Non-Fiction Reading List
Updated: Mar 10
What can I say, I'm not a big fiction reader. No knock on fiction, I think I'm just usually looking for advice or inspiration in how other people live their lives and figure things out. My escape is not in reading, it's in doing something adrenaline producing or being on the road. Anyway, here's a list of some of the non-fiction books that have brought some sort of value to me - in no particular order.
1) Big Magic
The premise of this book is that everyone can live a creative life, and a creative life can mean something different for each person. Living a creative life doesn't necessarily
mean pursuing a life devoted to the arts, but instead living a life that is driven by curiosity over fear. Fear holds people back from living whatever their creative life might be. Fear is the biggest obstacle to creativity and creativity exists within all of us. Elizabeth talks about how to face your fears (foster your creativity) and be more open to ideas that knock at your door. She believes ideas have agency and consciousness, and come to people who are in the right state of mind (law of attraction). It takes openness to receive an idea and courage to accept it and persistence to see it through. She acknowledges that some ideas have to be let go and how to know when to do that. I really enjoyed this book and found it uplifting and enchanting. I actually decided to finally start this blog after I read this.
A book every woman should read. Dr. Brighten is a wealth of knowledge. The book is advertised as a 30 day program to balance your hormones, but the first two thirds are jam packed with information every woman should be armed with. She talks about everything you can learn from your period and calls it your fifth vital sign. She lays out what a healthy period looks like and discusses common period problems and what to do about them. She talks about how the pill can stress your liver, how it effects your hormones and your gut health, and the role the pill may play in autoimmune disease. She addresses PMDD, PCOS, post-birth control syndrome, and so. much. more. She also provides food recommendations for different symptoms, supplement recommendations, and then of course the 30 day program (I haven't done this but it's a complete diet plan with recipes). There is so much in this book - just do yourself a favor and grab it. You don't need to read it end to end - it's more like an encyclopedia for period problems.
I wouldn't categorize this book as remarkable, but it was a very enjoyable and inspiring read. At age 30, Jedadiah Jenkins decided to bike from Oregon to Patagonia. He narrates his journey - detailing the small towns he stayed in or rode through, the people he met, and the terrain changes from cities to mountains to beaches. My favorite part about reading this book was being able to really visualize the entire ride and the essence of each place he spent time. As one does with endless hours on a bike and no one around (except for Weston), he reflects on his life and contemplates larger questions like what does it mean to be an adult and is there a god. He feels his soul wake up as he discovers places and ways of living that are unfamiliar to him. Something I related to very strongly.
4) Seeing Red
Must. read. This reads more like a novel than Beyond the Pill. Kirsten Karchmer weaves in personal anecdotes and shares why she became an acupuncturist and then an M.D. and so on. Like Dr. Brighten, she also uses the period like a fifth vital sign (but she doesn't call it that). Karchmer uses the period as a diagnostic tool for fertility and overall health. She dives into the history on menstruation, and antiquated belief systems about the period that still permeate the culture today. Karchmer says that she sees the collective health of our periods deteriorating, and the number of women diagnosed with menstrual disorders on the rise. My favorite part of this book is it teaches you how to read your period and understand each individual part of the cycle. [This was especially interesting because I have been going to acupuncture for over a year for PMDD and this book helped me understand why my acupuncturist asks me such detailed questions about my period]. She talks about biohacking your period, and touches on how to manage a number of menstrual disorders (PCOS, PMDD, Endometriosis, infertility, and so on). This book is fascinating and I very much appreciate the holistic approach she takes to menstrual issues.
This may not be super interesting to you depending on your interests. Samantha Power is someone I've looked up to since college - I was a human rights major and she was the Senior Director for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights on the National Security Council during the Obama Administration. The book is a memoir in which she gives an intimate look into her life as a war journalist, foreign policy advisor, human rights advisor, and finally a UN ambassador. Basically if I could start my life over and follow her path I would. Anyway, the book shows Power's journey from a young die hard idealist, to a still idealist but more realist. She remains always tilted towards interventionism and using American power to defend the defenseless and for this I admire her. Her most sobering coming to terms with realism was when she was advocating for stronger action in Syria but Obama overruled her. Isolationism and interventionism is a very debatable topic and Samantha takes you with her on her struggle as an idealist in a policymaker role. She weaves in details about her adolescent life in Ireland, and lets you in on the roller coaster that is starting a family while working on the NSC. If you're interested in foreign policy and the experience of women working in powerful positions I highly recommend this book.
Currently reading this but so far it's another important read for women. Hill first acknowledges what the pill has done for women - and so do the other books I recommend that talk about birth control. It goes without saying that the pill was a game changer for women. Birth control has been a goddamn gift to us - including the author of this book who was on it for over a decade. What is not discussed however, are the costs of birth control. Sarah dives into how exactly the pill works, how the hormones that are in them change us, and why the f%*k we didn't learn about this when we were given the pill. Some of what Hill shares is speculative, based on smaller studies that need additional research, but most of it is science backed and has left me feeling upset and frustrated. The last chapter, which I haven't reached yet, is titled "What Now? A Letter to My Daughter - To Pill or Not To Pill?". I can't wait to get here because it's a huge question that I think is actually debatable. All I know is that I wish I never took the pill. I believe it's had a huge impact on health. Anyway - definitely recommend.
Reading this right now - it is essentially a book on manifestation. It's a bit outdated but one of the oldest and most well known books on personal-success. There is a "revived" version that does away with the "outmoded or arcane terminology" and interjects more modern examples but I'm reading the original. The idea presented in this book is that what you believe about yourself plays a major role in your personal success. Success begins with a desire; you are the master of your destiny; failure is an important stepping stone to success; success is often one step beyond the point in which you give up; set your mind to something and watch it happen before your eyes. Napoleon Hill shares several anecdotal examples of how this way thinking propels you towards your dream life.
I picked this up in an airport one day and just loved it so much. Naturalist Sy Montgomery becomes consumed with the wonder and brilliance of octopuses and respectfully studies them for many years. She documents the increasing interest in these creatures and the ever growing acceptance of them as sentient beings. Her stories are sweet and incredible.