What’s On The Bookshelf: Escape to a non-fiction world
Never say no to non-fiction…
We love getting lost in the imaginary literary world just as much as other people. But this time of the year, with new year’s resolutions still fresh in mind, we find ourselves browsing the bookshelf for tips, tricks and anecdotes from non-fiction writers.
Whether you’re seeking inspiration on the personal or business front (or just looking for some casual reading), you will not be disappointed in the list curated by our friends at the Emirates Literature Foundation.
From a memoir from one of the world’s 100 most powerful women to a dark but humorous account of living with mental illness and an eye-opening profile of an Italian fashion dynasty, there’s something for every taste. And here’s more good news for you as all of these authors will be making an appearance at the 14th annual Emirates Airline Festival of Literature held from February 3 to 13 at Al Habtoor City.
Here are six books to add to your bookshelf
The Cracks That Let the Light In by Jessica Moxham
This matter-of-fact memoir by Jessica Moxham takes us along on her journey as a parent of a disabled child, Ben. Those in similar circumstances will find solace in the account of Jessica and her family’s learning curve as they support Ben with feeding, mobility and communication to meet his changing needs at different stages of life. As she heals from her traumatic experience at the birth of her firstborn and resiliently raises him alongside two other ‘normal’ children, she unveils a nuanced understanding of disability which makes you rethink societal norms and attitudes.
Jessica started a parenting blog titled Son Stories, to document her experience and eventually wrote this enlightening and beautifully crafted book which is a gripping record of the triumph of inner strength, familial love and hope in the face of grief and adversity. This is not just a must-read but a read-repeatedly type of book.
Twelve and a Half: Leveraging the Emotional Ingredients Necessary for Business Success by Gary Vaynerchuck
This book is based on the premise that in the past, leaders have dismissed emotional intelligence as non-quantifiable and thus depended entirely on hard skills to make decisions. But marketing iconoclast Gary Vaynerchuck attributes his accelerated business success to employing his soft skills like self-awareness, curiosity, and empathy. Perhaps the most interesting exercise in the books is the one that teaches readers to discover which emotional ingredient of leadership they lack and how to strengthen it. The self-help book includes real-life examples involving common business scenarios and shows readers how to employ them together to get the best results.
This USA Today bestseller is the sixth business book by bestselling author and serial entrepreneur, Gary Vaynerchuck. It delivers what it promises in the title, detailing the twelve essential emotional traits that Gary Vee found integral to his business and life success, and provides tomorrow’s leaders with the blueprint to develop these skills. The half from the title refers to the trait he is still working on – and he encourages readers to keep working on their halves too. Highly recommended for people looking for career progression or entrepreneurial success.
The Lost Homestead: My Family, Partition and the Punjab, by Marina Wheeler
The story follows the author’s mother, Dip Singh, and her Sikh family at the division of British India. Like many at the time, Dip was forced to flee to a new ‘home’. After her wedding to Marina’s father, who is English, her mother moves to Berlin and eventually Washington DC. The fight for civil rights is a prominent theme but this is mainly a personal account of loss and new beginnings.
Marina discloses how she believes the people of India and Pakistan reclaimed their identity and rebuilt their lives through the recollection of her mother’s and her extended Indian families’ memories and her own research. The history of the Indian subcontinent is still highly contested and Marina’s account will meet criticism but as an Anglo-Indian with roots in current-day Pakistan, her voice is a unique addition to the body of literature on the subject. A masterful exploration of political change, religious extremism and nationhood and identity that will resonate with readers.
Broken: in the Best Possible Way by Jenny Lawson
Fair warning, this book is an emotional roller coaster. It is an almost equal blend of stoic essays outlining the author’s day-to-day life with mental and physical illness along with humorous accounts of mortifying incidents she has inadvertently been a part of. There are chapters that one should not read in a public space as the loud laughs and snorting will attract stares. There’s even a segment dedicated to her insurance company which humanises her struggle not just for those with depression but also for those fighting for the basic right of healthcare.
This is Jenny Lawson’s third stand-alone book. It is a New York Times, LA Times and Washington Post bestseller for a good reason. More than half a million people on social media follow The Bloggess’ battle with mental health and her book is in the same vein, honest to a fault and peppered with sardonic wit.
My Life in Full: Work, Family and Our Future by Indra Nooyi
An intimate and powerful memoir by the trailblazing former CEO of PepsiCo. It follows her journey from childhood and early education, to an Ivy League school and her rise to become the first woman of colour and immigrant to run a Fortune 50 company. One of the most interesting sections of the book is the retelling of Nooyi’s role as she overcame resistance to steer the US company towards healthier products and more sustainable processes. She is already recognized as a strategic thinker in business circles for her part as a transformative executive for her company and the industry, but this book also offers an insight into the personal sacrifices she made to make this career possible.
The writing is easy to follow, and the book is rich in detail and very relevant with a clear call-to-action for today’s leaders in business and government to work together to create a healthy ecosystem for women at work.
House of Gucci by Sara Gay Forden
The author, Sara Gay Forden, is a great journalist, which is clear from this meticulously researched book that reads more like fiction than the factual narration of actual events. It covers the sensational case of murder that shook the Gucci dynasty in 1995 and set in motion the unveiling of greed and madness behind the glamorous front including the sentencing of Maurizio Gucci’s ex-wife for arranging his murder. There is so much information available surrounding the incident and the subsequent drama and yet the beautiful writing will captivate readers and keep them hooked to the last page of this embroiling tale of high-stakes, high-fashion and family tragedy.
This book is two decades old but is seeing a revival because of the release of the movie starring big stars like Lady Gaga, Al Pacino and Adam Driver. And we are loving it, especially the latest edition with a new afterword.
If you enjoyed today’s listicle on the best of non-fiction by Emirates Literature Foundation, then you should check out their Best Book Club picks on their blog. Follow their bi-monthly podcast, the Boundless Book Club and follow them on social media and YouTube to keep abreast of Festival news and Foundation initiatives .