‘Non-fiction November’ is fast approaching – a month-long celebration of all things non-fiction. Led by the Federation of Children’s Book Groups, it is an ideal opportunity to explore the wealth of amazing information books published for both children and grown-ups. It’s also a perfect time to tick off another of our ‘Warwickshire Reading Challenges’: Read a book that is a true story (if you haven’t come across our Reading Challenge yet, you can find more information about it here).
This year’s theme as selected by the FCBG is ‘Transport and Travel Around the World’, enabling us to look at some brilliant books featuring far-flung places and fantastic vehicles. But if those aren’t your topic of choice, don’t worry – there are many other fabulous non-fiction titles on our shelves and available on Borrowbox for your reading pleasure.
Below are a few of my recent favourites, starting with some children’s titles and moving on to books for grown-ups.
Non-fiction for Children
You might have seen that Blue Peter have announced the longlist for their annual ‘Best Books with Facts’ prize and there are some corkers on there!
‘How to be an astronaut and other space jobs‘ by Dr Sheila Kanani and illustrated by Sol Linero outlines everything you could ever want to know about the many jobs involved in space exploration. Having celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Moon Landings earlier this summer, this fits in perfectly with the theme of ‘Non-fiction November’, allowing young readers to chart the exploration of space and the planets throughout our solar system. Also longlisted is ‘The Ladybird Book of Dead Things‘ – a look through history at all the things that have gone before and are now dead, written by Ned Hartley and illustrated by Binny Talib. From Egyptian mummies, extinct dinosaurs and dodos to what happens out in space when a star dies, this is wonderfully illustrated and filled with fun information and insights.
‘Explorers‘ by Nellie Huang and illustrated by Jessamy Hawke fits the ‘Transport and Travel Around the World’ theme, introducing us to the adventurers that embarked on journeys into the unknown to find lost temples, cross the ice plains and explore uncharted waters. If the adventures of just one person interest you more, try former Blue Peter presenter and world record breaker Helen Skelton’s ‘Wild Girl‘ (illustrated by Liz Kay). Detailing six of her adventures throughout the world, this book brings the wilderness into your living room as you follow Helen through deserts, the South Pole and kayaking down the Amazon.
Leaving ‘Transport and Travel Around the World’ behind, we also love the ‘Little People, Big Dreams’ series. These illustrated biographies of people include Rosa Parks, Amelia Earheart, Anne Frank and Muhammad Ali and are aimed at younger readers. Providing fascinating insight into the lives of people whose actions left their mark on the world, these make brilliant non-fiction reads. Also worth a look at is ‘Professor Astro Cat’s Human Body Odyssey‘ (written by Dominic Walliman and illustrated by Ben Newman)- an eye-opening (and at times suitably gruesome) trip around the human body. If you’ve ever wanted to know why your ears are the shape they are, how the oxygen gets into your blood or why hair exists, this is the book for you! And finally, one to watch out for – you may have seen that Netflix have a documentary series call ‘Planet Earth’? The companion book to the series, ‘Our Planet‘ by Matt Whyman and illustrated by Richard Jones should be arriving in our libraries soon so keep an eye out!
Non-fiction for Grown-Ups
This is the best time of year to dive into non-fiction with so many brilliant books being published in time for Christmas. Among the recently arrived, we’ve seen the new Bill Bryson – ‘The Body – A Guide for Occupants‘, and coming soon, we’re looking forward to autobiographies by Michael Owen, Eddie Jones and Trevor McDonald, Debbie Harry‘s look back at her career with Blondie and of course, Elton John’s ‘Me‘. You’ll find these in both physical book format and in our BorrowBox e-audio and e-book collections (though some of them are proving very popular so you may have a bit of a wait to get your hands on them, though they are worth it!).
Also over on BorrowBox, we’ve recently added a couple of non-fiction titles that you’ll be able to borrow straight away – there are no wait lists for them. Matt Haig’s ‘Reasons To Stay Alive‘ and Amy Liptrot’s ‘The Outrun‘ are currently in our ‘No Wait List’ e-audio collection, along with some children’s and adult fiction (we’ll hopefully be adding to these titles, and some will change in the coming months, so keep an eye on this collection on BorrowBox).
To tie in with the theme of ‘Transport and Travel Around the World’, why not hit the tracks with ‘A Short History of Trains‘ by Christian Wolmer. Perhaps not one to read in bed, in case you fall asleep and this 400 page tome hits you on the end of nose, it will take you through the evolution of the train and its impact on how we live our lives. If, instead, you like your non-fiction to combine both travel and literature, have a look at ‘Footnotes‘ by Peter Fiennes. Explore Britain in the footsteps of some our greatest and most well-known authors from Charles Dickens to Beryl Bainbridge or if you’d like to go global, try Ann Morgan’s ‘Reading The World: Confessions of a Literary Explorer‘.
If you’re taking part in the Warwickshire Reading Challenge, to meet the “True Story” Challenge, any of the already mentioned titles would work! There are loads more to choose from in our collections. Older titles such as the classic ‘In Cold Blood‘ by Truman Capote are perfect if true crime is your reading choice, while newly published histories including ‘The Brothers York‘ by Thomas Penn, ‘Big Sister, Little Sister, Red Sister‘, a story of China seen through the eyes of three sisters by the author of ‘Wild Swans‘, Jung Chang and ‘Lady in Waiting‘ by Anne Glenconner who served as Princess Margaret’s lady in waiting and was a Maid of Honour at the Queen’s Coronation, will likewise keep you enthralled.
Also, don’t forget our Local Studies and Music & Drama collections – they have some non-fiction gems, including ‘Warwickshire Ghost Stories‘ by Richard Holland (perfect for this time of year), guides to musicals such as this one and the scores to go with them!
As I’ve mentioned awards lists for children’s non-fiction above, I should give a mention here to the ‘Baillie-Gifford Prize for Non-fiction‘, the shortlist of which was recently announced. There are six titles shortlisted:
- Furious Hours by Casey Cep
- On Chapel Sands by Laura Cumming
- The Lives of Lucian Freud: Youth by William Feaver
- Maoism: A Global History by Julia Lovell
- Guest House for Young Widows by Azadeh Moaveni
- The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper by Hallie Rubenhold
I can recommend ‘The Five’ – I’ve mentioned it before here as I really enjoyed this look at the lives of the women murdered by Jack The Ripper – five people whose stories we think we know but, as revealed in this fascinating book, have a lot more about them that we can learn. ‘Furious Hours’ is currently on my TBR pile and I think will be my “true story” for the Reading Challenge. I’ll post about it on the Reading Challenge Facebook page when I’ve read it.
I hope that gives you plenty of ideas to explore this ‘Non-Fiction November’. If you’re still not sure what to read, pop in and see us at any of our libraries and staff will be give you some recommendations. Or, you could try our Borrowbox collections – there are lots of non-fiction titles, including some Christmas ones, there to explore.
Let us know what you’ve discovered and any recommendations in the comments or pop on over to Facebook and join the Warwickshire Reading Challenge discussion.
Happy (Non-Fiction) reading!