Looking at the books I read, it’s obvious that I am extremely partial toward YA fiction. I tend towards contemporary fiction a lot of the time, although I do read a fair bit of science-fiction as well, and try to engage in other genres too. Yet for all my love of YA fiction, I also make it a point to read non-fiction. There are many reasons for that. These reasons are also why I would encourage others to do the same:
- Pick up a new skill
- Further a skill
- Update a skill
- Expand my world view
- Gain insight into other cultures
- Explore thoughts and ideas
- Deepen my understanding of a subject
- Learn more about my place in the world
- Satisfy my general curiosity
- On Baking: A Textbook of Baking and Pastry Fundamentals by Sarah R. Labensky
This book pretty much taught me most of my baking fundamentals and still continues to do so. I didn’t attend any pastry or cooking courses, opting instead to figure things out myself through reading, and trial and error in the kitchen.
- The Science of Good Food: The Ultimate Reference on How Cooking Works by David Joachim & Andrew Schloss
I refer to this book when I want to know how certain cooking processes work, what the characteristics of particular ingredients are, and to figure out substitutions of ingredients or feasible alterations to recipes I want to try out.
- Chocolat by Stéphan Lagorce & Timothy Butler
And because chocolate is such a vital ingredient, a reference book for chocolate is indispensable. Through this book I’ve learnt about different types of chocolate, ingredient that complement chocolate well, how to handle chocolate, and this book contains many good recipes involving chocolate.
- The Sewing Book by Alison Smith
Everything I need to know about sewing can be found in this one book. Even though I don’t dedicate a lot of time to sewing, referring to sewing books has allowed me to sew two bags, one of which has held up for four years now.
- Complete Guide to Digital Photography by Ian Farrell
When my point-and-shoot camera died on me after five years of faithful service, I considered upgrading to a DSLR. Before that though I wanted to see if I’d be able to get on board with all the functions because I didn’t want it to end up as a glorified point-and-shoot in my hands. Thanks to this book, I made the plunge, bought a DSLR and learnt the basics for settings and editing.
- Graffiti Lives: Beyond the Tag in New York’s Urban Underground by Gregory Snyder
While I read this book as part of a course I took in my final semester at university, I got to choose my own topic, so long as it related to a subculture. I picked graffiti, and I must say, it was fascinating devouring all these books about the ins and outs of graffiti around the world. Leafing through photographic collections of graffiti was pretty amazing too.
- The XX Factor by Alison Wolf
The place of women and society has drastically changed in our post-World War II era. Knowing that women are in a position of greater personal empowerment makes me want to find out more about how it happened and how we can work towards true equality. Women are still discriminated against in the workplace and generally still are expected to do more to upkeep a household and raise children than their husbands.
- The Techno-Human Condition by Braden R. Allenby & Daniel Sarewitz
Seeing how technology is advancing at an accelerated pace, it’s curious to see in which ways humans are affected. Lives change with technology, and with all that talk that we’re basically becoming cyborgs ourselves, I think such discourse is just as exciting as reading science-fiction. It is also equally terrifying.
The great thing about non-fiction books is that there’s no obligation to read them from cover to cover. Sometimes all I need is a chapter or even a section to gain the relevant information for myself. Non-fiction is also great to fill pockets of time here in there. Say, I have ten minutes to wait for a bus. If reading a fiction book feels too disruptive in such tiny chunks, reading a bit in a non-fiction book is useful because I can sit in the bus afterwards to think about what I read.
Do you read non-fiction books? Why or why not? What kind of non-fiction books do you like to read?