The Best Non-Fiction Books Out This Month In The UK, Because Novels Aren't The Only Things To Pay Attention To
A good piece of fiction can be an escape from reality. But non-fiction books are a little different. Instead of letting your mind wander, they aim to open your eyes up to what's going on in the world. This month's best new non-fiction books are a mixture of hard-hitting and hilarious, but each one provides a detailed look at some truly engrossing topics.
Some — like Frédéric Martel's In the Closet of the Vatican — are particularly hard-hitting. (There's a good chance you may need to have a break halfway through.) Others such as Hallie Rubenhold's The Five could change the course of history and the way society talks about the victims of serial killers.
Several are delving into the human mindset. Gina Rippon's The Gendered Brain looks at how sexist science may have led women and men to behave differently and how this can now be rectified while Reshma Saujani's Brave, Not Perfect uses real world advice to remap the way girls and women approach life.
Whether you're looking to educate yourself on the inner workings of the Catholic Church or want a rip-roaring read written by a drag queen, these books will keep you busy for quite some time.
1. 'The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper' by Hallie Rubenhold
Five women have forever become immortalised in history, yet few people can recite their names. In The Five, Hallie Rubenhold explores the lives of Polly, Annie, Elizabeth, Catherine, and Mary-Jane. They all came from different places and had different interests, but each and every one of their lives ended in 1888 at the hands of Jack the Ripper. Several books exist detailing the gruesome circumstances of the murders, but little has been done to give these women a voice. Calling time on our serial killer fascination, Rubenhold is instead ushering in a new era of focusing on the victims and only the victims.
2. 'In the Closet of the Vatican: Power, Homosexuality, Hypocrisy' by Frédéric Martel
If you were raised Catholic like me or have any knowledge of the religion at all, you'll probably know that the Catholic Church has been mired in controversy. Author Frédéric Martel spent four years researching and speaking to senior members of the Vatican to expose the truth behind sexual abuse cover-ups, contraceptive debates, and the celibacy of priests. What he discovered will reportedly shock you. As the Telegraph reports, Martel believes that certain cover-ups may be linked to the fact that many members of the Church are gay. "Bishops may not be abusers themselves," the author told the paper. "But they protect priests because they are terrified that if there's a scandal or an investigation or a trial, then their own homosexuality may be revealed."
3. 'Threads of Life: A History of the World Through the Eye of a Needle' by Clare Hunter
A book about sewing may not seem appealing, but textile artist Clare Hunter's in-depth look at the creative pursuit is definitely worth a read. Zoning in on how sewing has been used to spread messages and incite campaigns, she traverses the globe to highlight some truly incredible stories. There's the tale of how mothers in 1970s Argentina fought for their disappeared children, mentions of sewing in prisoner-of-war camps in Singapore, and the famous story detailing how Mary, Queen of Scots incorporated treasonous messages into her needlework. Told you it was worth your time.
4. 'Diary of a Drag Queen' by Crystal Rasmussen
Tom Rasmussen is a Northern working class non-binary fashion journalist. Crystal is their drag queen alter-ego. In Diary of a Drag Queen, Crystal writes honestly about the inner battles they face. Relationships, careers, money, body image, and problematic nights out are all discussed in the most accessible and hilarious way. If you want a true depiction of what it's like to balance a drag queen persona with an everyday self, look no further.
5. 'The Gendered Brain: The New Neuroscience that Shatters the Myth of the Female Brain' by Gina Rippon
Gina Rippon's The Gendered Brain is one for all the science fanatics out there. And one for all the people who are fed up of being told that their gender makes them incapable of certain things. The idea of the male and female brain has been around for years, but is it even true? Rippon — who is a professor of cognitive neuroimaging — takes readers on a journey, examining how science has contributed to sexism and even our own views of ourselves. She then brings in the findings of more modern neuroscience to prove that our brains are just as individual as you have long suspected.
6. 'Renegade Women: 50 Trailblazers in Film and TV' by Elizabeth Weitzman
If you never know what to watch, let this book be your guide. Elizabeth Weitzman profiles all of the women who crashed through the glass ceiling in the film and TV worlds. Some you will have heard of; others will be new to you. As well as in-depth profiles, the beautifully illustrated book also features interviews with icons including Sigourney Weaver and Barbra Streisand. It's the perfect way to celebrate women in entertainment.
7. 'Brave, Not Perfect: Fear Less, Fail More, and Live Bolder' by Reshma Saujani
Reshma Saujani is the founder of Girls Who Code and the woman behind a truly inspiring TED talk. Her emphasis on opting for a brave path in life, rather than a perfect one, has led to an entire book on the topic. Saujani dives into how girls and women are conditioned to play it safe throughout their lives and offers practical advice on how to overcome feelings of fear. Ultimately, she's urging people to embark on a more joyful existence.
Well, I know what I'll be doing this weekend.