Reading lists

The non-fiction books our readers always return to

From popular science to an ancient meditation on happiness, these are the non-fiction books you told us were your all-time favourites.

An illustration of a woman sitting with a mug and a book
Image: Ryan McEachern / Penguin

There's something incredibly powerful about the way a non-fiction book can change the way you view the world. A meditation on mindfulness can help you through a tough time. A cookbook can shake up the way you consume vegetables. A memoir written by someone who lived in a different era, or on a different side of the world, can make you feel seen and understood. 

We asked our readers on social media to share the one non-fiction book they find themselves returning to again and again, or excitedly pushing into the hands of everyone they know. The true tales that inspire, inform, and provide comfort. Here, we’ve rounded up the most popular picks.

Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig (2015)

We said: Matt Haig chronicles his experience with anxiety and depression in his 2015-published memoir, Reasons to Stay Alive. Split into short, easy to digest essays and lists, it’s a touching, wryly funny look at one man’s journey towards triumph in a time of crisis. 

You said: It grounds me in reality when my thoughts are racing in a bad way. It's a reminder that what I might be experiencing is not new, I am not the first, and I find that comforting.


Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain (2000)

We said: Blending memoir and contemporary food writing, this modern classic dives behind-the-scenes of the late professional chef’s life. Travelling from Tokyo to Paris to New York, it's as gripping and passionate as the latest blockbuster thriller.

You said: Kitchen Confidential by the late Anthony Bourdain has helped me through some tough times. Always find something new and enlightening.


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