The Non-Fiction Books You Should Read this Year

Every year, I make fresh bookish resolutions. Usually they’re things like, read 52 books in a year, read outside my genre, or hit the jackpot on a site like so I can buy an entire personal library. But, sometimes, I’ll aim to read one something or other a month. This year, I’d like to read a little more non-fiction, inspired by the sunbeamsjess’ Book Club, where we’ve read voraciously across genres as a big bookish team.

With that in mind, I thought I’d share some of my favourite non-fiction reads that you should try this year. These are books that will inspire, motivate and enlighten you for a more thoughtful and impactful life.

Love Looks Pretty on You by Lang Leav

I’m not a huge poetry buff, but this prose and poetry collection by Lang Leav was a truly magical read for this romantic. I borrowed a copy of Love Looks Pretty on You from a friend, but should really pick my own copy up after my 2024 book-buying ban ends. Lang Leav has a deeply moving and personal way with words and I know Daisybutter readers will love this one.

The Secret Network of Nature: The Delicate Balance of All Living Things by Peter Wohlleben

I’ve already waxed lyrical about The Secret Network of Nature and Wohlleben’s other work but, for my fellow nature enthusiasts, you must read this. It’s an engaging and fascinating dive into the connected network of nature and how all living things – flora and fauna – rely on one another. In fact, I’m itching for a reread now!

Wild Swans by Jung Chang

A global phenomenon, this memoir traces back three generations of Chang women in Maoist China. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this and found it both valuable and entertaining – although that seems like a strange word in this context! Jung Chang has a lovely lyrical way with words throughout this book. It makes for a smooth reading experience and, as a reader, you feel drawn into almost every scenario. Chang’s grandmother and mother went through some undoubtedly harrowing experiences and it is a credit to Jung that their stories could be so graciously shared and in such minute detail. It is these details that piece the story together in such a perfect way. The scope and execution of Wild Swans is just incredible. It’s hard to put into words: I feel enriched for having read about Chang’s family, and learning about Communist China under Mao in this medium. It’s persistent and unflinching. One I’ll savour forever, and certainly dip back into again.

The Lost Rainforests of Britain by Guy Shrubsole

Temperate rainforest covered up to a fifth of Britain, once upon a time, and was host to myriad dazzling lifeforms. Although only a fragment of that now remains (search it up, if you dare), they are still a monumentally important habitat, carbon sink and magic to observe. Guy Shrubsole writes all about the importance of our temperate rainforests, why environmentalists are unaware of their existence and all about the gorgeous myths, folklore and fictional stories that these spaces have inspired. The Lost Rainforests of Britain is a stunning ode to trees, forests and nature, and a crucial reminder that without support, we risk losing them forever. One for nature lovers, that’s for sure.

Novelist as a Vocation by Haruki Murakami

A short little collection of essays, the book details Murakami’s thoughts on writing, how his unique style developed, as well as notes on his roots. Calm and thoughtful with every turn of phrase, Murakami carefully details how he began his career as an author. He comments on the Japanese writing scene and literature world, making gentle observations and posing important questions as he goes.

As a writer myself, albeit not a novelist, I found this to be an engaging and valuable read. Murakami’s to-the-point magical realism shines with almost every sentence, and I’ve made endless notes – something I rarely do these days. The book doesn’t feel repetitive at any point. In fact, I think it opens the reader’s mind to all the possibilities, different habits and methods, that are available to any aspiring writer.

Which non-fiction books have left an impact on you?

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