Best Books of 2014: Non-Fiction

Here are my top 12 non-fiction reads of 2014, covering health, politics and feminism.

Health

Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner by Judy Melinek
Strong stomachs are a prerequisite. This should be categorized as horror, but it’s surprisingly readable and accessible. Beware the rundown of most painful ways to die and an extremely detailed and emotionally-charged account of 9/11 and the systematic sorting of the bodies and the impact it had on those workers. High points include some of the more absurd, stupid and just plain weird ways to die. TV gets it wrong. Medical examiners never go out into the field, though they do investigate. Melinek talked to relatives, doctors, police – anyone she had to to determine manner and cause of death when it wasn’t obvious from the body. An autopsy can take as little as 45 minutes, but further investigation can take months before conclusions can be made. Recommended for Mary Roach fans.

Further Confessions of a GP by Benjamin Daniels
Confessions of a GP made it onto last year’s Best Books list. This sequel’s poignancy and distressing irony is offset by some hilarious stories. He, again, touches on the inefficiencies of primary healthcare in the NHS. I will read anything this man writes. Anything.

The Migraine Brain: Your Breakthrough Guide to Fewer Headaches, Better Health by Carolyn Bernstein
If you suffer with migraines with any regularity, then this may help you. Written by a neurologist specializing in migraine, it offers comprehensive information and advice on the types, causes, symptoms and treatments of migraine as well as the effects it can have on you and your family. Citation is the only thing missing.

Living with Mother: Right to the Very End by Michele Hanson
I feel like this is a feminist story of three generations of women attempting to cope with the elderly grandmother’s advanced age and her declining health. Becoming a carer usually falls on the female of the species, a growing number of whom are working, still bringing up their children while also looking out for their parents. It also gives depressing insight into the treatment of the elderly by the British healthcare system. {My Review}

In Stitches by Nick Edwards
If you’ve ever visited Accident & Emergency (A&E), you’ll want to read this. Funny and informative.

Feminism

Everyday Sexism by Laura Bates
If you don’t drink, you might want to start. With vodka. Enraging, depressing and informative. Bates discusses things I’d never considered nor could’ve ever dreamed up. Her portrait of a nightmarish dystopian culture of sexism which affects men as well as women and children. I’m exceptionally grateful that camera phone weren’t yet available while I was at school and that the internet wasn’t quite as pervasive and as corruptive as it is today. (I turned 18 in 2004.) {My Review}

Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice by Phillip M. Hoose
An eye-opening reminder that history doesn’t always publicise the truth. Rosa Parks wasn’t the first to refuse to give up her seat on a bus to a white person. She isn’t the lily white heroine of the civil rights movement that I’d always believed her to be. Claudette Colvin deserves the credit and the accolades for suffering far worse than Parks for having the courage and the ingenuity to stand up for herself. {My Review}

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Hell yeah, we should! I very much enjoyed reading about the state of equality in Nigeria.

All the Rebel Women: The Rise of the Fourth Wave of Feminism by Kira Cochrane
A concise introduction to and the history of feminism, detailing the highlights until publication in December 2013. It’s the best overview I’ve read. (Published by British newspaper The Guardian) {My Review}

Politics


Jilted Generation: How Britain Has Bankrupted Its Youth by Ed Howker & Shiv Malik
If you read The Guardian, then you’ll be aware of the struggles of British people born in the 1980s and beyond and how the baby boomers born in the 1940s created policies which benefited themselves which are either now unavailable to or are harming their children’s and grandchildren’s financial and social prospects. It’s a depressing yet scathing indictment of the irresponsibility of the political elite.

Planet Carnivore by Alex Renton
HOW are we to feed the world in the future? Global food security, the economics of meat production, what eating meat says about your social standing and your health, and find out how much protein you really need. Prepare to be shocked at the damage done by our obsession with beef. (Published by British newspaper The Guardian) {My Review}

Criminal Behaviour: The Funniest and Most Explicit Stories from the Police and Justice System by Robbie Guillory
Hilarious. BDSM vicars. Public sexy times. Even more public bestiality. Stupid criminals. Guillory’s last book also made it onto 2013’s Best Books list. Perfect Christmas Day reading.

 

Other Best Books lists:

 

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