We’ve covered an awful lot of fictional works in our ‘Top 10’ series of blogs, but today we’re looking at works that deal with real life. Read through our list of top 10 books on the subject of people and events that have come to pass in the real world and you’ll encounter all sorts of stories ranging from inspiration to the macabre. So, sit back and dig in. We hope you have an interesting time working your way through our top 10 non-fiction books.
With the 50th anniversary of man landing on the moon this year, the subject of early NASA space exploration is all the rage these days. The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe details the lengths that post-war pilots had to go to, to push experimental high-speed rocket-powered aircraft to the limit in the name of science. Wolfe quotes the interviews he conducted with pilots and their families in what is a captivating read and one well worth its place on our list.
We turn now to the macabre, with this 1960s non-fiction novel that covers the murder of 4 members of the Clutter family in Holcomb, Kansas. Truman Capote interviewed everybody involved, as well as many of the local residents whilst the killers – Perry Smith and Richard Hickock were still at large. The pair would eventually go on to be caught 6 weeks later and sent to the electric chair and Capote went on to write a hugely successful novel about it. A real page-turner that will keep you gripped throughout.
A hugely interesting book comes in the form of ‘Fast Food Nation’ by Eric Schlosser, which looks into the not-so-well publicised, darker side of the US fast food industry. Tasked by Rolling Stone magazine to take a closer look at the industry, Schlosser spent just under 3 years doing so and he uncovered all sorts of things about the packing plants, slaughterhouses and minimum wage work exploitation that the industry would rather you didn’t know.
Moving back to the mid-1940s to an event that changed the world. Hiroshima by John Hershey looks at the atomic bombing of the Japanese city that sent reverberations around the world and essentially ended World War 2. Using the same techniques used in fiction storytelling, Hershey – a former war correspondent – presents the story from the viewpoint of 6 survivors of the event in a book that tells of the humanitarian devastation that unfolded. A tragic, yet engaging book we recommend that you read.
Factfulness: 10 Reasons We’re Wrong About the World & Why Things Are Better Than You Think by the Rosling Family
Penned by Swedish statisticians Hans Rosling, his son Ola and daughter-in-law Anna, this book is one that suggests that the overwhelming majority of people are wrong about the way things are in the world today. Their findings seem to show that the world is richer, more healthy and less dangerous than people think it is and that it’s 10 set instincts within us that make us see the world as it’s not. We love this hugely interesting book and so did Bill Gates who highlighted it as one of his top 5 picks last year.
This account of the ill-fated attempt to cross the Antarctic continent by Ernest Shackleton in 1914 is an epic one. From the ship – the Endurance – that would ultimately be crushed by ice flows to the long and arduous struggle to survive by him and his 28 man team that lasted 2 whole years, there’s much to marvel at in terms of perseverance and Alfred Lansing tells their tale by recounting all of the diaries that were kept on the journey. A spectacular story that shows what’s possible with spirit and determination.
Written by two of the Washington Post’s journalists who investigated the Watergate break-in that led to Nixon’s downfall, All of the President’s Men details the accounts of the major players in this most public of scandals. It was the resignation of the President live on the air that made this such an iconic affair and by reading this one, you’ll get to find out exactly how it unfolded.
The expansion of the American territories in the late 19th century US had a profound effect on the native American population and it’s their displacement that forms the centrepiece of this book by Dee Brown. War was raged on the native Americans by the US federal government for many years, as they sought to eradicate their religion, culture and way of life and mass forced relocations were the result. A tale that certainly needs to be read to understand the true plight of the American Indian.
This book by Rachel Carson was written back in the 1960s and it documented the impact of the widespread use of synthetic pesticides in agriculture. Having been met with serious opposition from the Chemical companies that made them, Carson points the finger at the damage they cause, as well as accusing them of spreading misleading information and running erroneous and patently false advertising. Focusing on environmental issues known to be caused by these pesticides, her work led to major changes in government policy and the formation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Listed by Time Magazine as one of the 100 most influential books in history, this non-fiction self-help book is one that has sold more than 15 million copies worldwide. Inside its pages, you’ll find inspiration on how to win in relationships and in your career and, as the title suggests, how to gain more friends and get them to do what you want. As non-fiction works go, this one is right up there and well-deserving of its inclusion.
So, there you have it – 10 of the best non-fiction works around. Read them all and you’ll know much more about the world past and present, as well as knowing how to be a better person! We hope that you enjoy working your way through them this Summer!
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