Favourite non-fiction books of 2016

I’ve already posted my list of favourite fiction books I read in 2016. Since I read much less non-fiction than I do fiction, this list is shorter (and hence also harder to narrow down). After a little soul searching I have my top five, plus one special mention.


5. Introducing Philosophy by Dave Robinson

4. Yes Please by Amy Poehler

3. Frank by Jon Ronson

2. Man vs Maths by Timothy Revell

1. What If? by Randall Munroe

Special mention: Fundamentals of Interferometric Gravitational Wave Detectors by Peter Saulson. Ok, this isn’t exactly the kind of book I would recommend to just anyone, in fact, I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone except people who are getting their PhDs in gravitational waves. For those people, I’d make it required reading, and I wish someone had forced my to read it during the first year of my PhD, rather than during the last. It came in handy so many times. Honestly though, now we’ve had the first detection, we could do with an updated edition.


Honestly, this was also such a hard list to write and I’m obviously always going to be biased towards science texts. I did surprise myself this year by reading, and enjoying, a few biographies too, which is a genre I’ve usually avoided. Hopefully, this means my reading habits are becoming a little better balanced.

Speaking of balance, one of my concerns this year was to try to read approximately as many books by women as I did by men. In the past, largely because of reading a great deal by one author (*cough* Pratchett *cough*) and a fair few “classics” I’ve failed at that. This year, I mostly succeeded at a 50:50 ratio, but it’s clear from the list above that I’m not reading much non-fiction by women. So perhaps that’s something to keep an eye on in 2017. Got to have goals, right?

What have your favourite pieces of non-fiction been this year? Is there anything you strongly recommend that I put on my 2017 reading list?

2 thoughts on “Favourite non-fiction books of 2016

  1. I don’t read much non-fiction at all – in fact, as far as I can recall, I’ve only read one this year. It had been on my tbr pile for months, if not years, even though I had borrowed it from GWL (oops, don’t tell). It was Rebecca Skloot: The immortal life of Henrietta Lacks (2010). If you haven’t read it I recommend it. Highly disturbing and moving, it’s the story of an African American woman who died of cancer in the 1950s and whose cells have been kept alive ever since. Great medical discoveries have been made, and all unknown to her family until Skloot started investigating. I just googled it to double check the title and discovered there is a film being made with Oprah Winfrey.

    Liked by 1 person

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