Best Nonfiction I’ve Read In 2017 So Far

As always, Top Ten Tuesday meme is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is: “ Best Books You’ve Read In 2017 So Far (break it down however you want — by genre, strictly 2017 releases, whatever!) ” And I want to share with you the best nonfiction I’ve read this year so far because I rarely review these great works on my blog. If you want to read more of my reviews, please follow me on Goodreads:

1. The Brain Defense: Murder in Manhattan and the Dawn of Neuroscience in America’s Courtrooms by Kevin Davis

Can a tumor or a brain injury cause someone to commit a murder or to rape someone? Can they diminish culpability? When does someone plead for insanity and why it makes sense. I think doctors say that all tumors are individuals and that they have very different effects on people so I think Davis chose a very interesting topic to write a book about. Davis also uses good examples, different bizarre and horrific stories of Phineas Cage, Charles Whitman, Herbert Weinstein & Ronnie Cordell among other.  I gave this book rating of 5/5 stars.

2. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

“When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but with creatures bristling with prejudice and motivated by pride and vanity.”
― Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People

This book contains everything you need to know on this topic. It’s very well and very clearly written. And it’s stunning to think that this was written about 80 years ago. All information is there if you’re truly ready for it. 5/5 stars

3.  Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are? by Frans de Waal 

What separates your mind from an animal’s? Maybe you think it’s your ability to design tools, your sense of self, or your grasp of past and future—all traits that have helped us define ourselves as the planet’s preeminent species. But in recent decades, these claims have eroded, or even been disproven outright, by a revolution in the study of animal cognition.

I think I was familiar with a lot of topics which de Waal explored, yet it was a really good read. 4/5 stars.

4. Think Like a Freak (Freakonomics #3) by Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner 

“Why do so many frown so sternly at the idea of having fun? Perhaps out of fear that it connotes you aren’t serious. But best as we can tell, there is no correlation between appearing to be serious and actually being good at what you do. In fact an argument can be made that the opposite is true.”
― Steven D. Levitt, Think Like a Freak

I think that if I would have read two previous parts first, then this would have made more sense with the constant references to the previous books but that’s okay. A useful book about what you should and shouldn’t do in your life and how to do it. 4/5 stars

5. Prozac Nation by Elizabeth Wurtzel

“I’m the girl who is lost in space, the girl who is disappearing always, forever fading away and receding farther and farther into the background. Just like the Cheshire cat, someday I will suddenly leave, but the artificial warmth of my smile, that phony, clownish curve, the kind you see on miserably sad people and villains in Disney movies, will remain behind as an ironic remnant. I am the girl you see in the photograph from some party someplace or some picnic in the park, the one who is in fact soon to be gone. When you look at the picture again, I want to assure you, I will no longer be there. I will be erased from history, like a traitor in the Soviet Union. Because with every day that goes by, I feel myself becoming more and more invisible…”
― Elizabeth Wurtzel, Prozac Nation

This is what depression feels like. I don’t think anyone has nailed it better than Wurtzel in her book Prozac Nation. It’s a messy autobiography with a lot of important messages. 5/5 stars

6. Pyhät, pahat ja pelokkaat : pelko ja itsetuhoisuus hengellisissä yhteisöissä by Aila Ruoho
In Finnish only sorry. Shortly, the book is about unhealthy religious communities.

Kun olisin saanut vaikka verensiirron niin muuttuisin vähän kuin kauhuleffassa. Eikä tietysti pääsisi paratiisiin, vaikka katuisi kuinka. Jos vaikka saisi jonkun suurrikollisen verta saatanan toimesta!

Ruohon mestarillinen uutuusteos epäterveistä hengellisistä yhteisöistä. Asiallinen, kattava ja taidolla kirjoitettu. Ihannoin kirjailijoita, jotka tekevät näin laajaa tutkimustyötä teoksensa eteen. Tietty gradumaisuus läsnä edelleen kuten Vartiotornin varjossa-teoksessakin. Kuulunee kirjailijan tyyliin. 5/5 tähteä

7. My (Underground) American Dream: My True Story as an Undocumented Immigrant Who Became a Wall Street Executive by Julissa Arce

What does an undocumented immigrant look like? What kind of family must she come from? How could she get into this country? What is the true price she must pay to remain in the United States? Interesting & inspiring biography. 5/5 stars

8. Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly

The phenomenal true story of the black female mathematicians at NASA whose calculations helped fuel some of America’s greatest achievements in space.  Before John Glenn orbited the Earth or Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, a group of dedicated female mathematicians known as “human computers” used pencils, slide rules, and adding machines to calculate the numbers that would launch rockets and astronauts into space…

I accidentally watched the film first and didn’t even realize it was based on a book…Both film and the book were incredible! Again, a piece of history that I didn’t know about, a piece that I think would have been muchly unknown without this book and the film adaptation. 5/5 stars

9. Bad Feminist by Roxanne Gay

Pink is my favorite color. I used to say my favorite color was black to be cool, but it is pink—all shades of pink. If I have an accessory, it is probably pink. I read Vogue, and I’m not doing it ironically, though it might seem that way. I once live-tweeted the September issue.

Smart, honest and witty book where Gay  writes about various topics from a feminist perspective. 5/5 stars

10.  WTF?!: What the French by Olivier Magny

In France, the simple act of eating bread is an exercise in creative problem solving and attempting to spell requires a degree of masochism. But that’s just how the French like it—and in WTF, Oliver Magny reveals the France only the French know. From the latest trends in baby names, to the religiously observed division of church and state, prepare yourself for an insider’s look at French culture that is surprising, insightful, and chock full of bons mots.

This was a funny book that explained a lot about French culture: the meaning and the trends with the names, income levels, politics, food: Nutella…5/5 stars

Happy TTT! What have been your best reads this year? Have you read any of these?

34 thoughts on “Best Nonfiction I’ve Read In 2017 So Far

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    1. Hidden Figures was pretty good! I guess everyone just needs to find what kind of nonfiction they like. It’s the same with novels & genres.

  1. I really enjoyed Hidden Figures and am so glad Shetterly told the stories of those amazing women. Like you, I saw the movie first, not realizing it was based on a book. I much prefer to read the book first more often than not. I loved both.

    Bad Feminist is on my wish list. I have another of Gay’s books I want to get to as well–which I actually have a copy of, so I’ll probably read that one first.

    1. I’m glad I’m not the only one who saw the movie first! :) I wonder if they only started marketing the book after the movie…

      Bad Feminist was great! I actually didn’t even appreciate it that much at first but then I watched TedTalk by Roxanne Gay and read about her more and now I just want to read everything she has ever written. I’m especially looking forward to reading Hunger.

  2. I like reading about French culture so WTF definitely appeals to me. And Prozac Nation and Are We Smart Enough both look interesting as well. I’d be really curious about Prozac nation in particular…

    1. Prozac Nation was my kind of book, even though to some it might seem that Elizabeth Wurtzel is self-centered, however I think she really nailed it when she described depression. It sort of reminded me of this book I had read earlier ‘ Reasons to Stay Alive’ by Matt Haig.

  3. I usually don’t read a lot of nonfiction (unless it’s some kind of true crime book :D) but the first one sounds really interesting! Was it difficult to read and do I need a scientific background to understand it or is it easy to understand? :D

    1. Haha oh it is interesting! & It was very easy to understand, I know what you mean. Some authors write like Stephen Hawking or Carl Sagan and it’s impossible to understand if you’re not an astrophysicist :D Kevin Davis mostly uses case examples that this happened when this man hit his head and what were the consequences so it’s all pretty straight-forward.

      Also, I think a nonfiction you might like: ZeroZeroZero by Roberto Saviano

      1. Oh, I think I’ve heard of this author, doesn’t he write about the Italian mafia? Thanks for the recommendation, I’m going to check it out! :)

    1. Yeah! Looking forward to discovering more of great books! :) Oh, wow, that’s awesome!! :) That would have been like a highlight of my life to see her in flesh. I watched her TedTalk yesterday when I was writing this post and she’s great with words!

      Great, I’ll check it out!

  4. The Brain Defense sounds fascinating! And Prozac Nation is a book I’ve been wanting to read for some time now. Will need to pick it up soon!

    Here is our TTT.

  5. Thanks for all these non-fiction recommendations! My boyfriend read How to Win Friends and Influence People a while ago and embraced some of the techniques. I think it’s helped him speak to strangers at events and things…though I personally don’t like it when people ask me too many questions! :D

    1. :) It’s surprisingly good and up-to-date despite being written 80 years ago! Haha yeah, I get that. As a Finn, I don’t like talking XD all worst of all small talking.

  6. Wow, I don’t normally read much nonfiction, but these look interesting, especially Hidden Figures. Thanks for highlighting these! :)

    1. Thank you for reading! :) I was happy about Hidden Figures because usually the history is written by victors = white men so this was something different and an unknown piece of history

    1. I know right :D I usually read 200 books a year and there’s just simply too much of books… I just finished listening (audiobook) to Gay´s new book Hunger and it was just stunning and changed the way I see fat people.

  7. Bad Feminist has been on my to-read list for a while. I haven’t read any of the others but you make them sound interesting. I did see Hidden Figures but not by accident though…how do you see a movie accidentally? :-)

    1. There are just too many wonderful books in this world :)
      That’s a good point! …Here I am 10 minutes after I read your comment thinking how did I do that :D
      A most likely case of scenario: I picked the wrong word though there is always the possibility that the movie sneakily added itself to my to-be-watched films list without me noticing it!

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