Page-Turning New Non-Fiction To Read This Month

From the story behind the interview, to the story inside the classroom, from therapists needing therapy to the forensic pathologist who solves unsolvable murders, 2019 has so far been the year of great non-fiction. Here, we’ve rounded up our favourite new releases from this year that gives all the insider information from midwives to firefighters.

Airhead by Emily Maitlis

Behind every interview there is a backstory. How it came about. How it ended. The compromises that were made. The regrets, the rows, the deeply inappropriate comedy. This insightful, hilarious and engrossing memoir from one of our most well-liked TV broadcasters, Newsnight's Emily Maitlis, she takes you behind the scenes of the biggest news stories in recent years, where it becomes clear the things said on camera are only half the story.

What the critics say:

“Maitlis paints a vivid picture of the intensity and unpredictability that come with her assignments… Her writing is excellent: precise, economical and accessible,” – Guardian

“Smart, funny and brilliantly told stories about what goes on behind the scenes of television news. A joy.” – Elizabeth Day

“A deliciously funny book about the high-wire act of broadcasting and the madness that surrounds it.” – The Times

Buy here.

The Corner Shop by Babita Sharma

Babita Sharma was raised in a corner shop in Reading, and over the counter watched a changing world, from the clientele to the products to the politics of the day. Along with the skills to mop a floor perfectly and stack a shelf, she gained a unique insight into a shifting landscape – and an institution that, despite the creep of supermarkets, online shopping and delivery, has found a way to evolve and survive. The Corner Shop is the remarkable human story of these institutions that have changed the course of our history.

What the critics say:

“One of the best books I've read on the immigrant experience in this country.” – Daily Mail

“Full of life, characters, gossip and all the richness of the local community.” – Sir David Jason

Buy here.

Dairy of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell

Who knew so much hilarity could come from a small bookshop in Scotland? Shaun Bythell owns the second largest second-hand bookshop in Wigtown, containing 100,000 books, over a mile of shelving, and big roaring fires to hunker down next to whilst you’re reading. In his wry and hilarious diaries, Shaun provides a look at the trials and tribulations of life in the book trade, from struggles with eccentric customers to wrangles he has with his own staff, including the ski-suit-wearing, bin-foraging Nicky. He takes us with him on buying trips to old estates and auction houses, recommends books (both lost classics and new discoveries), introduces us to the thrill of the unexpected find, and evokes the rhythms and charms of small-town life – always with a sharp and sympathetic eye.

What the critics say:

“The Diary Of A Bookseller is warm (unlike Bythell's freezing-cold shop) and funny, and deserves to become one of those bestsellers that irritate him so much.” – Mail on Sunday

“Utterly compelling…Bythell has a Bennett-like eye for the amusing eccentricities of ordinary people ... I urge you to buy this book and please, even at the risk of being insulted or moaned at, buy it from a real live bookseller.” – Sunday Express

“Tempted to follow your dream and open a second-hand bookshop? Don't do anything before you read Shaun Bythell ... second-hand bookshops are alive because of people like him.” – The National

Buy here.

Hard Pushed: A Midwife’s Story by Leah Hazard

With the success of Adam Kay’s This Is Going To Hurt, there’s been a abundance of care workers penning their stories of the healthcare system that are equal parts funny and heartbreaking. But this is definitely one you need to read: in Hard Pushed, the reader is transported to the front line of the NHS, working within a system at breaking point. Through Leah we meet Eleanor, whose wife is a walking miracle of modern medicine and their baby a feat of reproductive science; Crystal, pregnant at just fifteen, the precarious life within her threatening to come far too soon; and Star, birthing in a room heady with essential oils and love – until an enemy intrudes… Moving, compassionate and intensely candid, this is a love letter to both new mothers and to Leah's fellow midwives, who are there for us at one of the most challenging and defining moments in our lives.

What the critics say:

“The stories in Hard Pushed highlight the bravery of our midwives, and the women they care for.” – Christie Watson, author of The Language of Kindness

“Heart-rending, inspiring and funny, Hard Pushed brings alive the world of midwifery in all its complexity and radiates love and respect for women, even in the most frantic and anxiety-ridden moments.” – Professor Lesley Page CBE, former president of the Royal College of Midwives

Buy here.

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb

One day, Lori Gottlieb is a therapist helping patients in her Los Angeles practice – everyone from Hollywood producers to twentysomethings who keep choosing the wrong men. But the next, a crisis causes her world to come crashing down and it is she who is now in need of a therapist. Enter Wendell, a quirky but seasoned therapist. With his balding head, cardigan and khakis, he seems to have come straight from Therapist Central Casting – yet turns out to be anything but. With wisdom and humour, Gottlieb talks about what it’s like to be on both clinician and patient examining the truths we tell ourselves as we teeter on the tightrope between love and desire, meaning and mortality, guilt and redemption, terror and courage, hope and change.

What the critics say:

"This is a daring, delightful, and transformative book." – Arianna Huffington

"Wise, warm, smart, and funny. You must read this book." – Susan Cain, New York Times bestselling author of Quiet

"Rarely have I read a book that challenged me to see myself in an entirely new light, and was at the same time laugh-out-loud funny and utterly absorbing." – Katie Couric

Buy here.

Notes to Self by Emilie Pine

‘Notes to Self’ is the first non-academic book written by modern drama professor Emilie Pine; an associate professor of modern drama at University College, Dublin. It’s a collection of personal, intricately written, brave, bold and compulsively readable essays about what it is to be a woman today. It explores a mix of topics that many women endure as part of what they feel is ordinary life; infertility, miscarriage, family trauma, alcoholism, menstruation, body image and weight issues. 
What the critics say:

“Messy raw experience is transformed into meaningful, honed prose.” – The Independent

“Honest, brave and searing.” – The Sunday Times

“I've never read anything quite like these essays. It’s the kind of book you want to give to everyone, especially young women and men, so that we can learn together to take ourselves and each other more seriously.” – The Irish Times

Buy here.

The Salt Path by Raynor Winn

Get the tissues ready – this Sunday Times Bestseller is the uplifting true story of the couple who lost everything and ended up embarking on a journey of salvation across the windswept 630-mile South West Coast Path. In a string of bad luck, Raynor Winn and her husband Moth lost their farmhouse home and with it their source of income (they rented out to holidaymakers). The Salt Path is honest and life-affirming, a portrayal of what home really means, and how it can be lost and rebuilt in the most unexpected ways. But ultimately, this is Raynor’s love letter to Moth; a memory of two unforgettable summers kept alive between the pages.

What the critics say:

“A beautiful, thoughtful, lyrical story of homelessness, human strength and endurance” – Guardian

“It's a tale of triumph: of hope over despair; of love over everything . . . home was no longer about bricks and mortar. It was a state of mind” – The Sunday Times

'The most inspirational book of this year . . . What the book chiefly conveys is the human capacity for endurance and the regenerative power of nature... [It] has reminded me to scrape last year's mud from my walking boots and get rambling again. I hope it has the same impact on millions of others.' – The Times

Buy here.

The Heat of the Moment by Sabrina Cohen-Hatton

We’ve heard from the NHS, now it’s time to hear from the fire brigade. Sabrina Cohen-Hatton has been a firefighter for eighteen years. She is the person who decides which of her colleagues enter a burning building and how they confront the blaze. She is the one who makes the call to evacuate if she believes the other options have been exhausted or that the situation has escalated beyond hope. Taking us to the very heart of firefighting, she immerses us in this extraordinary world; from scenes of devastation and crisis, through triumphs of bravery, to the quieter moments when she questions herself. The Heat of the Moment is the result of everything Sabrina’s learnt about how we respond in our most extreme moments.

What the critics say:

“Homeless as a teenager, Sabrina Cohen-Hatton has spent the last eighteen years dealing with everything from fires to car crashes and terrorist attacks. Who better to write a book about life-or-death situations?” – Guardian

“An inspirational woman” – Good Housekeeping

'An inspirational memoir from an extraordinary woman. The Heat of the Moment does for the fire service what Adam Kay's This Is Going to Hurt did for the NHS. A humbling, jaw-dropping read which redefines what is possible in life' – Viv Groskop

But here.

Unnatural Causes by Dr Richard Shephard

In his job, forensic pathologist Dr Richard Shephard has just one question to answer: how did this person die? A pretty big question, I think you’ll agree. Dr Shepherd has faced serial killers, natural disasters, 'perfect murders' and freak accidents, all in the pursuit of the truth. And while he's been involved in some of the most high-profile cases of recent times, it's often the less well-known encounters that prove the most intriguing and bizarre. His evidence has put people behind bars and freed the innocent, but with a life spent working in death comes the burden of bearing witness to some of humanity's darkest corners. Warning: don’t read directly after eating.

What the critics say: 

'Fascinating, gruesome yet engrossing' - Richard and Judy, Daily Express

'One of the most fascinating books I have read in a long time. Engrossing, a haunting page-turner. A book I could not put down' - The Times

'Fascinating, insightful, candid, compassionate' - The Observer

Buy here.

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