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. 351 . The Making of Homeric Verse by Milman Parry

    Milman Parry, who died in 1935 while a young assistant professor at Harvard, is now considered one of the leading classical scholars of this century. Yet Parry's articles and French dissertations--...

  2. 352 . Great Bridge by David McCullough

    This monumental book is the enthralling story of one of the greatest events in our nation's history, during the Age of Optimism — a period when Americans were convinced in their hearts that all thi...

  3. 353 . Care of the Soul: Guide for Cultivating Depth and Sacredness by Thomas More

    This New York Times bestseller (more than 200,000 hardcover copies sold) provides a path-breaking lifestyle handbook that shows how to add spirituality, depth, and meaning to modern-day life by nur...

    - Google
  4. 354 . The Strange Ride of Rudyard Kipling by Angus Wilson

    A critical biography of Kipling focuses on the writer's literary and peripatetic searches for a refuge to replace the lost Indian Eden of his childhood

  5. 355 . Scrutiny by F. R. Leavis

    Enormously important in education, especially in England. Leavis understood what one kind of 'living English' is.

  6. 356 . The Edge of the Sword by Charles De Gaulle

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  7. 357 . Bureaucracy by Ludwig von Mises

    Bureaucracy is a political book written by Austrian School economist and libertarian thinker Ludwig von Mises. The author's stated motivation in writing the book is his concern with the spread of s...

  8. 358 . Balzac by Stefan Zweig

    On the joys of working one's self to death. The chapter 'Black Coffee' is a masterpiece of imaginative reconstruction.

  9. 359 . The Good Society by Walter Lippmann

    The Good Society is a critical text in the history of liberalism. Initially a series of articles published in a variety of Lippmann's favorite magazines, as the whole evolved, it became a frontal a...

  10. 360 . The Christian Tradition by Jaroslav Pelikan

    The century's most comprehensive account of Christian teaching from the second century on.

  11. 361 . Strange Defeat by Marc Bloch

    L'Etrange defaite (English, "Strange Defeat") is a book written in the summer of 1940 by French historian Marc Bloch and published after his death in the summer of 1944. The main thesis of the boo...

  12. 362 . Looking Back by Norman Douglas

    Looking Back is an autobiography written by the American author Lois Lowry, in which she uses photographs and accompanying text to construct a picture of her life.

  13. 363 . Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres by Henry Adams

    Widely considered one of the most valuable works on European religion, philosophy, economics, politics, and art in the middle ages.

  14. 364 . How to Cook by Delia Smith

    Delia's How to Cook is a simple-to-follow cooking course for people of all ages and abilities. In this comprehensive two-part book series, Delia returns to the very roots of cooking to look at the ...

  15. 365 . On War by Carl Von Clausewitz

    Vom Kriege is a book on war and military strategy by Prussian general Carl von Clausewitz, written mostly after the Napoleonic wars, between 1816 and 1830, and published posthumously by his wife in...

  16. 366 . Citizens by Simon Schama

    Citizens: A Chronicle of the French Revolution is a book by the historian Simon Schama. It was published in 1989, the bicentenary of the French Revolution, and like many other works in that year, w...

  17. 367 . The Life of Charlotte Brontë by Elizabeth Gaskell

    The Life of Charlotte Brontë is the posthumous biography of Charlotte Brontë by fellow novelist Elizabeth Gaskell. Although quite frank in many places, Gaskell suppressed details of Charlotte's lov...

  18. 368 . Poetry and the Age by Randall Jarrell

    The book for showing how 20th- century poets think, what their poetry does, and why it matters.

  19. 369 . Love in the Western World by Denis de Rougemont

    In this classic work, often described as "The History of the Rise, Decline, and Fall of the Love Affair," Denis de Rougemont explores the psychology of love from the legend of Tristan and Isolde to...

  20. 370 . Wealth and Poverty by George Gilder

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  21. 371 . Darwin's Black Box by Michael J. Behe

    Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution (1996, first edition; 2006, second edition) is a book written by Michael J. Behe and published by Free Press in which he presents his noti...

  22. 372 . The Way the World Works by Jude Wanniski

    Jude Wanniski's masterpiece defined the economic policies of the 1980s responsible for a booming stock market, the creation of thirty million new jobs. untold wealth, and unparalleled prosperity. T...

  23. 373 . To the Finland Station by Edmund Wilson

    To the Finland Station: A Study in the Writing and Acting of History is the most famous book by the American critic and historian Edmund Wilson. Published in 1940, the work presents the history of ...

  24. 374 . Civilisation by Kenneth Clark

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  25. 375 . The Russian Revolution by Richard Pipes

    Ground-breaking in its inclusiveness, enthralling in its narrative of a movement whose purpose, in the words of Leon Trotsky, was "to overthrow the world," The Russian Revolution draws conclusions ...

  26. 376 . A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn

    A People's History of the United States is a 1980 non-fiction book by American historian and political scientist Howard Zinn. In the book, Zinn seeks to present American history through the eyes of...

  27. 377 . The Idea of History by R. G. Collingwood

    The Idea of History is the best-known work of the great Oxford philosopher, historian, and archaeologist R.G. Collingwood. It was originally published posthumously in 1946, having been mainly recon...

  28. 378 . The Last Lion by William Manchester

    The Last Lion is the second book in a planned trilogy of biographies on Winston Churchill by author and historian William Manchester.

  29. 379 . The Starr Report by Kenneth W. Starr

    THE STARR REPORT contains the complete text of the Independent Counsel

  30. 380 . I, Rigoberta Menchú: An Indian Woman in Guatemala by Rigoberta Menchú Tum

    Interviews with a Guatemalan national leader discuss her country's political situation and the resulting violence, which has claimed the lives of her brother, mother, and father

    - Google
  31. 381 . Charter of the United Nations by United Nations

    The Charter of the United Nations (also known as the UN Charter) of 1945 is the foundational treaty of the United Nations, an intergovernmental organization. The UN Charter articulated a commitment...

  32. 382 . The Subjection of Women by John Stuart Mill

    he Subjection of Women is the title of an essay written by John Stuart Mill in 1869, possibly jointly with his wife Harriet Taylor Mill, stating an argument in favour of equality between the sexes....

  33. 383 . The New Negro: The Life of Alain Locke by Jeffrey C. Stewart

    The New Negro: The Life of Alain Locke is a 2018 biography of Alain LeRoy Locke written by historian Jeffrey C. Stewart. The biography examines the life of Locke, an African-American activist and s...

  34. 384 . King Solomon's Ring by Konrad Lorenz

    King Solomon's Ring is a zoological book for the general audience, written by the Austrian scientist Konrad Lorenz in 1949. The first English-language edition appeared in 1952. The book's title r...

  35. 385 . Epitome of Copernican Astronomy by Johannes Kepler

  36. 386 . On Death and Dying by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

    Explains the attitudes of the dying toward themselves and others and presents a humane approach to relieving the psychological suffering of the terminally ill and their families

    - Google
  37. 387 . On Narcissism by Sigmund Freud

  38. 388 . Superhighway--superhoax by Helen Leavitt

    Points out that the original plan as conceived in 1944 was to have the system link cities but not to enter them. Explains why the cores of the cities have been invaded by the highway system and why...

    - Google
  39. 389 . Woman Suffrage and Politics: The Inner Story of the Suffrage Movement by Carrie Chapman Catt

    This book addresses the question of why women in twenty-six other countries received the right to vote before American women were enfranchised. The authors blame the liquor lobby for the delay.

  40. 390 . The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism by Max Weber

    The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (German: Die protestantische Ethik und der Geist des Kapitalismus) is a book written by Max Weber, a German sociologist, economist, and politician....

  41. 391 . Physics and Philosophy by Werner Heisenberg

    Werner Heisenberg (5 December 1901 – 1 February 1976) was a German theoretical physicist who made foundational contributions to quantum mechanics and is best known for asserting the uncertainty pri...

  42. 392 . Treatise on Radioactivity by Marie Curie

    Treatise on Radioactivity (French: Traité de Radioactivité) is a two-volume book from the year 1910 written by the Polish scientist Marie Curie as a survey on the subject of radioactivity. She was ...

  43. 393 . Sisterhood Is Powerful by robin morgan

    Sisterhood Is Powerful: An Anthology of Writings from the Women's Liberation Movement is a 1970 anthology of feminist writings edited by Robin Morgan, a feminist poet and founding member of New Yor...

  44. 394 . What Is Life? by Erwin Schrödinger

    What Is Life? is a non-fiction book on science for the lay reader written by physicist Erwin Schrödinger. One of the discoverers of the structure of DNA, Francis Crick, credited What Is Life? as a ...

  45. 395 . What Is Metaphysics? by Martin Heidegger

  46. 396 . Edith Wharton: A Biography by R. W. B. Lewis

    Edith Wharton: A Biography

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  47. 397 . Etiquette in Society, in Business, in Politics and at Home by Emily Post

    Upon publication in 1922 her book, “Etiquette: In Society, In Business, In Politics and At Home,” topped the nonfiction bestseller list, and the phrase “according to Emily Post” soon entered our la...

    - Google
  48. 398 . Thoughts for the Times on War and Death by Sigmund Freud

    Great Books of the Western World is a series of books originally published in the United States in 1952 by Encyclopædia Britannica Inc. to present the western canon in a single package of 54 volume...

  49. 399 . The Nature of Life by C. H. Waddington

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  50. 400 . The Acquisitive Society by R. H. Tawney

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