The Greatest Nonfiction Books


How is this list generated?


This list is generated from 130 "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 . This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War by Drew Gilpin Faust

  2. 1102 . Random Family by Adrian Nicole LeBlanc

    Adrian Nicole LeBlanc is an American journalist whose works focus on the marginalized members of society: adolescents living in poverty, prostitutes, women in prison, etc.

  3. 1103 . The Valleys of the Assassins by Freya Stark

  4. 1104 . Berlin: The Downfall, 1945 by Antony Beevor

  5. 1105 . The Silent World by Jacques Cousteau

  6. 1106 . Alaska Wilderness by Robert Marshall

  7. 1108 . The Earl of Louisiana by A. J. Liebling

    Originally this book was a three-part profile in The New Yorker. It's a breezy portrait of the last 15 months of Earl Long's lusty career. Liebling believes that Governor Earl Long, brother of the ...

  8. 1109 . Origins of the New South by C. Vann Woodward

  9. 1110 . I Married Adventure by Osa Johnson

  10. 1111 . The Descent of Pierre Saint-Martin by Norbert Casteret

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  11. 1112 . Killing Yourself to Live by Chuck Klosterman

    Killing Yourself to Live: 85% of a True Story is a work of non-fiction written by Chuck Klosterman, first published by Scribner in 2005. It is the third book released by Klosterman. Klosterman cons...

  12. 1113 . The Crystal Horizon by Reinhold Messner

  13. 1115 . The Predators' Ball by Connie Bruck

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  14. 1116 . Grizzly Years by Doug Peacock

    Doug Peacock is an American naturalist, outdoorsman, and author. He is best known for his book Grizzly Years: In Search of the American Wilderness, a memoir of his experiences in the 1970s and 1980...

  15. 1117 . America by John Stewart

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  16. 1118 . One Man's Mountains by Tom Patey

  17. 1119 . A Critique of the Theory of Evolution by Thomas Hunt Morgan

  18. 1120 . 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
  19. 1121 . The Works of Archimedes by Archimedes

    Archimedes of Syracuse (/ˌɑːkɪˈmiːdiːz/; Greek: Ἀρχιμήδης; c. 287 BC – c. 212 BC) was an Ancient Greek mathematician, physicist, engineer, inventor, and astronomer. Although few details of his life...

    - Google
  20. 1122 . 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
  21. 1123 . Treatise on Electricity and Magnetism by James Clerk Maxwell

  22. 1124 . 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
  23. 1125 . Judgement and Reasoning in the Child by Jean Piaget

  24. 1126 . 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
  25. 1127 . 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.

  26. 1128 . 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...

  27. 1129 . 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...

  28. 1130 . The Anatomy of Melancholy by Robert Burton

    The Anatomy of Melancholy (full title: The Anatomy of Melancholy, What it is: With all the Kinds, Causes, Symptomes, Prognostickes, and Several Cures of it. In Three Maine Partitions with their sev...

  29. 1131 . 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
  30. 1132 . The Raw and the Cooked by Claude Lévi-Strauss

  31. 1133 . Ariel by Sylvia Plath

    The poems in Sylvia Plath's Ariel, including many of her best-known such as 'Lady Lazarus', 'Daddy', 'Edge' and 'Paralytic', were all written between the publication in 1960 of Plath's first book, ...

    - Google
  32. 1134 . 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
  33. 1135 . This Hallowed Ground by Bruce Catton

    This Hallowed Ground: The Story of the Union Side of the Civil War

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  34. 1136 . Whoredom in Kimmage by Rosemary Mahoney

    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
  35. 1138 . The Writer on Her Work by Janet Sternburg

    Published to high praise "groundbreaking ...a landmark" (Poets & Writers) this was the first anthology to celebrate the diversity of women who write. Seventeen novelists, poets, and writers of nonf...

  36. 1139 . The Lost City of Z by David Grann

    The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon is the debut non-fiction book by American author David Grann. The book was published in 2009 and recounts the activities of the British ...

  37. 1140 . 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
  38. 1141 . Symposium by Plato

    Translated with an Introduction and Notes by Christopher Gill.

    - Google
  39. 1142 . Great Plains by Ian Frazier

    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
  40. 1143 . Pulphead: Essays by John Jeremiah Sullivan

    A sharp-eyed, uniquely humane tour of America’s cultural landscape—from high to low to lower than low—by the award-winning young star of the literary nonfiction world. In Pulphead, John Jeremiah Su...

    - Google
  41. 1144 . Behaviorism by John Watson

  42. 1145 . The Revenge of Gaia by James Lovelock

  43. 1146 . Theory of Games and Economic Behavior by John Von Neumann

    Theory of Games and Economic Behavior, published in 1944 by Princeton University Press, is a book by mathematician John von Neumann and economist Oskar Morgenstern which is widely considered the gr...

  44. 1147 . Blue Highways: A Journey into America by William Least Heat-Moon

    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
  45. 1148 . De Profundis by Oscar Wilde

    De Profundis (Latin: "from the depths") is a letter written by Oscar Wilde during his imprisonment in Reading Gaol, to "Bosie" (Lord Alfred Douglas). In its first half Wilde recounts their previ...

  46. 1149 . The Suspicions of Mr Whicher by Kate Summerscale

  47. 1150 . Conditioned Reflexes by Ivan Pavlov