The Greatest Nonfiction Books Since 1970

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 . Secondhand Time: The Last of the Soviets by Svetlana Alexievich

    NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The magnum opus and latest work from Svetlana Alexievich, the 2015 winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature—a symphonic oral history about the disintegration of the Sovie...

    - Google
  2. 402 . Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari

    Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind (Hebrew: קיצור תולדות האנושות‎, [Ḳitsur toldot ha-enoshut]) is a book by Yuval Noah Harari, first published in Hebrew in Israel in 2011 and in English in 2014....

  3. 403 . Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty

    Capital in the Twenty-First Century is a 2013 book by French economist Thomas Piketty. It focuses on wealth and income inequality in Europe and the United States since the 18th century. It was init...

  4. 404 . A Death in the Family by Karl Ove Knausgaard

    The first instalment of Knausgaard’s relentlessly self-examining six-volume series My Struggle revolves around the life and death of his alcoholic father. Whether or not you regard him as the Prous...

    - Google
  5. 405 . Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer

  6. 406 . Hope in the Dark by Rebecca Solnit

    Throwing out the crippling assumptions with which many activists proceed, award-winning author Solnit proposes a new vision of how change happens.

    - Google
  7. 407 . Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson

    A New York Times bestseller: The “magnificent” memoir by one of the bravest and most original writers of our time—“A tour de force of literature and love” (Vogue). Jeanette Winterson’s bold and rev...

    - Google
  8. 408 . Women & Power: A Manifesto by Mary Beard

    An updated edition of the Sunday Times Bestseller Britain's best-known classicist Mary Beard, is also a committed and vocal feminist. With wry wit, she revisits the gender agenda and shows how hist...

    - Google
  9. 409 . Underland by Robert Macfarlane

    From the best-selling, award-winning author of Landmarks and The Old Ways, a haunting voyage into the planet’s past and future. Hailed as "the great nature writer of this generation" (Wall Street J...

    - Google
  10. 410 . This House of Grief by Helen Garner

    This House of Grief is a 2014 non-fiction work by Helen Garner. Subtitled "The story of a murder trial", its subject matter is the murder conviction of a man accused of driving his car into a dam r...

  11. 411 . Seven Brief Lessons on Physics by Carlo Rovelli

    Seven Brief Lessons on Physics (Italian: Sette brevi lezioni di fisica) is a short book by the Italian physicist Carlo Rovelli. Originally published in Italian in 2014, the book has been translated...

  12. 412 . The Age of Surveillance Capitalism by Shoshana Zuboff

    The challenges to humanity posed by the digital future, the first detailed examination of the unprecedented form of power called "surveillance capitalism," and the quest by powerful corporations to...

    - Google
  13. 413 . Nothing to Envy by Barbara Demick

    Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea is a 2009 part-novelization of interviews with refugees from Chongjin, North Korea, written by Los Angeles Times journalist Barbara Demick. In 2010, t...

  14. 414 . Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

    Thinking, Fast and Slow is a best-selling book published in 2011 by Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences laureate Daniel Kahneman. It was the 2012 winner of the National Academies Communicatio...

  15. 415 . One Writer's Beginnings by Eudora Welty

    Eudora Alice Welty (April 13, 1909 – July 23, 2001) was an award-winning American author who wrote short stories and novels about the American South. Her book, The Optimist's Daughter, won the Puli...

  16. 416 . The Spirit Level by Richard Wilkinson

    The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better is a book by Richard G. Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, published in 2009 by Allen Lane. The book is published in the US by Bloomsbury...

  17. 417 . The 9/11 Commission Report by 9/11 Commission

  18. 418 . Adults in the Room by Yanis Varoufakis

    'One of the greatest political memoirs of all time' (Guardian) -- The Sunday Times Number 1 Bestseller What happens when you take on the establishment? In this blistering, personal account, world-f...

    - Google
  19. 419 . The Rest is Noise by Alex Ross

  20. 420 . I Feel Bad About My Neck by Nora Ephron

    I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman is a 2006 book written by Nora Ephron. On September 10, 2006 it was listed at #1 on The New York Times Non-Fiction Best Seller list. In...

  21. 421 . The Clash of Civilizations by Samuel P. Huntington

    The classic study of post-Cold War international relations, more relevant than ever in the post-9/11 world, with a new foreword by Zbigniew Brzezinski. Since its initial publication, The Clash of C...

    - Google
  22. 422 . Crusade and Jihad: Islam and the Christian World by Bassam Tibi

  23. 423 . The Songlines by Bruce Chatwin

    The songlines are the invisible pathways that criss-cross Australia, ancient tracks connecting communities and following ancient boundaries. Along these lines Aboriginals passed the songs which rev...

    - Google
  24. 424 . The Other Education: What you should know about the natural sciences by Ernst Peter Fischer

    It was published as a reaction to Dieter Schwanitz' bestseller "Education. Everything there is to know", in which the natural sciences were deliberately excluded.

  25. 425 . An Inconvenient Truth: The Planetary Emergency of Global Warming and What We Can Do About It by Al Gore

    The former vice-president details the factors contributing to the growing climate crisis, describes changes to the environment caused by global warming, and discusses the shift in environmental pol...

    - Google
  26. 426 . German History 1800–1918 by Thomas Nipperdey

    Thomas Nipperdey offers readers insights into the history and the culture of German nationalism, bringing to light much-needed information on the immediate prenational period of transition. A subje...

    - Google
  27. 427 . Desert Flower by Waris Dirie, Cathleen Miller

    Waris Dirie leads a double life -- by day, she is an international supermodel and human rights ambassador for the United Nations; by night, she dreams of the simplicity of life in her native Somali...

    - Google
  28. 428 . The Meaning of Hitler by Sebastian Haffner

    The Meaning of Hitler is the title of the English translation of the originally German 1978 book Anmerkungen zu Hitler by the journalist and writer Raimund Pretzel, who published all his books unde...

    - Google
  29. 429 . A Short History Of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson

    A Short History of Nearly Everything (ISBN 0-7679-0817-1) is a general science book by Bill Bryson, which explains some areas of science, using a style of language more accessible to the general pu...

  30. 430 . A Childhood: The Biography of a Place by Harry Crews

  31. 431 . Pictures At A Revolution by Mark Harris

  32. 432 . Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser

    Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal (2001) is a book by investigative journalist Eric Schlosser that examines the local and global influence of the United States fast food indu...

  33. 433 . Rising Tide by John Barry

    Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How It Changed America

  34. 434 . Untold Stories by Alan Bennett

  35. 435 . Beyond Freedom and Dignity by B. F. Skinner

    In Beyond Freedom and Dignity, Skinner suggests that a technology of behavior could help to make a better society. We would, however, have to accept that an autonomous agent is not the driving forc...

  36. 436 . Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth by Margaret Atwood

    Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth is a non-fiction book written by Margaret Atwood, about the nature of debt, for the 2008 Massey Lectures. Each of the book's five chapters was delivered ...

  37. 437 . A Wilderness Narrative by David Roberts

  38. 438 . Naked by David Sedaris

    Naked, published in 1997, is a collection of essays by American humorist David Sedaris. The book details Sedaris’ life, from his unusual upbringing in the suburbs of Raleigh, North Carolina, to his...

  39. 439 . The Perfect Storm by Sebastian Junger

    The Perfect Storm is a creative nonfiction book written by Sebastian Junger and published by W. W. Norton & Company in 1997. The paperback edition followed in 1999 from HarperCollins' Perennial imp...

  40. 440 . Blankets by Craig Thompson

    Blankets is a autobiographical graphic novel by Craig Thompson, published in 2003 by Top Shelf Productions. As a coming-of-age autobiography, the book tells the story of Thompson's childhood in an ...

  41. 441 . Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand

  42. 442 . Borrowed Time by Paul Monette

  43. 443 . Praying for Sheetrock by Melissa Fay Greene

  44. 444 . In Trouble Again by Redmond O'Hanlon

  45. 445 . Stranger in the Forest by Eric Hansen

    Stranger in the forest (subtitle: on foot across Borneo) is a 1988 book by Eric Hansen about a seven months and 4000 km long journey (of which 2300 km on foot) through the heartland of Borneo in 19...

  46. 446 . Imperial Life in the Emerald City by Rajiv Chandrasekaran

    Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq's Green Zone is a 2006 book by Rajiv Chandrasekaran that takes a critical look at the civilian leadership of the American reconstruction project in Ir...

  47. 447 . The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

  48. 448 . Running the Amazon by Joe Kane

    Joe Kane is an American author of two books and is also a journalist who writes for numerous publications such as The New Yorker, National Geographic, and Esquire.

  49. 449 . Alive by Piers Paul Read

    Alive: The Story of the Andes Survivors is a 1974 book by the British writer Piers Paul Read documenting the events of Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571.

  50. 450 . Moondust: In Search of the Men Who Fell to Earth by Andrew Smith

    Andrew Smith is the author of Moondust : In Search of the Men Who Fell to Earth. HarperCollins. 2005. ISBN 0-00-715541-7. , which tells the story of the twelve U.S. astronauts who journeyed to the ...