The Greatest Nonfiction Books Since 1900

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. 951 . Behaviorism by John Watson

  2. 952 . The Revenge of Gaia by James Lovelock

  3. 953 . 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...

  4. 954 . 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
  5. 955 . 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...

  6. 956 . The Suspicions of Mr Whicher by Kate Summerscale

  7. 957 . Conditioned Reflexes by Ivan Pavlov

  8. 958 . Motivation and Personality by Abraham Maslow

  9. 959 . 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
  10. 960 . 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...

  11. 961 . Sexual Behavior in the Human Male by Alfred C. Kinsey

  12. 962 . 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 ...

  13. 963 . Change We Can Believe In by Barack Obama

  14. 964 . 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
  15. 965 . Them: A Memoir Of Parents by Francine du Plessix Gray

  16. 966 . 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
  17. 967 . Coming of Age in the Milky Way by Timothy Ferris

  18. 968 . 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...

  19. 969 . Under the Eye of the Clock by Christopher Nolan

  20. 970 . 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...

  21. 971 . The Big Sea by Langston Hughes

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

    - Google
  22. 972 . 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
  23. 973 . London Orbital: A Year Walking Around the M25 by Iain Sinclair

  24. 974 . 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...

  25. 975 . Other Inquisitions by Jorge Luis Borges

  26. 976 . Art and Culture: Critical Essays by Clement Greenberg

  27. 977 . 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...

  28. 978 . 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
  29. 979 . 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
  30. 980 . 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...

  31. 981 . 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
  32. 982 . Creatures that Once Were Men by Maksim Gorky

  33. 983 . Happiness in Marriage by Margaret Sanger

  34. 984 . The Edward Hoagland Reader by Edward Hoagland

  35. 985 . Earth: An Intimate History by Richard Fortey

  36. 986 . 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.

  37. 987 . Coleridge: Early Visions by Richard Holmes

  38. 988 . The Rhetoric of Fiction by Wayne C Booth

  39. 989 . 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
  40. 990 . Psychology of the Unconscious by Carl Jung

  41. 991 . 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
  42. 992 . 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...

  43. 993 . 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
  44. 994 . Function of the Orgasm by Wilhelm Reich

  45. 995 . The History of the Standard Oil Company by Ida Tarbell

  46. 996 . 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. 997 . Memories, Dreams, Reflections by Carl Jung

    Memories, Dreams, Reflections (original German title Erinnerungen Träume Gedanken) is a partially autobiographical book by Swiss psychologist Carl Jung and associate Aniela Jaffé. The book details ...

  48. 998 . In the Shadow of Man by Jane Goodall

  49. 999 . 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
  50. 1000 . House by Tracy Kidder

    Tracy Kidder takes readers to the heart of the American Dream: the building of a family's first house with all its day-to-day frustrations, crises, tensions, challenges, and triumphs.

    - Google