Books / Book Reviews

My five favourite non-fiction reads


My favourite non-fiction books

While there are few things I love better than escaping into a fictional world beyond the realms of reality – whether the storybook setting of Enid Blyton’s Mallory Towers, or the imagined village of Lansquenet-sous-Tannes, where Joanne Harris’s popular Chocolat quartet was set – I too love the life lessons that underpin many of the memoirs I’ve read of late. From a raw and poetic exploration of the expectations we set for ourselves, to the wisdom one woman gleamed from her so-called failures, I’ve rounded up the crème de la crème of my non-fiction favourites, for when fantasy just won’t do.

Places I Stopped on the Way Home – Meg Fee

One of my all-time favourite books, Places I Stopped on the Way Home: a Memoir of Chaos and Grace is writer Meg Fee’s unbelievably relatable record of spending her twenties in New York. Rich with poetic prose and beautifully written, Places I Stopped on the Way Home is raw, messy and honest and a wonderfully accessible account for anyone who has struggled to find their feet during their formative years. I recommended this book to whoever I can, and, without exception, everyone I know has loved it. I’m sure you will too.

Places I Stopped on the Way Home

In Search of Silence – Poorna Bell

I read In Search of Silence when I was staying on Lake Atitlan, and was instantly blown away by not only Poorna’s beautiful writing style, but her frank yet tender honestly. A follow on from her first memoir, Chase the Rainbow, in which she wrote about her husband’s death, In Search of Silence is a wonderful exploration of the societal pressures many of us succumb to. It follows Poorna as she searches for silence across the terrains of England, India, and finally New Zealand, and will leave readers wondering what it truly is that they want from life.

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Everything I Know About Love – Dolly Alderton

A spot-on, frequently funny and sometimes heart-breaking book about growing up, getting older and navigating all kinds of love along the way, Everything I Know About Love is an ode to the females and friendships that shaped much-loved writer, podcaster and columnist, Dolly Alderton. Charting the highs and lows of navigating her way around living in London in her twenties, Everything I Know About Love not only reaffirms the value of female friendships; it too is the best sort of memoir in that it is written with the sort of self-reflective honesty that means it’s akin to having a familiar conversation with your very best friend.

How to Fail by Elizabeth Day

How to Fail – Elizabeth Day

One of my most recent reads, part memoir, part manifesto, How to Fail by Elizabeth Day came along exactly when I needed it. Based on Day’s wildly popular podcast, in which her interviewees explore the biggest lessons their failures have taught them, How to Fail examines everything from Day’s failure to have children, to a more lighthearted chapter on her inability to live like Gwyneth Paltrow. Warm, and witty, Day writes in an engaging and entertaining style that makes for easy reading, and is so compelling in its common sense approach that it cannot to fail to catch the interest of everyone lucky enough to nab themselves a copy.

Wild – Cheryl Strayed

Another entry in my top ten favourite books of all time, I remember with great clarity being on a beach in the south of France and weeping into my sweat-soaked cheeks as I read the opening couple of chapters of Wild. Inspiring, evocative and heartbreaking in equal measure, Cheryl Strayed’s mesmerizing memoir is a candid account of her experience trekking the Pacific Crest Trail in the wake of her mother’s death and subsequent relationship breakdown. A fascinating read that follows the author’s journey from lost to found as she embarked on an 1100 mile hike across America, it’s impossible to finish Wild without cheering Strayed on as she nears the end of her expedition and sharing what I can only imagine was a huge sense of triumph on finishing the trail.

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