Welcome to the first in my series of '2014 in Review'. Today I'm sharing my top non-fiction reads of the year and over the next week I've got a whole host of lists that represent the best bits of 2014 as I experienced it. I'm not going to be limiting myself to books - I'm going to share my favourite exhibitions and theatre productions, alongside my top moments of the year and I'll be rounding off the series with a bumper list of my top 14 fiction reads.
Without further ado I'd like to introduce the non-fiction winners:
Wounded by Emily MayhewThis was a seriously stand-out book from this year which gives us a glimpse into the experiences of the wounded and those that helped the wounded during World War One. It is a subject I think not many people had even considered, but it is truly fascinating and Mayhew's writing brings it to life in all its terrible beauty. I reviewed it over on Centenary News.
Secret Warriors by Taylor DowningAnother one I read and reviewed for Centenary News and I was also lucky enough to interview Taylor Downing (actually one of the crowning moments of my year). If you want to know more about the science/technical side of WW1 this is the perfect starting point. I loved it particularly for the chapters on aviation and code-breaking. My Dad received a copy from me for Father's Day this year and he thought it was brilliant too, so if that's not recommendation enough I don't know what is.
How To Be a Heroine by Samantha EllisThis was one of the first non-fiction books I read this year and probably the one responsible for the sudden change in my non-fiction reading habits. How To Be a Heroine is the perfect pick for the literature loving feminist.
Italian Ways by Tim ParksIn the summer between my second and third years at uni my best friend and I spent five weeks travelling around Italy. Most of our journeys were by train so I'm pretty familiar with the joys and frustrations of the Italian railways that this book expounds. Italian Ways is a brilliant book which blends a touch of memoir with anecdotes and a generous helping of history. I didn't review this one, but I would recommend it for any travel/transport/history/memoir fan - nearly everyone, then!
Virginia Woolf by Alexandra HarrisI'd long fancied reading a bit more about Virginia Woolf as a person as I find her entire history so immensely fascinating. Hermione Lee's tome intimidated me quite considerably so I started off with Alexandra Harris's much shorter, but no less interesting, biography. The writing was perfectly accessible for even the most terrified Woolf-newbie and it strikes the perfect balance between biographical data and analysis of Woolf's key works.
Which non-fiction books stood out for you this year? Do we have any in common?