I really enjoy reading non-fiction and I feel like it’s something that I didn’t read enough of last year so I want to prioritise the genre.
Here are 10 that I would love to get to in the next year.
Authenticity: Reclaiming Reality in a Counterfeit Culture by Alice Sherwood
We live in an age when the pursuit of authenticity – from living our ‘best life’ to eating artisan food – matters more and more to us, but where the forces of inauthenticity seem to be taking over. Our world is full of people and products that are not what they seem. We no longer know whether we are talking to a person or a machine. But we can fight back – and this award-winning book shows us how.
Authenticity argues that, although our counterfeit culture is shaped by the most powerful forces of evolution, economics, and technology, we can still come together to reclaim reality.
Along the way, we meet the world’s greatest impostor, who finally became what he’d pretended to be; the wartime counterfeiter who fooled a nation; nature’s most outrageous deceivers; the artist who encouraged people to forge his pictures; the ‘authentic’ brand that was anything but. But we also meet people living unexpectedly rewarding lives in virtual worlds, and foot soldiers in the ‘armies of truth’ who are taking down today’s conspiracies and cons.
This book is actually the most recent on my radar after I read an email from NetGalley this morning which actually inspired this post.
Beneath the Surface: Killer Whales, SeaWorld, and the Truth Beyond Blackfish by John Hargrove and Howard Chua-Eoan
Over the course of two decades, John Hargrove worked with 20 different whales on two continents and at two of SeaWorld’s U.S. facilities. For Hargrove, becoming an orca trainer fulfilled a childhood dream. However, as his experience with the whales deepened, Hargrove came to doubt that their needs could ever be met in captivity. When two fellow trainers were killed by orcas in marine parks, Hargrove decided that SeaWorld’s wildly popular programs were both detrimental to the whales and ultimately unsafe for trainers.
After leaving SeaWorld, Hargrove became one of the stars of the controversial documentary Blackfish. The outcry over the treatment of SeaWorld’s orca has now expanded beyond the outlines sketched by the award-winning documentary, with Hargrove contributing his expertise to an advocacy movement that is convincing both federal and state governments to act.
I’ve had this book on my TBR for many years now after watching the documentary, I definitely want to read more into what happened.
Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors and the Drug Company that Addicted America by Beth Macy
Beth Macy takes us into the epicenter of America’s twenty-plus year struggle with opioid addiction. From distressed small communities in Central Appalachia to wealthy suburbs; from disparate cities to once-idyllic farm towns; it’s a heartbreaking trajectory that illustrates how this national crisis has persisted for so long and become so firmly entrenched.
Beginning with a single dealer who lands in a small Virginia town and sets about turning high school football stars into heroin overdose statistics, Macy endeavors to answer a grieving mother’s question-why her only son died-and comes away with a harrowing story of greed and need. From the introduction of OxyContin in 1996, Macy parses how America embraced a medical culture where overtreatment with painkillers became the norm. In some of the same distressed communities featured in her bestselling book Factory Man, the unemployed use painkillers both to numb the pain of joblessness and pay their bills, while privileged teens trade pills in cul-de-sacs, and even high school standouts fall prey to prostitution, jail, and death.
Through unsparing, yet deeply human portraits of the families and first responders struggling to ameliorate this epidemic, each facet of the crisis comes into focus. In these politically fragmented times, Beth Macy shows, astonishingly, that the only thing that unites Americans across geographic and class lines is opioid drug abuse. But in a country unable to provide basic healthcare for all, Macy still finds reason to hope-and signs of the spirit and tenacity necessary in those facing addiction to build a better future for themselves and their families.
I’m about 35% into this book and enjoying it so far, it is clearly well researched and the topic is shocking and something that should be more visible to the population.
Talking With Serial Killers: World’s Most Evil by Christopher Berry-Dee
An investigative criminologist, Christopher Berry-Dee is a man who talks to serial killers. In this book, their pursuit of horror and violence is described in their own words, transcribed from audio and videotape interviews conducted deep inside some of the toughest prisons in the world. Berry-Dee describes the circumstances of his meetings with some of the world’s most evil men, and reproduces their very words as they describe their crimes and discuss their remorse—or lack of it.
This work offers a penetrating insight into the workings of the criminal mind.
I have this on my bookcase but I’ve seen mixed reviews which is the reason that I haven’t picked it up straight away, fingers crossed I will give it a go soon and make my own opinion.
The Mind of a Murderer by DR Richard Taylor
‘Whodunnit’ doesn’t matter so much, not to a forensic psychiatrist. We’re more interested in the ‘why’.
In his twenty-six years in the field, Richard Taylor has worked on well over a hundred murder cases, with victims and perpetrators from all walks of life. In this fascinating memoir, Taylor draws on some of the most tragic, horrific and illuminating of these cases – as well as dark secrets from his own family’s past – to explore some of the questions he grapples with every day:
Why do people kill?
Does committing a monstrous act make someone a monster?
Could any of us, in the wrong circumstances, become a killer?
As Taylor helps us understand what lies inside the minds of those charged with murder – both prisoners he has assessed and patients he has treated – he presents us with the most important challenge of all: how can we even begin to comprehend the darkest of human deeds, and why it is so vital that we try?
I also have this book on my shelves, this is one that I want to bump up the priority list. I am obsessed with true crime and why murders are committed.
The Secret Barrister: Stories of the Law and How It’s Broken by The Secret Barrister
Welcome to the world of the Secret Barrister. These are the stories of life inside the courtroom. They are sometimes funny, often moving and ultimately life-changing.
How can you defend a child-abuser you suspect to be guilty? What do you say to someone sentenced to ten years who you believe to be innocent? What is the law and why do we need it? And why do they wear wigs? From the criminals to the lawyers, the victims, witnesses and officers of the law, here is the best and worst of humanity, all struggling within a broken system which would never be off the front pages if the public knew what it was really like.
This is a first-hand account of the human cost of the criminal justice system, and a guide to how we got into this mess, The Secret Barrister shows you what it’s really like and why it really matters.
Again I have this on my bookcase, my favourite way to consume non-fiction is through audio so maybe that will help me get through this list.
The Vanishing Triangle by Claire McGowan
From the bestselling author of What You Did comes a true-crime investigation that cast a dark shadow over the Ireland of her childhood.
Ireland in the 1990s seemed a safe place for women. With the news dominated by the Troubles, it was easy to ignore non-political murders and sexual violence, to trust that you weren’t going to be dragged into the shadows and killed. But beneath the surface, a far darker reality had taken hold.
In this candid investigation into the society and circumstances that allowed eight young women to vanish without a trace—no conclusion or conviction, no resolution for their loved ones—bestselling crime novelist Claire McGowan delivers a righteous polemic against the culture of secrecy, victim-blaming and shame that left these women’s bodies unfound, their fates unknown, their assailants unpunished.
McGowan reveals an Ireland not of leprechauns and craic but of outdated social and sexual mores, where women and their bodies were of secondary importance to perceived propriety and misguided politics—a place of well-buttoned lips and stony silence, inadequate police and paramilitary threat.
Was an unknown serial killer at large or was there something even more insidious at work? In this insightful, sensitively drawn account, McGowan exposes a system that failed these eight women—and continues to fail women to this day.
I read Claire McGowan’s thriller and really enjoyed it, so it will be super interesting to see how she turns her hand to a true crime investigation.
True Story: What Reality TV Says about Us by Danielle J. Lindemann
Named a Best Nonfiction Book of 2022 by Esquire
A sociological study of reality TV that explores its rise as a culture-dominating medium–and what the genre reveals about our attitudes toward race, gender, class, and sexuality
What do we see when we watch reality television?
In True Story: What Reality TV Says About Us, the sociologist and TV-lover Danielle J. Lindemann takes a long, hard look in the “funhouse mirror” of this genre. From the first episodes of The Real World to countless rose ceremonies to the White House, reality TV has not just remade our entertainment and cultural landscape (which it undeniably has). Reality TV, Lindemann argues, uniquely reflects our everyday experiences and social topography back to us. Applying scholarly research–including studies of inequality, culture, and deviance–to specific shows, Lindemann layers sharp insights with social theory, humor, pop cultural references, and anecdotes from her own life to show us who we really are.
By taking reality TV seriously, True Story argues, we can better understand key institutions (like families, schools, and prisons) and broad social constructs (such as gender, race, class, and sexuality). From The Bachelor to Real Housewives to COPS and more (so much more!), reality programming unveils the major circuits of power that organize our lives–and the extent to which our own realities are, in fact, socially constructed.
Whether we’re watching conniving Survivor contestants or three-year-old beauty queens, these “guilty pleasures” underscore how conservative our society remains, and how steadfastly we cling to our notions about who or what counts as legitimate or “real.” At once an entertaining chronicle of reality TV obsession and a pioneering work of sociology, True Story holds up a mirror to our society: the reflection may not always be pretty—but we can’t look away.
This is another relatively new addition that I’m really excited about, I don’t tend to watch that much TV but when I do I end up binge watching for hours when I’m going through bad times. I love reading about society and how we’re affected by the standards created by media.
What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions (What If? #1) by Randall Munroe
From the creator of the wildly popular xkcd.com, hilarious and informative answers to important questions you probably never thought to ask.
Millions visit xkcd.com each week to read Randall Munroe’s iconic webcomic. Fans ask him a lot of strange questions: How fast can you hit a speed bump, driving, and live? When (if ever) did the sun go down on the British Empire? When will Facebook contain more profiles of dead people than living? How many humans would a T Rex rampaging through New York need to eat a day?
In pursuit of answers, Munroe runs computer simulations, pores over stacks of declassified military research memos, solves differential equations and consults nuclear reactor operators. His responses are masterpieces of clarity and hilarity, complemented by comics. They often predict the complete annihilation of humankind, or at least a really big explosion.
This has been on my kindle for years and I just keep forgetting about it, I’m hoping that by putting it on this list it gives me a kick up ass to read it soon.
Zodiac: The Shocking True Story of America’s Most Elusive Serial Killer by Robert Graysmith
A sexual sadist, the Zodiac killer took pleasure in torture and murder. His first victims were a teenage couple, stalked and shot dead in a lovers’ lane. After another slaying, he sent his first mocking note to authorities, promising he would kill more. The official tally of his victims was six. He claimed thirty-seven dead. The real toll may have reached fifty.
Robert Graysmith was on staff at the San Francisco Chronicle in 1969 when Zodiac first struck, triggering in the resolute reporter an unrelenting obsession with seeing the hooded killer brought to justice. In this gripping account of Zodiac’s eleven-month reign of terror, Graysmith reveals hundreds of facts previously unreleased, including the complete text of the killer’s letters.
The Zodiac is one of the few big serial killers that I don’t know that much about. I’ve tried reading this book physically a few times but I think the best way for me to read this is through audio.
Do you have any recommendations?
See you in the next one…
2 thoughts on “-| 10 Non-Fiction Books on My Radar |-”
So many of these look and sound so good. I definitely might pick up a few of these true crime ones 👀 Great list!
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Thank you! If you do please let me know 🙂
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