5 influential non-fiction books to add to your reading list

Books that changed my perspective on life  

Designing Your Life, Bill Burnett & Dave Evans

Look at your life through the eyes of a designer in order to work out what you want and how to get there. The first chapters help you create an overview of your life at present (under the categories of health, work, fun and love) and identify what could be improved. The rest of the book guides you in designing your future. Designing Your Life helped me understand that the things we think we want aren’t necessarily what we actually want. While we may like the idea of a certain job or field of work, it is important to take small steps, testing things out (‘prototyping’ in design speak), before throwing our whole life into a career that may not be the right fit.

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The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle

For anyone who spends time worrying about the past or feeling anxious about the future, Eckhart Tolle’s Power of Now is an instruction manual on how to remain present and live in the now. It explains how so much of the mental anguish we cause ourselves is avoidable; how to detach ourselves from our thoughts and how to take back the power we have over our thoughts and emotions. Its know-it-all narrative voice with question-answer format can feel condescending at times but it is readable and outlines Tolle’s ideas in a clear and accessible way.

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How The Pill Changes Everything, Dr Sarah E. Hill

Hormonal birth control is used by millions of women around the world yet they are not sufficiently informed on how it affects them. It’s a book you’d probably only reach for when you wonder ‘is this something wrong with me?’, which is why I read it. Despite the Pill helping women to take control of their reproductive systems and revolutionise their place in society, hormonal contraception has negative side effects that aren’t publicised enough. How The Pill Changes Everything covers how the Pill changes your brain, increases your risk of depression and affects your choice of mate. 

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White Fragility, Robin DiAngelo

White Fragility is a read for any white person who believes they are not racist. It explains the way in which racism entails much more than discrimination. Extreme right supporters and those who write xenophobic comments on social media are only one form of racism. It can be an uncomfortable read as it explores how white people are so afraid of being perceived as racist that they avoid acknowledging it altogether, which contributes further to the problem of racism. It provides insight into how to understand one’s own white fragility and how to engage with it more constructively.  

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Why We Sleep, Matthew Walker

“The shorter your sleep, the shorter your life span,” is the stern message Matthew Walker delivers in Why We Sleep. This book provides an understanding of what sleep actually is, why and how we should sleep, and finally what good sleep habits look like. It describes sleep as a “magic” pill, the one thing that can slow the effects of ageing, prevent cancer, Alzheimer’s and diabetes, and keep us generally healthy. On a day-to-day basis, sleep improves mood, energy levels, learning and productivity, so it should be prioritised above everything else. A take-home for me was how alcohol, even in small quantities, can ruin a good night’s sleep. 

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