Our politics and the things that divide us seem to become more polarising by the day. Reading is still one of the best ways to broaden our horizons. It takes the fiery passion from differing viewpoints and allows people to engage in a healthy and respectful way. With this in mind, here are some must read non-fiction books that will help to challenge your perspective.
Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents – Isabel Wilkerson
Wilkerson explores the deep-seated caste system that has shaped America and shows how hierarchical divisions define our lives. Caste is the “granting or withholding of respect, status, honor, attention, privileges, resources, the benefit of the doubt, and human kindness to someone on the basis of their perceived rank or standing in the hierarchy” as defined by Wilkerson. She explains that racism and caste do overlap, but that racism takes its basis from the caste system. Furthermore, caste is so embedded in American culture that racism is a by-product of the caste system.
This book is startling and particularly relevant today as the younger generations continue the fight for equal rights and equal treatment.
Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class – Owen Jones
Owen Jones is a British columnist and Labour Party activist. His book about the working class is as insightful as it is angry. It looks at continual examples of the establishment criticising the working class. A profound example is the Shannon Matthews case. Jones compares this with Madeline McCann and the different media coverage. The contrast is profound. He explains how the British tabloids focused on the shortcomings of the Matthews family compared to the achievements of the McCanns.
This is a great book for the politically inclined as it highlights the inner workings of the establishment.
One Two Three Four: The Beatles in Time – Craig Brown
The Beatles’ legacy lives on well past the dissolution of the band. Their names and music are still world famous. The Beatles certainly aren’t suffering from a shortage of biographies but The Beatles in Time stands out from the rest. Brown explores everything from fan festivals to pubs in Liverpool. His writing is satirical and also nostalgic. It’s not hard to become immersed once again in Beatlemania.
This Is Going To Hurt – Adam Kay
Next, a very timely read for 2020. Adam Kay documents his time as a Junior doctor in This Is Going To Hurt. It is an interesting and insightful look into the lives of our NHS heroes. It’s one of those books that will evoke just about every emotion you have. It will also leave you with a renewed sense of appreciation for our doctors, nurses, and healthcare workers.
Girl, Interrupted – Susanna Kaysen
Now a cult classic film, Girl, Interrupted is a collection of memoirs documenting the author’s time in a psychiatric hospital in the 1960s. It’s a fascinating look into the realities of mental illness but also into America in the 1960s. Kaysen’s writing is compelling and allows the reader to lose themselves in her thoughts and feelings. It deals with some sensitive topics and does so honestly without sugar coating.
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind – Yuval Noah Harari
Human beings have existed for about 2.4 million years. Harari writes about the “cognitive revolution”, hunter-gatherers and the “scientific revolution”. It is so amazing because it helps the reader to gain a deeper understanding of the human condition. We also get to better understand why we behave the way we do. It’s interesting to see the juxtaposition between how we began and where we are now.
The book has achieved critical acclaim and is well-deserving of a spot on our must read non-fiction books.
On Chapel Sands – Laura Cumming
Laura Cumming recounts her experience when her mother became a missing person. Betty Elston was kidnapped from a Lincolnshire beach as a child. Thankfully, Betty was found safe a few days later. She was wearing different clothes, had not been harmed, and had no recollection of what happened. Life went on for Betty and she later grew up to have Laura. She works to understand her mother’s disappearance.
The book has a twist and turns on every page and is a great choice for those with a passion for biographies and mysteries. This could be a great way for fiction-lovers to dip their toes into the world of non-fiction.
Labours of Love: The Crisis of Care – Madeleine Bunting
This book feels more prevalent now than ever before. The crisis within the care sector is ongoing and feels as if it is only getting worse. Bunting has conducted very thorough research which is evident in Labours of Love. For centuries, the caring labours of women are taken for granted and Bunting puts a spotlight on this. It’s a collection of perspectives on one key issue and it makes for a great read.
Square Haunting: Five Women, Freedom and London Between the Wars – Francesca Wade
Francesca Wade takes the reader on an exploration through London’s Mecklenburgh Square in the inter-war years. This is a group biography that explores how trailblazing women pushed the boundaries of literature, scholarship, and social norms, forging careers through the most impossible of times. The perfect gift for anyone who is into their history and the power of women.
The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper – Hallie Rubenhold
Finally, we have a book that comes highly recommended by the staff here at Careline365. The women murdered by Jack the Ripper have lived in his shadow since the day they were unfortunate enough to encounter him. They came from all across England, Wales and even Sweden. The wrote poetry, ran coffee houses and country homes. Now, historian Hallie Rubenhold has given these women back their voices and puts a story to each name.
Keep the Mind Sharp
Reading is a great way to keep the mind active, whether you choose fiction or non-fiction. Stimulating the brain is just as important as exercising the body, especially as we get older.
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