The Best Non-Fiction of 2013

Here are our top ten picks for best non-fiction books from the past year, voted for and loved by Readings staff. Displayed in no particular order.


Night Games by Anna Krien

Sitting effortlessly beside other great works of contemporary first-person narrative journalism, Anna Krien’s Night Games follows the rape trial of a young footballer in Melbourne, unpacking issues of sex, power and consent prevalent in our culture. There’s an underlying sense of urgency here and a growing unease that threatens to swallow you whole, making for a thrillingly addictive read.

– Bronte Coates


Boomer & Me by Jo Case

This deeply personal, rich and engaging memoir is about parenting and life in general just as much as it is an insight into having a child diagnosed with Asperger’s. Jo Case’s anxiety-ridden attempts to navigate other mothers in the playground were among the many situations I identified with, and the dialogues with her son are touching and funny. A wonderful book that deserves a wide audience.

– Emily Gale


Madness: a Memoir by Kate Richards

Madness, Kate Richards’ razor-sharp account of her own mental illness and depression, is a truly unique read. Offering accessible insight into the erratic highs and alienating lows of psychosis, Richards chronicles the long, yet ultimately hopeful, journey back towards balance and wellness. A must-read for anyone interested in the dark side of life.

– Emily Harms


Far From the Tree by Andrew Solomon

Ten years in the making, Andrew Solomon’s Far From the Tree elegantly tells the stories of hundreds of families dealing with exceptional children, focusing on deafness, dwarfism, Down syndrome, autism, disability, schizophrenia, child prodigies and more. Meticulously researched, this book is powerful and life-affirming. Far From the Tree will irrevocably change the way you think about family and love.

– Nina Kenwood


Murder in Mississippi by John Safran

In Murder in Mississippi, John Safran takes us into the world of America’s Deep South following the murder of a white supremacist by a black man. In covering the trial, Safran tackles issues surrounding race and sexuality, as well as meditating on the reliability of the narrator. Here is the honest, funny, conversational and often confronting storytelling style Safran has become known for.

– Stella Charls


Love & Terror on the Howling Plains of Nowhere by Poe Ballantine

In his fascinating memoir-mystery, Poe Ballantine, along with his Mexican wife and autistic son, scratches out a living in Chadron, Nebraska. Town life is interesting enough, but when a local professor disappears, Ballantine is drawn into a mystery that divides the locals and attracts national media attention. Funny, wise and beautifully written.

– Robbie Egan


Forgotten War by Henry Reynolds

Forgotten War completely debunks the notion of peaceful colonisation in Australia, depicting European settlement as an uncompromising, hundred-year-long invasion – and there is no dodging the ruthlessness at its heart. However, this book is really readable and relevant to anyone whose family came to this country in the nineteenth century. For those who loved the First Footprints TV series, this is a must.

– Susan Stevenson


A History of Silence by Lloyd Jones

Here, Lloyd Jones turns to memoir for the first time. One of the fascinations of the book is just how that turn within came about, from the trigger of the Christchurch earthquakes in 2011 to the rupture of long-suppressed faultlines in his own family’s history. This searching account of the uncovering of family secrets is tender, affecting and utterly transfixing.

– Martin Shaw


Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg

Sheryl Sandberg is the COO of Facebook and Lean In is her memoir, business manifesto and career guide rolled into one. Along with intelligent, practical and useful advice, Sandberg’s passion to see women succeed at the highest level is evident throughout and it’s this that makes Lean In such an inspiring, entertaining and energising read.

– Nina Kenwood


Boy, Lost by Kristina Olsson

Kristina Olsson uses perfectly balanced prose and enormous compassion to weave breathtaking beauty into this family memoir. As a young woman, Olsson’s mother had her two-year-old son wrenched from her arms and didn’t see him again for the next 40 years. Mother and son both demonstrate astounding dignity and resilience throughout this beautiful, wistful book. Highly recommended.

– Gabrielle Williams

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Night Games: Sex, Power and Sport

Night Games: Sex, Power and Sport

Anna Krien

$19.99Buy now

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