I’m definitely someone who gravitates more towards fiction than non-fiction, but I have started trying to read more non-fiction, and there are just so many incredible stories out there. Here are a few of our favourites…
Becoming (Michelle Obama)
A favourite book for us both, Becoming is the memoir of former First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama. She was the first African American woman to serve as FLOTUS, and she helped to create the most welcoming and inclusive White House in history, as well as establishing herself as an advocate for women and girls in the United States and the rest of the world. During her time at the White House, she worked to encourage healthier and more active lifestyles, and she stood beside her husband as he led America through some of the most difficult times the country has faced.
Her memoir is split into three parts: Becoming Me, Becoming Us, Becoming More. I had a great deal of respect for Michelle Obama before I opened the book, and now I’ve finished it, that admiration has only grown. There is such a warmth in her writing, and although her story is extremely unique, I think she has managed to write such an elegant and relatable way.
I Am Malala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and was Shot by the Taliban (Malala Yousafzai)
I Am Malala is the remarkable tale of a family uprooted by global terrorism, of the fight for girls’ education, of a father who, himself a school owner, championed and encouraged his daughter to write and attend school, and of brave parents who have a fierce love for their daughter in a society that prizes sons. When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley in Pakistan, one girl spoke out. Malala Yousafzai refused to be silenced and fought for her right to an education.
On Tuesday, October 9, 2012, when she was fifteen, she almost paid the ultimate price. She was shot in the head at point-blank range while riding the bus home from school, and few expected her to survive.
I remember hearing about this on the news, and following the story avidly. I read I Am Malala a few years ago, and it is one of the most eye-opening, educational, inspiring stories I’ve ever read.
Ask An Astronaut (Tim Peake)
I absolutely love everything to do with space, and I loved following Tim Peake when he was living at the International Space Station.
Written in a Q&A format, this book takes the reader through Tim Peake’s training, his travel to and from the station, his daily life there, and his return to Earth. He shares the answers to questions he has been asked since his return, from “What does space smell like?” to “What would happen if you got hit by space debris?”
His writing is accessible, humorous and fascinating. The Martian (Andy Weir) is one of my favourite books, but I didn’t understand a few of the more scientific references in the book but now I’ve read Ask an Astronaut, it all makes sense! There are a wide range of questions, some serious, others more light-hearted, but all absolutely fascinating. He also includes diagrams and photos to help with understanding. If you are interested in space at all, this book is definitely worth a read, plus, all royalties received from the book will be donated to The Prince’s Trust.
I Am Not Your Baby Mother (Candice Braithwaite)
Candice started blogging about motherhood in 2016 after making the simple but powerful observation that the way motherhood is portrayed in the British media is wholly unrepresentative of our society at large.
The result is this thought-provoking, urgent and inspirational guide to life as a black mother. It explores the various stages in between pregnancy and waving your child off at the gates of primary school, while facing hurdles such as white privilege, racial micro-aggression and unconscious bias at every point. I’ve been reading this over the last few days and it’s funny, honest and such an important read.
The Prison Doctor (Amanda Brown)
Dr Amanda Brown has treated inmates in the UK’s most infamous prisons – first in young offenders’ institutions, then at the notorious Wormwood Scrubs and finally at Europe’s largest women-only prison in Europe, Bronzefield. From miraculous pregnancies to dirty protests, and from violent attacks on prisoners to heartbreaking acts of self-harm, she has witnessed it all. In this memoir, Amanda reveals the stories, the patients and the cases that have shaped a career, helping those most of us would rather forget.
This is such an interesting insight into a career I honestly never even really knew existed. While the content is quite tough reading at times, the writing itself is easy to get into.
This Is Going To Hurt (Adam Kay)
Adam Kay used to be a doctor, and This Is Going To Hurt is a write-up of his diaries during his time spent working for the NHS. He documents the long days and nights, the patients he sees, some of the cases he worked on and ultimately his reason for leaving the job behind. He talks frankly and openly about money and exhaustion and he details individual cases and the impact the job had on his personal life. He moved through the ranks, specialising in obstetrics and gynaecology and his stories range from hilarious to heartbreaking.
There are helpful annotations throughout the book explaining some of the medical jargon. If you can be a bit squeamish about blood, or are pregnant/have recently gone through childbirth you may find some of it a little too raw, but I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It is absolutely amazing, well-written, funny and charming but also tough going and almost unbelievable at times.