all of its permutations and cruellest forms.
The story begins with Susan Fensten’s online search for her father’s family, a search that soon turns into a two-year frightening odyssey of internet stalking and threats when a posting on a genealogy message board brings her into contact with what she thinks are distant cousins, but what turns out to be a sociopath.
Through email correspondence with her new “family”, evidence of mental illness, dark family secrets, a struggle over wealth and bizarre criminal histories emerge. She quickly becomes the focus of sexual obsession and suspicion, and her life is completely turned upside down. She soon becomes the target of dozens of frightening characters including real verifiable convicted sex offenders in an elaborate cyber-hoax that includes threats of kidnapping, murder, rape, torture and cannibalism.
I did post a full review which you can read here, all I will say for now is this is one crazy ride! I had to keep reminding myself that this wasn’t a work of fiction she did actually go through these events.
Basically every Jon Ronson book…
I’m not gonna go through my thoughts on each individual book as it would pretty much always be the same. I absolutely love the topics which he covers and let’s be honest he investigates some wacky stuff as you will see in the descriptions below. Ronson stops non-fiction from being boring with his awkward personality and humour. If you are new to non-fiction I would definitely recommend picking up one of his books, I’m so glad I did as I consider these to be some of my favourite books.
Lost at Sea
Jon Ronson has been on patrol with America’s real-life superheroes and to a UFO convention in the Nevada desert with Robbie Williams. He’s interviewed a robot and asked her if she has a soul. He’s travelled to the Alaskan theme town of North Pole (where every day is Christmas Day) to investigate a high school mass-murder plot. He’s met a man who tried to split the atom in his kitchen and another who’s preparing to welcome the aliens to earth.
Jon Ronson is fascinated by madness, strange behaviour and the human mind, and he has spent his life exploring mysterious events and meeting extraordinary people. Collected here from various sources (including the Guardian and GQ) are the best of his adventures.
Frequently hilarious, sometimes disturbing, always entertaining, these compelling stories of the chaos that lies on the fringe of our daily lives will have you wondering just what we’re capable of
So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed
For the past three years, Jon Ronson has travelled the world meeting recipients of high-profile public shamings. The shamed are people like us – people who, say, made a joke on social media that came out badly, or made a mistake at work. Once their transgression is revealed, collective outrage circles with the force of a hurricane and the next thing they know they’re being torn apart by an angry mob, jeered at, demonised, sometimes even fired from their job.A great renaissance of public shaming is sweeping our land. Justice has been democratised. The silent majority are getting a voice. But what are we doing with our voice? We are mercilessly finding people’s faults. We are defining the boundaries of normality by ruining the lives of those outside it. We are using shame as a form of social control.
The Psychopath Test
What if society wasn’t fundamentally rational, but was motivated by insanity? This thought sets Jon Ronson on an utterly compelling adventure into the world of madness.
Along the way, Jon meets psychopaths, those whose lives have been touched by madness and those whose job it is to diagnose it, including the influential psychologist who developed the Psychopath Test, from whom Jon learns the art of psychopath-spotting. A skill which seemingly reveals that madness could indeed be at the heart of everything . . .
Combining Jon Ronson’s trademark humour, charm and investigative incision, The Psychopath Test is both entertaining and honest, unearthing dangerous truths and asking serious questions about how we define normality in a world where we are increasingly judged by our maddest edges.
Them: Adventures with Extremists
A wide variety of extremist groups — Islamic fundamentalists, Neo-Nazis — share the oddly similar belief that a tiny shadowy elite rule the world from a secret room. In Them, journalist Jon Ronson has joined the extremists to track down the fabled secret room.
As a journalist and a Jew, Ronson was often considered one of “Them” but he had no idea if their meetings actually took place. Was he just not invited? Them takes us across three continents and into the secret room. Along the way he meets Omar Bakri Mohammed, considered one of the most dangerous men in Great Britain, PR-savvy Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard Thom Robb, and the survivors of Ruby Ridge. He is chased by men in dark glasses and unmasked as a Jew in the middle of a Jihad training camp. In the forests of northern California he even witnesses CEO’s and leading politicians — like Dick Cheney and George Bush — undertake a bizarre owl ritual.
I need your recommendations! I have only read 1 non-fiction book this year and I want to rectify that.
Where do you get your non-fiction reads from?
See you in the next one…