The Power of true stories cannot be underestimated. Stories and facts that we have not considered come together to make non-fiction a staple in your reading lists.
Here are some great ones I read this year.
- Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly: The first thing that comes to mind is the amount of talent and knowledge that has been lost (and continues to be lost) because of barriers to education and employment. Such a criminal waste. That said, this book brings to light the contributions of women, especially African American women, in the space age. Well researched and told.
- A River in Darkness by Masaji Ishikawa: A disturbing look into some of the lives of people living in North Korea. The words barely begin to describe the true horror of the starvation and oppression being faced by so many in secrecy. The ending of the book is quite heartbreaking and since there’s not much information available on the author online, we don’t know how the story ends up.
- Homo Deus By Yuval Noah Harari: The narrative goes from scaring you to bits about the future and then consoling you on how it’s actually going to be so good. Technology, specifically data, used correctly has been the biggest boon to society but it can (and has) easily go to the other end of the spectrum. Going further, we have to decide how much of our privacy we are willing to sacrifice for the convenience or even life-saving technologies via crowd-sourced data
- The Trauma Cleaner by Sarah Krasnostein: Reading stories such as this makes you wonder in amazement. Amazement at how cruel people can be, and amazement at how much a person, much less a child, can live through one cruel act over another for so long. As the author states, the goal of the book is to make the subject feel she belongs in this world…a feeling she had been denied for so long. The book goes into details that are not easy on the mind and heart, but then you tell yourself someone has actually lived through it. Least we can do is be witness to their story.
- The Moment of Lift by Melinda Gates: A very good insight to how bringing everyone to the table benefits everyone. It has a bit of biography, her experiences in her work and home life, and experiences of other women around the world. She talks about gender parity and diversity in all spheres from farming to AI development.
- Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay: I loved it and identified with so much of what she said. For example, I always was sure I disliked the Twilight series and could give supporting arguments, but was never sure why I liked the hunger games series so much – unapologetic and not insecure heroine. There’s no right or wrong way to be a feminist…you can like pink frills and still want equal pay or to not be judged for the amount of sex you have or don’t have.
- A Daughter of Isis by Nawal El Saadawi: A lot of women would identify with the feelings of growing up as a girl as is described in this book. Apart from the general stuff that’s common everywhere (girls need to watch what they wear from a very early age, and inadequate information sharing about their own bodies) to feelings that are more common in developing countries (preference of boys over girls, and girls being restricted to household duties while their education is optional). It is a reminder of how far we’ve come and how much further we still need to go in the field of women’s empowerment.
- Treasures of the Thunder Dragon: A Portrait of Bhutan by Ashi Dori Wangmo Wangchuck: A beautifully told book about the charms of a country that the author obviously loves. It could serve as a rough travel guide as it introduces you to the people of Bhutan, their customs and history, and also about the landscape. She also briefly talks about her life and family connections.
- Catch and Kill by Ronan Farrow: Unputdownable. The only time I had to put it down was in frustration of how widely accepted and far reaching sexual harassment is. The writing flows easily… Part spy/mystery novel, part memoir and funny at times. This is what good journalism is about that we are forgetting about
- Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men by Caroline Criado Perez: This should and will enrage you, surprise you, and sadden you. But hopefully, it’ll also make you aware of the inequities and biases women face in every walk of life. That in turn would hopefully make you point them out, fix them, and stop them
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