My Favorite Non-Fiction Books

stack of books on the dark wood background. toning. selective focus on the middle book

Hello world!

I found this blog post draft from last summer and decided to share it.  It totally gave me the itch to read more awesome non-fiction books.

I haven’t read a lot of books lately except for a few by Liane Moriarty (love!).

I’m sharing exactly what I wrote last year (thinking it’s so funny my multiple reference to “figuring out the world.”)  Um, now that I’m a mom I think my focus is more on just enjoying life as a family.  But I still like topics/books that help me “figure things out” and grow.

I updated the list of books I want to read next because that part of the draft was empty.  Probably explains why this was never posted.  I also added a brief summary to each book.

Please please tell me if you have a book recommendation!  I’m overdue (haha) for a trip to the library.  Or a trip to the online e-book catalog.


I think I’m addicted….to non-fiction books.

Not sure if it’s life-timing (crises of trying to figure out the world in my twenties) or what.

I recently found out through Gallup’s StrengthsFinder assessment that my number one strength is being a learner.  This is what the assessment says:


“You love to learn. The subject matter that interests you most will be determined by your other themes and experiences, but whatever the subject, you will always be drawn to the process of learning. The process, more than the content or the result, is especially exciting for you. You are energized by the steady and deliberate journey from ignorance to competence. The thrill of the first few facts, the early efforts to recite or practice what you have learned, the growing confidence of a skill mastered — this is the process that entices you.

Your excitement leads you to engage in adult learning experiences — yoga or piano lessons or graduate classes. It enables you to thrive in dynamic work environments where you are asked to take on short project assignments and are expected to learn a lot about the new subject matter in a short period of time and then move on to the next one.

This Learner theme does not necessarily mean that you seek to become the subject matter expert, or that you are striving for the respect that accompanies a professional or academic credential. The outcome of the learning is less significant than the ‘getting there.'”

Can we just talk about the fact that assessments like these are so wonderfully fun and juicy and interesting to talk about, mostly because it’s the most narcissistic thing you can do.  Imagine my delight when a learner like me can learn about myself?? Heaven!

Anyway, I enjoyed doing the assessment and am reflecting more about the best way I can use and enjoy my learning strength.

One way I’ve been doing this in the past year is reading lots of non-fiction books, especially business, self-help (cringe-worthy word, but I think it fits), and psychology-based books that still have a lot of heart.  I think this plays to the learner in me as well as a girl in her twenties who is just trying to figure out this crazy world.

tumblr_static_literature-books-584If you are close to me, you probably already have had to endure my recommendations of these books.  I want to put together a list of my favorites.  These were all incredibly enjoyable to read.  Most of them fall in the “self-help” book category, but I still don’t know if that word fits.  The books cover a lot of topics, but here’s how I would describe their qualities:

  • Strongly based in stories with a lot of heart
  • Give examples of research, psychological and social studies without getting boring or textbook-like
  • Good food for thought about “self-help” without any “hang in there, you can do it!” cheesy-ness
  • They get me to think differently about myself, my relationships to others, and the world around me


The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle

How people develop talents.  It boils down to practice but the book explains it’s also so much more than that.  Very cool brain stuff explained.


Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain

I will never stop recommending this book! Most of my family has read it (it’s the family joke that my mom is the only hold-out).  It resonated with all of us and made us drunk with introvert-power!


The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

A book with great research and awesome stories, this one shows how important habits are and how they work in our brains.  Includes a short chapter about how to change your own habits.


The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor (–> the author’s Ted Talk)

All about positive psychology — great book.  The cool thing is all the themes of gratitude, happiness, and positivity can be applied to belief in God, gratitude and joy in Him.  I think positivity is a like a superpower from God that does great things in our lives.  “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” (Prov. 17:22 NIV)


The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown

Brene Brown (also of TED Talk notoriety) wrote this book for everyone but I think especially for us perfectionists who have a hard time being vulnerable and letting a messier side of ourselves show.  Each chapter is about “letting go of…” a certain restricting way of thinking.


The Defining Decade by Meg Jay

Hint: according to this author, it’s your twenties.  No pressure, ha.


The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

I also wrote about this one here.  Good research in this book but also enjoyable to follow the author’s happiness projects.


Crucial Conversations

One read for work and the main themes still resonate with me.  How to talk (and get actually get somewhere!) when stakes and emotions are high without people feeling defensive.


Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg

I got some good stuff out of this book: a favorite mantra: “done is better than perfect” and really interesting studies about how men and women are perceived differently.


Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell

I actually read this one this summer and needed to add it to the list.  Gladwell uses very rich stories to show how success is more about timing, experiences, family, environment than people’s qualities.

What I Want to Read Next:

Thinking Fast And Slow

Something else by Malcolm Gladwell — Blink, The Tipping Point, or David and Goliath

30 Million Words: Building A Child’s Brain

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying-Up 

Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements (<– also has an assessment!)

How We Learn: The Surprising Truth About When, Where, and Why It Happens

The Five Love Languages

The American Health Care Paradox: Why Spending More is Getting Us Less

Have a great week everyone!


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