The Greatest Nonfiction Books


How is this list generated?


This list is generated from 128 "best of" book lists from a variety of great sources. An algorithm is used to create a master list based on how many lists a particular book appears on. Some lists count more than others. I generally trust "best of all time" lists voted by authors and experts over user-generated lists. On the lists that are actually ranked, the book that is 1st counts a lot more than the book that's 100th. If you're interested in the details about how the rankings are generated and which lists are the most important(in my eyes) please check out the list details page.

If you have any comments, suggestions, or corrections please feel free to e-mail me.


  1. 1001 . Journey Without Maps by Graham Greene

    Journey Without Maps (1936) is a travel account by Graham Greene, about a 350-mile, 4-week walk through the interior of Liberia in 1935. It was Greene's first trip outside of Europe. He hoped to le...

  2. 1002 . Killers of the Dream by Lillian Smith

  3. 1003 . Starlight and Storm by Gaston Rébuffat

  4. 1004 . My First Summer in the Sierra by John Muir

  5. 1005 . Borrowed Time by Paul Monette

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  6. 1006 . My Life as an Explorer by Sven Hedin

    Sven Anders Hedin was a Swedish geographer, topographer, explorer, photographer, and travel writer, as well as an illustrator of his own works. During four expeditions to Central Asia he discovered...

  7. 1007 . In Trouble Again by Redmond O'Hanlon

  8. 1008 . Praying for Sheetrock by Melissa Fay Greene

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  9. 1009 . The Man Who Walked Through Time by Colin Fletcher

    The Man Who Walked Through Time (1968) is Colin Fletcher's chronicle of his trek inside the rim of The Grand Canyon from one end to the other. He was the first person to do so in one continues trek...

  10. 1010 . K2 The Savage Mountain by Charles Houston, Robert Bates

    K2 is the second-highest mountain on Earth (after Mount Everest). With a peak elevation of 8,611 metres (28,251 ft), K2 is part of the Karakoram range, and is located on the border between the Taxk...

  11. 1011 . Gipsy Moth Circles the World by Francis Chichester

  12. 1012 . Man-Eaters of Kumaon by Jim Corbett

  13. 1013 . Alone by Richard Byrd

  14. 1014 . Stranger in the Forest by Eric Hansen

    Stranger in the forest (subtitle: on foot across Borneo) is a 1988 book by Eric Hansen about a seven months and 4000 km long journey (of which 2300 km on foot) through the heartland of Borneo in 19...

  15. 1015 . Travels in Arabia Deserta by Charles M. Doughty

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  16. 1016 . The Royal Road to Romance by Richard Halliburton

  17. 1017 . The Long Walk by Slavomir Rawicz

  18. 1018 . Mountaineering in the Sierra Nevada by Clarence King

  19. 1019 . North Toward Home by Willie Morris

    With his signature style and grace, Willie Morris, arguably one of this country's finest Southern writers, presents us with an unparalleled memoir of a country in transition and a boy coming of age...

  20. 1020 . Imperial Life in the Emerald City by Rajiv Chandrasekaran

    Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq's Green Zone is a 2006 book by Rajiv Chandrasekaran that takes a critical look at the civilian leadership of the American reconstruction project in Ir...

  21. 1021 . My Journey to Lhasa by Alexandra David-Neel

  22. 1022 . The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

  23. 1023 . Journal of the Discovery of the Source of the Nile by John Hanning Speke

  24. 1024 . Running the Amazon by Joe Kane

    Joe Kane is an American author of two books and is also a journalist who writes for numerous publications such as The New Yorker, National Geographic, and Esquire.

  25. 1025 . Alive by Piers Paul Read

    Alive: The Story of the Andes Survivors is a 1974 book by the British writer Piers Paul Read documenting the events of Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571.

  26. 1026 . Moondust: In Search of the Men Who Fell to Earth by Andrew Smith

    Andrew Smith is the author of Moondust : In Search of the Men Who Fell to Earth. HarperCollins. 2005. ISBN 0-00-715541-7. , which tells the story of the twelve U.S. astronauts who journeyed to the ...

  27. 1027 . The Principal Navigations by Richard Hakluyt

  28. 1028 . Incidents of Travel in Yucatan by John Lloyd

  29. 1029 . Collapse by Jared Diamond

  30. 1030 . Mystery and Manners by Flannery O'Connor

  31. 1031 . Shipwreck of the Whaleship Essex by Owen Chase

    Owen Chase (1798-March 8, 1869 (aged 70)) was First Mate of the whale ship Essex, that was struck and sunk by a sperm whale on November 20, 1820. Chase wrote about the incident in Narrative of the ...

  32. 1032 . My Life As an Explorer (Amundsen) by Roald Amundsen

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  33. 1033 . Writing Degree Zero by Roland Barthes

    Is there any such thing as revolutionary literature? Can literature, in fact, be political at all? These are the questions Roland Barthes addresses in Writing Degree Zero, his first published book ...

    - Google
  34. 1034 . The Blank Slate by Steven Pinker

  35. 1035 . News from Tartary by Peter Fleming

  36. 1036 . Peeling the Onion by Günter Grass

    Peeling the Onion (German: Beim Häuten der Zwiebel) is an autobiographical work by German Nobel Prize-winning author and playwright Günter Grass, published in 2006. It begins with the end of his ch...

  37. 1037 . Annapurna: A Woman's Place by Arlene Blum

  38. 1038 . Mutiny on the Bounty by William Bligh

  39. 1039 . The Order of Things by Michel Foucault

    In the work that established him as the most important French thinker since Sartre, Michel Foucault offers startling evidence that "man"—man as a subject of scientific knowledge—is at best a recent...

    - Google
  40. 1040 . Adrift by Steven Callahan

    Adrift (subtitle: Seventy-six days lost at sea) is a book by Steven Callahan about his survival in a life raft in the Atlantic Ocean, which lasted 76 days, a staggering record; he is the only man i...

  41. 1041 . Lanterns on the Levee by William Alexander Percy

    The Southern poet's memoirs recreate his childhood years on the Mississippi Delta, his service in Belgium with Hoover, and his conflict with the Ku Klux Klan in Greenville

  42. 1042 . Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs

    Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl is a book that was published in 1861 by Harriet Jacobs, using the pen name "Linda Brent". While on one level it chronicles the experiences of Harriet Jacobs as...

  43. 1043 . Salvation on Sand Mountain by Dennis Covington

    Dennis Covington (b. October 30, 1948) is an American writer. He studied fiction writing, and earned a BA degree from the University of Virginia. He served in the US Army. He earned an MFA in the e...

  44. 1044 . Castaways by Alvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca

    The Narváez expedition was a Spanish attempt to install Pánfilo de Narváez as adelantado (governor) of Spanish Florida during the years 1527 – 1528.

  45. 1045 . Touching the Void by Joe Simpson

  46. 1046 . Tracks by Robyn Davidson

  47. 1047 . The Adventures of Captain Bonneville by Washington Irving

  48. 1048 . Cooper's Creek by Alan Moorehead

  49. 1049 . The Fearful Void by Geoffrey Moorhouse

  50. 1050 . No Picnic on Mount Kenya by Felice Benuzzi

    No Picnic on Mount Kenya: The Story of Three P.O.W.s' Escape to Adventure, by Felice Benuzzi is a mountaineering classic recounting the 1943 attempt of three escaped Italian prisoners of war to rea...