1. Forces of Nature by Brian Cox and Andrew Cohen
Only after reading this book did I realise just how unbelievably little I had learnt in science at school and how unbelievably brilliant science is. This is a fantastic book for anyone who wants to learn about difficult the scientific concepts such as spacetime, the theory of relativity and the quantum revolution, and as an added bonus, if you suffer from an almost built-in aversion to all things science, this book offers brilliantly simple overviews of these topics. This book also accompanies the TV show of the same name, something I have seen but will definitely have to check out, just after I finish the new version of Cosmos.
Only £3.85 at Amazon.co.uk – LINK
2. Love, Poverty and War by Christopher Hitchens
Anything written by the brilliant Hitch is worth a read, but this book particularly stuck with me and, if you haven’t already guessed from the name, it’s a pretty comprehensive book. Though I am currently working my way through his last book, Arguably, which is a collection of his essays and this book is equally brilliant. If you haven’t read any Hitch yet, do it now, or at the very least watch this ferocious debater online and see exactly why he was one of the greatest writers of our generation.
£7.12 Amazon.co.uk – LINK
3. Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari
I was given this book as a present just before I started my archaeology degree and I now recommend it to anyone I can. The education system in the UK has many flaws, number one being, not simply teaching this book as gospel. As much as I love the Tudors, teaching children how long humans have been around and the effort we as a species have made to get where we are, I honestly believe we would see a huge drop in xenophobia and an ever-needed spike in common sense. Harari offers both a comprehensive overview of human history, but also expertly touches on subjects and areas of thought many people may go their whole lives and not give them a single thought.
£6.99 at Amazon.co.uk – LINK
4. Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond
This book is probably what most influenced me to start take an archaeology degree. Understanding the huge role geography played in the development of cultures across should make anyone far more understanding of the differences in countries and how the huge divides in quality of life are not simply the product of any nonsensical racial theories or the idea that some cultures ‘tried harder’. Such a huge divide appears to exist primarily from geography and this book expertly presents a very elegant but simple overview of how the world is the way it is.
£7.14 at Amazon.co.uk – LINK
5. Meat: Benign Extravagance by Simon Fairlie
For an incredibly long time I had an almost entirely carnivorous diet. I laughed at any notion of vegetarianism and supported the theory that, well if we didn’t eat them, they wouldn’t be here. Which although true, is leading to the deaths of thousands of other species every day, the destructions of ecosystems and damaging the world at large. All the while our livestock are kept mostly in horrific conditions and live a very short, painful existence. But back to the book! Anyone researching vegetarianism will find a lot of really bad information. There are so many facts and figures tossed around in the media and popular culture and so many of them are just nonsense. When becoming evermore surrounded by the colossal amount of new media and the spreading phenomenon of fake news and post-truth debates, books like this one will become ever more valuable. To conlcude, this book brilliantly reviews all the data and popular facts and gives a very well-reasoned and unbiased overview of the meat industry.
£12.51 at Bookplea.se – LINK
6. Waking Up by Sam Harris
Growing up I was definitely a materialist, very logical and unsympathetic to any notion of ‘spirituality’. Sam Harris has to be one of the key writers in opening my mind to other ways of thinking. Having a degree in neuroscience and being one of the main proponents of what many call New Atheism, his writings on spirituality and mindfulness are refreshingly down to earth (for lack of a better expression). His points are well-argued and well-structured, based on evidence and reason, rather than a more common method adopted by many people I have heard on the topic of mindfulness and meditation, which mostly hinges on the ‘yes, but what if?’ argument. Anybody interested in these topics can learn a lot from Sam Harris and anyone doubtful or even uninterested in these areas, I believe you more than anyone should read this book.
£6.87 at Wordery.com – LINK
7. 1984 by George Orwell
I really didn’t want to add this to the list, it already being so popular and therefore a somewhat obvious book to read. But it is simply brilliant and persistently appears relevant in a variety of topics and events, both historical and modern. I am not a particularly avid reader of fiction and always find myself naturally drawn to non-fiction, however this book has so much real-world relevance it offers more insight into many world events many nonfiction books on similar topics. Simply put, if you haven’t read this book, read it now.
£3.99 at Amazon.co.uk – LINK
8. The Blank Slate by Steven Pinker
Steven Pinker is a brilliant cognitive scientist, psychologist and linguist, he is also, in my opinion, a very talented writer. The full title of this book is The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature. The book covers to what extent humans are born ‘blank slates’, an argument that is becoming increasingly common, especially with the rise of postmodernism. The nature versus nurture argument is one that has raged on for hundreds of years and shows little sign of stopping anytime soon.
My opinion on the topic has been in constant fluctuation, however this book is probably the most influential for me on this topic. He proposes many reasons that most of human behaviour is the product of one’s own heredity traits and, for me at least, has completely done-away with any notion that we are all the same and yet has reinforced the idea that we are all equal.
£7.69 at Amazon.co.uk – LINK
9. How the World Works by Noam Chomsky
There are many brilliant Chomsky books, many more so than this one, however as an introduction to Chomsky this appears a very good starting point. The interview format results in a very free-flowing, easy to understand overview of a plethora of issues. Even if you disagree with Chomsky’s view of the world, it is incredibly hard to find flaw with nearly all of his points. He is simply brilliant and for me at least, paradigm shifting in how I viewed much of the western world.
£9.74 at Amazon.co.uk – LINK
10. Hitler’s Pope by John Cornwell
John Cornwell is a journalist who was raised a Catholic and attempted to examine the role of Pope Pius XII during the rise of Hitler and the Nazi era. Cornwell is one of the few writers to access the materials in the Vatican Library, and what he founds out is both terrifying and fascinating. Although Cornwell’s views changing slightly over the years, his discovery of the Pope’s ties to fascist dictators and the Catholic influence over the only remaining obstacle in Hitler’s rise to power, the Catholic Center Party, which appears to have been disbanded with the help of Pope Pius XII. Whether true or not, this book presents some very convincing evidence and theories which may change your view of the Catholic Church entirely.
£15.99 at Amazon.co.uk – LINK
Think I have missed anything obvious? Please add it in the comments section below.
Lot of male authors… Never realised until now. Would be nice to change this.
Notes: The links provided are the lowest prices I could find for new versions of these books and do not include used books. I also do not profit in anyway from these links, this is not an advertisement and I am not an affiliate of any of these websites.