Last month, I posted about my favorite fiction books. Although I prefer fiction, I read a fair amount of nonfiction books as well, especially lately. As promised, here is the list of my favorite nonfiction books in no particular order:

Malcolm Gladwell - I love the hair.

1. Blink by Malcolm Gladwell – I just finished this book and I really enjoyed the subject matter. Blink discusses snap judgments and how our brains automatically perceive information. One of the ways Gladwell demonstrates this is through the Implicit Association Test administered by Harvard. It’s a fascinating look at your underlying, automatic preferences. It’s also free – check it out! My only critique of the book is that Gladwell says he’ll teach us how to train our brains to make snap judgments accurately and rely on them, but I didn’t get much of that throughout the book. Overall, I still highly enjoyed it and am looking forward to reading his other works.

2. The Secret by Rhonda Byrne – When I first heard about this book, it sounded kind of cheesy – like one of those traditionally “spiritual” blah-blah-blah books. When I finally decided to read it, however, it really made sense to me. I realized that you can’t really explain the context of the book in a way that doesn’t come across as spiritual blah because we, as cynics, are trained to think that way about spiritual guide books. The only thing I will say about it is the idea is that thinking positively about scenarios – truly believing that you can and have what you want – will help bring it about. This makes a lot of sense to me – our brains will believe what we tell them is true. Take placebo tests, for example – people who unknowingly take placebos instead of actual medicine show increased signs of improvement. Is it foolproof? Of course not. But it’s an interesting start.

This is an example that makes me happy.

3. Postsecret by Frank Warren – I stumbled across this book in Barnes & Noble and couldn’t stop looking through it. Postsecret is simply a community mail art project – people anonymously write a secret on a postcard and sent it in. You would be amazed at what people send in. Some things brighten my heart, some things make me want to cry. In fact, “postsecret” has continued on to this day and become quite popular. There is now a website – check it out.

4. The Single Girl’s Manifesta by Jerusha Stewart – I should mention that I haven’t been single in almost two years. That doesn’t mean that I don’t love this book. It’s actually weird for me to be in a long-term relationship – I was the girl who was always single, whether I liked that or not. This book really helped me appreciate being single and learn to appreciate myself more. It took me a long time to not only accept being single, but also enjoy it. Of course, when I finally did that, my silly boyfriend came along. 😉

This is the old edition I have.

5. Our Bodies, Ourselves published by The Boston Women’s Health Book Collective – This was one of the main books in my Introduction to Women’s Studies class and I adore it. The book discusses all sorts of women’s health topics, such as menopause, childbirth, sexual orientation, sexual health, etc. It was published in 1973 and has improved through a dozen fresh editions. It’s my goal to own the original copy of Our Bodies, Ourselves from 1973 and see just how much has changed. I’m close – I have a copy from 1975 that I scored at a garage sale!

6. Colonize This! edited by Daisy Hernandez and Bushra Rehman – This is another book from my women’s studies course that I absolutely love. I love it because it’s not your traditional white-feminist-from-the-70s book. It’s much more characteristic of third wave feminism, which includes art, music, and as this book discusses, race and feminism. This book contains essays written by feminists of color and discusses how those two crucial ideas constantly entangle. It’s definitely worth a read if you’re at all interested in feminist literature (and let’s remember that when I say “feminism,” I simply mean equality of men and women – that’s the definition).

7. Switch: How to Change When Change is Hard by Chip and Dan Heath – You may have heard of another book written by the Heath brothers called Made to Stick – I think this one is better. Switch talks about why real change is so damn difficult and how we can go about making change work for us. They have a terrific analogy regarding a rider and an elephant – the rider (our willpower) holds back the elephant (our desires), but there’s only so long that a rider can keep up the strength. Their language also makes it very easy to read, which is essential to me with nonfiction books.

8. The Chemistry of Joy by Dr. Henry Emmons – I’ve mentioned this book before. I LOVE this book. I know I said no particular order at the top of this post, but I lied – this is my number one book. I’ve gotten such great advice from this book. I don’t like having to use medications (read: anti-depressants), although I think they make perfect sense for others (it’s a weird conundrum). This book explains depression and then provides drug-free ways to combat depression – through food, nutrition, exercise, and eastern practices. Dr. Emmons says that drugs are sometimes necessary and helpful, but his methods have allowed me to find natural ways to combat depression. He has also written The Chemistry of Calm for those who suffer from anxiety.

Damn right.

9. Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power and A World Without Rape by Jaclyn Friedman and Jessica Valenti – I recently read this book and it is probably the best feminist book I’ve ever read. Ever wondered why rape is so prevalent in our culture? Read this book. Ever wondered if there were a way we could change our culture so that rape is less prevalent? Read this book. Never wondered either of those? Open your eyes to our culture and READ THIS BOOK.

10. This Book Will Change Your Life by Benrik – This is one of the oddest books I’ve ever read or owned. It has 365 things that one “should” do in order to change his/her life. I’ll let you in on a little secret – it’s a satirical book. That being said, it’s kind of amusing to attempt some of these activities, and in fact, most of them really should be done. I just advise against doing ones like “volume test your neighbors – blare your music louder and louder until they start complaining.” If you get through all of 365 days of activities, there are sequels as well.

What are your favorite nonfiction books?

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