I will always read more fictions because I love being able to escape into someone else’s madness, relate their struggles to my own or be drawn into something completely magical and out of this world. But as I got older I got more and more interested in non-fictions. I’ve read a few crap ones admittedly but listed below are the books that contained content which enlightened me and got me to think differently about a lot of things. It sounds weird to say but I have referred back to these books several times for one reason or another since the initial read – they’re that informative and encouraging.
So, in no particular order – here are my top six non-fictions:
1. The Concise 48 Laws of Power – Robert Greene, Joost Elffers
This concise edition of the bestselling original book first published in 1998, is a literal mini-guide on how to work your way up the ranks to become a member of the elite; an individual with power, influence and wealth. The idea is that through the understanding and use of the laws in your life, you will be able to manipulate and manoeuvre your way to the top.
I do use some of the laws in my daily life and they have served me well and in exactly the way they said they would. I won’t tell you which ones because that would defeat the purpose but I can tell you that they have had the desired effects in a few areas of my life. I don’t use anywhere near all of them. And when you read the book you will see why. It takes a certain type of person to be able to follow something like this with rigidity. An individual more cold and calculated than myself. Or perhaps an individual content on appearing to be so (I could name a few).
I like laws such as “never outshine the master” or “always say less than necessary” and “never appear too perfect” because they make absolute sense. But then I read some like “crush your enemy totally” and “discover each man’s thumbscrew” that make me feel a little wary of following them all as a whole. Then again I could be lying to you all to make myself seem very innocent. You’ll never know.
I recommend purchasing the concise version as you can keep it in your bag and read it on the train before work and then attempt to put into practice what you’ve learnt. The layout of the book makes it so easy to take in; the law is written in bold underneath which is the summary/explanation of the law and then it goes into more detail about the law and how to put it into practice.
Buy the book. Even though I don’t recommend following these laws like they’re the ten commandments, I definitely know from experience that it you’ll gain knowledge as to what and how other people respond to things and what action you should take considering those factors to move up in the world. Not just a book for the power hungry.
Publisher: Profile Books Ltd
2. 10 Billion – Stephen Emmott
“This is a book about us.
It’s a book about you, your children, your parents, your friends. it’s about every one of us. It’s about out failure: failure as individuals, the failure of business, and the failure of our politicians.
It’s about the unprecedented planetary emergency we’ve created.
It’s about the future of us.”
Before reading this book, climate change and environmental issues and all this other stuff to me just felt so blown out of proportion and… boring. Nobody had ever made me think about climate change or the effect we humans have on our planet because nobody had presented it to me in an engaging way. Until of course I read 10 Billion. That’s when I realised that it hadn’t been blown out of proportion at all but quite the opposite in fact. Everything is written in a concise manner, there are of course many statistics and graphs from reliable sources and research to back up all the claims. And it scares the shit out of you.
Stephen Emmott is a scientist, he leads a lab in Cambridge and he has conducted research into molecular biology, immunology and neuroscience, climatology etc etc so we can safely assume that this guy knows what he’s talking about. The book presents the facts about what is happening to our planet due to our actions, what will happen as we rapidly approach a global population of ten billion and where we can go from here. But I really do think the essence of the book is captured in this quote:
“I think we’re fucked.”
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
3. The Secret – Rhonda Byrne
“A number of exceptional men and women discovered The Secret, and went on to become known as the greatest people who ever lived. Among them: Plato, Leonardo, Galileo, Napoleon, Hugo, Beethoven, Lincoln, Edison, Einstein, and Carnegie, to name but a few.
Now for the first time in history, all the pieces of The Secret come together in a revelation that is life transforming for all who experience it.
This is The Secret to life.”
I wasn’t a spiritual person away from my religion. I never thought that for me, as a Muslim, spirituality in any sense away from Islam would exist for me. Because I kind of felt like if that was the case, then I was in a way undermining my religion. But I read The Secret and discovered how it was already interlinked with my religion and not just mine with many religious practices for centuries. It all made sense.
The principles in this book are what I read it for. There are a few basic principles you should follow that will not only help you on your way to being a more positive person but also attract more good things to you. Both of which I feel have happened to me. I do feel down, I do get upset but my default setting now is one of positivity as opposed to one of being a cynic or just waiting for something to wrong.
I can’t even lie to you about this but the layout of this book is awful. I hate the fonts, the graphics and the content is presented in a wishy washy way. But I still do encourage everyone to read it. It works, it really does.
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Ltd
4. The Fix – Damian Thompson
“Our problem is that we’ve built an environment that bombards us with rewards that our bodies don’t need and that do nothing to ensure our survival as a species. Yet, because they are rewards – that is, because they provoke specific feelings of anticipation and pleasure in the brain – we grab them anyway.”
And that is what is referred to as The Fix. Published in 2013, The Fix is all about our addictions – “our most innocent daily habits” that can rapidly turn into an obsession. It asks the question of whether or not addiction is a disease and goes into the science behind our addictive behaviours. I absolutely loved this book because I could see the behaviour patterns in myself with certain things and within others and it explained a lot. For example I fully didn’t understand why some people could become addicted to video games. I knew escapism was a part of it but that doesn’t exactly apply to games such as Candy Crush because the player isn’t another character or interacting with characters. It’s just sweets. Thompson explains that it’s the reward systems within the games… “each of them designed to toy with players’ brains in a slightly different way.” If it sounds sinister it’s because it is. Some game manufacturers get designers to create and/or modify their games in order for them to become more addictive.
Gaming is just one of the addictions that Thompson looks into. Others include our sugary indulgences, drinking, the abuse of prescription drugs and porn. I strongly believe that the only way of overcoming any sort of harmful behaviour – addictive or otherwise – is to first understand it.
“Everybody is theoretically at risk of developing addictive habits, because the stimulation of desire is associated with primitive and vulnerable areas of our brains.”
Therefore, everybody needs to read this book.
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
5. To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Persuading, Convincing, and Influencing Others – Daniel H. Pink
“This is a book about sales. But it is unlike any book about sales you have read (or ignored) before. That’s because selling in all it’s dimensions – whether pushing Buicks on a car lot or pitching ideas in a meeting – has changed more in the last ten years than it did over the previous hundred. Most of what we think we understand about selling is constructed atop a foundation of assumptions that has crumbled.”
What’s written in this book helped me improve my persuasion skills when I was at sixth form, at work and in my personal life. In sixth form, I was very naughty and every week they threatened to kick me out and every week I convinced them to let me stay. Within 5 minutes. At work it helped me become one of the key account openers on my floor. And in my personal life well let’s just put it this way – I get my way more often.
The book outlines why the old way of selling no longer works because of the amount of information available to customers. It goes on to explain the best personality types for selling and no it’s not extroverts as many have been lead to believe and it teaches you different ways of pitching too! I have always ignored such books because they bore me to death within the first few pages, but just like my other recommendations, I promise you this book will (if implemented) change how you talk to people and give you an advantage in several aspects of life. There’s no complicated lingo, no mundane explanations. It’s simple and quick to read and provided me with effective tips. But since Pink thinks he’s so good at selling and qualified enough to write a book on it, why don’t I let him sell it to you.
“Selling, I’ve grown to understand, is more urgent, more important, and, in its own sweet way, more beautiful than we realise. The ability to move others to exchange what they have for what we have is crucial to our survival and our happiness. It has helped our species evolve, lifted our living standards, and enhanced our daily lives. The capacity to sell isn’t some unnatural adaptation to the merciless world of commerce. It is part of who we are. As you’re about to see…selling is fundamentally human.”
Publisher: Canongate Books Ltd
6. The Good Psychopath’s Guide To Success – Andy McNab, Kevin Dutton
“Dr Kevin Dutton has spent a lifetime studying psychopaths. He first met SAS hero Andy McNab during a research project. What he found surprised him. McNab is a diagnosed psychopath but he is a GOOD PSYCHOPATH. Unlike a BAD PSYCHOPATH, he is able to dial up or down qualities such as ruthlessness, fearlessness, decisiveness, conscience and empathy to get the very best out of himself – and others – in wide range of situations.”
For me this book allowed me to shake the idea that the term psychopath was simply associated with those who murder people and preserve their limbs in their freezers. It was such an entertaining read from start to finish and a massive insight on how a psychopathic personality has traits we can all learn from. It attempts to teach us strategies on how to get the most out of life by uncoupling emotion from behaviour, how to be confident enough to be ourselves and the importance of getting tasks done without the pressure of perfection leading to procrastination.
It was incredible to read about how the psychopathic personality differs from what is considered to be the norm and how I could start adopting those traits. I feel like this book contains so much wisdom and insight because it really made me think about how my personality and behaviour is something I can change and use to my advantage depending on different situations. I don’t have to be a certain way all the time, or show a certain trait. Fine tuning and manipulating character traits is something that can be learnt.
It informs you of the seven simple principles that can make an individual more successful and how to apply them and also includes a psychopath test to find out how you rate on the scale! What more could you want?!
It’s genuinely thought-provoking and will make you re-assess your own behaviour. Get it and thank me later.
Publisher: Transworld Publishers Ltd
At the moment, all the books I have recommended above are discounted by a little at http://www.waterstones.com so probably a good shout to get them from there. Having said that local charity book shops have so many new, unread books being sold for a couple quid each. It’s actually amazing. Maybe you could find them in there!
In the meantime, give me all your non-fiction recommendations – tweet me them or comment below.