In the days before I was a blogger, I read more non-fiction than fiction. My ratio must have been about 70% non-fiction to 30% fiction and I thought nothing of losing myself in a big, dense, history book for weeks at a time. When I started blogging, I became exposed to lots and lots of fiction reviews and gradually my reading habits changed; I'm lucky if I get to 20% non-fiction now. But I still enjoy non-fiction books, especially from the following categories:
- Marie Antoinette by Antonia Fraser - Anything by Antonia Fraser is worth reading. She writes excellent biographies of historical figures that are packed with research but still read like a narrative. Marie Antoinette is my favourite of hers, and was the inspiration for the film.
- Lords of the Horizon by Jason Goodwin - I just love the Ottomans, and this is by far the best book on them I have read. It's beautifully written and full of quirky little facts about the different Sultans.
- The State of Africa by Martin Meredith - African history after independence can be quite confusing, but this is an excellent overview of what happened in most of the major countries after the European powers left. It's one I've read through once, but still keep dipping in and out of.
Biography / Memoirs:
- Shake Hands with the Devil by Romeo Dallaire - Dallaire was the UN commander in Rwanda at the time of the genocide. Shake Hands with the Devil chronicles his attempts to raise awareness and stop the horror. It's not easy reading, but it's a book that will stay with you.
- Tiger, Tiger by Margaux Fragoso - Again, this isn't easy reading. Fragoso was groomed as a young girl and was the victim of a pedophile for many years. Given the sensitive and sensational topic, Tiger, Tiger is honestly and bluntly written.
- My Life by Bill Clinton - I love political memoirs, and this is my favourite. I liked Obama's Dreams from the Father too, but Clinton's is a fuller account of his life plus his political experiences.
- In Arabian Nights by Tahir Shah - A romantic, dreamy look at life in Morocco, based on the story-telling tradition of the country. Will make you want to visit immediately!
- The Shadow of the Sun by Ryszard Kapuscinski - Kapuscinski is a Polish journalist and this book is about his experiences reporting from Africa. The politics is interwoven with his awe and wonder at the many things he sees.
- Empires of the Indus by Alice Albinia - Albinia travels up the Indus river, from it's mouth in Pakistan to the source in Tibet. This one is packed full of interesting information.
Are you a non-fiction reader? After writing this post, I definitely feel like I want to increase the amount of non-fiction I read.