The best non-fiction books of all time

From eye-opening autobiographies to political exposés, broaden your horizons with our edit of the best non-fiction books of all time. 

The best non-fiction books can educate readers on vital subjects, offer fresh new perspectives, or simply give us a valuable, and often entertaining, insight into the lives of others. Here is our edit of the must-read non-fiction books of 2023 and the best non-fiction books of all time. 

The best general non-fiction books


by Oliver Sacks

Book cover for Awakenings

For over four decades, twenty First World War veterans languished in hospital, treated by professionals who had no idea how to awaken them from their catatonic stupor. Motionless and silent, the men were aware of their surroundings but had no interest in engaging in them. That was until the day Dr Oliver Sacks administered a revolutionary new drug, L-DOPA, which roused the men from their inertia. A stranger-than-fiction story written in Sacks’ unmistakable prose, Awakenings is a compelling read and a classic of medical writing. 

The Psychology of Stupidity

by Jean-Francois Marmion

Book cover for The Psychology of Stupidity

Edited by Jean-François Marmion, this dissection of stupidity is brought to you by some of the brightest brains around, including a Nobel Prize winner. The Psychology of Stupidity explains how lazy thinking leads to bad decisions, why even smart people can believe nonsense, how media manipulation makes us all dumber, and the pitfalls of trying to debate with a fool.

God: An Anatomy

by Francesca Stavrakopoulou

Book cover for God: An Anatomy

Three thousand years ago, in the region we now call Israel and Palestine, people worshipped an array of deities led by a god called El. El had seventy children, all of whom were gods themselves; one of these children, Yahweh, fought humans and monsters and eventually evolved into the God of the great monotheistic faiths. The history of God in culture stretches back centuries before the Bible was written. Elegantly written and fiercely argued, Professor Francesca Stavrakopoulou provides a fascinating analysis of God’s cultural DNA, and in the process explores the founding principles of Western culture.

Seven and a Half Lessons About the Brain

by Lisa Feldman Barrett

Book cover for Seven and a Half Lessons About the Brain

In seven short essays about that big grey blob between your ears, neuroscientist Lisa Feldman Barrett explores the origins and structure of the brain, as well as shelving popular myths about the alleged battle between thoughts and emotions, or between nature and nurture. Sure to intrigue casual readers and scientific veterans alike, the book is full of surprises, humour and revelations about human nature.

The Snakehead

by Patrick Radden Keefe

Book cover for The Snakehead

From the author of Empire of Pain comes a thrilling panorama of a secret world run by a surprising criminal. Cheng Chui Ping, a charismatic middle-aged grandmother managed a multimillion-dollar business smuggling people – all from a tiny noodle shop in New York's Chinatown. The Snakehead, uncovers the inner workings of this empire, and recounts the decade-long FBI investigation that eventually brought her down. But this is not just a crime story. As an incompetent and corrupt INS pursues desperate immigrants, Patrick Radden Keefe paints a portrait of a generation of these undocumented people, and ultimately the ironies of immigration in America more broadly. 

The Queer Parent

by Lotte Jeffs and Stu Oakley

Book cover for The Queer Parent

From fertility and adoption queries to starting school and navigating conversations with your kids, The Queer Parent is the essential guide for LGBTQ+ parents, parents-to-be and allies. Written by Lotte Jeffs and Stu Oakley, the hosts of the award-winning podcast Some Families, this funny, empathetic guide to all things parenting contains advice from dozens of queer families and experts who share their experiences, tips, and pitfalls they faced in the journey to becoming parents. Whether you’re a parent, a teacher, a friend or an ally, this book is essential reading for everyone.  

Scary Smart

by Mo Gawdat

Book cover for Scary Smart

In Scary Smart, The former chief business officer of Google outlines how artificial intelligence is way smarter than us, and is predicted to be a billion times more intelligent than humans by 2049. Free from distractions and working at incredible speeds, AI can look into the future and make informed predictions. But AI also gets so much wrong. Because humans design the algorithms that form AI, there are imperfect flaws embedded within them that reflect the imperfection of humans. Mo Gawdat, drawing on his unparalleled expertise in the field, outlines how and why we must alter the terrifying trajectory of AI development and teach ourselves and our machines to live better. 

Mo Gawdat is my life guru. His writing, his ideas and his generosity in sharing them has changed my life for the better in so many ways. Everything he writes is an enlightening education in how to be human.
Elizabeth Day


by Michael Bond

Book cover for Fans

Do you know your Stans from your ARMY? Or your groupies from your superfans? In Fans, Michael Bond examines the history of fandoms through the lens of social identity theory, explaining and exploring why we are drawn to connect with those who share our passions. Equal parts entertaining and analytical, Bond looks at how fandoms form, how they can be both harmonious and harmful, and what they tell us about us as humans. 

Into The Night

by Matt Lloyd-Rose

Book cover for Into The Night

Every Friday night, Matt Lloyd-Rose finished work and put on his volunteer police uniform for a night patrolling the streets of Brixton in South London. His aim: to understand the challenges facing the children and young people in the community that he lived and taught and learn how he could support them better. Through the stories of those he meets, he examines how communities are built and lost and what would happen in policing was more about caring than crime and punishment. An unflinching portrayal of an area in the throes of gentrification and a police force under scrutiny to be better, in Into The Night Lloyd-Rose gets under the skin of modern London and asks: how can we support those who need it the most? 

The Rise and Reign of the Mammals

by Steve Brusatte

Book cover for The Rise and Reign of the Mammals

In The Rise and Reign of the Mammals, palaeontologist Steve Brusatte weaves together the history and evolution of our mammal forebears with stories of the scientists whose fieldwork and discoveries underlie our knowledge, both of iconic mammals like the mammoths and sabre-toothed tigers of which we have all heard, and of fascinating species that few of us are aware of. For what we see today is but a very limited range of the mammals that have existed; in this fascinating and ground-breaking book, Steve Brusatte tells their – and our – story.

The Ship Beneath the Ice

by Mensun Bound

Book cover for The Ship Beneath the Ice

On 21 November 1915, Sir Ernest Shackleton’s ship, Endurance, sank beneath the ice of the most hostile sea on Earth. While the miraculous survival of all those on board has entered legend, the iconic ship that bore them to the brink of the Antarctic was considered forever lost . . . until March 2022. Including countless fascinating stories of Shackleton and his ship, photographs from Shackleton's original voyage and from the legendary recovery expedition itself; in The Ship beneath the Ice, the Director of Exploration tells the story of the monumental discovery in his own words.

The Reluctant Carer

by The Reluctant Carer

Book cover for The Reluctant Carer

The phone rings. Your elderly father has been taken to hospital, and your even older mother is home with nobody to look after her. What do you do? Drop everything and go and help of course. But it's not that straightforward, and your own life starts to fall apart as quickly as their health. This funny, deeply honest and moving book is a love letter to family, to all carers, and to anyone who has packed a bag to help out for a few days and found they are back to stay. 

The Book of Minds

by Philip Ball

Book cover for The Book of Minds

Philosophers have spent centuries trying to understand the workings of the human mind. But, asks award-winning science writer Philip Ball, what about the non-human mind? His contention is that we need to move on from considering the human mind as the standard to judge all others. And that the more we understand about the minds of other creatures, from octopuses to chimpanzees – as well as the potential minds of computers and aliens – the more we begin to see and comprehend our own.

Kurashi at Home

by Marie Kondo

Book cover for Kurashi at Home

Create an oasis of calm and find what sparks your joy with the first full-colour, beautifully photographed guide from Marie Kondo. Over a decade on from the launch of her bestselling book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Marie Kondo is back with new wisdom on how to transform your life and home into spaces of calm. This guide introduces the concept of kurashi – meaning way of life – and encourages readers to spend every day in the pursuit of joy, moving her focus from the physical act of tidying towards an even more holistic and personal approach to curating our environments.

The Colour of Madness

by Samara Linton

Book cover for The Colour of Madness

Statistics show that people from Black and minority ethnic backgrounds in the UK have not only experienced inadequate mental health treatment in comparison to their white counterparts, but are also more likely to be detained under the Mental Health Act. People of colour are consistently fighting to be heard, believed, and offered help beyond the need for ticking off diversity boxes. A compelling collection of memoir, essays, poetry, short fiction and artwork, this book will bring solace to those who have shared similar experiences, and provide a powerful insight into the everyday impact of racism for those looking to further understand and combat this injustice.

In Defence of Witches

by Mona Chollet

Book cover for In Defence of Witches

Who is a witch? In Defence of Witches recasts the term 'witch' into a powerful role model to women today, as an emblem of power free to exist beyond the narrow limits society imposes on women. Witches are everywhere, whether they are casting spells on Donald Trump or posting photos of their crystal-adorned altar on Instagram. Historically accused of witchcraft, often meeting violent ends, many types of women have been censored, eliminated, repressed, over the centuries. Mona Chollet shows that by considering the lives of those who dared to live differently, we can learn more about the richness of roles available. 

Empire of Pain

by Patrick Radden Keefe

Book cover for Empire of Pain

Empire of Pain is the story of three generations of the Sackler family, and their role in the stories of Valium and Oxycontin. As one of the richest families in the world, the Sacklers are known for their lavish donations in the arts and the sciences. The source of the family fortune was vague, however, until it emerged that they were responsible for making and marketing Oxycontin, a blockbuster painkiller that was a catalyst for the opioid crisis – an international epidemic of drug addiction which has killed nearly half a million people. This masterpiece of narrative reporting is the secret history of the Sackler dynasty.

You feel almost guilty for enjoying it so much.
The Times

The Sleeping Beauties

by Suzanne O'Sullivan

Book cover for The Sleeping Beauties

In Sweden, refugee children fall asleep for months and years at a time. In upstate New York, high school students develop contagious seizures. In the US Embassy in Cuba, employees complain of headaches and memory loss after hearing strange noises in the night. These disparate cases are some of the most remarkable diagnostic mysteries of the twenty-first century, as both doctors and scientists have struggled to explain them and – more crucially – to treat them. Neurologist Suzanne O’Sullivan travels the world to visit other communities who have also been subject to outbreaks of so-called ‘mystery’ illnesses.

Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man

by Emmanuel Acho

Book cover for Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man

This timely non-fiction book on race and racism from the host of the viral video series Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man is an essential guide to systemic racism and how to address it. Emmanuel  Acho takes on all the questions, large and small, insensitive and taboo, many white people are afraid to ask – yet which everyone needs the answers to, now more than ever.

Bad Blood

by John Carreyrou

Book cover for Bad Blood

How far can you get with no expertise, technology that doesn’t work, and an extraordinary sales pitch? Disturbingly far. Bad Blood is the story of one of the biggest corporate fraud cases of the 21st century. Journalist John Carreyrou explores the rise and shocking fall of tech start-up Theranos, which was valued at $9 billion based on its innovative medical technology before it was all revealed to be a lie. This is the riveting story of the biggest corporate fraud since Enron, and a tale of ambition and hubris set amid the bold promises of Silicon Valley.

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Queer Intentions

by Amelia Abraham

Book cover for Queer Intentions

What is it like to be queer in the 21st century? With gay marriage legal in many countries across the west, and brands embracing pride celebrations, some might think it’s an easy life. Amelia Abrahams’s book delves into the experiences of those across the LGBTQ+ spectrum, beyond these positive but limited changes, and reveals the battles for progress queer communities continue to fight.

The best self-help books

Closer to Love

by Vex King

Book cover for Closer to Love

Vex King is back with Closer to Love, a practical guide to creating lasting connections. After finding peace and joy in his own romantic relationship, he is now sharing his wisdom to guide readers on their own journeys. He considers the complexities of modern relationships and how to navigate these in an ever-changing world, helps us to overcome fears, expectations and insecurities, and clarifies our sense of selves, ultimately helping us to get closer to love. From the bestselling author of Good Vibes, Good Life and Healing is the New High, Closer to Love is an unmissable read from one of the nation's favourite self-help gurus.  

I have always believed in the idea that people inspire people. I know what's what inspired me... and Vex really is the ultimate example of that.
Deliciously Ella

Ten Times Calmer

by Kirren Schnack

Book cover for Ten Times Calmer

Whether you’re finding the pressures of life too much to handle or wish you could quell the anxiety that sometimes rears its head, Dr Kirren Schnack has the tools to help you. In Ten Times Calmer, Oxford-trained NHS clinical psychologist Schnack offers research-based tools for identifying and changing your relationship with anxiety. With exercises to help combat anxious thoughts and clinically proven ways to make every day calmer, this book can help you transform your mindset and life. 

To My Sisters

by Courtney Daniella Boateng

Book cover for To My Sisters

From the hosts of the hit podcast, To My Sisters, comes this essential guide to sisterhood. Old friends Renee Kapuku and Courtney Daniella Boateng are united in one mission – reinvigorate and redefine sisterhood to inspire a global community of women to uplift each other and reclaim their power. They argue that unconditional love is too often limited to parents or spouses, when actually embracing the power of friendship and community in an authentic way is just as powerful. Packed with practical advice, reflective activities and wise words, To My Sisters will teach you how to find, build and nourish lifelong friendships. 

How to Calm Your Mind

by Chris Bailey

Book cover for How to Calm Your Mind

Productivity expert Chris Bailey offers a toolkit of accessible, science-based strategies to pursue calmness, and ultimately live a less anxious and more engaged life in How to Calm Your Mind. Covering topics including our desire for dopamine, 'busyness' and the digital world, Chris Bailey encourages us to develop our capacity for calm. In doing so, he believes we can build a deeper, more expansive reservoir of energy to draw from throughout the day and invest in the missing piece that leads our efforts to become sustainable over time, ultimately making room to do good work and live a happy life. 


by Marisa G. Franco, PhD

Book cover for Platonic

When was the last time you put yourself out there to make a new friend? For many of us, the answer is too long ago. In Platonic, Dr Marisa G. Franco explains how the undervaluing of friendship in our culture has led to an epidemic of isolation, and what we can do about it. Platonic teaches us to identify and understand our individual attachment styles and why exploring how we behave in relationships is the key to unlocking what we’re doing right (and what we could do better) in our friendships. This book is the ultimate guide to learning how we make and keep friends for life.

That Little Voice In Your Head

by Mo Gawdat

Book cover for That Little Voice In Your Head

Mo Gawdat's That Little Voice in Your Head is a practical guide to rewiring your brain for joy. He reveals that by talking down the negative voice within, we can change the way we think, turn greed into kindness, transform apathy into compassionate action and create our own happiness. Gawdat's brain exercises draw on his experience as a former Google engineer and Chief Business Officer, as well as from his neuroscience studies. And he explains how – despite their complexity – our brains generally behave in predictable ways. Drawing inspiration from the life of his late son, Gawdat has written a manual for happiness that is steeped in empathy.

Cracking the Menopause

by Mariella Frostrup

Book cover for Cracking the Menopause

Deploying straight-talking but humorous prose, broadcaster Mariella Frostrup and health journalist Alice Smellie aim to get us talking about the menopause. With the latest science, expert advice and personal stories, this book is crammed with information for something that half the population will experience, but which hardly anyone wants to discuss. Featuring case studies from women in every walk of life and all stages of their menopause journey, you'll find wise words and enlightenment throughout. This essential book separates the myths from the reality and offers expertise, hope and advice.

The Kindness Method

by Shahroo Izadi

Book cover for The Kindness Method

In these difficult times, we could all benefit from showing ourselves a little kindness. If you want to use this time to make a change, Behavioural Change Specialist Shahroo Izadi believes there’s only one way to make change last, and that’s to be kind to yourself. The Kindness Method was developed through a combination of professional training and personal experience and will leave you feeling empowered, positive and ready to make a change, whether it’s weight loss, cutting down on alcohol or improving your relationships.

The Greatest Self-Help Book (is the one written by you)

by Vex King

Book cover for The Greatest Self-Help Book (is the one written by you)

From Sunday Times bestselling author of Good Vibes, Good Life and Healing is the New High, Vex King and social media star Kaushal, this is a journal like no other. Filled with exercises, activities and visual prompts, it will help you to understand and regulate your emotions, maintain habits that work for you, shift negative mindsets and cultivate positive thought patterns, build self-awareness and carve out time to practise self-love and gratitude. Think of this as your companion to help you build a healthier relationship with yourself and others; The Greatest Self-Help Book is the one written by you.

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The best non-fiction books about science & technology


by Laurent Richard

Book cover for Pegasus

Pegasus is the most powerful piece of spyware ever developed, installed on a phone by as little as a missed Whatsapp call. Once on your phone it can record your calls, copy your messages, steal your photos and secretly film you, and those controlling it are able to track your daily movements. Award-winning journalists Laurent Richard and Sandrine Riguard have been investigating this for more than twenty years. Pegasus outlines this journey and explores how people's lives and privacy are being threatened by cyber-surveillance.  

How Big Things Get Done

by Bent Flyvbjerg

Book cover for How Big Things Get Done

Understanding what distinguishes the triumphs from the failures has been the life’s work of Oxford professor Bent Flyvbjerg. In How Big Things Get Done, along with bestselling author Dan Gardner, he reveals the errors that leads projects to fail, and the principles that make them succeed. Think of how Apple’s iPod went from a project with a single employee to an enormously successful product launch in eleven months. But such successes are the exception. Exploring case studies across a broad spectrum of technologies and businesses, discover why this is an exception, and how to be one of these exceptions. 

A Brief History of Black Holes

by Dr Becky Smethurst

Book cover for A Brief History of Black Holes

Right now, you are orbiting a black hole. The Earth goes around the Sun, and the Sun goes around the centre of the Milky Way: a supermassive black hole – the strangest and most misunderstood phenomenon in the galaxy. In A Brief History of Black Holes University of Oxford astrophysicist, Dr Becky Smethurst shares why black holes aren’t really ‘black’, that you never ever want to be ‘spaghettified’, and why beyond the event horizon, the future is a direction in space rather than in time. Full of wit and learning, this captivating book explains why black holes contain the secrets to the most profound questions about our universe.

How to Make an Apple Pie from Scratch

by Harry Cliff

Book cover for How to Make an Apple Pie from Scratch

‘If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.’ - Carl Sagan

Inspired by Sagan’s famous line, Harry Cliff ventures out in search of the ultimate apple pie recipe, tracing the ingredients of our universe through the hearts of dying stars and back in time to a tiny fraction of a second after our universe began. If you've ever wondered what matter is really made of, or how our world began after the Big Bang, or what the very first moments of our universe looked like – then this is the book for you.

The best biographies, autobiographies and memoirs

I Heard What You Said

by Jeffrey Boakye

Book cover for I Heard What You Said

Jeffrey Boakye’s experience as a black student shaped the teacher he became. In I Heard What You Said, his unflinching memoir, Boakye examines his experience as a black teacher in today’s education system. From outrageous questions about his background to his ability to navigate spaces that are white by default and teaching problematic texts in English, Boayke reflects with wit and passion on why he chooses to teach in a system designed to fail millions of children each year. 

A Girlhood

by Carolyn Hays

Book cover for A Girlhood

This thought-provoking and moving memoir is an ode to Carolyn Hays's transgender daughter – a love letter to a child who has always known herself. After a caseworker from the Department of Children and Families knocked on the door to investigate a complaint about the upbringing of their transgender child, the Hays family moved away from their Republican state. In A Girlhood, Carolyn Hays tells of the brutal truths of being trans, of the sacrificial nature of motherhood and of the lengths a family will go to shield their youngest from the cruel realities of the world. Hays asks us all to love better, for children everywhere enduring injustice and prejudice just as they begin to understand themselves.

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Queen of Our Times

by Robert Hardman

Book cover for Queen of Our Times

This is the definitive biography of Queen Elizabeth II by one of Britain’s leading royal authorities. With original insights from those who knew her best, interviews with world leaders and access to unseen papers, bestselling author Robert Hardman explores the full, astonishing life of our longest reigning monarch in this compellingly authoritative yet intimate biography.

The Archeology of Loss

by Sarah Tarlow

Book cover for The Archeology of Loss

For six years, Sarah Tarlow’s husband Mark grappled with the fact that his body and life was being slowly stolen from him by a debilitating but unexplained illness. One day, knowing that his family were out of the house, he decided to end his life. For Sarah, an archaeologist who had devoted her career to studying death, nothing could have prepared her for life without Mark. In The Archeology of Loss, Sarah examines grief and her experience of death with heart and intelligence. Vulnerable and intimate, this big-hearted book will take you on a journey through the reality of living with grief.


by Patrick Radden Keefe

Book cover for Rogues

From forgers to money launderers to arms merchants and those on death row, this is a book about behaving badly. Award-winning and hypnotically brilliant New Yorker writer Patrick Radden Keefe takes readers on a gripping but also humane trip into the psyches of those who society would rather forget. With global reach and meticulous research, this is a bravura piece of journalism. 

Making It

by Jay Blades

Book cover for Making It

Making It is an inspirational memoir about beating the odds and turning things around even when it all seems hopeless. In this book, Jay Blades reflects on strength, weakness and what it means to be a man. He shares the details of his life, from his childhood growing up sheltered and innocent on a council estate in Hackney, to his adolescence when he was introduced to violent racism at secondary school, to being brutalized by police as a teen, to finally becoming a beloved star of the hit primetime show The Repair Shop. With Jay's positivity, pragmatism and kindness shining through every page, he shows that with care and love, anything can be mended.

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Brown Baby

by Nikesh Shukla

Book cover for Brown Baby

This heart wrenching but hilarious memoir is dedicated to Nikesh’s two daughters, and explores themes of racism, feminism and parenting as Nikesh struggles to prepare his children for a world that is racist, sexist and facing climate crisis. Faced with all this, it can be hard to find hope, and even joy, in the world but through love, grief, food and fatherhood Nikesh shows it is possible. 


by Yusra Mardini

Book cover for Butterfly

After fleeing her native Syria to the Turkish coast in 2015, Yusra Mardini boarded a small dinghy full of refugees headed for Greece. On the journey, the boat's engine cut out. It started to sink. Seventeen-year-old Yusra, her sister, and two others took to the water to push the overcrowded boat for three and a half hours in open water. Eventually, they managed to land on Lesbos, with Yusra and the others having saved the lives of those on board. Butterfly is Yusra Mardini's journey from war-torn Damascus to Berlin and from there to the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games. Discover Yusra and her incredible story of resilience and unstoppable spirit.

This Is Going to Hurt

by Adam Kay

Book cover for This Is Going to Hurt

This is Going To Hurt began life as a comedy show inspired by the junior doctors’ strike and is Adam Kay’s no-holds-barred account of his life as a junior doctor. Written in secret  between gruelling hospital shifts, the book is by turns shocking, sad and laugh-out-loud funny, while telling you everything you ever need to know - and more - about life on a hospital ward. Highlighting the long hours, poor pay and staffing problems caused by underfunding, this is a must-read for anyone who values the NHS.

Brown Girl Like Me

by Jaspreet Kaur

Book cover for Brown Girl Like Me

Equal parts memoir and manifesto, Jaspreet Kaur equips women with the confidence and skillset they need to navigate the difficulties that come with an intersectional identity. Interviews with brilliant South Asian Women of all walks of life as well as academic insight show what life is really like for brown women in the diaspora. Pulling no punches, and tackling topics from mental health and menstruation stigma to education and beauty standards, Brown Girl Like Me will educate, inspire and spark urgent conversations for change; essential reading for South Asian women and people with an interest in feminism and cultural issues.

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by Poorna Bell

Book cover for Stronger

Poorna Bell’s journey to get strong began when – following the death of her husband, Rob – she realized that she had been relying on the men in her life to take out the bins, carry the luggage and move furniture. Poorna is now a competitive amateur power-lifter and the strongest she has ever been. This inspiring non-fiction book is part memoir and part manifesto, starting a conversation about women’s mental and physical strength and fitness which has nothing to do with weight loss. 

Hope Not Fear

by Hassan Akkad

Book cover for Hope Not Fear

Despite having experienced the unimaginable, BAFTA award-winner Hassan Akkad holds onto hope and demonstrates the kindness humanity is capable of every day. Hope Not Fear details both Hassan's life in Syria before the war and his perilous journey to the UK as an asylum-seeker, followed by his experiences from the Covid-19 frontline as an NHS cleaner at a London hospital. His account of the pandemic has even driven a government U-turn on the exclusion of the families of NHS cleaners and porters from its bereavement compensation scheme. Hassan's story of triumph over adversity by standing together, united in kindness and love, is the most important message of our time. 

The most inspirational non-fiction books


by Jo Cheetham

Book cover for Killjoy

In this story of everyday people doing extraordinary things, Jo Cheetham writes of her time protesting up and down the country as part of the No More Page 3 campaign. When studying and working as a nanny in London, Jo saw news of an upcoming protest against the Page 3 pictorial in The Sun. Soon, she was embroiled in a movement determined to expose and take down this exploitative industry. In doing so she made an unlikely group of friends that would become her closest confidents and allies. Both hilarious and moving, Killyjoy shows us the power of a grassroots campaign and of shouting a little bit louder. 

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Finding Hildasay

by Christian Lewis

Book cover for Finding Hildasay

After hitting rock bottom having suffered with depression for years, Christian Lewis made an impulsive decision to walk the entire coastline of the UK. Just a few days later he set off with a tent, walking boots and a tenner in his pocket. Finding Hildasay tells us some of this incredible story, including the brutal three months Christian Lewis spent on the uninhabited island of Hildasay in Scotland with no fresh water or food. It was there, where his route was most barren, that he discovered pride and respect for himself. This is not just a story of a remarkable journey, but one of depression, survival and the meaning of home. 

The word ‘inspiration’ is often overused; Chris really is an inspiration. I urge you to read his tale.
Sir Andrew Gregory, CEO of SSAFA

No Friend but the Mountains

by Behrouz Boochani

Book cover for No Friend but the Mountains

When Behrouz came to Australia seeking asylum he was wrongly incarcerated and found himself entirely stateless and alone. He wrote this book by sending one text at a time in Farsi from his cell in the detention centre, knowing that his story was also the story of so many others that had gone unheard. Compiled and translated from Farsi, they form an incredible story of how escaping political persecution in Iran, he ended up trapped as a stateless person. This vivid, gripping portrait of his years of incarceration and exile shines devastating light on the fates of so many people, as borders close around the world.

The Happiest Man on Earth

by Eddie Jaku

Book cover for The Happiest Man on Earth

This heartbreaking yet hopeful memoir shows us how happiness can be found even in the darkest of times. In November 1938, Eddie Jaku was beaten, arrested and taken to a German concentration camp. He endured unimaginable horrors for the next seven years and lost family, friends and his country.  But he survived. And because he survived, he vowed to smile every day. He now believes he is the ‘happiest man on earth’. This is his story. 

Your Story Matters

by Nikesh Shukla

Book cover for Your Story Matters

Nikesh Shukla knows from first-hand experience that each voice has the power to make a difference in the world. As an author, writing mentor and bestselling editor of essay collection The Good Immigrant, Shukla aims to hone readers' skills and writing practices. This is a practical guide – complete with exercises and prompts – enabling you to figure out which story you want to tell, how you want to tell it and how to employ your authentic voice to do so. 

Non-fiction books about the environment and the natural world


by Jared Farmer

Book cover for Elderflora

Historian Jared Farmer tells the story of the planet's oldest trees and what they have meant to human beings in Elderflora. In the eighteenth century, naturalists embarked on a quest to locate and the oldest living things on earth. And so the science of tree time was born. Spanning Lebanon to New Zealand and California, Farmer takes us through this science and surveys the complex history of the world's oldest trees. Combining rigorous scholarship with lyrical writing, he shows how amidst a changing climate we need old trees now more than ever. 

Celebrating the Seasons with the Yorkshire Shepherdess

by Amanda Owen

Book cover for Celebrating the Seasons with the Yorkshire Shepherdess

From the rural heart of Swaledale, Yorkshire shepherdess Amanda Owen shares stories of life with a large family and a large herd of sheep, as the year turns from lambing to haymaking to midwinter feeds in the snow. From leaping hares to rare moorland flowers, her beautiful photos help bring the text to life, as do the interspersed recipes for the seasonal meals she feeds her family. Yorkshire curd tart anyone?

A World on the Wing

by Charles Scott Weidensaul

Book cover for A World on the Wing

This is the rousing story of the billions of birds that, despite the numerous obstacles we have placed in their path, continue to head to the far horizon. The past two decades have seen an explosion in our understanding of the feats of endurance and complexity involved in bird migration. A World on the Wing sees Pulitzer Prize-shortlisted writer and ornithologist Scott Weidensaul track some of the most remarkable flights undertaken by birds around the world.

A Bigger Picture

by Vanessa Nakate

Book cover for A Bigger Picture

Despite contributing the least to climate change and suffering from it the most, people of colour and from the Global South are often omitted from conversations surrounding the topic. In A Bigger Picture, Vanessa Nakate shows the dramatic consequences for the climate if this gap is not addressed. Uganda's first climate striker at just twenty-one-years old, Vanessa is an exceptional voice and here she reveals the links between climate crisis and anti-racism, feminism, education, economics and even extremist radicalisation. Vanessa's relentless courage shows readers that no matter your background, you can be a meaningful climate activist. 

Green Living Made Easy

by Nancy Birtwhistle

Book cover for Green Living Made Easy

Many of us would like to switch to greener ways of living, but it can be hard to know where to start. Great British Bake Off winner Nancy Birtwhistle makes the process easy with 101 super-helpful tips and hacks about upcycling, gardening in a tiny space, creative crafting, eco cleaning (including the recipe for her Pure Magic cleaning spray) and much more. This clear, clever and beautifully illustrated book will launch you on the sustainable lifestyle you've been aspiring to.

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The best history & politics books

Time Come

by Linton Kwesi Johnson

Book cover for Time Come

A poet, cultural activist and outspoken social critic, Linton Kwesi Johnson is one of the most influential voices in modern Britain. In Time Come, Johnson selects some of his most powerful writing from his decades-long career. In this curation of his reviews for writing and music, lectures, speeches and obituaries, he draws on his Jamaican heritage and Caribbean history to examine the Black British experience, explore the changing politics of race, and reflect on his contribution to the struggle for racial equality and social justice in Britain. 

Warrior Queens & Quiet Revolutionaries

by Kate Mosse

Book cover for Warrior Queens & Quiet Revolutionaries

Warrior Queens & Quiet Revolutionaries is a celebration of unheard and under-heard women’s history. Within these pages you’ll meet nearly 1000 women whose names deserve to be better known: from the Mothers of Invention and the trailblazing women at the Bar; warrior queens and pirate commanders; the women who dedicated their lives to the natural world or to medicine; those women of courage who resisted and fought for what they believed; to the unsung heroes of stage, screen and stadium. Joyous, celebratory and engaging, Kate Mosse's book is for everyone who has ever wondered how history is made.

Black Voices on Britain

by Hakim Adi

Book cover for Black Voices on Britain

In this compelling anthology, Professor Hakim Adi collates published works by Black voices who lived, worked, campaigned and travelled in Britain from the eighteenth to the early twentieth century. Hailing from England, America, Africa and the Caribbean, these authors each describe powerful experiences and offer a fascinating and thought-provoking portrayal of Black experiences in Britain.

Tutankhamun's Trumpet

by Toby Wilkinson

Book cover for Tutankhamun's Trumpet

This year marks 100 years since Howard Carter first peered into the newly opened tomb of ancient Egyptian boy-king, Tutankhamun. When asked if he could see anything, he replied: ‘Yes, yes, wonderful things.' In Tutankhamun’s Trumpet, acclaimed Egyptologist Toby Wilkinson takes the objects buried with the king as the source material for a wide-ranging, detailed portrait of ancient Egypt – its geography, history, culture and legacy. One hundred artefacts from the tomb, arranged in ten thematic groups, are allowed to speak again – not only for themselves, but as witnesses of the civilization that created them.

A House Through Time

by David Olusoga

Book cover for A House Through Time

Historian and award-winning TV presenter David Olusoga and research consultant Melanie Backe-Hansen offer readers the tools to explore the histories of their own homes, as well as giving a vivid history of British cities, industry, disease and class. Packed with remarkable human stories, A House Through Time is an intimate history of ordinary lives through extraordinary buildings across Britain.

A (Very) Short History of Life On Earth

by Henry Gee

Book cover for A (Very) Short History of Life On Earth

This lyrical and moving account takes us back to the early history of the earth, a wildly inhospitable place with swirling seas, constant volcanic eruptions and an unstable atmosphere. The triumph of life as it emerges, survives and evolves in this hostile setting is Henry Gee's riveting subject: he traces the story of life on earth from its turbulent beginnings to the emergence of early hominids and the miracle of the first creatures to fly. You'll never look at our planet in the same way again.

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The Fall of Boris Johnson

by Sebastian Payne

Book cover for The Fall of Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson was touted as the saviour of the country and the Conservative Party, obtaining a huge commons majority and finally getting Brexit done. But within three short years, he was deposed in disgrace, leaving the country in crisis. Sebastian Payne, Whitehall Editor for the Financial Times, tells the essential behind-the-scenes story, charting the betrayals, rivalries and resignations that resulted in the dramatic Conservative coup and set in motion events that saw the party sink to catastrophic new lows.

A genuinely page turning, gripping account of some of the most extraordinary days in modern British history.
Andrew Marr

Broken Heartlands

by Sebastian Payne

Book cover for Broken Heartlands

Labour could once rely on the red wall – the vote in the Midlands and the North of England – but in 2019 the region swung to the Conservatives, and Labour's grip was broken. Through interviews with local people and with major figures such as Keir Starmer and Boris Johnson, Payne gets to the core of this key political upheaval by exploring the reasons for this dramatic change in the political landscape of the United Kingdom, from Brexit to the changing nature of work.

The best sports books

The Inner Game of Tennis

by W Timothy Gallwey

Book cover for The Inner Game of Tennis

Recently named by Bill Gates as one of his 'all-time favourite books', and described by Billie Jean King as her 'tennis bible', this bestseller has been a must-read for tennis players of all abilities for nearly fifty years. Rather than concentrating on how to improve technique, Gallwey deals with the 'inner game' within ourselves as we try to overcome doubt and maintain clarity of mind when playing. 'It’s the best book on tennis that I have ever read,' says Gates, 'and its profound advice applies to many other parts of life.'

Groundbreaking . . . It’s the best book on tennis that I have ever read, and its profound advice applies to many other parts of life. I still give it to friends today.
Bill Gates

Belonging: The Autobiography

by Alun Wyn Jones

Book cover for Belonging: The Autobiography

Belonging is the story of how Alun Wyn Jones left Mumbles as a talented young sportsman, and became the most capped rugby player ever. His rugby journey started with him mesmerised in the school hall watching the 1997 Lions Tour of South Africa, and culminated when he was named 2021 Lions Captain. Central to Wyn Jones' story is the concept of perthyn, or belonging – to his country, and to the clubs and regional teams he worked his way up through. Bracingly honest, this is a tale of what it means to play for your nation, and what it means to belong.

Too Many Reasons to Live

by Rob Burrow

Book cover for Too Many Reasons to Live

The inspirational memoir from rugby league legend Rob Burrow on his extraordinary career and his battle with motor neurone disease. This is the story of a tiny kid who adored rugby league but never should have made it  and ended up in the Leeds hall of fame. It's the story of a man who resolved to turn a terrible predicament into something positive  when he could have thrown the towel in. It's about the power of love, between Rob and his childhood sweetheart Lindsey; and of friendship, between Rob and his faithful team mates. Far more than a sports memoir, Too Many Reasons to Live is a story of boundless courage and infinite kindness.

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In this episode of Book Break, Emma takes a look at some of the weird and wonderful non-fiction books you may not have heard of: