12 Books To Read If You're Addicted To Watching Documentaries
The documentary section on Netflix is a prime spot for finding inspiring, timely, and important stories that will ultimately change your view on life one way or another. The really awesome part about most documentaries is that they were first inspired by groundbreaking books. I'm a documentary addict, both in books and films, where I'd pick watching another episode of Planet Earth over a new half-hour show everyone else is talking about.
Granted, not every documentary out there is fantastic, or worth spending your time on. There's an art to sharing a monumental story that the world needs to hear, and the ones that do it well make the biggest difference.
Documentaries like Black Fish caused an uproar in the world over animal captivity (as it should have), which is usually the goal when it comes to creating a true motivational story. Mary more issues such as war, feminism, politics, psychology, race, and climate change, for example, have also been gaining more popularity. Amazing authors, filmmakers, and passionate people from around the world take these vastly important topics and give us the facts in an understanding and moving way.
Get ready for your mind to be completely blown, because you'll want to share each of these 11 nonfiction books that are similar, and even better, than some of your favorite Netflix documentaries.
1. I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
You've probably seen her documentary already, but that doesn't mean you should skip out on her incredible novel. Malala Yousafzai became the symbol of peaceful protesting at age 16, after her miraculous recovery from being shot in the head on her way home from school. Standing up for girls and their right to an education in a world filled with terrorism and hate, Malala's story will show you just how powerful one voice can be.
2. As Nature Made Him by John Colapinto
David Reimer was born a twin boy but, due to a botched circumcision, was given a radical medical treatment and was raised as a girl. Years later when Reimer finds out about his medical past, he chooses to live as a male. The documentary, Dr. Money and the Boy With No Penis, was made incredibly well, and the book is a must-read. Focusing on the arrogance of medical procedures and the story of a family facing an incredibly rare problem, this is one book that you won't forget.
3. Payback by Margaret Atwood
I'm convinced that anything written by Margaret Atwood is worth reading, so I was shocked when I found something by her that I had never heard about. Payback is her nonfiction novel on debt, but she doesn't steer into financial planning or the tricky issues surrounding the topic. Instead, she focuses on the big metaphor debt has played in life and how it informs our thinking, decisions, and the paths we take. As student loans and debt rises to an ultimate high, this is one fascinating subject worth diving into.
4. Stuffed and Starved by Raj Patel
If you were a big fan of the documentary, Food Inc, you'll find even more disturbing truths behind the corrupt global food economy in Stuffed and Starved. Patel takes a life-changing journey around the world as he tries to solve the mystery as to how both the starvation rate and obesity rate are at an all time high. Checking in at massive American supermarkets and wrecked Indian paddy fields, Patel goes beyond ethical consumerism and still manages to find hope in re-balancing the world food system.
5. An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth by Chris Hadfield
I encourage everyone I meet to watch the documentary The Cosmos and Hadfield's book even if they aren't into astronomy. Learning about space, the Earth, and how life came to be is incredibly eye-opening. The same is true for An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth. After spending decades preparing for space life, Hadfield spent almost 4,000 hours up in the International Space Station where he faced difficulties left and right, but enjoyed every minute of it. This refreshing read will not only teach you fascinating new science facts, but will also inspire you to live your best life while facing fears along the way.
6. The Means of Reproduction by Michelle Goldberg
The war surrounding female reproductive rights is in the news nearly everyday, and it's something that very well deserves attention. This outstanding book targets and explains the many complex issues involved: abortion, birth control, female circumcision, politics, religion, and cultural beliefs. More than anything, Goldberg focuses on empowering women and fighting for freedom. This book is flat-out amazing, easy to comprehend, and one you'll want to share with everyone.
7. Half the Sky by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn
Girls and women in the developing areas of the world lack a voice from centuries of oppression, and Kristof and WuDunn, two passionate and fierce voices, are out to change that. Through many difficult and inspiring stories that recognize how a women's potential leads to economic progress, this book reveals just how little it takes to transform a life — and a country.
8. The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson
One of every hundred people is manipulative, seductive, delusional, and lacking emotion, aka a psychopath. If you're a big fan of watching psychology documentaries or even Sherlock, you'll enjoy this perplexing book on the history of psychopaths. Revealing how to spot a psychopath and how many of our world leaders are on the psychopath scale, Ronson discovers how ordinary people are defined by their interesting and insane traits.
9. The Good Girls Revolt by Lynn Povich
Take a break from your Mad Men binge and pick up this empowering book on how women changed the workplace in 1970. While these women were all hired on as researchers for Newsweek, they were never once promoted or hired on as editors or writers like their male coworkers. By filing 46 systematic discrimination complaints on the same day, this revolution sparked a movement and took the women in multiple directions — some moved their way up the ladder, while others fell further behind — and has since changed the way women are treated in the workforce ever since.
10. The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth by Alexandra Robbins
Robbins takes an in-depth look at the geeks, or "cafeteria fringe," roaming the halls of an average high school and how being ostracized during adolescence may lead to becoming successful adults. After watching multiple documentaries on bullying and problems within the public school system, this book gave me a new insight on the topic. It will take you back to the awkward, cringe-worthy days of note-passing and study hall, but if you ever felt like an outsider, this book will remind you of how far you've come.
11. This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein
This is a radical book takes on the radical issue of climate change, but instead of blaming carbon footprints, instead Klein targets capitalism. Klein suggests that diving in head first into the changes we need to make is the only route to solving our environmental issues. If you're in the mood for an inspiring read on how to change the world, don't wait any longer and grab this incredible story.