Best Non-Fiction Books of 2016

Best Non-Fiction Books of 2016

Well written Non-Fiction Books can offer something of both fantasy and fact. A good memoir like Lab Girl will entertain whilst educating you. Grunt will teach you science whilst you laugh.

Reading a few non-fiction books outside our field should be on everyone’s to do list. The best breakthroughs come from cross-subject insights. Learn something in a new field today with our choice of the Best Non-Fiction books of 2016 so far.

1. Lab Girl – Hope Jahren

non-fiction books - Lab Girl
Women in science are still rare, but those that don a lab coat every day are pretty amazing. Lab Girl follows the life and work of Hope Jahren, a scientist with a love of plants. This scientific memoir takes us across America from Jahren’s upbringing in Minnesota to her cross country adventures to find weird and wonderful plants. However, the real focus of this book is Jahren’s friendship with her lab partner. There are touching moments between the two of them, and it ultimately shows how science opened the doors of friendship, adventure and plants. Lab Girl is a best seller and will inspire you to look at nature anew.

2. Grunt: the Curious Science of Humans at War – Mary Roach

non-fiction books - Grunt
War is science; a tricky science filled with tactics, plans and cockroaches. Grunt is a comical but no less factual book on how scientific testing is used in warfare. There are experiments on wedding gowns, the importance of ducks to the defence force and “why zippers on uniforms are problematic for snipers”. This book is full of the strangest stories and scientific facts you couldn’t find anywhere else. You will never look at the army the same again, and while war is a serious thing, the science behind some of the biggest killing machines is a little crazy at times. Roach is the queen of comedic writing, and you will get a laugh a minute out of this book.

3. Evicted: Poverty and Profit – Matthew Desmond

non-fiction books - Evicted
We all deserve a home but in America, the cost of housing is increasing. Evicted follows the story of eight poor families in Milwaukee and their struggle to have a home and keep their homes. With economic statistics as well as stories of real people this nonfiction book looks at the housing market and what the cost of this “human right” really is. Evicted is a pivotal read reminding us that a good, stable home is a key foundation for achievement.

4. When Breath Becomes Air – Paul Kalanithi

non-fiction books - When Breath Becomes Air
Neurosurgeon Paul Kalanithi went from researching cures to fighting his inoperable lung cancer. When Breath Becomes Air is a sad but heart-warming story about what life means and how we can use the time we have to do something. Kalanithi looks at his role as a doctor, as a patient and as a new father. He challenges our concept of what a “good” life is and examines his life and loves. He died while writing this novel and what we are left with is an account of one man’s life and hope for the future and medicine.

5. Narconomics: How to Run a Drug Cartel – Tom Wainright

non-fiction books - Narconomics
Drug cartels are a business and just like any big corporation they have economic plans and strategies and dirty dealings. Wainright also looks at how McDonald’s, Apple and other big businesses inspired the working of the cartels and how these business models are not that different. He shares a first-hand experience of what it takes to join the big boys and the economics behind it all. A great read for anyone interested in economics or the underground.

6. Kill ’em and Leave – James McBride

non-fiction books - Kill 'em and Leave
James Brown is synonymous with soul music and his bigger than life personality. But, as with every story, there is always more. Kill ‘em and Leave is the real story of James Brown. It chronicles his music career, his family life as well as some lesser known stories about this very complicated and misunderstood man. The book tries to piece together the life of story of Brown while giving us a glimpse into the world he lived in. McBride provides a well written and researched book that shows us why Brown earned himself the nickname “The Godfather of Soul” and how he inspired a whole genre of music.

7. Girls and Sex – Peggy Orenstein

non-fiction books - Girls and Sex
With Tinder, party drugs and issues of consent, the world that girls are maturing in is different from their parents. Girls and Sex examine how girls have sex, engage with their partners and what sex means to modern girls. Peggy Orenstein interviewed over seventy young women from high school age to college to get a first-hand experience of how they navigate and engage sex. There are important issues around rape, pregnancy, virginity and online dating. This book is a must-read for parents as well as anyone interested in the workings of the new ‘hook-up culture’.

8. The Gene– Siddhartha Mukherjee

non-fiction books - The Gene
Genetics is the future, yet we understand so little of it. Siddhartha Mukherjee gives us a very personal account of genetics in his family and how mental illness is still misunderstood. By looking back at the history of genetics and the scientist who pioneered the research Mukherjee tries to understand his family and in turn we learn things about our own. Are sexuality, sickness and weight affected by genetics? The Gene answers some of these questions and lets us look into the future. This bestselling novel is charming in the way that it combines science with heartfelt emotions.

9. Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolution – Nathaniel Philbrick

non-fiction books - Valiant Ambition
The story of the Revolutionary War is well documented, but Valiant Ambition is not just a history book. It is about comradery and the relationship between George Washington and his commander Benedict Arnold. Written with two big personalities at the forefront it becomes clear that while the British were their enemy, there was already one within. Arnold, one of the most infamous names in America, is given a voice from beyond the grave as we learn about his motivation.This is a great read for anyone interested in riveting history or for anyone who likes a book full of better than fictional characters.

President Biographies and Election 2016 books

President Biographies and Election 2016 books

The 2016 US Presidential Election might still be a few months away, but the race to be the next President is hotting up.   Our list of US President biographies includes past, current and possible presidents.  Learn about the person who might be the next President.  How much do you know about past Presidents?

Reading about leaders is also highly recommended to develop leadership skills.  Leaders face challenges and set backs.  Reading about successful leaders can help us in similar situations.

Past President Biographies:

1. Washington: A life – Ron Chernow

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Think you know all there is to know about America’s first president? Chernow’s biography of Washington goes beyond the formal portrait of President Washington, and introduces us to George Washington, the man. From this book, you will read about accounts that demonstrated all the qualities that made Washington a great leader, plus the other facets of his personality that are rarely found in other biographies. The author also spared no words at pointing out the president’s faults. It is a refreshing biography that brings to light the more human sides of America’s founding father in great detail – flaws and all.

2. John Adams – David McCullough

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John Adams was the 1st Vice President, and 2nd US President, succeeding George Washington in 1797. Relying mostly on correspondences through letters written between Adams and his wife Abigail, McCullough pieced together a vivid and compelling picture of American’s second president. This Pulitzer-winning biography skips the line-by-line history of America’s founding and focuses on Adams’s role in the journey. You will be quite delighted to read about Adams’s relationship with his wife and how she impacted his success.

3. Truman – David McCullough

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Truman was the 33rd President in office from 1945 to 1953. At a length of approximately 1000 pages, this is a big book. Fortunately, McCullough is a skilled biographer capable of making the life story of Harry S. Truman read like a novel. Filled with fascinating insights, great details and factually accurate, you will breeze through the 1000 pages on the life and times of one of America’s greatest presidents.

4. The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt – Edmund Morris

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26th President, 1901 – 1909 What makes a biography such an amazing read is when it zooms in on details of the subject’s life that are not already covered by history books. Roosevelt is considered one of the most venerated American presidents of the 20th century, but Morris choose to focus, not on his presidency, but the various aspects of his life – from childhood all the way to his presidential greatness. This is not your run-of-the-mill formal biography and all you can expect from a Pulitzer winning biographer.

5. Theodore Rex – Edmund Morris

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Unlike his previous book The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt which offers a closer look at the president’s life, this follow-up volume covers his prolific presidency. Going beyond what history books already tell us, Morris also covers a great deal about Roosevelt’s relationship with family and contemporaries while in office. The author, while mostly on the president’s side, is also fairly critical of the Roosevelt’s unpopular choices. Both of Morris’s Roosevelt books are definitely recommended reads for anyone with a keen interest in 20th century American history.

Current President Biographies (2016)

6. Dreams from My Father – Barack Obama

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An autobiography written prior to his presidency, Dreams from My Father offers candid look into Obama’s backgrounds, personal life and his leadership aspirations. The book is simply filled with Obama’s intelligent, insightful and at times surprising observations of issues that are deeply personal to him. It is interesting to note that this book was written when the president was just out of law school, and was offered a publishing deal after being elected president of Harvard Law Review. Though not a new book, it is still an interesting read on America’s 44th president, in his own words.

7. The Bridge: The Life and Rise of Barack Obama – David Remnick

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Remnick’s book could not have been more perfectly times, especially as Obama reaches the end of his time as 44th President of the United States. It is arguably one of the few books written about Obama that goes beyond history and public portrait of the president, with inclusion of interviews with former acquaintances and colleagues of the president. The author also does a fantastic job of taking an unbiased stance. It is an excellent material to look back on the milestones in American civil rights history in past eight years of Obama being in office.

Possible President Biographies (2016)

8. HRC: State Secrets and the Rebirth of Hillary Clinton – Jonathan Allen & Amie Parnes

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Hilary Clinton may or may not be the next and 45th US president, but she has definitely made her mark as a political figure. There are several books written about Clinton, including her own memoir. This book by Allen and Parnes examine her seven-year tenure as Secretary of State. HRC is more political than personal, and may not be for everyone. However, if you have an interest in taking a closer look at Clinton’s role in the Obama administration, the book would be an interesting read.

9. The Truth About Trump – Michael D’Antonio

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With Trump’s election campaign roaring along, D’Antonio has updated his bestselling hardcover book  Never Enough: Donald Trump and the Pursuit of Success (read our review of this book here) and released it in paperback with a new title.  This Pulitzer prize-winning reporter draws on extensive research and exclusive interviews.  Telling the whole story, from starting out in business, scandals, triumphs, successes and failures,  D’Anontio charts the path that made Trump. The Washington Post describes it as “a brisk and entertaining read”.  

10. The Essential Bernie Sanders and His Vision for America – Jonathan Tasini

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This is an informative volume for supporters of Sanders who want a deeper understanding of his vision for the country. It compiles his speeches, public addresses and policy proposals – mostly in his own words – with commentary from the author. The chapters are short and easy to read, which makes it an ideal guide to Sanders as he makes his bid for the White House in 2016.