27 January 2020

5 Non-Fiction Books that Opened my Mind



Here are 5 non-fiction books I'd recommend. These books changed my perspective and left a lasting impact. If you know me, you've probably heard me mention at least some of these already...

1. Scheherazade Goes West - Fatema Mernissi

Through the lens of Scheherazade, the famous female storyteller from the One Thousand and One Nights, this book explores the status of women in the Muslim world. Mernissi, a Moroccan scholar and feminist, highlights the misinformed ideas and prejudices we in the West hold of Muslim women. We quickly call the burqa oppressive, forgetting that western women may be equally oppressed in a different way: by ideals of beauty and youth.

Aside from introducing me to the boss lady that is Scheherazade, this book really expanded my perspective on feminism and specifically women in the Muslim world.

2. Wilding - Isabella Tree

Wilding is a true story about a British farm whose owners decide to let it go wild after decades of conventional farming. It's a new kind of conservation: one that honours nature's intelligence instead of imposing human intervention, or prioritising one particular species. The result, after a relatively short time, is a truly wild, Savannah-like landscape with a great diversity of plant and animal species.

Rewilding is so important personally, politically and environmentally; this book is a must-read in the context of the ecological crisis we're facing.

3. The Prophet - Kahlil Gibran

Dating back to 1923, this book is the best known work by this Lebanese-American poet and writer. The Prophet is a collection of poetic fables - you could call it one of the original 'self help' books. Its teachings span love, friendship, work, spirituality, and more. Gibran's advice still rings true today, and something new strikes me every time I return to it.

"Some of you say, “Joy is greater than sorrow,” and others say, “Nay, sorrow is the greater.”
But I say unto you, they are inseparable.
Together they come, and when one sits alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed."

4. The Science of Yoga: The Risks and Rewards - William Broad

I bought this book because I wanted to know what science has 'proved' about yoga so far. A lot of statements are flung around in classes and online, but they're not always correct - and me being the methodical person I am, I wanted a deeper understanding. The book covers all noteworthy scientific studies to publication date, confirming some of the known benefits of yoga, and debunking myths and exaggerations.

5. Climate: A New Story - Charles Eisenstein

I've written a whole article on this book - It's probably influenced me more than anything I've ever read. In it, Charles Eisenstein explores the 'climate crisis' - he unpacks it, he goes beyond the mainstream rhetoric which is narrowly focused on carbon emissions. He shows how the situation we're in is an all-encompassing environmental crisis - and it's a result of our fundamental relationship with the natural world and each other. He invites us to take a better path.

“We face a choice. Which world shall we live in? […] a concrete planet, or a planet profuse with life? A beautiful world or an ugly world? A living world or a dead world?” 

“Caring about other beings, about life, about our planet is aboriginal to our humanness.”

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