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Looking to find out something more about the world we live in, instead of gallivanting off into the realm of fiction? Have a look at our hand-picked non-fiction choices.
This memoir from a forensic scientist and cold case reviewer makes for absolutely fascinating, and rather chilling reading. Jim Fraser has had a 40 year career which has included the cases of Rachel Nickell and Damilola Taylor. Here he looks at the murder investigations which have been difficult to solve, and cases that remain controversial or unsolved. Bringing his knowledge and personal experience into play helps build a framework of awareness of the challenges faced by investigators. I could tell in the author’s note before I started reading that it is really important to the author that this memoir is not seen as gratuitous (though it is graphic). He is clear that the book “melds recollection with reflection… supplemented with research”. As someone who worked as a member of police staff for twenty years, I found parts made for uncomfortable reading. Jim Fraser is at times damning, highlighting the downfalls of the system. It is quite obvious that with financial restraints, different systems, and human foibles, mistakes will be made, and when a life is at stake it is hard to swallow. Murder Under the Microscope offers a compelling window into a world that most know little about.
Detailed, interesting, and offering a personal insight into The Five Eyes intelligence community from the only man to have worked for both US and UK intelligence organisations while a citizen of each country. The Five Eyes alliance, comprising of the UK, US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, formed after the Second World War. Anthony R Wells believes that the intelligence institutions covered in this book have saved the free world. He says: “This book does not profess at all to be all-seeing and all-knowing”, he hopes that readers can: “make their own observations, draw their own conclusions, and come away with informed, educated, and non-biased and most certainly non-politicised views on intelligence in the modern era”. We read about the author’s experiences in chronological order over 50 years, covering a variety of threats, new opportunities, and technological advancements. It is quite clear that there is still much that we, the public, don’t know and shouldn’t know. Having said that, Between Five Eyes is an absolutely fascinating read for anyone interested in the intelligence community and wider world.
If you need a slice of pick-me-up then stop right here. Dean Nicholson is famous on social media as 1bike1world. His original aim to cycle solo around the world changed when he rescued abandoned kitten Nala and she joined him on his travels. The book charts his and Nala’s story and contains some squeezably lovely photos too. It seems as though Dean is still in shock at how quickly people took to his story (their instagram page at the time of writing sits at 810k followers). Dean comes across as completely down to earth and appreciative of the small things in life, the things that actually matter and mean the world. He has seen the very best of people, while also bearing witness to the sorrowful treatment of animals by some. Dean has raised a huge amount for charity since Nala came into his life. She is one photogenic cat, and her utter trust and love for Dean shines through. A hugely glorious bundle of feel-good, Nala’s World comes with beaming smiles of recommendation from me. Chosen as a LoveReading Star Book, this would make a perfect gift for a loved one (don’t forget to buy a copy for yourself too!). Explore our '80+ Books That Deliver a Hug' listicle for more feel-good or uplifting books.
Secret Britain is a fascinating collection of ancient wonders curated for print by TV presenter and anthropologist Mary-Ann Ochota. An Anglo-Saxon mystic princess.. A wild circle of thorns.. A naked pagan.. A queen’s lost ring.. A cure for witchcraft.. Secrets such as these are unearthed from page to page. Everything from tiny artefacts to large structures are included, representing the entire land from Orkney to Cornwall. The book is packed with excellent photography and will improve the look of any coffee table, but you may also want to find space for it under your passenger seat because if you like a staycation there is a strong chance that you will find yourself near at least one of these mysterious sites. Not only is the book geographically diverse and full of unexpected treasures, but the timeline they span is extraordinary, starting 33,000 years ago and ending up in 1916; simply layer upon layer of heritage. The author’s descriptions are both tantalising and informative, posing many unanswered questions as well as intriguing answers, or at least alternative explanations. Mary-Ann Ochota tells these stories with great flourish and a passion for her subject, opening doors to the past which the most inquisitive of us will want to pass through. ~ Greg Hackett Greg Hackett is the Founder & Director of the London Mountain Film Festival
Tani Adewumi’s life-affirming memoir is a “dare to dream” story with the power to make souls sing. As he and his parents relate their extraordinary experiences from living under Boko Haram in Nigeria to forging a new life in America, eight-year-old Tani’s voice is unfailingly endearing, with his parents’ narratives providing enlightening context, underpinned by their Christian faith. The tone is set in the introduction, in which Tani tells us that while he’s not sure what he’ll do when he grows up (maybe become a chess grandmaster, maybe a pilot, or maybe both), “I do know this much. I believe in miracles.” The story begins when Tani’s printer father is visited by Boko Haram and he evades their order to print posters that declare “No to Western Education” and “Kill all Christians”. When this makes the family a target, they flee to another area of Nigeria, then to Dallas after it becomes clear they’re not safe in their homeland. But their first experiences in America are from the life they’d hoped for. They stay with Tani’s great uncle, whose American wife becomes hostile, which compels them to move again. Thanks to the kindness of an old Nigerian friend, they’re able to move to New York where a pastor finds them a place in a shelter. Here Tani is given the opportunity to join a chess club, where meeting Coach Shawn proves to be life-changing. Tani’s natural talent for chess coupled with hard work, family support, and the kindness of coaches who give him a scholarship, sees him make fast progress. Within months he’s crowned State Chess Champion. But it doesn’t end there – when Coach Shawn suggests the family tell the national press their story to help them secure a place to live, the coverage leads to even bigger things. Alongside the overarching story, Tani’s mother shares fascinating detail about her Yoruba heritage, and this memoir is also poignant in showing the hard realities of migrant life. This comes recommended for readers who love discovering human stories that don’t shirk from the truth, but still radiate a feel-good message of hope. Head to our 'Black Lit Matters' list to find more must-read novels by black writers.
All aboard Guinness World Records 2021 for a life-changing journey of discovery! This year, we're devoting a chapter to the history of exploration, starting with the story of the very first circumnavigation, along with our History of Adventure timeline, featuring a host of remarkable achievements. The fully revised and updated best-seller is packed with thousands of incredible new feats across the widest spectrum of topics, providing a whistle-stop tour of our superlative universe. Our ever-expanding pool of international consultants and experts help us make sense of the world around us and the cosmos beyond. So join us as we embark on a voyage through the vast panorama of record-breaking in 12 fact-packed chapters: * Travel through the Solar System and see the planets come to life with a free augmented-reality feature * Encounter the cutest, weirdest, most dangerous and exotic creatures on our home planet * Meet the world's tallest, shortest, hairiest and heaviest humans * Marvel at the latest high scores, speed runs and players at the top of their game in eSports and beyond * Get the lowdown on the world's most successful and prolific actors, musicians, TV stars and influencers * Review the greatest sports achievements from the past year and celebrate today's top athletes We've also selected the best of the newly approved claims from the 50,000 applications received from the public over the past 12 months. But don't just be a tourist: try some of our specially created try-at-home challenges that could see YOU listed in the world-famous book of records. If you want to be one of those lucky few, check out our Against the Clock chapter - we might even see you in next year's edition!
At times uncomfortable and chilling (as it should be) this is nonetheless absolutely fascinating, and a must read for anyone interested in law enforcement and the way minds work. Dr Kris Mohandie is a clinical police and forensic psychologist, in other words, a “detective of the brain”. He has worked on high profile cases and encountered some of the most dangerous people in the USA. Here he provides “an informed peek behind the curtain of criminality in a world that’s getting darker and more dangerous by the day” “providing insight into why these people do what they do and lessons we can learn as a society to help stop or at least reduce the bloodshed”. He highlights a number of cases he has worked on, from serial killers, to hostage takers, right through to mass casualty shooters. He looks at cases that are known throughout the world, such as Columbine, O.J Simpson, and Oklahoma City. Starting his career with LAPD, Dr Kris Mohandie was a consultant, working with units including SWAT. This is a man who has had to make incredibly difficult decisions, in horrendously difficult circumstances. He is honest, at times blunt, and says it as he sees it. He discusses the death penalty, the nature of evil, and mental illness. If you take a look at the press reviews on our LoveReading book page, you can see reports from people who have worked with him. Words such as “outstanding”, a “true subject matter expert”, “one of the best in the business” ring out. Born Killers? is a truly gripping read that I can wholeheartedly recommend.
Edited by trailblazing broadcaster, editor and critic Margaret Busby OBE - Britain’s first black woman publisher when she co-founded Allison and Busby in the 1960s - New Daughters of Africa is an extraordinary feat of publishing, presenting as it does the diverse work of 200+ women of African heritage across more than 900 pages. In 1992, Busby published Daughters of Africa, and this epically-proportioned - and realised - re-visitation duplicates none of the writers featured in the first incarnation. Busby hopes in her introduction, “may all who find their way to this anthology, regardless of gender, class or race, feast well on its banquet of words.” And I defy any reader not to do just that. This rich feast presents all kinds of writers – academics and activists; critics and curators; fiction writers and filmmakers; poets and politicians, to name but a few - from all parts of the world. There are wise words to chew on from familiar figures, among them Diane Abbott, Angela Levy, Bernardine Evaristo, Malorie Blackman, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Afua Hirsch. And there are individuals and pieces I was grateful to discover for the first time, such as Bermudian Angela Barry’s Without Prejudice story, and Yvette Edwards, a London writer of Montserratian origin. The collection’s historical entries are engrossing too, among them Sarah Parker Remond’s (1815-1894) “Why Slavery is Still Rampant” piece, and Meta Davis Cumberbatch’s (1900-1978) powerfully rousing poem, “A Child of Nature (Negro of the Caribbean)”. This is an exceptional anthology to savour - a uniquely nourishing banquet for mind and heart. Head to our 'Black Lit Matters' list to find more must-read novels by black writers.
Truly fascinating, this is one of the most surprising books I’ve read in a while. Seriously, I could rave on and on about it! Journey to what feels like an entirely different planet and explore the wonder of fungi. “Fungi provide a key to understanding the planet on which we live...Yet they live their lives largely hidden from view , and over 90% if their species remain undocumented.” Author Merlin Sheldrake caught and held my attention from the outset. I had to stop reading every so often just to contemplate the world that was opening up in front of me. I still feel gobsmacked days after reading it. Fungi has shaped our history and “the ability of fungi to digest plastic, explosives, pesticides and crude oil is being harnessed in breakthrough technologies, and the discovery that they connect plants in underground networks, the ‘wood wide web’, is transforming the way we understand ecosystems.” Entangled Life made me reconsider established thoughts and opened my eyes to new ones. I want to recommend it to everyone, for me it’s a genuine must-read and just had to be included on my list of Liz Picks of the Month and as a LoveReading Star Book.
Stuart Dunns’ Only Us is an exceptional photographic celebration of humanity, with 160 pages of portraits of people from around the globe taken during the course of his career as a celebrated documentary filmmaker and photographer. An appropriate alternate title might be “all of us”, for all human life, from all areas of the world, is laid bare here - an incubated baby in Sheffield. Ugandan night fishermen at work. Thai monks on laundry day. Tanzanian hunter-gatherers. Canadian rangers protecting polar bears. A Newcastle native outside a pub. Having said that, the “Only Us” title perfectly captures Dunns’ recognition that “amongst the incredible diversity that we inhabit, our lives are surprisingly similar. From the mundane to the dramatic, we all go through it… There has never really been ‘Us and ‘Them’; there is ‘Only Us’”. And this outward-looking, inclusive global perspective on humanity permeates every image, each of which really is worth a thousand words. Each of them prompts questions, invites the viewer to consider the lives of the people depicted. They summon stories. While the accompanying copy contextualises the images, noting where they were taken and who’s featured, with occasional fascinating personal anecdotes, Dunns’ words leave space for personal contemplation. Some are close-up portraits, focussing on faces, with the subjects’ eyes and expressions revealing emotional states we all recognise and relate to. Others take a step back and show people at home, at work, or in their natural landscapes, from Arctic tundra to Omani deserts. And all of them lay bare our shared human experiences, prompting empathy, and a stirring sense of interconnection.
In this frank and friendly memoir of alcoholism, Karolina Robinson is nothing but honest in relating her experiences. The down-to-earth style makes Let There Be Time highly readable. There’s no distance between writer and reader here - Karolina’s voice and conversational exclamations ring loud and clear throughout. “Alcohol was always a massive part of my life,” Karolina reveals at the start of her story. As a child, she associated her parents’ excessive drinking with freedom and fun: “I used to get excited when I saw my parents drinking! They were less strict, more relaxed and would give me cash for candy!” She also recalls that bringing her mum a mug of wine every night gave her a sense that she was doing something good - she was taking care of mum. From here, Karolina’s childhood descended into a much darker place, the details of which are recounted in her first book, Let There Be Light. In Let There Be Time she shares blunt details of her personal path to alcohol dependence, from getting drunk as a fourteen-year-old, to using alcohol to make friends and be liked by colleagues in the hospitality industry, running to the Netherlands, London and Malta in search of happiness. It was in Malta, after a painful break-up precipitated by an alcohol-fuelled argument, that Karolina “stopped drinking. I became the person I was always meant to be.”
This is a totally unique and breathtaking introduction to what lies beneath us, to the earth below our feet. Let this very special and beautiful book take you by the hand and lead you through the sunlit fields to the place where the underland begins, a place most human thoughts shy from in fear and confusion. This is a sequel to The Old Ways, yet you can begin here without concern, you can trust and join Robert Macfarlane as he explores the underland. I will admit that I am in love with the writing, the words, the vision that allows you to see and feel in darkness. I haven’t ever considered our deep connection to this stunning underworld in the way you are encouraged to here. Robert Macfarlane meets and shares experiences with people who have chosen to explore, to look beyond the obvious. I absolutely adored how much he shares, how accessible Underland is, his words reached out and connected with my thoughts and feelings, altering, reshaping, transforming. While there is plenty to fear for our future, all the time there are humans with this amount of love for our natural world, there is also hope. Underland is one of my picks of the month, and also one of our star books - it is quite simply stunning.
Cartoonist, Robert Crumb said; “When I come up against the Real World, I just vacillate”. Well, he can happily vacillate here for a while. This section features a whole host of books covering subjects as diverse as Mankind’s place in the Universe (Human Universe by Brian Cox), the history of the human journey to work (Rush Hour by Iain Gateley) and the real business of reading books (Bookworms, Dogears and Squashy Big Armchairs by Heather Reyes). This is the ‘Human’ section in our book lovers’ journey.
If you love reading, then you’ll find something here to fascinate you. There are new and interest-piquing passages here from science, philosophy, politics, history, religion, and all of the things that occupy the lives of humans. And we mean ALL of them. The fight against Cancer, the fight for freedom, feminism, fatality, frailty and fame. It’s too big to list. Have a browse through the titles by using our monthly recommendations past and present. We guarantee you’ll be hooked in minutes!