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. 1101 . Being Jordan by Katie Price

  2. 1102 . The Confessions of Nat Turner by Nat Turner, Thomas R. Gray

    Nat Turner (October 2, 1800 – November 11, 1831) was an African-American slave who led a slave rebellion of slaves and free blacks in Southampton County, Virginia on August 21, 1831 that resulted i...

    - Google
  3. 1103 . Culture and Anarchy by Matthew Arnold

    Culture and Anarchy is a series of essays by Matthew Arnold. According to his view advanced in the book, "Culture is a study of perfection". His often quoted phrase "[culture is] the best which has...

    - Google
  4. 1104 . Outlines of Pyrrhonism by Sextus Empiricus

    Philosophical skepticism (from Greek σκέψις - skepsis meaning "enquiry" - UK and traditional spelling, scepticism) is both a philosophical school of thought and a method that crosses disciplines an...

  5. 1105 . The Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne by Gilbert White

    The Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne, or just The Natural History of Selborne is a book by English naturalist and ornithologist Gilbert White. It was first published in 1789 by his broth...

  6. 1106 . Snobbery: The American Version by Joseph Epstein

    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
  7. 1107 . Wonderful Adventures of Mrs. Seacole in Many Lands: Top Crime Story by Mary Seacole

    I was born in the town of Kingston, in the island of Jamaica, some time in the present century. As a female, and a widow, I may be well excused giving the precise date of this important event. But ...

    - Google
  8. 1108 . The World Within the Word by William H. Gass

  9. 1109 . The Influence of Sea Power Upon History, 1660-1783 by Alfred Thayer Mahan

    The Influence of Sea Power Upon History: 1660–1783 is a history of naval warfare published in 1890 by Alfred Thayer Mahan. It details the role of sea power during the seventeenth and eighteenth cen...

    - Google
  10. 1110 . The Mind and Society by Vilfredo Pareto

    The Mind and Society (1916) is the English title of the seminal sociological work Trattato di Sociologia Generale by the Italian sociologist and economist Vilfredo Pareto (1848-1923).

  11. 1111 . The Wordy Shipmates by Sarah Vowell

    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
  12. 1112 . My Life in France by Julia Child

    The legendary food expert describes her years in Paris, Marseille, and Provence and her journey from a young woman who could not cook or speak any French to the publication of her cookbooks and bec...

    - Google
  13. 1113 . Boswell's London Journal, 1762-1763 by James Boswell

    In 1762 James Boswell, then twenty-two years old, left Edinburgh for London. The famous Journal he kept during the next nine months is an intimate account of his encounters with the high-life and t...

    - Google
  14. 1114 . First Principles by Herbert Spencer

    -
  15. 1115 . Nixonland by Rick Perlstein

    Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America is a work of history written by Rick Perlstein, released in May 2008.

  16. 1116 . Recollected Essays by Wendell Berry

    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
  17. 1117 . The Wisdom Of Crowds by James Surowiecki

    The Wisdom of Crowds: Why the Many Are Smarter Than the Few and How Collective Wisdom Shapes Business, Economies, Societies and Nations, published in 2004, ISBN 978-0385503860, is a book written by...

  18. 1118 . Theophrastus: His Psychological, Doxographical, and Scientific Writings by William Wall Fortenbaugh, Dimitri Gutas

    Theophrastus (/ˌθiːəˈfræstəs/; Greek: Θεόφραστος; c. 371 – c. 287 BC[1]), a Greek native of Eresos in Lesbos, was the successor to Aristotle in the Peripatetic school. He came to Athens at a young ...

    - Google
  19. 1119 . Phenomenology of Mind by G. W. F. Hegel

    Phänomenologie des Geistes (1807) is one of G.W.F. Hegel's most important philosophical works. It is translated as The Phenomenology of Spirit or The Phenomenology of Mind due to the dual meaning i...

  20. 1120 . Webster's Dictionary by Noah Webster

    Webster's Dictionary is any of the dictionaries edited by Noah Webster in the early nineteenth century, and numerous related or unrelated dictionaries that have adopted the Webster's name. "Webster...

  21. 1121 . Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali

    The author of The Caged Virgin recounts the story of her life, from her traditional Muslim childhood in Somalia and escape from a forced marriage to her efforts to promote women's rights while surv...

    - Google
  22. 1123 . My Early Life by Winston Churchill

    This memoir was first published in 1930 and describes the author's school days, his time in the Army, his experiences as a war correspondent and his first years as a member of Parliament.

    - Google
  23. 1124 . A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge by George Berkeley

    A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge (Commonly called "Treatise" when referring to Berkeley's works) is a 1710 work by Anglo-Irish Empiricist philosopher George Berkeley. This bo...

  24. 1125 . The Economic Consequences of the Peace by John Maynard Keynes

    The Economic Consequences of the Peace (1919) is a book written and published by the British economist John Maynard Keynes.[1] After the First World War, Keynes attended the Paris Peace Conference ...

  25. 1126 . The Blair Years by Alastair Campbell

    The Blair Years is a book by Alastair Campbell, featuring extracts from his diaries detailing the period during which he worked for Tony Blair. Published by Random House, the book was released on 9...

  26. 1127 . The School and the Child by John Dewey

    -
  27. 1128 . Art and Culture: Critical Essays by Clement Greenberg

    -
  28. 1129 . The Raw and the Cooked by Claude Lévi-Strauss

  29. 1130 . Confessions of an English Opium-Eater by Thomas de Quincey

    Confessions of an English Opium-Eater (1821) is an autobiographical account written by Thomas De Quincey, about his laudanum addiction and its effect on his life. The Confessions was "the first maj...

  30. 1131 . Hunger of Memory by Richard Rodriguez

    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
  31. 1132 . The True Believer by Eric Hoffer

    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
  32. 1133 . Grief Observed by C. S. Lewis

    Written after his wife's tragic death as a way of surviving the "mad midnight moment," A Grief Observed is C.S. Lewis's honest reflection on the fundamental issues of life, death, and faith in the ...

    - Google
  33. 1134 . The Montessori Method by Maria Montessori

    The Montessori method is a child-centered, alternative educational method based on the child development theories originated by Italian educator Maria Montessori (1870–1952) in the late nineteenth ...

  34. 1135 . Judgement and Reasoning in the Child by Jean Piaget

  35. 1136 . The Paris Review Interviews by Paris Review

    The Paris Review is an English-language literary magazine based in New York City. As its name suggests it was founded in Paris in 1953, for "the good writers and good poets, the non-drumbeaters and...

  36. 1137 . Ever Since Darwin: Reflections in Natural History by Stephen Jay Gould

    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
  37. 1138 . For the Union Dead by Robert Lowell

    For the Union Dead is a 1964 poem by Robert Lowell, published in a book of the same name. It was written in response to Allen Tate's 1928 poem Ode to the Confederate Dead. Robert Gould Shaw and th...

  38. 1139 . Treatise on Electricity and Magnetism by James Clerk Maxwell

  39. 1140 . Decline of the West by Oswald Spengler

    Oswald Arnold Gottfried Spengler (29 May 1880 Blankenburg am Harz – 8 May 1936, Munich) was a German historian and philosopher whose interests also included mathematics, science, and art. He is bes...

  40. 1141 . A Critique of the Theory of Evolution by Thomas Hunt Morgan

  41. 1142 . Black Elk Speaks by John G. Neihardt

    "Black Elk Speaks is the story of the Lakota visionary and healer Nicholas Black Elk (1863-1950) and his people during the momentous twilight years of the nineteenth century. Black Elk met the dist...

    - Google
  42. 1143 . War Is a Force that Gives Us Meaning by Chris Hedges

    As a veteran war correspondent, Chris Hedges has survived ambushes in Central America, imprisonment in Sudan, and a beating by Saudi military police. He has seen children murdered for sport in Gaza...

    - Google
  43. 1144 . The Crack-Up by F. Scott Fitzgerald

    The Crack-Up (1945) is a collection of essays by American author F. Scott Fitzgerald. It consists of previously unpublished letters, notes and also three essays originally written for and published...

  44. 1145 . Self-Consciousness by John Updike

    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
  45. 1146 . Tales from Shakespeare by Charles Lamb, Mary Lamb

    Tales from Shakespeare is an English children's book written by brother and sister Charles and Mary Lamb in 1807.[1] The book is designed to make the stories of Shakespeare's plays familiar to t...

  46. 1147 . Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant by U. S. Grant

    "Personal Memoirs of U. S. Grant" is considered among the greatest of military memoirs. Marshalling the forces of the North in the American Civil War, he was the only general who was able to bring ...

  47. 1148 . Tales from Ovid by Ted Hughes

    Tales from Ovid is a poetical work written by the English poet Ted Hughes. Published in 1997 by Faber and Faber, it is a retelling of twenty-four tales from Ovid's Metamorphoses. It won the Whitbre...

  48. 1149 . Allegorical Expositions of the Holy Laws by Philo of Alexandria

    -
  49. 1150 . Picture by Lillian Ross

    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