The Friday Five…Best Thought-Provoking Non-Fiction Books To Read Now

A Bit Of A Stretch

A Bit Of A Stretch by Chris Atkins is the diary of Atkins’ time in HMP Wandsworth for fraud. A Bit Of A Stretch is similar to This Is Going To Hurt by Adam Kay in that it forces you to rethinking what you believe you know and is brutally honest. Both are heartbreaking and entertaining in different ways.

The book acts as a survival guide for a place where self harm is treated as a normal occurrence and prisoners aren’t allowed watches with stop clocks. During his time inside Atkins worked as a Listener, volunteering to help prisoners who were struggling with their mental health, these entries offer some of the most eye-opening moments of the book and shed light on the failings of our prison system.

Atkins’ writing doesn’t create sympathy for the men and their crimes, but instead highlights the problems of the system which sees prisoners locked in their cells for 23 hours and how prisons fail to rehabilitate offenders.

This book really made me think about the way prisons and prisoners are presented by the media and what needs to be done to turn prisons into humane places.

This Is Going To Hurt

This Is Going To Hurt by Adam Kay is a collection of diary entries written when Kay was working as a doctor in the NHS. One of the few books I’ve found both genuinely funny and incredibly heartbreaking.

At a time when we are clapping for our NHS this book is incredibly timely, Kay offers an eye opening look into the pressures put on NHS staff and how their loyalty to their profession and patients impacts their lives. A moment that sticks out for me is when Kay fell asleep in his car after a shift, only to wake up rather confused and realise he needed to rush back in for his next shift.

Kay’s writing is refreshingly honest, emotive and thought provoking. This is an easy, although emotional, read that even my friends who ‘don’t read’ (the horror!) have enjoyed it.

Twas The Nightshift Before Christmas

Twas The Nightshift Before Christmas is the follow up to This Is Going to Hurt. Kay’s focus on the struggles of NHS staff at a time when we most of us are thinking about roasts and Christmas movies makes you realise how lucky we are.

Opening the Celebrations to find someone has already eaten all the Maltesers doesn’t seem so unfair when compared to the NHS Christmas rota.

I’d recommend this to anyone who isn’t sure if they want to read This Is Going to Hurt or has read it or just wants a short read. Kay’s writing remains exceptional!

Sophia: Princess, Suffragette, Revolutionary

I will never stop recommending people read Sophia by Anita Anand. Sophia Duleep Singh is one of the few people that I would consider an inspiration, Sophia was much more than a Princess, she raised money to build a centre for Lascars in Victoria Dock, became a social activist through the suffrage movement, and tended to wounded soldiers during the war.

How can you not fall in love with a Princess selling suffragette paper The Vote outside Hampton Court in her fur coat?

Read my full review of this amazing book here.

Sapiens: A Brief History Of Humankind

I’ve only just started Sapiens by  Yuval Noah Harari but (so far) would recommend it as a unique and informative look at a vast history.

I picked this book after seeing it on a family member’s bookshelf during FaceTime, they have yet to read it so it was a bit of a ‘blind’ pick, but so far so good!