It’s been a good 4 months or so since my last Non Fiction Round Up post… but I am now back with another set of non-fiction books! I was so lost in consuming a lot of fiction books in the last lap of 2020 that I struggled a bit trying to round this up to a list of 5 books. These posts are supposed to technically just run down all the non fiction books I’ve read (in order for me not to forget). But looking at this batch, I’m more than happy to say that these books shoot right up to my most recommended list!
Curiously, I’ve gone all of these in audiobooks. It’s really one of the best additions in my reading life these past few months. This is one of the reasons why I am reading more non fiction books than before.
Here are the additional 5 non-fiction books I’ve read so far:
- How to Make People Like You in 90 Seconds or Less by Nicholas Boothman – 5☕
- UNTHINKABLE: An Extraordinary Journey Through the World’s Strangest Brains by Helen Thomson – 4☕
- THE POWER OF VULNERABILITY: Teachings of Authenticity, Connections and Courage by Brene Brown – 5☕
- GETTING TO YES: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In by Roger Fisher, William Ury, Bruce Patton – 5☕
- WHY WE SLEEP: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams by Matthew Walker, PhD – 5☕
How to Make People Like You in 90 Seconds or Less by Nicholas Boothman – 5☕
In the lines of The Fine Art of Small Talk, I came across this book while I was browsing Scribd for similar topics that are both quick-listens and have pretty good ratings. “How to Make People Like You in 90 Seconds or Less” is a very practical and constructive book. It provided very specific guidelines I could easily apply in actual situations. I guess if I would summarize the tips in here, it would fall in either of the 4: 1) Managing your attitude; 2) Synchronize with others; 3) Improve conversations skills; and 4) Detection of sensory preferences and using them to gain rapport. The first three would probably be a no-brainer for people that are experienced and naturally skilled in interpersonal dealings. But if you are someone that has troubles in social situations, having the steps laid out in a systematic manner is pretty useful. Perhaps the revelation (personally) while I read this is spotting sensory preferences in other people. The book claims that there exist 3 major sensory preferences in a person: Visual, Auditory, or Kinesthetic. A person may each have multiple of these, but there would only be one dominant trait. A “visual” person responds to or is influenced more by appearances. An “auditory” person responds to the way things sound. And a “kinesthetic” person will be concerned with the way things feel internally or externally through touch. “When you figure out other people’s sensory preferences, you can communicate on their wavelength.” It’s an interesting premise and I can really see how these will work out. It also teaches techniques on how to easily spot these sensory preferences to people that you only just met. Anyway, this was a short and fun read. And one that I will highly recommend.
UNTHINKABLE: An Extraordinary Journey Through the World’s Strangest Brains by Helen Thomson – 4☕
Unthinkable was honestly a random find. I don’t really have a background in medicine so I really find it fascinating any look that I could get into how the human body works. And perhaps the most mysterious of all is our brain. In Unthinkable, Helen Thomson tries to give us a closer look into the minds of the world’s strangest brains. She profiled a couple of cases in this book that is truly fascinating to read about: a man who believed he was dead for several years (Cotard Syndrome), a man who can remember every single day of his life, a man who thinks he was a tiger (lycanthropy), a woman with vivid hallucinations of music even though she’s deaf, and a lot more. Perhaps one of the reasons this is more fascinating and grounded than its counterparts was because of how Helen Thomson took it a step further by actually interviewing these people instead of just relying on scientific journals and talking about them as mere cases. It gave us a peek into how their conditions affected their lives, some more fortunate than the others. All in all, this is a brilliant look into the human mind. This made me appreciate more how amazing and complex our brains are. It really drives the point that each person experiences the world in a different way – some more unique than others.
THE POWER OF VULNERABILITY: Teachings of Authenticity, Connections and Courage by Brene Brown – 5☕
I think I’ve recommended this to so many of my close friends and I do think this is one book that every person should read at least once. I discovered The Power of Vulnerability after listening to Brene Brown’s trending TED talk with a similar title. This book (or, more appropriate, a series of talk sessions) is an extended version of that TED Talk. It’s like attending a seminar in the comfort of your own home. I honestly found myself tearing up at random moments because of how genuine she sounded and how hard-hitting the realizations are listening to the entirety of the book. Too many times we don’t give ourselves enough room to be vulnerable to ourselves and with other people. These sessions are some of the most insightful, profound, and resonant (often humorous) pieces of literature/lectures I’ve ever listened to. If you’re dealing with a lot of guilt/shame, having a hard time being vulnerable with others, having a hard time admitting your flaws even to yourself, or even just a casual reader looking for something worthwhile – you will gain something from here. This is truly life-changing – and I can attest to that. I can see myself listening to this over and over again through the years. I hope you could give this a try. By listening to this, Brene Brown has become one of my heroes.
GETTING TO YES: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In by Roger Fisher, William Ury, Bruce Patton – 5☕
I got this book as a recommendation from my work mentor on our session on Negotiation. Getting to Yes is a very, very useful book for people wanting to learn how to negotiate effectively, both in a personal and professional capacity. The steps are practical, doable, and explained clearly. The examples are also useful in understanding the theories more. This and Crucial Conversations are probably my top books on the topic of negotiation now – as both provided so much insight into the art and have given me concrete guidance on how I could make use of this skill to my advantage and encourages me to (preferably) always take steps towards mutual gain. I listened to it in audio but I think I will buy the eBook version just so I could understand and retain the concepts better. Listening to his has been nothing short of revelatory and enlightening – as I realized that there are so many things I’ve been doing wrong. If you want to learn more about negotiation or just looking for ways to enhance your skill in this domain, this is a must-read.
WHY WE SLEEP: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams by Matthew Walker, PhD – 5☕
I don’t think I’ve enjoyed a non-fiction book, whose main objective is to inform, this much since Talking to Strangers. Maybe it’s mainly because the topic hit too close to home. I do think this will have a very lasting effect on the way I view sleep from now on. Heck, I was in the beginning chapters of the book and I was cringing at recognizing all the bad choices I’ve made through the years related to my sleep.
Why We Sleep discusses the mechanics of sleep, the common misconceptions about sleep, and even how other species on Earth treat sleep. I learned a lot in this book – but perhaps the most damning of all are the deadly effects of chronic sleep deprivation on the physical, mental, and emotional health of a person. Walker laid out a lot of useful tips to improve sleep quality and also listed down the items that can possibly adversely affect it. He also made a lot of claims, backed by scientific experiments, on how to fully harness the benefits of sleep and try to use it to your advantage. Most interesting, personally, is the possibility of using sleep as a way to “forget” specific things as opposed to the more common use of sleep to improve memory. This could prove useful in treating trauma patients and such. This is still just a possibility, but it was a compelling argument to read about.
Of course, I’ve read about it (i.e., the importance of sleep) too often to be ignored, but this book really has a way of driving the point home where it needs to. This may finally be the one thing that would turn my relationship with sleep on its head. This is a revelation, in every sense of the word. If you want to know how sleep works, or maybe you’re looking for reasons why you can’t sleep, or better yet (like me) you’re looking for systematic ways to improve your sleeping hygiene – this book is the best place to start.
I’m really glad that I was able to finish another round in my Non Fiction Round Up series. Do you have any non fiction recommendation in mind? Have you read any of the books I’ve reviewed above? Comment up and let’s talk!