100 best non-fiction books

I’m not quite sure how I missed this (this would never have happened in the old days, pre-internet and pre-children, when Saturday morning meant a leisurely breakfast and all the many sections of the Guardian spread across the table amongst the coffee and the toast), but Rober McCrum has been running a series in the Guardian and Observer on the 100 best non-fiction books. Apparently he began it back in January 2016 (here’s one of the posts that kicked it off), and it followed directly on from his attempt to put together a similarly definitive list for fiction. 

The most recent post covers Mary Wollestonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792), one of the earliest works to articuate the beginnings of feminism, from the woman who died at the age of 38 just days after giving birth to her daughter, who would become Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein.  

It’s a reckless underataking, and leaves me feeling quite dizzy: I can’t decide on the same favourite book two days in a row. The list is also restricted to books written in English by a single author, although it does range widely over a number of genres. There are many I agree with (including last week’s), others I’ve never even read, to my shame. Definitely worth a look, if only to remind yourself of the remarkable power of the book to shape the world.