Now, on to the purpose of this Blog. I've previously posted various Top Ten Lists; All-time Favourite novels, various genres of movies. But I've never done a list of my favourite non-fiction novels. So that's my aim today. Non-fiction is a genre that I've always read, but probably not to the scale of my fiction addiction. The list will probably contain a more current (e.g. last ten years) listing of books for the most part. Partly that's because my memory of what I read as a child isn't quite so good anymore and partly because in the past ten years I've started reading more non-fiction, very much to my pleasure I must add. So rather than continuing to ramble on, here are my current Top Ten favourite Non-fiction novels.
10. A History of Modern Britain by Andrew Marr
Marr explores all aspects of British life; politics, music, culture, etc to provide a wide perspective of events, people and activities that shaped modern Britain.
I am somewhat of an Anglophile and this may come out somewhat in my Top Ten selections, but I found this a most accessible, interesting novel. The personalities covered, the events highlighted and the life of Britons over the periods covered were all fascinating. Britain went through monumental changes over this period, the little island that both experienced and impacted the world as we know it. Highly recommended story. I'm sure you'll enjoy it.
9. Lives of Mothers and Daughters by Sheila Munro
8. Troublesome Young Men by Lynne Olson
They were a brave group who went against their party to oust Neville Chamberlain and to bring Churchill into power. Olson provides an interesting perspective, introducing these rebels, men such as Harold Macmillan, Robert Boothby, Leo Amery and Ronald Cartland and the risk they took to changed the political landscape. There were many who supported Chamberlain's efforts at appeasement with Hitler. Churchill was a reluctant candidate who was very loyal to his party, even if he disagreed with their plan of action. A fascinating story featuring daring, interesting people during one of the World's major crises.
7. Pointless by Jeff Connor
6. At Home: A Short History of Private Life by Bill Bryson
The setting of this book is Bill Bryson's home in Norfolk. He uses the various rooms of the home, a Victorian parsonage, loosely to tell stories, I guess is the best way to describe it. When he describes the bedroom, the discussion moves on to subjects as varied as sex, sleep and death. The kitchen evolves into a discussion of spices and nutrition. It's a historical novel, we are introduced to some of the most interesting people, mainly British, but not strictly, people who impacted various aspects of our lives in some small or big way. Bryson's way of telling a story draws you in; it is light-hearted, keeps your interest but when you've finished, you find you've learnt so much about our history and culture, our ways of life and met some amazing people. I will be reading more of his stories.
5. The Quantum Ten by Sheila Jones
Sheila Jones is a Canadian journalist with an advanced degree in theoretical physics. And for some reason, she makes this story fascinating, interesting and one of my favourites. The characters include such stalwarts of science as Albert Einstein, Max Born, Neils Bohr, Werner Heisenberg and so many others. If the names don't ring a bell, watch The Big Bang Theory. :0).
This story is the history of Quantum Physics, string theory, the people who developed and created the fascinating ideas, and their lives which make for interesting reading in itself. Whether you like Physics or not, this book is well worth the read.
4. The Meaning of Everything by Simon Winchester
Winchester is able to cover these disparate subjects and tell an interesting story that has such scope. The making of the OED seems a simple subject, but as you read, the work and years involved in gathering the data to make this first volume was detailed and so very fascinating. The dedication of the creators, the people from around the world who sent the publishers words and meanings. The madman who was in an insane asylum down the road from Oxford and turned out to be one of the biggest contributors to the final product. You won't be able to put either of these books down once you start. A pure joy to read!
3. Chocolate Wars by Deborah Cadbury
Deborah Cadbury is from the Cadbury family, although from the US side, not the chocolate makers. She tells a story of the development of the chocolate industry, introduces the Cadburys, and also the other great chocolatiers, the Frys, Nestle, Rowntree, Hershey and others. How these people went from actually finding a use for the cocoa bean to making it into a world - wide chocolate making industry is fascinating reading. The personalities involved, this was largely a Quaker-run industry in Britain, how they wanted not only to make chocolate, but also to make the world a much better place is so very interesting. Times have changed so much since large mega companies like Kraft have taken over so many of the original family run businesses, but their legacy does still remain. Think of this book and this history every time you bite into a lovely Mars bar. :0)
2. Paris 1919 by Margaret MacMillan
This is a fascinating story, another tale of historical import with characters who influenced the world as we know it today. The Paris conference was a gathering of World leaders; Woodrow Wilson, Lloyd George, Clemenceau, etc who sat down together to decide how to end WWI, how to set down the foundations of a New World from the destruction caused by WWI. Each had his own agenda, they were influenced by their allies, but with the best will in the world, they ultimately came up with the solution, the best that they could. The results of this conference are still felt today; in the Middle East, Africa, the Far East. Countries that participated were often for the first time making their voices known on the World stage, countries such as Canada, Australia, South Africa. MacMillan breaks the conference down by personalities, regions of the world and clearly analyses and discusses the impacts on the decisions on these regions. It's a fascinating, interesting book, presented in such a manner that you will be drawn in to the time, the people, the world.
1. The Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman
This story deals with the first few months before the commencement of WWI and the first month of the war, the German invasion of Luxembourg, Belgium and France, how close they came to winning this war and how the beleaguered British and French were ultimately able to stop the advance.
Once again, this is a fascinating subject, well-written and provides you with an interesting historical perspective of the events that impacted the world at that time.
Well, there you have it, my top ten favourite non-fiction novels. I've got a few on my TBR shelves to read that may challenge this; some Bill Brysons, The Fry Chronicles by Stephen Fry, The Life of Charlotte Bronte by Elizabeth Gaskell, The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell, The King's Speech, Rin Tin Tin, the Life and Legend and others.. I'm looking forward to getting into them and maybe discussing further..
Remember, Keep on reading!