Non-fiction picks for the new year

2013 has started and I’ve decided to make a resolution I can actually keep for a change, instead of committing to learn Arabic by audiobook over my headphones as I run an ultra-marathon in record time. This year I’ve made it easy on myself and resolved to do a lot more learning in my spare time, rather than sprawling on the sofa watching re-runs of Father Ted.

Luckily for me this looks like being (another) great year for non-fiction and real-life reading with plenty of exciting new offerings in the publishing works. I’ve hunted down the non-fiction releases I am most excited about this month and, in no particular order, here they are.

High Sobriety – My Year Without Booze by Jill Stark (to be released Jan 31)

High Sobriety“During the week, I write about Australia’s booze-soaked culture. At the weekends, I write myself off.”

Jill Stark is an award-winning health reporter who has won awards for her coverage of binge-drinking. You’d expect her to be a moderate drinker if a drinker at all but it turned out she wasn’t just an expert on paper and at the age of 35, she decided to take a year off the grog. High Sobriety is both the story of her dry year and a discussion of the complex relationship that Australian culture has with booze, and I’m dying to get my mitts on it.

On Looking – Eleven Walks with Expert Eyes by Alexandra Horowitz (just published)

“You are missing at least eighty percent of what is happening around you right now. You are missing what is happening in your body, in the distance, and right in front of you. In marshaling your attention to these words, you are ignoring an unthinkably large amount of information that continues to bombard all of your senses.”

If you’ve ever wondered if people see the world the way you do, cognitive scientist Alexandra Horowitz’s new book is bound to fascinate. Structured around a series of eleven walks the author takes with experts (including an urban sociologist, an artist, a physician, a child and a dog) to see the world as they perceive it.

How the Dog Became the Dog – From Wolves to Our Best Friends by Mark Derr (available now)

I won’t lie to you. I’d like to tell you this came to my attention as I am fascinated by canines, evolution and human/animal socialisation and this book on how wolves became dogs is sure to fascinate on all fronts. I could point out that dog expert Mark Derr has a good pedigree (sorry, couldn’t resist) in writing accessible and entertaining books about dogs. But the main reason I want it is the cover, because who can resist a dog in a faux-Viking helmet?

So, they’re my pick for this month. Still broke after the silly season and unable to buy every fun read that crosses your path? If you’d like something to put you off the idea of buying books – possibly forever – I give you the Lousy Book Covers Tumblr. They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. In this case, I’m not sure if they have a good point or whether  (Thanks to Joel at Momentum Books for highlighting this one. Joel, you’ll be getting the bill from my Ophthalmologist any day now.)