Even if I wasn’t always doing some kind of research for a story, I would read a lot of non-fiction books. It’s like school without the tests, the early starts and bitchy classroom politics. You learn stuff you didn’t even know you wanted to learn, unlike the internet where you skim over everything that isn’t the answer to your question.
Here are five randomly presented non-fiction books which I have enjoyed, possibly more from a writing/inspiration point of view, but I would have no qualms about recommending any of them.
The Hot Zone by Richard Preston
This is not for the faint hearted. Not only does it have a lot of gore, but it clamps the sphincter muscle shut with the terror of realising that everything that happens in this book is true. It details incidents where there have been uncontrolled outbreaks of hemorrhagic fever across the world (some in places you would not have expected). The book came out before the movie ‘Outbreak’ and the thousand others of its ilk, but even if you are tired of the genre this book will still chill you more than any of those fictional tales.
The Urantia Book by <unspecified>
I know some will criticise me for putting this in the non-fiction section, but as a spiritual text I will give it the same respect I give all such books. I have to confess that I have not read it all (it is well over 2,000 wafer-thin pages with about a 6 point font) but the chunks I have read are fascinating. It offers not only an alternative view of how the Earth and life began, but also gives us a purpose and place in the universe which is nicely comforting. The book doesn’t ask you to send money, or inspire you to go to war with others, which is always a plus in my eyes, and has some wonderful perspectives on humanity which we could all do well to take on board.
The Answer by John Assaraf & Murray Smith
Yes, there is a bit of a ‘The Secret’ connection, and the book does have a bit of fluff, but don’t let the self-help-ism turn you off. It teaches you some great mental techniques, as well as a basic version of gestalt therapy which I think is quite nicely done (as a qualified hypnotherapist I can say that). The book pulls together a lot of recent research on the brain and presents it in terms that are easy to understand. For the business inclined the second half of the book teaches you some business 101 skills which, in this internet age, we could all probably do with a bit of up-skilling.
Rich Dad Poor Dad (series) by Robert Kiyosaki
Yeah, I know what you are thinking, this one is only marginally better than ‘The Secret’ and if you did an accounting or commerce degree I would agree that you don’t need to read it. For the rest of us, Kiyosaki explains the basics of the fiscal system and how to work within it. I had a vague idea, but this really did teach me the actual mechanics. I wouldn’t necessarily advise you to follow all the investing advice, but I think it is important to educate yourself financially, and if you want your money to grow you need to get it out of the bank. If you don’t know why then you need to read this book (or one like it)!
The Last Explorer by Simon Nasht
If you are an Australian you need to read this book. If you are a South Australian, you need to BUY this book. This is the true story of the life of explorer Sir Hubert Wilkins and it reads like the next instalment of the Indiana Jones series. I am amazed we don’t have more schools, hospitals, universities and awards named after Sir Hubert, and I was mortified I had never heard of him until I was given this book. Don’t be left in the dark, read the story of this amazing man.
Okay, again I could have kept going far beyond my limit of five, especially with all the amazing biographies I’ve read over the years, but this was just a sample. Please let me know if you have any non-fiction books you think should go on my list of books to read!