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Books/book club

Non fiction books

(71 Posts)
polomint Mon 05-Feb-24 18:24:44

I know there is a thread on book club 50 books and I do have a browse there and comment, however most of the books recommended are fiction and I prefer non fiction. I like auto biographies and I like to learn about history and travel, religion , women in history etc. Are there any other gransnetters who are like me and just can't really get into fiction books?

SueDonim Mon 05-Feb-24 18:29:43

I read a mix of books, probably 2:1 fiction/NF. I’ve just begun A History of the Bible by John Barton. It looks a good read.

Grandmabatty Mon 05-Feb-24 18:32:30

I like history books. Tom Holland has quite a lot. Mary Beard and Bill Bryson writes non fiction with a humorous twist

TerriBull Mon 05-Feb-24 18:46:34

I always have a non fiction book on the go, I tend to dip into them rather than read one continuously like say a novel. The books I go for tend to be either history, current affairs or biographies, but I'm pretty much interested in what you are OP.

polomint Mon 05-Feb-24 22:49:12

At the moment I'm reading " the nine" by gwen strauss. It's about 9 women survivors who were in the French resistance and escaped from the death march. Another book I'm half way through reading is " normal lwomen" by hilary
gregory. Women through history from 1500s. Still to start reading the barbra Streisand auto biography

Sparklefizz Tue 06-Feb-24 08:24:39

Hi polo I was just about to recommend "Normal Women" by Philippa Gregory but I see you're in the middle of reading it.

I have found it very interesting but it's also made me angry regarding the more recent history of women.

M0nica Tue 06-Feb-24 08:56:30

I am another who reads very little fiction. I also read very few new books. Most of mine come from secondhand book shops.

Most of my reading is historical and archaeological. My current reading, is Mrs Woolf and the servants about Virginia Woolf and her relationsip with the staff who worked for her. Many were with her for decades. ^ The Subjection of Women^ by John Stuart Mills, published in 1869. One of the first great feminist polemics. I am ashamed I have not read it before. And The Penninsular War by Charles Esdale.

TerriBull Tue 06-Feb-24 11:00:44

I'm also listening to"My Name is Barbra" on Audible . My dip -in book at the moment, which I'll have on the go alongside whatever non fiction I'm reading, is Memoirs of an Arab Jew, life in Iraq. I also have Dan Jones "The Plantagenets" on my pile for this year, as well as one of my late mother's books, The Great Shame by Thomas Keneally about the Irish famine which I've been meaning to read for ages. Recently I've also enjoyed River Kings, Viking history, The House of Glass by Hadley Freeman, relating to three generations of her Jewish family who moved from Poland to Paris pre the second World War, Stolen Focus, Why We Can't Pay attention, a commentary on just that, very relevant today and the distractions of social media, Grace Dent's Hungry, her growing up working class years seen through the prism of food and how she went on to become a food critic. Non fiction that sticks out in my mind, A N Wilson's history of the 19th century, plus his biography of Queen Victoria which delves into the life of all her children. A book I loved by Juliet Nicholson, A Houseful of Daughters - 7 generations of her family which included her grandmother, Vita Sackville-West, Margaret Forster's biography of Daphne du Maurier. Further back in time, The Unequalled Self - A biography of Samuel Pepys and Ungrateful Daughters, Queen Mary and her sister Queen Ann, daughters of James 11, I love the Stuart period. One Two Three Four, The Beatles in Time, essentially about them but a great social commentary on the 1960s. I also have Simon Schama's 3 part History of Britain which I like to have for reference from time to time. I enjoy biographies as long as the subject matter is worthwhile and have made their mark, certainly no sports person or reality type non celebrity those would be two categories of people I have no interest in.

NotSpaghetti Tue 06-Feb-24 11:14:00

I'm really a fiction person but have just started Risotto With Nettles: A Memoir with Food which is a memoir of Anna del Conte from growing up in Italy to the arrival of grandchildren.
I'm really enjoying it - what an amazing life.
Family and food.
It does have some recipes but the story shines through.

mrsgreenfingers56 Tue 06-Feb-24 11:16:19

Never read fiction, has to be non-fiction for me each time.

Musicgirl Tue 06-Feb-24 11:17:35

I read a mixture of both fiction and non fiction. I am another Bill Bryson fan. I really like social history and the Time Traveller’s Guides by Ian Mortimer are amazing.

NotAGran55 Tue 06-Feb-24 11:19:45

Let It Go , the memoirs of Dame Stephanie Shirley would definitely appeal to you *polomint.

A truly remarkable woman.

NotSpaghetti Tue 06-Feb-24 11:26:38

Oh, I found this fascinating in the 1970s when I was researching the Titanic:

A Night to Remember - written in the 1950s - he interviewed survivors and produced quite a picture of the ship and disaster.
I know he wrote a follw-up in the 1980s when the wreck was discovered.
I was looking for this in the study only last week - it has lived with me all these years and I thought my grandson might like it.

NotSpaghetti Tue 06-Feb-24 11:29:22

Shocking Life: The Autobiography of Elsa Schiaparelli

This is a fabulous (and easy) read.

NotSpaghetti Tue 06-Feb-24 11:30:36

The Moon's a Balloon - David Niven
And the sequel.

bluebird243 Tue 06-Feb-24 11:31:36

I enjoy a lot of non-fiction. Recently one's of mine have been autobiographies by Bob Mortimer and Grace Dent, a couple written by Holocaust survivors. I enjoyed books about Doctor's, Nurse's, and Criminologist's work. My next one is one written by Governor of a prison.

Love Bill Bryson's books for informative, light hearted reading. And social history is always fascinating.

polomint Tue 06-Feb-24 12:59:38

What a lovely list of books you have all suggested, just my cup of tea. I've read David niven book" the moons a balloon" many years ago plus the sequel. I've read all kuki gallmans books about an Italian woman moving to Africa with her husband and how she built up an animal sanctuary. Her first book was " I dreamed of africa" which has now been made into a film
I've read a few books about the so called happy valley in Kenya

Retread Tue 06-Feb-24 13:18:49

Wave by Sonali Deraniyagala is a remarkable book, beautifully written, about coming to terms with the loss of her beloved husband, two sons and her parents in the Sri Lanka tsunami of 2004. In the end, it is an uplifting book as she "reclaims" the memories of her family life.

humptydumpty Tue 06-Feb-24 13:28:05

Can't recommend highly enough 'For Those I loved' by Martin Gray:

Who better to guide our understanding and give us hope than Martin Gray--a man who survived the worst of times, flourished, and still managed to find joy in living? Martin has come full circle since his boyhood world was turned upside down by the German invasion of Poland in 1939. Overnight, the teenage Martin and his family were immersed in the horrors of the Holocaust and held captive in the Warsaw Ghetto. It was a nightmare of brutality, starvation, and death. Martin became a clever smuggler to help his family survive--until the "butchers" of Treblinka took his mother and brothers. Against impossible odds, Martin survived and returned to fight in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. As the Nazis incinerated the ghetto, he escaped to fight with the partisans, and then the Red Army. After the war, Martin made his way to New York. The cunning and skills he developed during the war enabled him to learn the language and create a successful business. At 35, he retired to France with a fortune and a beautiful Dutch wife, starting a family and living in happiness and peace. But his world was shattered once again by a forest fire that engulfed his fleeing family. In a tragic repeat of history, Martin alone survived.

polomint Tue 06-Feb-24 13:45:56

I must try and get that book humpty as I've read several, make that a lot, of books about surviving the ghettos and the camps. Makes me often wonder how brave and strong I would be under those circumstances

polomint Tue 06-Feb-24 13:54:25

I read a book much the same as yours retread about 2 brothers or friends, I can't remember which, who survived the boxing day tsunami and started a business making flip flop sandals to help the economy of the devastated area. Their parents did not survive.
Another thought provoking book was " alive" about the plane crash in the andes and the rugby team who had to consume the bodies of their friends in order to stay alive. There is a film on netflix just now about it

mayisay Tue 06-Feb-24 14:05:48

I can highly recommend "Brazen" by Julia Haart. In actual fact I couldn't put it down for long! She tells how her life was as an Orthadox Jew in New York, and how she goes on to change her life completely.

Anniel Tue 06-Feb-24 14:21:13

I am listening to an Audio book version of Living Better by Alistair Campbell. It is about his mental illness which also affected others in his family, it is a very honest account and he narrated it himself. I find it interesting and I am learning a lot about this awful affliction. Although my favourite audio books are about crime, I also love to read biography too.

Sarnia Tue 06-Feb-24 14:35:18

The Five by Hallie Rubenhold is a fascinating insight into the lives of the Ripper's 5 victims who were not all prostitutes as some would have people believe. Years of research went into this book and you can see why. I love history and I found this book a real page turner and opened my eyes to the full facts of the Ripper murders.

Urmstongran Tue 06-Feb-24 14:59:07


I can highly recommend "Brazen" by Julia Haart. In actual fact I couldn't put it down for long! She tells how her life was as an Orthadox Jew in New York, and how she goes on to change her life completely.

I finished this last week. I was engrossed for the first half - about her life as a Jewish girl then mum in an ultra orthodox community. The second half I found myself wading through the treacle of celebrity mwah-mwah ‘what can you do for me?/can we network?/want to read all about my sexual ‘firsts’ as a newly liberated feisty non-conformist woman?’

Goodness it was tedious. Needed some serious editing in my opinion. It just went on. And then some.