Thursday, 26 June 2014

What's On My Bookshelf - Non-Fiction

I've been a bookworm for as long as I can remember - even before I learnt to read, I devoured picture books like my life depended on it. I pored over images as a toddler; my parents had a sack of old cards, which they would tip out and would leave me with for hours. Bedtime was never the same without a book.

Most of my younger life was spent with my head between pages; I missed out on the views when we went on family road-trips to Italy, Switzerland and Germany, all because I was reading one of ten books I'd take away for twelve days (which, by the way, would all be read by my return). I'd carry my books everywhere.

It's safe to say that my bookshelf has always been groaning under the weight of my book. I usually buy and read fiction, escaping to other worlds and letting my imagination run riot. This has only increased since I finished my studies last summer. Recently, however, I've acquired a few more non-fiction gems which I think are all worth sharing; from motivational messages, to recipes for pancakes.

Thanks to a few generous friends and a couple of vouchers, my collection has grown - and I thought it would be worth sharing some of these with you all. So here are just a few of my favourites.

A Lifetime of Secrets - Frank Warren

I remember reading my first ever Postsecret book one lunchtime in my sixth-form common room and becoming completely enthralled with the outpourings on each page. It wasn't until I met my boyfriend in my first year at university that I began to read the Postecret site on a weekly basis. If you're unfamiliar with Postsecret, it's a scheme created and run by an American man by the name of Frank Warren, who receives millions of postcards a year. Each of these postcards contains someone's secret; be it funny, sad, illegal, heartbreaking or shocking. This theoretically allows the sender to share their secret and to, hopefully, release it - particularly poignant for those with a burden. Frank updates the wonderful Postsecret blog weekly, and has released a number of books too. This was given to me by my boyfriend for Christmas one year, and I have another on my shelf too. I love browsing through these books, feeling emotional over the lives of others and sometimes even relating to them. I even went to see Frank speak in London about Postsecret a couple of years ago which was an incredible experience. This is the perfect book to take out and read if you feel the need for perspective, or an emotional release - kind of like watching a sad film to make you cry.  I really love Postsecret and I also love that I have its physical counterpart sitting on my shelf.

Humans of New York - Brandon Stanton

Another blog, another book. My copy of Brandon Stanton's Humans of New York is very new, as I only ordered it last week! I haven't been following HONY for as long as I have been following Postsecret, but it's already one of my favourite projects out there. There's a website (linked above!) but I also follow him on Twitter and Instagram to get instant updates on photos. Brandon travels around New York, capturing life and statements from his subjects, and sharing them with the world. Through his work we get to see all of life; so many different characters, moments, concepts and opinions. There's a great interview with Stanton over at Mashable if you want to find out more. This book will look great on my future coffee table; again, it's wonderful to browse through and can be great inspiration. It can even offer a little advice or perspective. It's gorgeous to look at too.

My Future Listography - All I Hope to Do in Lists

I love making lists. Life seems so much more manageable when you have everything noted down in order of importance. Crossing things off gives a sense of achievement, and seeing exciting things building up can lift hopes for the future. When I saw this book, I new I had to buy it. Its pages are empty aside from some (often obscure) titles, urging you to make plans for the future, setting yourself goals. From moments I don't want to forget, to TV shows I want to watch (Orange is the New Black, anyone?) this book means that I can not only plan my ideal future but, once I'm older, look back and smile. Buying this means I now have something very different on my bookshelves and I love it! I haven't put pen to page yet - I almost don't want to ruin it (almost) but I plan to sit down one day with a cup of sweet tea and consider what I want to get out of life.

Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Finding Peace in a Frantic World - Mark Williams and Danny Penman 

This book has been sitting on my shelf for months and sadly (and ironically!) I just haven't had a moment to sit down and take it all in yet. I stumbled across this book and immediately bought it. It's had great online reviews and covers everything, including meditation. It even has a CD in the back to guide you through the meditative process. Anxiety is a big problem, as I discussed in my Mental Health Awareness Week post, and books like this are becoming ever more popular - for good reason. Finding peace is often hard when we are on the go all the time; I myself find it very hard to switch off and put life in perspective. I am always worrying, planning and I rarely take time out. I am hoping this book will really help me to calm, gain perspective and have a real relish for life. I think an evening reading this in a bubble bath needs to be planned! I hope to write a complete review of this once I've finished it, so watch this space.

Very British Problems - Rob Temple

And now for something a little more lighthearted. Have you ever found yourself wandering down a street, then suddenly realise you've gone the wrong way? There are people everywhere, and you don't want to look a you pretend to answer the phone, look as though you've been told some very serious news, and rush back as if you're on a mission in order to inconspicuously retrace your steps. No? Just me then...This book details those little awkward habits we British folk have. It's a brilliant book to flick through for a giggle and perfect for passing around friends on a sunny afternoon. I like to read it and see which problems I relate to.

Love Letters of the Great War - Mandy Kirkby

For as long as I can remember, I have had a deep fascination with the First and Second World Wars; the sorrow, the great loss, the ins-and-outs of rations, entertainment, and everyday life...the list could go on. If a book is based in wartime Britain, or a film centres around romance in the 1940s, I'm there. I happened upon this book in a store in Cambridge one sunny Sunday and stood reading it for far too long. The stories it details are wide and varied; from lengthy, eloquent love letters of devotion to little ditties of fleeting romances, it captures the relationships of men on the front and the women they loved. A heartbreaking but brilliant collection; this will be a long-term favourite of mine, and will take pride of place next to my wartime poetry books.

Let's Do Brunch - Good Housekeeping

If you want to win me over, you just need one little word; Brunch. Whether it's pancakes with berries, Eggs Benedict or a fruity smoothie treat, I consider brunch to be the best meal of them all - the king of meals - and will drop everything for the chance to merge Breakfast and Lunch together. When I saw this book in Urban Outfitters I just had to buy it; it contains a wide range of simple but varied recipes, healthy and indulgent, and all easy to follow. I haven't tested it out yet but I have plans to put it to good use this weekend. I don't own many recipe books but this will be my go-to brunch guide for a very, very long time.

Carpe Diem - Make the Most of Life

I'll end this post with a little miniature gem which sits on my shelf, ready to help me in my grey moments. I bought this on a whim - it looked adorable. The yellow colour brightens up my bookshelf and emulates the sunshine this tiny text contains. Inside, you'll find short quotes to motivate, inspire and reassure. Not the most intellectual of books, but certainly one to keep close at hand when life gets a little tough.

Are you a fan of non-Fiction? What books do you have on your coffee table?


  1. I end up, if I'm reading non fiction, reading a lot of biographies on 1930's Hollywood movie stars, probably because of my love for that era in general. The Very British Problems book sounds very entertaining though!

    1. That sounds so fascinating - and I'd love to read more books like that! x

  2. This looks like a great selection and has given me some ideas for future books! One of my reading resolutions for this year was to read more nonfiction, but I've only managed to read 1 so far...I love the look of Humans of New York and Love Letters of the Great War.


    1. I hope you enjoy them if you end up buying them - I don't read a lot of non-fiction but this collection are quite inspiring x

  3. This is a great idea! I love coffee table books so much, and they're the perfect gifts as well! This has inspired me to possibly do a list of my own, although I don't have as many as you yet!

    Imogen x

    1. I just need my own place and a pretty coffee table to put them all on now! Definitely do a list, even if it's a mixture of fiction and non-fiction x