DRMacIver's Notebook



I asked two related questions on Twitter recently. The first was about short non-fiction books:

Seeking recommendations of books with the following properties:

  • Available in paperback form with < 300 pages (ideally < 200).
  • Non-fiction
  • Taught you something interesting
  • Accessible to a (reasonably well educated) general audience

At some point I realised that all of the books I had on my list for this and almost all of the recommendations were written by white men, so I asked a follow-up question:

Opening up the subquestion of this because it's made me go "wait a second...".

What are your favourite nonfiction books that are not written by white men? Bonus if they also meet the other criteria of the quoted tweet but not essential.

There are a lot of good answers to both tweets that I will not attempt to summarise here.

I then decided that if I was buying this many books in one sitting I might as well not give Amazon my money for this and decided to go to Foyles. I ended up leaving with uh, quite a lot of books. Book stores are very good for serendipitous discovery and purchase in a way that websites are not, especially with Amazon's dreadful recommendations.

There is some overlap with both the recommendations and the stated goals, but it's far from total. I ended up buying 15 books. Of these one was written by a man, and another co-authored by one. Of the women authors a couple were people of colour but I haven't checked that carefully which.

The Foyles haul was:

There was no particular rhyme or reason to this selection. A bunch of these are books that were staff picks at Foyles, a few were ones from the recommendations I'd got. "How to understand your gender" has vaguely been on my to read list for a while. Mostly I just wandered around looking for things that caught my eye.

So once I've managed to plow through this pile (which due to reasons I have less than two months to do. Fun times) I should at least be a bit better in the gender balance of who I read nonfiction by! Race is still decidedly lacking though.