5 Best Books … Genre Reads

5 Best BooksCassandra of Indie Reader Houston runs the meme: “5 Best Books”. Every week, a different topic is suggested by Cassandra and participants list what they think are the 5 best book for that topic. Click HERE to see the topics for the next few weeks.

This week, the topic is genre reads.

The books I mention in 5 Best are often literary fiction or dystopia/SF, since those genres are my favorites. So for this week, I took a different, genre: non-fiction. I used to say I never read non-fiction, but since I have a blog, I can easily check that, and it’s not true! I don’t read loads of it, but every once in a while I read a memoir, travelogue or other non-fiction book. I read enough to be able to compose a top-5. Here they are…

The To-Do List by Mike Gayle

The To-Do List by Mike GayleProcrastinator Mike Gayle decided enough is enough and he made himself a to-do list of over 1200 (!) items which he vowed to clear within a year.

The book follows his progress and highlights the most interesting items on his list, the people he met while carrying out the items or the situations he had to overcome to be able to fulfil his goals.

It is a fun read and in the back of the book are all 1277 items listed. An inspiring book!

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

The Glass Castle by Jeanette WallsA very different book is the story of the childhood of Jeannette Walls. She comes from a very deprived background. Although her parents were educated people, they were always on the run from debt collectors.

As the parents refused to accept welfare their kids missed out even on the basics, such as warm clothes and food. They lived in bitter poverty and the children regularly had to eat food that was discarded by others in rubbish bins.

Jeanette Walls does not condemn her parents but writes it as it was.

Lost on Planet China by J. Maarten Troost

Lost on Planet China by J. Maarten TroostA really nice travelogue. Troost visits China as a tourist. Although he is an experienced traveller, initially he feels as lost in China as I think I would be.

Without complaining, and with humor, he tells about all the strange things he encounters in China: food, crowds, air polution, etc.

If you want to experience China without actually going there, this is a great book. My review is HERE.


I Is An Other by James Geary

I Is Another by James Geary

This is a non-fiction book about metaphors.

A metaphor is used when you use unrelated words to describe something. For instance, “My job is a jail” or “She had a bright idea”. A job isn’t literally a jail and an idea can’t emit light.

The psychology behind using metaphors is explained for various areas of our life, such as advertisements, science, innovation, stock market and politics. There is also a chapter on Aspergers and metaphors. Easy to read, full of great insights.

My review is HERE.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara KingsolverBarbara Kingsolver and her family move from California to a farm in Virginia and challenge themselves to eat only food produced on their own farm for a year.

The book tells about their agricultural year, their reasons behind the challenge, the American agricultural business and how local produce would make life healthier, cheaper and the country a better place to live in.

The book is written in a friendly way, with very little (but some) condescension. There are some recipes and a lot of references to other books and articles propagating local food. It’s inspiring too!

What non-fiction books are your favorites?

About Leeswammes
I'm owner and editor at bookhelpline.com. In my free time, I read and review books on my two blogs, Leeswammes' Blog and De Boekblogger.

24 Responses to 5 Best Books … Genre Reads

  1. Tes says:

    The To-Do List sounds like what I will be picking up next 🙂

  2. parrish says:

    My 5 best,books at this moment of pondering, would be – Bitter lemons by Lawrence Durrell, part memoir part travelogue about his time living in the Greek isles. Best poetry Anthology would actually be 3 books that make a series & that’s – Staying Alive,Being Alive & Being Human, edited by Neil Astley. My best nonfiction be – George Steiner’s After Babel, which discusses Language, literature & translation. My favourite fiction(this year) would be – Georges Perec’s A Void, just check my blog to see what I thought of it, as otherwise I’d be here for hours. Which leaves me with one more & I’m going to choose a book that styles itself as a biography, but is so much more – Alberto Manguel’s, A reader on reading, this is a book that if you READ, you should read It’s absolutely amazing & defines what it is to be a reader amongst other things.

    • Leeswammes says:

      Parrish, the travelogue sound good. I have heard of Durrell – in fact, maybe I’ve actually read a book by him long ago. After Babel is going on the wishlist. I am not a psycholinguist so I can ignore books about language! I think you’ve raved about A Void and A Reader on Reading before. I need to check whether they’re on my wishlist already.

      Say, I’m meant to give my readers ideas for new books! Now I’m adding books to my wish list too! Help! 🙂

  3. The Glass Castle is the only title on this list that I have actually read and i found it very moving. I do not seem to read many non- fiction titles these days but when I do they are usually memoirs, biography or travel titles. Favourites nothing jumps to mind while i am here, but once I started a list I suspect it would be a long one.

    • Leeswammes says:

      LindyLou, I’m always surprised by the number of non-fiction books I read. It’s also that I don’t think of certain books as non-fiction. I love travel books if they’re well written.

  4. Great list! I think I’m going to write up a quick post for this week’s meme. I have a few non-fiction books that I am hoping to read soon. It’s so interesting to see how the lists change from person to person.

    • Leeswammes says:

      I would love to see your list, Mari. Although I always claim not to be a non-fiction person, I’ve read quite a few good ones and would love to hear about others.

  5. I am particularly interested in Lost on Planet China. I think I may need to start reading more travelogues. I’ve had the urge to write one, and I have bits and pieces written down, but I don’t want it to turn out boring. Learn by example, right? If you have other good suggestions, please let me know.

    Thanks for another great list!

    • Leeswammes says:

      Cassandra, another brilliant travel story is In Trouble Again by Redmond O’Hanlon, who travels the Amazon and gets into heavy water (not literally). Funny, too.

  6. Jenni says:

    I’m not really a reader of non-fiction, but I like that you picked out some fun ones that show the range of great non-fiction that’s out there. I as an Other sounds really interesting to me, especially since I love the way people use words!


    • Leeswammes says:

      Jenni, I’d say I’m not into non-fiction but in fact I’ve read more than I thought. There are so many different non-fiction books. Initially, I thought of study books, but of course, there is so much more.

  7. The only book on your list that I have read is The Glass Castle and I absolutely loved it!

  8. Amanda says:

    I’m going to have to check these out. I love memoirs. I’m not sure what my fave non-fiction book would be. I read a lot of them. I’ll have to make sure to check out the book about metaphors. I’m curious about the chapter about Asperger’s.

  9. They all look great but The Glass Castle will be among my next reads definitely. What a find…

  10. Athira says:

    The To-Do list sounds like my kind of book! I have a manic obsession with to-do lists and am always looking for the next best way to do it! I really want to read The Glass Castle too!

  11. Leslie says:

    I probably read more non-fiction than I realize too. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is one of my favorite books. The others I haven’t read.

    • Leeswammes says:

      Leslie, I haven’t really followed up any of the suggestions in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle (except trying to buy more local produce) but I very much enjoyed reading about it.

  12. Yvette says:

    Interesting list. I’ve read THE GLASS CASTLE – what a harrowing experience. I don’t normally read this sort of book, but I admit this was worth the angst. Obviously Jeanette Walls is an incredible person.

    I’ve heard great things about I IS AN OTHER, and it is definitely on my TBR list.

    • Leeswammes says:

      Yvette, I’m the same. I wasn’t sure I’d like The Glass Castle but it was a fantastic book. Do give I Is An Other a try, it’s very good if you enjoy reading about language.

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