100 Major Works of Modern Creative Nonfiction by About.com

Essays, memoirs, autobiographies, biographies, travel writing, history, cultural studies, nature writing--all fit under the broad heading of creative nonfiction, and all are represented here: a list of 100 major works of creative nonfiction published by British and American writers over the past 80 years.

  1. An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser

    Image of An American Tragedy

    Clyde Griffiths is a young man with ambitions. He's in love with a rich girl, but it's a poor girl he has gotten pregnant, Roberta Alden, who works with him at his uncle's factory. One day he takes...

    - Time

  2. Good-Bye to All That by Robert Graves

    Image of Good-Bye to All That

    Good-bye to All That is the autobiography of Robert Graves. First published in 1929, the work is a landmark anti-war memoir of life in the trenches during World War I. The title expresses Graves' d...


  3. A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf

    Image of A Room of One's Own

    A Room of One's Own is an extended essay by . First published during 24 October 1929, it was based on a series of lectures she delivered at Newnham College and Girton College, two women's colleges ...


  4. My Life and Hard Times by James Thurber

    Image of My Life and Hard Times

    Widely hailed as one of the finest humorist of the twentieth century, James Thurber looks back at his own life growing up in Columbus, Ohio, with the same humor and sharp wit that defined his famou...

    - Google

  5. Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell

    Image of Down and Out in Paris and London

    Down and Out in Paris and London is the first full-length work by the English author George Orwell, published in 1933. It is a memoir[3] in two parts on the theme of poverty in the two cities. The ...


  6. The Big Sea by Langston Hughes

    Image of The Big Sea

    The Black writer recalls his early years spent in Paris and Harlem of the Twenties

    - Google

  7. Speak, Memory by Vladimir Nabokov

    Image of Speak, Memory

    Speak, Memory is an autobiographical memoir by writer Vladimir Nabokov. The first twelve chapters describe Nabokov's remembrance of his youth in a quasi-aristocratic family living in pre-revolut...


  8. Let Us Now Praise Famous Men by James Agee

    Image of Let Us Now Praise Famous Men

    Let Us Now Praise Famous Men is a book with text by American writer James Agee and photographs by American photographer Walker Evans first published in 1941 in the United States. The title is from ...


  9. Dust Tracks on a Road: An Autobiography by Zora Neale Hurston

    Image of Dust Tracks on a Road: An Autobiography

    First published in 1942 at the height of her popularity, Dust Tracks on a Road is Zora Neale Hurston's candid, funny, bold, and poignant autobiography, an imaginative and exuberant account of her r...

    - Google

  10. One Man's Meat by E. B. White

    Image of One Man's Meat

    The early-twentieth-century writer and journalist recalls his thoughts and experiences while enjoying the simple life on a Maine farm

    - Google

  11. Black Boy by Richard Wright

    Image of Black Boy

    Black Boy is an autobiography by Richard Wright. Depicting Wright's life in great detail, the book tells the story of his troubled youth and race relations in the South. It is about the struggles t...


  12. Hiroshima by John Hersey

    Image of Hiroshima

    The classic tale of the day the first atom bomb was dropped offers a haunting evocation of the memories of survivors and an appeal to the conscience of humanity

    - Google

  13. Mencken Chrestomathy by H.L. Mencken

    Image of Mencken Chrestomathy

    Edited and annotated by H.L.M., this is a selection from his out-of-print writings. They come mostly from books—the six of the PREJUDICES series, A BOOK OF BURLESQUES, IN DEFENSE OF WOMEN, NOTES ON...

    - Google

  14. The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell

    Image of The Hero with a Thousand Faces

    The Hero with a Thousand Faces (first published in 1949) is a non-fiction book, and seminal work of comparative mythology by Joseph Campbell. In this publication, Campbell discusses his theory of t...


  15. The Liberal Imagination by Lionel Trilling

    Image of The Liberal Imagination

    The Liberal Imagination is one of the most admired and influential works of criticism of the last century, a work that is not only a masterpiece of literary criticism but an important statement abo...


  16. A Walker in the City by Alfred Kazin

    Image of A Walker in the City

    Kazin’s memorable description of his life as a young man as he makes the journey from Brooklyn to “americanca”-the larger world that begins at the other end of the subway in Manhattan. A classic po...

    - Google

  17. The True Believer by Eric Hoffer

    Image of The True Believer

    A stevedore on the San Francisco docks in the 1940s, Eric Hoffer wrote philosophical treatises in his spare time while living in the railroad yards. The True Believer -- the first and most famous o...

    - Google

  18. Picture by Lillian Ross

    Image of Picture

    In the spring of 1950, when New Yorker staff writer Lillian Ross heard that John Huston was planning to make a film of Stephen Crane's The Red Badge of Courage, she decided she would follow the mov...

    - Google

  19. Notes of a Native Son by James Baldwin

    Image of Notes of a Native Son

    Notes of a Native Son collects ten of Baldwin's essays, which had previously appeared in such magazines as Harper's Magazine, Partisan Review, and The New Leader. The essays mostly tackle issues of...


  20. The Immense Journey by Loren Eiseley

    Image of The Immense Journey

    Anthropologist and naturalist Loren Eiseley blends scientific knowledge and imaginative vision in this story of man. From the Paperback edition.

    - Google

  21. Collected essays by Aldous Huxley


  22. The City in History by Lewis Mumford

    Image of The City in History

    The City in History: Its Origins, Its Transformations, and Its Prospects is a 1961 National Book Award winner by American historian Lewis Mumford. In the book Mumford urges for a world not in wh...


  23. Collected Essays of George Orwell by George Orwell

    Image of Collected Essays of George Orwell

    In this bestselling compilation of essays, written in the clear-eyed, uncompromising language for which he is famous, Orwell discusses with vigor such diverse subjects as his boyhood schooling, the...


  24. The Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman

    Image of The Guns of August

    The Guns of August, originally published as August 1914 (1962), is a military history book written by Barbara Tuchman. It primarily describes the events of the first month of World War I. The focus...


  25. Silent Spring by Rachel Carson

    Image of Silent Spring

    Silent Spring is a book written by Rachel Carson and published by Houghton Mifflin in September 1962. The book is widely credited with helping launch the environmental movement. When Silent Spri...


  26. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Kuhn

    Image of The Structure of Scientific Revolutions

    The Structure of Scientific Revolutions is an analysis of the history of science. Its publication was a landmark event in the sociology of knowledge, and popularized the terms paradigm and paradigm...


  27. Masscult and Midcult: Essays Against the American Grain by Dwight Macdonald

    Image of Masscult and Midcult: Essays Against the American Grain

    Political radical, trenchant essayist, and impresario of the New York intellectuals, Dwight Macdonald was one of the towering figures of twentieth-century American letters. In his most famous and c...

    - Google

  28. Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck

    Image of Travels with Charley

    A collectible 50th anniversary deluxe edition featuring an updated introduction by Jay Parini and first edition cover art and illustrated maps of Steinbeck’s route by Don Freeman In September 1960,...

    - Google

  29. Anti-intellectualism in American Life by Richard Hofstadter

    Image of Anti-intellectualism in American Life

    Written in response to the political and intellectual conditions of the 1950s, Anti-intellectualism in American Life emerged as a grand attack on the institutions to which society historically entr...


  30. The Making of the English Working Class by E. P. Thompson

    Image of The Making of the English Working Class

    The Making of the English Working Class is an influential and pivotal work of English social history.


  31. The American Way of Death by Jessica Mitford

    Image of The American Way of Death

    The American Way of Death was an exposé of abuses in the funeral home industry in the United States, written by Jessica Mitford and published in 1963. Feeling that death had become much too sentime...


  32. Shadow and ACT by Ralph Ellison

    Image of Shadow and ACT

    Ralph Ellison examines his antecedents and in so doing illuminates the literature, music, and culture of both black and white America.


  33. Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway

    Image of Moveable Feast

    Published posthumously in 1964, A Moveable Feast remains one of Ernest Hemingway's most beloved works. Since Hemingway's personal papers were released in 1979, scholars have examined and debated th...

    - Google

  34. The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Alex Haley

    Image of The Autobiography of Malcolm X

    This book describes Malcolm X's upbringing in Michigan, his maturation to adulthood in Boston and New York, his time in prison, his conversion to Islam, his ministry, his travels to Africa and to M...


  35. Against Interpretation by Susan Sontag

    Image of Against Interpretation

    Against Interpretation and Other Essays is a collection of essays by Susan Sontag which was published in 1966. It includes some of Sontag's best-known works, including "On Style", "Notes on 'Camp'"...


  36. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

    Image of In Cold Blood

    On November 15, 1959, in the small town of Holcomb, Kansas, four members of the Clutter family were savagely murdered by blasts from a shotgun held a few inches from their faces. There was no appar...


  37. Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey

    Image of Desert Solitaire

    Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness is a literary nonfiction work by Edward Abbey (1927–89), published originally in 1968. His fourth book and his first book length non-fiction work, it f...


  38. The Armies of the Night by Norman Mailer

    Image of The Armies of the Night

    The Armies of the Night (1968) is a Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award-winning nonfiction novel written by Norman Mailer and sub-titled History as a Novel/The Novel as History. Mailer essential...


  39. The Double Helix: A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of DNA by James D. Watson

    Image of The Double Helix: A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of DNA

    The Double Helix: A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of DNA is an autobiographical account of the discovery of the double helix structure of DNA written by James D. Watson and pub...


  40. The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe

    Image of The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test

    The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test is a work of literary journalism by Tom Wolfe, published in 1968. Using techniques from the genre of hysterical realism and pioneering new journalism, the novel tell...


  41. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

    Image of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

    Sent by their mother to live with their devout, self-sufficient grandmother in a small Southern town, Maya and her brother, Bailey, endure the ache of abandonment and the prejudice of the local “po...

    - Google

  42. Hard Times: An Oral History of the Great Depression by Studs Terkel

    Image of Hard Times: An Oral History of the Great Depression

    In this unique recreation of one of the most dramatic periods in modern American history, Studs Terkel recaptures the Great Depression of the 1930s in all its complexity. featuring a mosaic of memo...

    - Google

  43. The Water Is Wide by Pat Conroy

    Image of The Water Is Wide

    The bestselling Pat Conroy memoir—now available as an ebook The moving story of a young teacher’s experience on an island forgotten by the world Though the children of Yamacraw Island live less tha...

    - Google

  44. Farewell to Manzanar by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston, James D. Houston

    Image of Farewell to Manzanar

    The American-born author describes her family's experience and impressions when they were forced to relocate to a camp for the Japanese in Owens Valley, California, during World War II.

    - Google

  45. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig

    Image of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

    Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values is the first of Robert M. Pirsig's texts in which he explores his Metaphysics of Quality. The 1974 book describes, in first person,...


  46. The Lives of a Cell by Lewis Thomas

    Image of The Lives of a Cell

    The Lives of a Cell: Notes of a Biology Watcher is a 1974 collection of 29 essays written by Lewis Thomas for the New England Journal of Medicine during the preceding three years. The pieces are lo...


  47. The Civil War by Shelby Foote

    Image of The Civil War

    The Civil War: A Narrative (1958-1974) is a three volume, 2,968-page, 1.2 million-word history of the American Civil War by Shelby Foote. Although previously known as a novelist, Foote is most famo...


  48. The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts by Maxine Hong Kingston

    Image of The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts

    A Chinese American woman tells of the Chinese myths, family stories and events of her California childhood that have shaped her identity.

    - Google

  49. The Great War and Modern Memory by Paul Fussell

    Image of The Great War and Modern Memory

    Fussell's landmark study of WWI remains as original and gripping today as ever before: a literate, literary, and illuminating account of the Great War, the one that changed a generation, ushered in...


  50. Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard

    Image of Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

    Pilgrim at Tinker Creek is a 1974 nonfiction narrative book by Annie Dillard. It won the Pulitzer Prize in 1975. The book is about Dillard's experiences at Tinker Creek, which is located in Virg...


  51. Crazy Salad: Some Things about Women by Nora Ephron

    Image of Crazy Salad: Some Things about Women

    A glimpse into the absurdities and realities of female existence in the early 1970s discusses the media, politics, the first female umpire, and beauty products.

    - Google

  52. Coming into the Country by John McPhee

    Image of Coming into the Country

    Coming into the Country is an unforgettable account of Alaska and Alaskans. It is a rich tapestry of vivid characters, observed landscapes, and descriptive narrative, in three principal segments th...

    - Google

  53. The Names by N. Scott Momaday

    Image of The Names

    The Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist recalls the significant events and ventures of his own life, his own land, and his own people, recreating his experiences as an American Indian and those of his ...

    - Google

  54. Ever Since Darwin: Reflections in Natural History by Stephen Jay Gould

    Image of Ever Since Darwin: Reflections in Natural History

    Stephen Jay Gould reexamines Darwin's theory in light of the findings of modern evolutionary biology and shows the ways in which biological theories have been concocted to justify social ills

    - Google

  55. Dispatches by Michael Herr

    Image of Dispatches

    Dispatches is a non-fiction book by Michael Herr that describes the author's experiences in Vietnam as a war correspondent for Esquire magazine. First published in 1977, Dispatches was one of the f...


  56. Essays of E. B. White by E. B. White

    Image of Essays of E. B. White

    The classic collection by one of the greatest essayists of our time. White is the apotheosis of the American liberal now spurned and detested by the Left (and the cultural mainstream). His mesme...


  57. A Childhood: The Biography of a Place by Harry Crews


  58. The Snow Leopard by Peter Matthiessen

    Image of The Snow Leopard

    The Snow Leopard is a 1978 book by Peter Matthiessen, which is an account of his two month journey along with naturalist George Schaller in 1973 to Crystal Mountain, in the Dolpo region on the Tibe...


  59. The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe

    Image of The Right Stuff

    The Right Stuff is a 1979 book by Tom Wolfe about the pilots engaged in U.S. postwar experiments with experimental rocket-powered, high-speed aircraft as well as documenting the stories of the firs...


  60. The Edward Hoagland Reader by Edward Hoagland


  61. Recollected Essays by Wendell Berry

    Image of Recollected Essays

    These eleven essays, selected by the author from five previous collections, provides us with a single volume tracing Mr. Berry's desire to 'make myself responsibly at home in this world and in my n...

    - Google

  62. Growing Up by Russell Baker


  63. Blue Highways: A Journey into America by William Least Heat-Moon

    Image of Blue Highways: A Journey into America

    Hailed as a masterpiece of American travel writing, Blue Highways is an unforgettable journey along our nation's backroads. William Least Heat-Moon set out with little more than the need to put hom...

    - Google

  64. Hunger of Memory by Richard Rodriguez

    Image of Hunger of Memory

    Hunger of Memory is the story of Mexican-American Richard Rodriguez, who begins his schooling in Sacramento, California, knowing just 50 words of English, and concludes his university studies in th...

    - Google

  65. Enthusiasms by Bernard Levin


  66. One Writer's Beginnings by Eudora Welty

    Image of One Writer's Beginnings

    Eudora Alice Welty (April 13, 1909 – July 23, 2001) was an award-winning American author who wrote short stories and novels about the American South. Her book, The Optimist's Daughter, won the Puli...


  67. In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens: Prose by Alice Walker

    Image of In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens: Prose

    Walker’s collection of early nonfiction serves as the manifesto of a young artist—and an illuminating self-portrait What is a womanist? Alice Walker sets out to define the concept in this anthology...

    - Google

  68. House by Tracy Kidder

    Image of House

    Tracy Kidder takes readers to the heart of the American Dream: the building of a family's first house with all its day-to-day frustrations, crises, tensions, challenges, and triumphs.

    - Google

  69. Arctic Dreams by Barry Lopez

    Image of Arctic Dreams

    Barry Lopez's National Book Award-winning classic study of the Far North is widely considered his masterpiece. Lopez offers a thorough examination of this obscure world-its terrain, its wildlife...


  70. Little Wilson and Big God by Anthony Burgess

    Image of Little Wilson and Big God

    These are Anthony Burgess's candid confessions: he was seduced at the age of nine by an older woman; whilst serving in Gibraltar in World War II he was thrown into jail on VE Day for calling Franco...

    - Google

  71. The Solace of Open Spaces by Gretel Ehrlich

    Image of The Solace of Open Spaces

    A stunning collection of personal observations that uses images of the American West to probe larger concerns in lyrical, evocative prose that is a true celebration of the region.

    - Google

  72. Taking the World in for Repairs by Richard Selzer

    Image of Taking the World in for Repairs

    A collection of a dozen short stories, essays, and memoirs originally published in 1986, and now available in trade paperback. Richard Selzer retired as a surgeon in 1984 to write about his profess...

    - Google

  73. This Boy's Life by Tobias Wolff

    Image of This Boy's Life

    This Boy's Life is a memoir by Tobias Wolff first published in 1989. It describes the author's adolescence as he wanders the continental United States with his itinerant mother. The first leg of th...


  74. Great Plains by Ian Frazier

    Image of Great Plains

    National Bestseller With his unique blend of intrepidity, tongue-in-cheek humor, and wide-eyed wonder, Ian Frazier takes us on a journey of more than 25,000 miles up and down and across the vast an...

    - Google

  75. Self-Consciousness by John Updike

    Image of Self-Consciousness

    John Updike’s memoirs consist of six Emersonian essays that together trace the inner shape of the life, up to the age of fifty-five, of a relatively fortunate American male. The author has attempte...

    - Google

  76. Parliament of Whores by P. J. O'Rourke

    Image of Parliament of Whores

    Called "an everyman's guide to Washington" (The New York Times), P. J. O'Rourke's savagely funny and national best-seller Parliament of Whores has become a classic in understanding the workings of ...

    - Google

  77. Truman by David McCullough


  78. Up in the Old Hotel by Joseph Mitchell

    Image of Up in the Old Hotel

    Mitchell explored a New York City that has now vanished in his four books and his classic reportage for The New Yorker. Mitchell's eccentrics live again in this omnibus volume that contains all of ...


  79. United States: Essays 1952-1992 by Gore Vidal

    Image of United States: Essays 1952-1992

    United States: Essays 1952-1992

    -

  80. Whoredom in Kimmage by Rosemary Mahoney

    Image of Whoredom in Kimmage

    An Irish-American writer returns to her homeland to pen several stories about contemporary Irish women, from Mad Minnie of Corofin to Mary Robinson, the first female president of Ireland. By the au...

    - Google

  81. A Drinking Life: A Memoir by Pete Hamill

    Image of A Drinking Life: A Memoir

    As a child during the Depression and World War II, Pete Hamill learned early that drinking was an essential part of being a man, inseparable from the rituals of celebration, mourning, friendship, r...

    - Google

  82. The Feynman Lectures on Physics by Richard P. Feynman

    Image of  The Feynman Lectures on Physics

    Richard P. Feynman (1918–1988) was widely recognized as the most creative physicist of the post–World War II period. His career was extraordinarily expansive. From his contributions to the developm...


  83. Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson

    Image of Notes from a Small Island

    "Suddenly, in the space of a moment, I realized what it was that I loved about Britain-which is to say, all of it." After nearly two decades spent on British soil, Bill Bryson-bestsellingauthor of ...

    - Google

  84. Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris

    Image of Me Talk Pretty One Day

    Me Talk Pretty One Day, published in 2000, is a bestselling collection of essays by American humorist David Sedaris. The book is separated into two parts. The first consists of essays about Sedaris...


  85. Experience by Martin Amis


  86. Metaphors of Memory by D. Draaisma

    Image of Metaphors of Memory

    What is memory? It is at the same time ephemeral, unreliable and essential to everything we do. Without memory we lose our sense of identity, reasoning, even our ability to perform simple physical ...

    - Google

  87. Nickel And Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich

    Image of Nickel And Dimed

    Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America is a book written by Barbara Ehrenreich. Written from the perspective of the undercover journalist, it sets out to investigate the impact of the 199...


  88. Reliable Essays: The Best of Clive James by Clive James

    Image of Reliable Essays: The Best of Clive James

    Including his most memorable pieces – his ‘Postcard from Rome’, his observations on Margaret Thatcher, his insights into Heaney, Larkin and Orwell – this book also contains brilliantly funny examin...

    - Google

  89. Snobbery: The American Version by Joseph Epstein

    Image of Snobbery: The American Version

    Joseph Epstein's highly entertaining new book takes up the subject of snobbery in America after the fall of the prominence of the old Wasp culture of prep schools, Ivy League colleges, cotillions, ...

    - Google

  90. My Kind of Place by Susan Orlean

    Image of My Kind of Place

    The best-selling author of The Orchid Thief presents a selection of her intriguing travel essays, recounting her adventures in a variety of exotic locales and global subcultures, from the African m...

    - Google

  91. The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

    Image of The Year of Magical Thinking

    The Year of Magical Thinking, by Joan Didion, is an account of the year following the death of the author's husband John Gregory Dunne (1932–2003). Published by Knopf in October 2005, the book was ...


  92. Untold Stories by Alan Bennett

    Image of Untold Stories

    -

  93. We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live: Collected Nonfiction by Joan Didion

    Image of We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live: Collected Nonfiction

    A definitive compilation of essays and nonfiction writings spanning more than forty years includes the author's reflections on politics, lifestyle, place, and cultural figures, including her studie...

    - Google

  94. Nothing to be Frightened Of by Julian Barnes

    Image of Nothing to be Frightened Of

    "I don’t believe in God, but I miss him." So begins Julian Barnes’s brilliant new book that is, among many things, a family memoir, an exchange with his brother (a philosopher), a meditation on mor...

    - Google

  95. The Wordy Shipmates by Sarah Vowell

    Image of The Wordy Shipmates

    In this New York Times bestseller, the author of Assassination Vacation "brings the [Puritan] era wickedly to life" (Washington Post). To this day, America views itself as a Puritan nation, but Sar...

    - Google

  96. Changing My Mind: Occasional Essays by Zadie Smith

    Image of Changing My Mind: Occasional Essays

    "[These essays] reflect a lively, unselfconscious, rigorous, erudite, and earnestly open mind that's busy refining its view of life, literature, and a great deal in between." -Los Angeles Times Spl...

    - Google

  97. The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson

    Image of The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration

    One of The New York Times Book Review’s 10 Best Books of the Year In this epic, beautifully written masterwork, Pulitzer Prize–winning author Isabel Wilkerson chronicles one of the great untold sto...

    - Google

  98. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream by Hunter S. Thompson

    Image of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream

    Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is the best chronicle of drug-soaked, addle-brained, rollicking good times ever committed to the printed page. It is also the tale of a long weekend road trip that ha...

    - Google

  99. Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand

    Image of Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption

    #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • SOON TO BE A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE • Hailed as the top nonfiction book of the year by Time magazine • Winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for biography and the ...

    - Google