5 Book picks to spark reflection and critical thinking

I was reflecting on the great books which got me thinking lately. I realised they were all nonfiction and that I want to share them with you so you can find something you will also love from this list.

From nature writing, social sciences and macroeconomics, I truly think there is something for anyone here. If you’re looking for nonfiction you can read in a day or nonfiction reviews then check out Out of Five Cats on our site. Now, onward!

Otherlands by Dr Thomas Halliday

If you love nature writing, then you’ll love this. It is more than describing the raw earth, it is a journey from evolution to the modern day. Halliday’s writing style captured me for its charming enthusiasm. From the frosted mountains of Antarctica 41 million years ago to the crystal clear waters off the coast of Africa 1 million years ago… I was hurtled through a panorama of time and stunning biography. It reminded me of the paradox of violence and beauty that permeates our planet. I felt like I was in a David Attenborough documentary. 

This book shows us the Earth as it used to be; raw, untouched by mankind, and ancient. From mammoths in the Ice Age to rainforests the size of a country in the Ediacaran. It is emotional and unfathomable, like reading an entire expanse of time. Living in the suburbs has made me forget how beautiful the earth can be – Halliday reminded me. 

Buy Better, Consume Less: Create Real Environmental Change by Sian Conway-Wood

Ethical Hour founder Sian Conway-Wood provides practical tips on consumption, greenwashing, and accountability. We are failing to care for our world. With piles of overflowing rubbish and streams of pollution, there is another pollution. Branding pollution. What do you do in a world consumed by consumption?

For too long, corporations have shifted the eco-responsibility onto us, the consumers. It’s time to push back and demand change.Here at The Book Shelf, we work with the Rainforest Trust charity and have saved acres of woodland. It’s time to change and put the planet above profit.

The Crisis of Democratic Capitalism by Martin Wolf

From the author of The Shifts and the Shocks, and one of the most influential writers on economics, a reckoning with how and why the relationship between democracy and capitalism is coming undone.

 It analyses how the marriage between capitalism and democracy has become so fraught and yet insists that a divorce would be an almost unimaginable calamity

This book could not be timelier as the global economy darkens further.

In The Shadow of the Mountain by Silvia Vasquez-Lavado

This book was extraordinary. It is the journey of young female survivors climbing Everest. Lavado notes how patriarchal societies deem summit journeys like conquests when the most superhuman journey one can make is facing trauma and compulsions that wound us. The tone was so courageous, and the narrative voice so powerful that I read this in days. One quote I have carried with me all year is: “We do not conquer Everest just like we do not conquer trauma. Instead, we must yield ourselves to the chasms and unexpected avalanches.” 

This story had me on the edge of my seat due to Silvia’s heroism and strength. I would love to read it for the first time again. 

Raw Deal: Hidden Corruption, Corporate Greed, and the Fight for the Future of Meat by Chloe Sorvino

This is set to be a shocking, journalistic exposé of the meat industry in the United States. Sorvino exposes the weaknesses of the meat industry and what this means for the future of food. By engaging with ideas of corporate greed and marxism, this book contains new data previously hidden by companies to protect their profit. As a vegan, I think understanding where our food comes from is so important.

Have any of these taken your fancy? 

If you’re looking for even more nonfiction, check out our Editor’s Blog for more recommendation blog posts that will definitely have you adding new books to your must-read list!