10 Non-Fiction Books That Must Be On Your Reading List

Posted on August 19, 2014 in Culture-Vulture, Lists

By Krishangi Singh:

“To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark.”

Victor Hugo’s words ring true in every sense; a good book can ignite fiery passions that will enlighten minds beyond all dusk. If you have taken out time to read this article, it is safe to assume that you like reading, whether on a glossy screen or rustic leather bound books. While a significant number of readers find comfort in the easy mirth of popular romance comedies or contentment in thrilling adventures and voyages of wizards and elves, I urge you to leave your comfort zone and enter the engaging realms of the non-fiction genre. The discovery of truth becomes a prime delight here, as we are presented with various realities of life ranging from those of principal importance to our society to those with easy charms of everyday lives.


In this article, I present to you ten non-fiction books written across the span of various centuries that are bound to make you adore this genre.

1. Light From Many Lamps — Lillian Watson

This book is a treasure of inspirational thoughts in form of hundreds of passages and quotes. The reason why this book shines brighter than the rest is because the author’s commentary provides the story behind the existence of world’s most inspirational ideas and how those were weaved. A collection of heartwarming essays and quotes by intellectuals like Franklin D. Roosevelt, Robert Browning, Abraham Lincoln and many others; this is the book one can look up to at all moments of self-doubt.

2. Politically Correct Bedtime Stories — James Finn Garner

This is perhaps one of the funniest books of all times. Mr. Garner refused to include any sexist, racist, culturist, nationalist, ageist, lookist, sizeist or even speciest element as he re-wrote the classic Grimm Brothers’ Fairytales. Thus, we are presented with a collection of objective and extremely hilarious version of fairytales where Cinderella goes on to open a co-operation of comfortable and practical clothing with her step-family after dumping Prince Charming for his ‘lookist’ tendencies! If this does not make you laugh, you must be in severe depression.

3. A Brief History Of Time — Stephen Hawking

If you are amongst people like me who fail to understand complicated equations filled scientific essays, than this book for Mr. Hawking’s easy narrations will be at your rescue. With over 10 million copies sold, this book explains the reason and problems behind fascinating issues like black holes, time travel and many more space related mysteries in an extremely simplified manner. With anecdotes and witty science jokes spaced throughout the book, Mr. Hawking ensures successful comprehension of even the most perplexing theories.

4. The Diary Of A Young Girl — Anne Frank

If you haven’t read this brilliant book, chances are, you have at least heard of Anne Frank. A 13-year-old Jewish girl penned down her innermost thoughts and fear in a diary while she and her family remained in hiding to evade the Nazi police. The book brings out the distress Jews faced as they were completely cut out from outside world and lived in constant terror of being arrested, or worse, being tortured and killed.

5. A Short History Of Nearly Everything — Bill Bryson

As the title very well indicates, this is a popular science book. Yet, the reason this book features in this must read list is because it is not written by some science-god, but rather a general professional writer. It gives the book a new freshness as the reader and writer take the exploring journey together, equally amused by the scientific findings and their discovery. It is filled with entertaining thoughts and witty lines which elevates the book from a mere collection of shocking facts.

6. Listening To Grasshoppers – Arundhati Roy

This book is a collection of essays pertaining to the flaws in the structure and existing practice of democracy. It ventures to reveal how currently developing democracies emulate the model of democracy on a rather superficial level that lacks strong substance. It goes on to provide an objective picture of the Armenian Genocide (Turkey, 1915) to the condemned Godhra riots (Gujarat, 2002) that will make you want to weep at the hypocrisy of the so-called liberal governments.

7. Orange Is The New Black — Piper Kerman

The subtitle of the book read, ‘My Year In A Women’s Prison’, making the storyline seeming easy to deduce. But once you start reading the book, it will dawn on you that this isn’t some rouge ex-con being arrested, but a prim and proper lady who merrily resides in an apartment in New York with her doting boyfriend and a promising career.

The author explains her illegal work in her reckless 20’s and how she deals with its consequences 10 years later when she has already cleaned up her life. It elaborates her sudden transition in prison life where there are prison codes, eccentric inmates and a colorful environment that seems to inculcate an entirely new world & her complete loss of direction after her release from the correction center.

8. The Good Nurse — Charles Graeber

Grey’s Anatomy fans, this is not a book about happy days and saving lives! This is the chilling account of a nurse named Charlie Cullen who killed perhaps hundreds of patients in a span of 6 years across 9 hospitals by injecting them with lethal doses of various medications.

Mr. Graeber in this book focuses beyond criminology and psychopathy and puts a sharp focus on the failure of hospital authorities’ ability to stop him from harming patients and the failure to report to state regulation authorities despite having evidence against him. The book is a nerve-racking explanation of a murderer’s ego issues as he suffers from the Hero complex and goes on a prolonged killing spree just to save some of them at the last moment.

9. Quiet — Susan Caine

If you happen to be among one-on-one engagement preferring people who dislike large gatherings, then this book will answer all your queries regarding your introverted behaviour. Susan Cain explains in her book how our society excessively prefers extroverted personalities thus forcing introverts to emulate them and be in distress regarding their natural behaviour. This book is a fine asset for people who are trying to deal with the societal pressure regarding their fondness for solace and minimalistic company as Miss Cain, being an introvert herself, explains how being an introvert is as natural as being an extrovert.

10. The Power Of Less — Leo Babauta

Our lives are so tangled within the seams of electronic and virtual world that a minimalistic approach to life becomes incredibly difficult.

This book is finely divided into sections for ease of understanding. The first part, ‘In Principle’ elaborately defines the rules to live by for a simplistic de-cluttered life, which at one point seems to be unnecessarily long. However, the second part of the book more than makes up for the slow beginning. ‘In Practice’ explains how these impossible seeming rules can be applied to various aspects of our daily lives for a simple and serene lifestyle. All in all, this is one self-help book that goes beyond arbitrary discussion and delves into actual implementation of self-help principles.

This concludes the list of non-fiction books that I think are informative as well as engaging. If not all, I hope you will read at least one of these fine books. I realize it is not possible to squeeze the entire genre in this petite list or rather any list at all, thus please comment below with the titles of books that you think are must-reads so everyone can gain more from the bounty of knowledge that the non-fiction genre is.

Now, the next time you plan to re-read the E.L. James series again, instead pick up one of these books and I’m sure you’ll find these a lot more believable.