I’ve always thought that sharing knowledge is one of the most precious things anyone can do. From an early age, I loved reading. I still remember how proud I was when I first managed to finish a ‘proper full-length book’ (Charlie and the chocolate factory).
For years, I pretty much just read fiction. The purpose of reading for me was to escape. I thought real-life was boring. After all, where were all the Kings and Queens, the dragons, the witches, wizards and the magic? I loved being transported into different worlds, times and places. One day I’d be having High Tea and macaroons with the Famous Five, outsmarting smugglers; the next, a soldier knee-deep in blood and guts in the trenches of WW1 France; the next, a student at Hogwarts, thanking my lucky stars I wasn’t born a lowly muggle.
This year, though, has been a revelation. I decided to ditch the fiction and learn about life for a change! I bought a load of books on all sorts of subjects, from mindfulness and spirituality, to behavioural economics and science. I watched as many documentaries I could get my eyes on, on topics ranging from veganism to climate change to the textiles industry.
My eyes have been opened. And you know what, I’ve discovered how ignorant I really was! It has been disheartening at times. Taking a good, long hard look at the world can be very overwhelming and downright depressing. At times I’ve felt so small and insignificant – how can I, just one person like any other, make a difference? There are so many problems, BIG problems, where to even start?
But like any seemingly impossible challenge in life, once you break it down into manageable chunks, it becomes much less scary. I am only one person; an ordinary person – I’m not rich or famous or powerful – but I do have a voice and I can use it. And sharing knowledge is one of the most powerful things that can be done! For every one person I impact, they’ll impact one (or more!) and so a tiny tremor triggers an avalanche.
No matter how awful a book or documentary has made me feel, the initial though of, “damn, ignorance really is bliss”, has given way to feeling empowered and motivated. Knowledge is the cornerstone of changing for the better and living a better life after all!
And it hasn’t all been depressing. Reading non-fiction has made me realise just how magical the world really is. The more I’ve learned, the more I’ve realised how much more there is to know. Even if I lived to a thousand, I wouldn’t come close to scratching the surface.
So! Here are some of the books and documentaries I’ve read this year which have opened my mind, broadened my horizons, and in some cases, changed my entire world view. I’ll be adding to the list as I go, so keep checking back!
- Mission Blue
- Chasing Coral
- River Blue
- A Plastic Planet
- Fashion’s Dirty Secrets
- Wasted! The Story of Food Waste
Physical and Mental Health
Understanding the world and our behaviour
- Homo DeusHomo Deus
- Thinking Fast and Slow
- Divided – Why we’re living in an age of walls
- The Selfish Gene