what non-fiction book or books surprised you with how exciting or interesting they were?
Posted on 29th of July, 2019


The only thing that surprises me about non-fiction books is how many people there are who genuinely believe that anything that isn't fiction is dry and boring. Let me tell you, I've red non-fiction books that had me on the edge of my seat, non-fiction books that had me looking over my shoulder and double checking my door locks at night, non-fiction books that made me look at the world around me with new eyes, non fiction books that taught me what a miracle the existence of some of the most mundane things can be. There are way too many of these books to list here, but do yourself a favor and visit the non fiction section of your local library and just take a book at random. Chances are you will find yourself hooked in no time.
There is one non-fiction book that I could absolutely not put down once I started reading it, and it is called Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuvan Noah Harari. It is a book that explores why exactly it is that humans became the dominant species on our planet and how our evolution has contributed to this. It is truly fascinating stuff and the author wrote it in such a manner that you never feel like you are reading some dry scientific paper, but instead exploring a complex mystery. Another one that shocked me was The Radium girls by Kate Moore. I actually saw the story about women who were paid to paint glow in the dark dials on watches on television and how they began to die due to their jobs. It was on one of those believe it or not shows, but after reading the book I found that it was even more horrifying than what I suspected. Obviously, it is also impossible to mention compelling non fiction without mentioning Stephen Hawking, who never ceased to blow my mind. My favorite book of his is Brief Answers To The Big Questions, which is filled with some awesome insights by him.
I actually love horror books and rarely stray outside of this genre, especially not to read non fiction books. Well, imagine my surprise when a well meaning relative who knows about my reading tastes got me a nonfiction book that they thought was a fictional horror story. I haven't seen or heard a lot of people talk about this book, so I have no idea if it is actually popular or not, but it is called "Hell's Princess: The Mystery of Belle Gunness, Butcher of Men" by an author named Harold Schechter. Initially I also thought that it is fiction, I mean come on, a female psychopath serial killer who ran a murder farm? Well, turns out that not only was Belle a real person, but she also probably killed as many as 40 people who she lured to her farm under the pretense of seeking male companionship. Even more evil, when she suspected that she might be caught, Belle faked her own death and had her farm burned down with her own children still inside. Belle had a fondness for poisoning her victims before butchering them and this book made my blood run cold on a number of occasions! It is also the book that made me broaden my horizons from only reading horror novels to include some non fiction true crime stories as well and at this point I think the non fiction stuff scares me way more!
I must confess that I'm one of those people who tend to avoid non fiction books where I can because most of them tend to feel too much like homework. Now imagine my surprise (and that of all my closest friends) when I got caught up in a boo, that deals with neurological disorders of all things. It all started out as a joke when a friend of mine pointed out the book to me in the library and we both laughed at the title; The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat. After the jokes about what could happen if someone were to mistake their partner for a hat died down, I found myself strangely drawn to finding out more. Well, I ended up taking the book and couldn't put it down until I have read the entire thing. Some of the cases described in the book just completely blew my mind and there were situations so strange and bizarre that if they were to appear in a movie I think most people would dismiss it as far fetched. Apart from the man who had visual agnosia, there is also a woman who completely lost the sense of her own body, a man who was convinced that his own leg (that was still attached to him) was not in fact his own, and even a woman who was unable to comprehend anything happening to her left! It's been a few years since I have read the book, so I've begun to question some of the things that I have read in it, but it definitely was quite a wild ride I can tell you that much!

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