My Top 10 Favorite Nonfiction Books



hi guys olive here here today to do a very exciting video one that I've been looking forward to doing for a really long time today I would like to tell you about my top 10 favorite non-fiction books at least as it stands right now as I connected to each of these 10 books in very disparate ways I decided not to rank them so in no particular order here are my top 10 favorite non-fiction books the first one being quiet the power of introverts in a world that can't stop talking by Susan Cain this is a book all about introversion what it is the conceptions and misconceptions of it in society the myriad of ways that introverts are necessary in today's world even given the preference shown towards extra hurts in the Western world particularly I found this to be a life-changing book not only for the value that Susan Cain places on the introverts style of thinking but also for her discussion of the tendency of introverts to be highly sensitive people when it comes to external stimuli versus emotion this book explained so much about my own life and I really appreciated the spotlight that Susan Cain put on the need for balance between introverts and extroverts in this world this is an essential read for introverts and extroverts alike the next two books on my list are both by the same author and those are Nicholas and Alexandra and Katherine the great portrait of a woman both by Robert K Massey I have talked ad nauseam about my love for Russian historian Robert K Massey on this channel I have really enjoyed all of his books on Russian history but these two are definitely my favorites I read Nicholas and Alexandra when I was in college and I give this book loads of credit not only for turning me into the Russian history junkie that I am but also for inspiring my honors thesis this is a superb biography of the last Tsar of Russia nicholas ii and his wife Alexandra this book serves as my most recommended book to anyone and everyone who reaches out to me looking for a good place to start with Russian history I always recommend this book because it reads like fiction the story of Nicholas and Alexandra is equal parts tragedy and love story while Nicholas and Alexandra was the first biography that Robert K masse ever published during the great is his most recent biography and unfortunately will probably be his last considering his advanced age Massey's writing is absolutely fantastic and paints a vivid portrait of Catherine the Great as a woman not just an empress if you would like to hear more about either or both of these two books I did a whole author spotlight on Robert K Massey and I will put a link to that video in the description box below the fourth book on this list is moonwalking with Einstein the art and science of remembering everything by Joshua Foer this is a robbed of a nonfiction book about Joshua Foer fascination with memory competitions and morphs into his own endeavours to train for a memory championship along the way forward discusses what memory is where it resides in the brain and the different methods that these memory champions use to memorize huge amounts of information this book is intensely readable memorable and the reading experience of it was one of the most enjoyable of all the non-fiction books I've ever read the next book on this list is selfish shallow and self-absorbed sixteen writers on the decision not to have kids edited by Megan DOM this is an essay collection in which sixteen different writers discuss the idea of not having kids and the different reasons why people might go about making that decision given that more and more people are making this choice for their lives to go child free as it's known including myself I found it very valuable to hear about how these writers came to that decision or have the decision made for them by the universe I think it's important to note that this book is not a slam on children or Parenthood most of these writers and I really like kids and have the utmost respect for parents but for the reasons that each author outlines in their essays they determined it wasn't for them I took a lot out of this book because it is tied to one of my life choices but I really do feel that anyone could gain insight out of this book whether you want kids or not if you would like to hear me talk more about this book specifically within the context of the declining population trend in the Western world toward the beginning of my channels history I did a dual book review of this book in another book and I will link that video in the description box below the next book on this list is hs4 hawk by Helen McDonald's this book was an head when it first came out I read it and really liked it but it has stuck with me in such a huge way that it absolutely belongs on this list Helen MacDonald always an appreciator and trainer of birds made an abrupt somewhat perplexing decision to attempt to train a goshawk one of the most notoriously difficult birds to train after her beloved father unexpectedly passed away this is her account of that experience a highly literary combination of nature writing memoir and biography as Helen MacDonald is mirroring her own goshawk taming tale with that a writer th white in his own book the goshawk this book is unlike anything I've ever read before or since and the quiet power of the prose has echoed in my brain since the moment I finished the last page over a year ago plus this book ignited my own interesting Birds which has grown rather fierce over the past few months in particular so if you read this book which I highly encourage you do be forewarned you too could end up spending your birthday meeting a bird of prey with childlike excitement the seventh book on this list is the poisoners handbook murder in the birth of forensic medicine in Jazz Age New York by Deborah bloom similarly to moonwalking with Einstein this one has stuck with me because I enjoyed reading it so damn much this book manages to be a true crime book a micro history on poisons a history of how forensic science groom into its own field and a discussion on the societal and political impacts of prohibition all at once how Debra blooms so effortlessly managed to cram all of that into a very reasonably sized book I will never know but what I do know is that it is a rip-roaring good time the next book on this list is being mortal medicine and what matters in the end by Atul Gawande I read this book after the death of a family member earlier this year I had been putting it off for the inevitable time that I would need this book and unfortunately that time did come this is a book all about ageing and death how we treat the elderly and are sometimes aggressive approach to end-of-life care this is a touching lean written yet instructive read that made me see the importance of having honest conversations with your loved ones about what you would want the laughs years of your life to look like should things come to that having open conversations about death certainly isn't easy but this book made me see just how important it is this book even goes so far as to give a list of questions to ask your loved ones so that potentially difficult questions that they may not be able to answer themselves if things come to that have answers so not only is this a moving book but it is one that I plan to keep on hand when not if I need to seek its counsel the penultimate book on this list is mastering the art of Soviet cooking a memoir of food and longing by on Yvonne Branson like HS fur hawk this is mostly a memoir but it really matches together a few genres this book chronicles the author's experience growing up in the Soviet Union up until the age of 10 when she and her mother emigrated to the United States she tells her story of being a child in the Soviet Union and then an immigrant in the United States all with a culinary bent Vaughn Brinson does so because she is a food writer and has always had a passion and curiosity for food in this book she also discusses a good deal of Soviet history not just about food and cooking during the Soviet era but also politics everything she talks about in this book is told with such an amazing sense of humor that I still remember nearly word-for-word all the jokes she told in this book and the final book on this list is the soul of an octopus a surprising exploration into the wonder of consciousness by sy Montgomery I credit this book along with HS fur Hawk for getting me so addicted to books on Natural History I can also draw similarities between this book and aegis for hot because on the surface they both seem to be about just the animal in the title but they are both so much more than that this book not only gives amazing details about the physical and cognitive abilities of these remarkable creatures but also does some serious soul-searching at its core it asks a serious question of the reader what does it mean to be alive and have a connection with other living things in this book Montgomery seeks out encounters with wild octopuses as well as those in aquariums and she makes connections not with just the sea creatures but with aquarium employees as well as fellow enthusiasts there to meet the octopuses she bonds with several of the octopuses seeing a few of them through the entire lifecycle which includes unfortunately for a few of them their deaths I was so incredibly moved by this book it's the first and only non-fiction book to ever make me cry and that is a big feat because I am NOT a crier so those are my top 10 favorite non-fiction books as it stands right now but who knows maybe I will find a new favorite during this year's nonfiction November if you've heard about any of these books if you've read any of them or if you now would like to read them now that you've heard me talk about them I would love to hear from you in the comment section below or you can find me on a variety of different places on social media and the links to all my profiles are linked in the description box below thank you so much for watching I hope you're having a wonderful day and I will see you in the next video

50 thoughts on “My Top 10 Favorite Nonfiction Books

  1. The Soul of an Octopus…. one of my all time favorite books
    I adore octopuses because of this book and my greatest fear is the ocean so that’s saying something

  2. Nice videos!

    Can I ask you for an advice?
    How do you sort and analyse all the information from books? I mean, motivation of the main characters/connection between reality, etc.

    Do you have any specific methodology? Thank you.

  3. Thank you so much for this list! I was looking for some great non fiction books to read and here I am.

  4. I am so happy I discovered your channel! I’m also an avid reader of Russian History. I branched out from English/British History. I couldn’t love Robert K. Massie more.

  5. Nice to see Deborah Blum mentioned. Her book Ghost Hunters is in my top…three non-fiction, I’d say. I’ve read it two or three times.

  6. I read Quiet thanks to your recommendation and I just wanted to thank you, it is amazing and I'm not even a true introvert 🙂

  7. Moonwalking sounds very interesting. I currently read a non fiction that sort of changed my life and my reactions towards it. Here is the review http://ankitataneja.com/book-reviews/unposted-letter-by-mahatria-ra/
    Please tell how you feel about it :')

  8. I don't know if it's just your personality or your descriptions, but you made me want to read every single one of these books. A few were already on my want to read list but I think I'll definitely be picking them up now.

  9. Currently reading the Poisoner's Handbook due to your recommendation and loving it! Looks like I'm going to have to get The Soul of an Octopus as well. You're the second person to recommend that book!

  10. You mission to get me more interested in nonfiction books is starting to work… I will likely read a few of these books 🙂

  11. Of the ones in your videos I have read, I really loved Quiet, she really understands the introvert. Moonwalking with Einstein is brilliant too. really enjoyed H is for Hawk, but the best of that type of book that I have read is Turning by Jessica J Lee.

  12. thanks for this list we have really similar tastes though I would love to see a list of your favorite "academic" nonfiction too

  13. I really want to read Quiet as I've heard so many amazing things about it… Soul of an Octopus is also up there on my wishlist as well as Being Mortal. So many interesting non-fiction books mentioned in this video, so little time!! <3

  14. Hi, Olive! I have a whole bunch of fiction books on my TBR list, but not much nonfiction, so I was wondering if you could recommend any books about the Romanovs? I've read all of the Robert K Massie books, and I don't know where to go from there. My favorite time period (tsar) is Nicholas II, but I'm open to anything, really!

    Thanks for taking the time to read this!

  15. So many great recommendations, about every books I was thinking "I need to read that." I've picked up H is for Hawk so many times at my used bookstore but somehow haven't managed to bring it home, that may need to happen now.

  16. So excited for this video! Added a bunch to my TBR list. "Being Mortal" and "Quiet" are also favorites of mine. Particularly excited to pick up "H is for Hawk" and "The Poisoner's Handbook"!

  17. I adore this list. You never let me down with the non fiction recs. ❤️ I don't even realize I am interested in learning about stuff till I see people raving about a book and the I'm all "ooooooooo! I wanna learn too!"

  18. Nicholas & Alexandra was my introduction to Russian history too, along with Mara Kay's historical novel, The Youngest Lady-in-Waiting & I've never lost my love for it. I first read the Reader's Digest condensed version in the 70s because my Dad subscribed to them. My first copy was the movie tie-in edition & I don't know how many times I've read it in the last 40 years. I also have a beautiful Folio Society edition. Love Massie's books. I've read them all except Catherine which is on the tbr shelves. I have the audio book of H is for Hawk, read by the author, & hope to get to it soon.

  19. Since you liked Montgomery, Gawande and Macdonald I will highly recommend Bernd Heinrich's "Life Everlasting: The Animal Way of Death". And have you read any of Peter Wohlleben's books? The Hidden Life of Trees or The Inner Life of Animals?

  20. I have The Poisoner's Handbook in my possession. As per your recommendations for Non Fiction November, I went a little nuts at the library but I've been devouring everything and I can't wait to dig into this one.

  21. Soviet Cooking sounds fascinating. I love books that marry big political ideas with the simple parts of everyday existence. Thanks for the recs. Hope your NFN reading is going well too. It's great to see how many people are getting involved and reading different books than they would usually do. Well done for making that happen!

  22. Great video as always! Now I have so many more Non-Fiction books to add to my TBR! Also Quiet seems like a book perfect for me!

  23. aww soul of an octopus sounds amazing. As you can tell i love reading about animals and nature. And i cry a lot in books and movies lol

  24. I have actually wanted to ask you for a good Russian nonfiction book to start with, so I'm adding Nicholas and Alexandra to my tbr right away! I'm actually reading the Putin book by Masha Gessen now because of hearing about it in your previous wrap-up, and finding it very enlightening! The Soul of an Octopus is absolutely a book I feel like I'd love, putting on my wishlist because octopuses + larger critical discussions on humanity and consciousness sounds pretty perfect to me.

  25. I suggest reading The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. Fascinating book about poverty and metal illness as her parents are homeless in New York City and Jeanette's rise to fame.

  26. Loved "Nicholas & Alexandra". "Catherine" is on my list for this month.
    Thanks for introducing me to Massie earlier this year.

  27. Based on this excellent list, I think you might really enjoy Alex & Me by Irene Pepperberg. Have you read it? Pepperberg is an animal psychologist who adopted and studied an African Grey parrot with a fun personality. I first heard her story on The Moth: https://themoth.org/storytellers/irene-pepperberg — and read the book after. She's a great storyteller!

  28. This was wonderful. I find there is just never enough non fiction on book tube. I really need to get to H is for Hawk and The Soul of an Octopus.

  29. I plan on reading Quiet this Nonfiction November! Also very interested in the book about Catherine the Great and Soul of an Octopus. Think I might have found my love for nonfiction finally 😊

  30. Moonwalking with Einstein was one of my fav NF reads last year. I tried to incorporate some of those memory techniques in my everyday life, the memory palace in particular. It works!

  31. I own a surprisingly large number of these books, clearly I have some reading to do!

    Honestly though, your channel (and nonfiction November in general) is becoming very bad for my wallet! I'm not minding it though, thank you for all the wonderful recommendations! XD

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