Archives for posts with tag: Books

Think of the last book you read that was a real page-turner. Got it? Right, was it fiction or non-fiction? I’m betting it was a work of fiction.

A work of fiction is a story. It tells you a story. It brings you along, imbuing you with a gradually deepening sense of the main characters and how they interact, propelling you to the end. A work of non-fiction tends not to do that. Of course it should tell you a story, but often it’s not that easy to do, especially if it’s not a historical account but a business book or something like that.

That’s the difference between fiction and non-fiction: a story to engage you and for you to invest in.

I’ve written a book, as yet unpublished. It’s non-fiction, so it lacks the pulling power and retentive power of a created story. Conscious of my own very short attention span, I’ve written it as a book that’s light on text, heavy on pictures, and, controversially, I’ve made it a page-stopper rather than a page-turner. There is a story in there which has an autobiographical theme, but I’ve designed the book to be ‘coffee-table-putdownable’. It’s easier to finish because it’s easier to pause. It doesn’t overstay its welcome before it offers you a rest.

I think non-fiction books have to work harder to get you to complete them, because there’s no story. Regular signposting and benches help.


Most people will give you a recommended reading list, books they’ve read and think are worth you reading as well.

Here’s a list of 13 important books I wish could finish, not because they’re hard work but because I don’t have the time to get through them. I have at some point either started these books, or read a recommendation to read them. They all currently reside on my bedside table.

You’ll notice I describe them as important. I think I could make the time to read them, but they’re either very long, or they’re a complex, detailed read, or they present within them a challenge to me that I’m not ready to address yet. Here we go:

– The Intelligent Investor, by Benjamin Graham. One of the original – and still one of the best – books on how to invest wisely.

– The Golf of Your Dreams, by Bob Rotella. How to plan to improve your golf game by one of the sport’s great thinkers.

– Teach Your Child How to Think, by Edward de Bono. The creator of Lateral Thinking helps you get out of the ‘my child’s at school and that’s all the thinking s/he needs’ mindset

– D-Day – The Battle for Normandy, by Anthony Beevor. A super detailed and researched account of one of the key events shaping the second half of the twentieth century.

– Visions of England, by Roy Strong. How people historically viewed England through other people’s view of it, like in paintings.

– Seven Deadly Sins – My Pursuit of Lance Armstrong, by David Walsh. One of the ‘told you so’ books mopping up the aftermath of one of the largest bubbles to burst.

– Pick Four, by Seth Godin. Zig Ziglar’s legendary goals program, updated and simplified by his Lordship.

– 101 Irish Records You Must Hear Before You Die, by Tony Clayton-Lea. More of a ‘dip in and buy the album’ read.

– Dreams From My Father, by Barack Obama. Yep, you’ve probably already read it.

– Hurling – The Warrior Game, by Diarmuid O’Flynn. The definitive guide to one of Ireland’s two national games.

– Steve Jobs, by Walter Isaacson. Yep, you’ve probably already read it.

– The Calendar, by David Ewing Duncan. The authoritative account of how people have fought – and how we have taken for granted – to measure the passage of time, which I also touch on here.

– How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie. The word ‘seminal’ is overused, but certainly justified here.

Yes, I know, it is a pretty robust bedside table.