7 Non-Fiction Books I Couldn’t Put Down

Throughout my many years of reading, there are few books I’ve read that have really stuck with me. These books below are the ones I often refer to in conversations, bug my family to read, or re-read my notes at different points in life. A few of them have inspired some story ideas, and even changed my life.

“At six feet and two inches I have long femurs and tibias with solid connective tissue. Both my kidneys function properly and my heart runs at a steady clip of eighty-seven beats per minute. All in I figure I’m worth about $250 000.”

The Red Market: On the Trail of the World’s Organ Brokers, Bone Thieves, Blood Farmers, and Child Traffickers 

– Scott Carney

This book blew my mind. I could not believe what people sell on the Red Market. There is a great show called The Traffickers that also touches on some of these subjects. I think one of the things that stuck with me the most was the chapter on China using it’s prisoners for organ trafficking.

“We realize the importance of our voices only when we are silenced.”

“If one man can destroy everything, why can’t one girl change it?”

I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban

– Christina Lamb and Malala Yousafzai

If you need a little pick me up to remind you that there is hope in the world – this is the book for you. It’s something you will want to pick up every few years and remember that even small voices can make a change.

“Someone once asked, “If you could take it all back, would you?” At the time I didn’t know. Now I do. I wouldn’t take that terrible experience back for anything in the world. Too much light has come out of my darkness.”

Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness

– Susannah Cahalan

The fact that Susannah recovered after this experience and was able to have a successful career after is inspiring and makes it a little less terrifying. It reminds you how fragile we are as human beings and not to take such little every day things for granted. Susannah was diagnosed with a rare neurological autoimmune disease called: anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis that basically shut down her brain.

“This is a book about friendship between women, and the importance that they attach to intimacy and to looking after each other, and about how, under conditions of acute hardship and danger, such mutual dependency can make the difference between living and dying. “

A Train in Winter: A Story of Resistance, Friendship and Survival

– Caroline Moorehead

I was haunted for years after reading this. First of all, the way these women helped organize the french resistance was amazing. And the struggle they went through in the concentration camps was horrendous – but the way they were able to survive it as women was inspiring. This is an extremely important book to read which serves us reminders that are still true to this day.

“As he met now with each sales director, J.T. would begin by grilling him with a standard set of questions: You losing any of your regulars? (In other words, customers.) Anybody complaining? (About the quality of the crack.) “

Gang Leader for a Day: A Rogue Sociologist Takes to the Streets

– Sudhir Venkatesh

This was such an interesting read I couldn’t put it down. Sudhir’s journey into the culture and life of gang leaders explores a lot of stereotypes and misconceptions. What stuck with me most was how these communities lean on each other and how devastating it is to break them up and spread them out when urban areas are gentrified.

The book that came after this, Floating City, is also really great.

“You cannot have your news instantly and have it done well. You cannot have your news reduced to 140 characters or less without losing large parts of it. You cannot manipulate the news but not expect it to be manipulated against you. You cannot have your news for free; you can only obscure the costs.”

Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator

– Ryan Holiday

This book is entirely interesting and also terrifying. It opened my eyes as to how easily media can be manipulated for gain – and to hurt people. It showed real life examples of how a person can fake being an expert or publish false information in main stream media. This book came out a while ago but it seems to get more relevant each year.

“Suddenly, madness was everywhere, and I was determined to learn about the impact it had on the way society evolves. I’ve always believed society to be a fundamentally rational thing, but what if it isn’t? What if it is built on insanity?”

The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry

– Jon Ronson

This book is both hilarious and astonishing at the same time. It opens your eyes to how the mental health medical system works and how it came to be. He asks a lot of fantastic questions and brings up a lot of points that make you re-think the world around you.

If you’ve read these, what did you think of these books? Am I missing any great ones on this list?

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