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. 401 . Mencius by Mencius

    The Mencius (Chinese: 孟子; pinyin: Mèngzǐ), commonly called the Mengzi, is a collection of anecdotes and conversations of the Confucian thinker and philosopher Mencius. The work dates from the secon...

  2. 402 . A Theory Of The Consumption Function by Milton Friedman

    What is the exact nature of the consumption function? Can this term be defined so that it will be consistent with empirical evidence and a valid instrument in the hands of future economic researche...

    - Google
  3. 403 . A General Introduction to Psycho-Analysis 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...

  4. 404 . Instincts and Their Vicissitudes by Sigmund Freud

  5. 405 . The Problems of Philosophy by Bertrand Russell

    The Problems of Philosophy (1912) is one of Bertrand Russell's attempts to create a brief and accessible guide to the problems of philosophy. Focusing on problems he believes will provoke positive ...

  6. 406 . Discussion with Einstein on Epistemology by Niels Bohr

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  7. 407 . Structural Anthropology by Claude Lévi-Strauss

  8. 408 . Scientific Autobiography and Other Papers by Max Planck

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  9. 409 . Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond

    Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City is a 2016 non-fiction book by the American author Matthew Desmond. Set in the poorest areas of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the book follows eight families...

  10. 410 . A Field Guide to the Birds by Roger Tory Peterson

    The Peterson Field Guides (PFG) are a popular and influential series of American field guides intended to assist the layman in identification of birds, plants, insects and other natural phenomena. ...

    - Google
  11. 411 . Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego by Sigmund Freud

  12. 412 . The House on Henry Street by Lillian D. Wald

    Nearly one hundred years after the Henry Street Settlement was founded, this venerable institution still serves the people of the lower East Side of New York. Much of the credit for its survival ma...

    - Google
  13. 413 . Observations on "Wild" Psycho-Analysis 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...

  14. 414 . Studies in the Psychology of Sex by Havelock Ellis

    Studies in the Psychology of Sex Vol. 2 is a book published in 1900 written by Havelock Ellis (1859–1939), an English physician, writer and social reformer. The book deals with the phenomenon of se...

  15. 415 . An Introduction to Mathematics by Alfred North Whitehead

    Alfred North Whitehead, OM (February 15, 1861 – December 30, 1947) was an English mathematician who became a philosopher. He wrote on algebra, logic, foundations of mathematics, philosophy of scien...

  16. 416 . Der Judenstaat by Theodor Herzl

    Der Judenstaat (German, literally The Jews' State, commonly rendered as The Jewish State) is a pamphlet written by Theodor Herzl and published in February 1896 in Leipzig and Vienna by M. Breitenst...

  17. 417 . The Life of the Bee by Maurice Maeterlinck

    1 IT is not my intention to write a treatise on apiculture, or on practical bee-keeping. Excellent works of the kind abound in all civilised countries, and it were useless to attempt another. Franc...

    - Google
  18. 418 . The Politics of Ecstasy by Timothy Leary

    Writings that sparkle with the psychedelic revolution. The Politics of Ecstasy is Timothy Leary's most provocative and influential exploration of human consciousness, written during the period from...

    - Google
  19. 419 . An Introduction to Metaphysics by Henri Bergson

  20. 420 . The Origin and Development of Psycho-Analysis 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...

  21. 421 . The Meaning of Truth by Will James

    In this sequel to Pragmatism, one of America's outstanding philosophers, William James (1842-1910), responds to absolutist critics believers in immutable truth and innate or inherited knowledge who...

    - Google
  22. 422 . Russia Leaves the War by George F. Kennan

    Russia Leaves the War (1956) is a Pulitzer Prize-winning book by George F. Kennan. The book also won the National Book Award for Nonfiction, the George Bancroft Prize, and the Francis Parkman Prize...

  23. 423 . The Word of God and the Word of Man by Karl Barth

    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...

  24. 424 . The Story of My Life by Helen Keller

    The Story of My Life, first published in 1903, is Helen Keller's autobiography detailing her early life, especially her experiences with Anne Sullivan. Portions of it were adapted by William Gibson...

  25. 425 . The Future Prospects of Psycho-Analytic Therapy by Sigmund Freud

  26. 426 . Against Our Will by Susan Brownmiller

    Against Our Will: Men, Women and Rape is a 1975 book about rape by Susan Brownmiller, in which the author argues that rape is "a conscious process of intimidation by which all men keep all women in...

  27. 427 . An Autobiography of Anthony Trollope by Anthony Trollope

    An Autobiography of Anthony Trollope

    - Google
  28. 428 . The Haunted Land by Tina Rosenberg

    The Haunted Land: Facing Europe's Ghosts After Communism written by Tina Rosenberg and published by Random House in 1995, won the 1996 Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction and the 1995 National B...

  29. 429 . The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron

    The Artist’s Way is the seminal book on the subject of creativity. An international bestseller, millions of readers have found it to be an invaluable guide to living the artist’s life. Still as vit...

    - Google
  30. 430 . Science and Hypothesis by Henri Poincaré

  31. 431 . The Ego and the Id by Sigmund Freud

    "The Ego and the Id" is a prominent paper by the psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud. It is an analytical study of the human psyche outlining his theories of the psychodynamics of the id, ego, and super-eg...

  32. 432 . Inhibitions, Symptoms, and Anxiety by Sigmund Freud

    Psychosocial developmentConsciousPreconsciousUnconsciousPsychic apparatusId, ego, and super-egoLibidoDriveTransferenceCountertransferenceEgo defensesResistanceProjection

  33. 433 . Essays in Sociology by Max Weber

  34. 434 . The Expanding Universe by Arthur Eddington

    Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington, OM, FRS (28 December 1882 – 22 November 1944) was a British astrophysicist of the early 20th century. The Eddington limit, the natural limit to the luminosity of stars...

  35. 435 . The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt by T. J. Stiles

    A biography of the combative man whose genius and force of will created modern capitalism, documenting how Vanderbilt helped launch the transportation revolution, propel the Gold Rush, reshape Manh...

    - Google
  36. 436 . A Stillness at Appomattox by Bruce Catton

    A Stillness at Appomattox is a history on the American Civil War that recounts the final year. Some of Catton's extensive work describes the Battle of the Wilderness, the assault of the Mule Sho...

  37. 437 . The Courage to Be by Paul Tillich

    Originally published more than fifty years ago, The Courage to Be has become a classic of twentieth-century religious and philosophical thought. The great Christian existentialist thinker Paul Till...

    - Google
  38. 438 . The Swerve: How the World Became Modern by Stephen Greenblatt

    Winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Non-Fiction Winner of the 2011 National Book Award for Non-Fiction One of the world's most celebrated scholars, Stephen Greenblatt has crafted both an innovati...

    - Google
  39. 439 . The Path to Power by Robert Caro

    The Path to Power, Caro retraced Lyndon Johnson's life by temporarily moving to rural Texas and Washington, D.C., to better understand Johnson's upbringing and to interview anyone who had known Joh...

  40. 440 . The Wretched of the Earth by Frantz Fanon

    The Wretched of the Earth (French: Les Damnés de la Terre) is a 1961 book by Frantz Fanon, in which the author provides a psychiatric and psychologic analysis of the dehumanizing effects of coloniz...

  41. 441 . Selected Papers on Hysteria by Sigmund Freud

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  42. 442 . Democratic Vistas by Walt Whitman

    Democratic Vistas is a major work of comparative politics and letters written by the American poet and author Walt Whitman. Walt Whitman does much to expound on the influence of the Louisiana Purch...

  43. 443 . Growing Up Absurd by Paul Goodman

    Growing Up Absurd: Problems of Youth in the Organized Society is a 1960 book by Paul Goodman.

  44. 444 . Ball Four by Jim Bouton

    Ball Four is a book written by former Major League Baseball pitcher Jim Bouton in 1970. The book is a diary of Bouton's 1969 season, spent with the Seattle Pilots and then the Houston Astros follow...

  45. 445 . The Pillow Book by Sei Shōnagon

    The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon is an immensely detailed account of court life in eleventh-century Japan. Written at the height of Heian culture, it is a classic text of great literary beauty, full...

    - Google
  46. 446 . Twenty Years at Hull-House by Jane Addams

    A refuge for Chicago's poor, Hull-House provided an unprecedented variety of social services. Its founder's inspiring autobiography chronicles the institution's early years and discusses its guidin...

    - Google
  47. 447 . The Uses of Enchantment by Bruno Bettelheim

    The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales is a 1976 book by Bruno Bettelheim, in which the author analyzes fairy tales in terms of Freudian psychoanalysis. The book has be...

  48. 448 . The Diversity of Life by Edward O. Wilson

    An account of how the living world became diverse and how humans are destroying that diversity traces the processes that create new species and identifies the events that have disrupted evolution o...

    - Google
  49. 449 . The Autobiography of Lincoln Steffens by Lincoln Steffens

    Rediscover a man Americans turned to not only for news but for humor and wisdom as well. Growing up in Sacramento, Steffens (1866-1936) was an editor at the New York Evening Post, and later at McCl...

    - Google
  50. 450 . The Voices of Marrakesh: A Record of a Visit by Elias Canetti

    Nobel Prize-winning author Canetti spent only a few weeks in Marrakesh, but it was a visit that would remain with him for the rest of his life. In The Voices of Marrakesh, he captures the essence o...

    - Google