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. 1151 . Motivation and Personality by Abraham Maslow

  2. 1152 . The Great Tradition by F. R. Leavis

    'The great English novelists are Jane Austen, George Eliot, Henry James and Joseph Conrad.' So begins F. R. Leavis's most controversial book, The Great Tradition, an uncompromising critical-polemic...

    - Google
  3. 1153 . Encyclicals of Pope John XXIII by Pope John XXIII

    Pope John XXIII issued eight Papal Encyclicals during his five-year reign as Pope of the Roman Catholic Church, from his election on October 28, 1958 until his death on June 3, 1963. Two of his enc...

  4. 1154 . Sexual Behavior in the Human Male by Alfred C. Kinsey

  5. 1155 . Race Matters by Cornel West

    Race Matters is a 1994 social sciences book, authored by Cornel West. The book was first published on March 29, 1994 in the English language by Vintage Books. The book analyses moral authority and ...

  6. 1156 . Change We Can Believe In by Barack Obama

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  7. 1157 . A Walker in the City by Alfred Kazin

    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
  8. 1158 . Them: A Memoir Of Parents by Francine du Plessix Gray

  9. 1159 . One Man's Meat by E. B. White

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

    - Google
  10. 1160 . Coming of Age in the Milky Way by Timothy Ferris

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  11. 1161 . AA Big Book by Bill W

    The history of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) has been documented in books, movies, and AA literature from its founding in 1935 as a solution for alcoholism by Bill Wilson (known as Bill W.) and Dr. Rob...

  12. 1162 . Under the Eye of the Clock by Christopher Nolan

  13. 1163 . 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...

  14. 1164 . 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 ...

  15. 1165 . The Big Sea by Langston Hughes

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

    - Google
  16. 1166 . The Solace of Open Spaces by Gretel Ehrlich

    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
  17. 1167 . London Orbital: A Year Walking Around the M25 by Iain Sinclair

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  18. 1168 . 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...

  19. 1169 . Other Inquisitions by Jorge Luis Borges

  20. 1170 . Art and Culture: Critical Essays by Clement Greenberg

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  21. 1171 . Looking at Dance by Edwin Denby

    Edwin Orr Denby (February 4, 1903 – July 12, 1983) was one of the most important and influential American dance critics of the 20th century, as well as a poet and novelist. His dance reviews and es...

  22. 1172 . In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens: Prose by Alice Walker

    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
  23. 1173 . Farewell to Manzanar by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston, James D. Houston

    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
  24. 1174 . The Faraway Nearby by Rebecca Solnit

    The Faraway Nearby is a 2013 book by Rebecca Solnit. Containing writing reminiscent of memoir, literary criticism, travelogue, prose poetry, as well as analyses of myth, fairytale and narratives mo...

  25. 1175 . The Empathy Exams: Essays by Leslie Jamison

    From personal loss to phantom diseases, The Empathy Exams is a bold and brilliant collection, winner of the Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize A Publishers Weekly Top Ten Essay Collection of Spring 20...

    - Google
  26. 1176 . Creatures that Once Were Men by Maksim Gorky

  27. 1177 . Happiness in Marriage by Margaret Sanger

  28. 1178 . The Edward Hoagland Reader by Edward Hoagland

  29. 1179 . Experiments on Plant Hybridization by Gregor Mendel

    Written in 1865 by Gregor Mendel, Experiments on Plant Hybridization (German: Versuche über Pflanzen-Hybriden) was the result after years spent studying genetic traits in pea plants. Mendel read hi...

  30. 1180 . Earth: An Intimate History by Richard Fortey

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  31. 1181 . The Joy of Sex by Alex Comfort

    The Joy of Sex is an illustrated sex manual by Alex Comfort, M.B., Ph.D., first published in 1972. An updated edition was released in September, 2008.

  32. 1182 . Allegorical Expositions of the Holy Laws by Philo of Alexandria

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  33. 1183 . Coleridge: Early Visions by Richard Holmes

  34. 1184 . Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases by Peter Mark Roget

    Peter Mark Roget FRS (UK: /ˈrɒʒeɪ/, US: /roʊˈʒeɪ/; 18 January 1779 – 12 September 1869) was a British physician, natural theologian and lexicographer. He is best known for publishing, in 1852, the ...

  35. 1185 . Anabasis by Xenophon

    Xenophon was born in the fifth century b.c. near Athens. His Anabasis, or “Up-Country March,” an account of his life as a Greek soldier, has endured through the ages.

    - Google
  36. 1186 . Devotions upon Emergent Occasions by John Donne

    Devotions upon Emergent Occasions, or in full Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions, and severall steps in my Sicknes, is a prose work by the English metaphysical poet and cleric in the Church of Engla...

  37. 1187 . The Rhetoric of Fiction by Wayne C Booth

  38. 1188 . The Names by N. Scott Momaday

    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
  39. 1189 . Psychology of the Unconscious by Carl Jung

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  40. 1190 . How to Cook a Wolf by M. F. K. Fisher

    First published in 1942 when wartime shortages were at their worst, the ever-popular How to Cook a Wolf, continues to surmount the unavoidable problem of cooking within a budget. Here is a wealth o...

    - Google
  41. 1191 . The Masters and the Slaves by Gilberto Freyre

    Gilberto de Mello Freyre (March 15, 1900 – July 18, 1987) was a Brazilian sociologist, cultural anthropologist, historian, journalist and congressman. His best-known work is a sociological treatise...

  42. 1192 . The Immense Journey by Loren Eiseley

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

    - Google
  43. 1193 . Function of the Orgasm by Wilhelm Reich

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  44. 1194 . The History of the Standard Oil Company by Ida Tarbell

  45. 1195 . The life and letters of Benjamin Franklin by Benjamin Franklin

    Benjamin Franklin FRS (January 17, 1706 [O.S. January 6, 1705] – April 17, 1790) was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States and in many ways was "the First American". A renowned polymath,...

    - Google
  46. 1196 . March: Book One by John Lewis

    Congressman John Lewis (GA-5) is an American icon, one of the key figures of the civil rights movement. His commitment to justice and nonviolence has taken him from an Alabama sharecropper's farm t...

    - Google
  47. 1197 . Domestic Manners of the Americans by Fanny Trollope

    Published in 1832, the book presents a lively portrait of early 19th-century America as observed by a woman of rare intelligence and keen perception. Trollope left no stone unturned, commenting on ...

    - Google
  48. 1198 . 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...

  49. 1199 . The Diary of Samuel Pepys by Samuel Pepys

    On 1 January 1660 ("1 January 1659/1660" in contemporary terms), Pepys began to keep a diary. He recorded his daily life for almost ten years. This record of a decade of Pepys' life is more than a ...

  50. 1200 . The New Science by Giambattista Vico