The Greatest Nonfiction Books Since 1980


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 . Untold Stories by Alan Bennett

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  2. 352 . 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 ...

  3. 353 . 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...

  4. 354 . 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...

  5. 355 . 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 ...

  6. 356 . Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand

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  7. 357 . Borrowed Time by Paul Monette

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  8. 358 . Praying for Sheetrock by Melissa Fay Greene

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  9. 359 . In Trouble Again by Redmond O'Hanlon

  10. 360 . 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...

  11. 361 . 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...

  12. 362 . The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

  13. 363 . 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.

  14. 364 . 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 ...

  15. 365 . Collapse by Jared Diamond

  16. 366 . The Blank Slate by Steven Pinker

  17. 367 . Annapurna: A Woman's Place by Arlene Blum

  18. 368 . Peeling the Onion by Günter Grass

    Peeling the Onion (German: Beim Häuten der Zwiebel) is an autobiographical work by German Nobel Prize-winning author and playwright Günter Grass, published in 2006. It begins with the end of his ch...

  19. 369 . Adrift by Steven Callahan

    Adrift (subtitle: Seventy-six days lost at sea) is a book by Steven Callahan about his survival in a life raft in the Atlantic Ocean, which lasted 76 days, a staggering record; he is the only man i...

  20. 370 . Salvation on Sand Mountain by Dennis Covington

    Dennis Covington (b. October 30, 1948) is an American writer. He studied fiction writing, and earned a BA degree from the University of Virginia. He served in the US Army. He earned an MFA in the e...

  21. 371 . Touching the Void by Joe Simpson

  22. 372 . Tracks by Robyn Davidson

  23. 373 . Friday Night Lights by H. G. Bissinger

  24. 374 . England in Particular by Sue Clifford, Angela King

    Sue Clifford co-founded Common Ground, an organisation which campaigns to link nature with culture and the positive investment people can make in their own localities, with Angela King in 1983.

  25. 375 . Giving up the Ghost by Hilary Mantel

  26. 376 . Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

    Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia is a 2006 memoir by American author and memoirist Elizabeth Gilbert. The memoir chronicles the author's trip aro...

  27. 377 . Jaguars Ripped My Flesh by Tim Cahill

  28. 378 . Let's Talk About Love by Carl Wilson

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  29. 379 . Terra Incognita by Sara Wheeler

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  30. 380 . Fatal Purity: Robespierre and the French Revolution by Ruth Scurr

  31. 381 . An Evil Cradling by Brian Keenan

    Brian Keenan went to Beirut in 1985 for a change of scene from his native Belfast. He became headline news when he was kidnapped by fundamentalist Shi'ite militiamen and held in the suburbs of Beir...

    - Google
  32. 382 . My Father and other Working-Class Football Heroes by Gary Imlac

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  33. 383 . Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller

    Blue Like Jazz is the second book by Donald Miller. This semi-autobiographical work, subtitled "Non-Religious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality," is a collection of essays and personal reflections...

  34. 384 . The Burder of Southern History by C. Vann Woodward

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  35. 385 . The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World by Niall Ferguson

    The Ascent of Money: The Financial History of the World is Harvard professor Niall Ferguson's tenth book, published in 2008, and an adapted television documentary for Channel 4 (UK) and PBS (US). I...

  36. 386 . The Mountains of My Life by Walter Bonatti

  37. 387 . Great Heart by James West Davidson, John Rugge

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  38. 388 . Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found by Suketu Mehta

    Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found is a narrative nonfiction book by Suketu Mehta, published in 2004, about the Indian city of Mumbai ("Bombay"). It was published in hardcover by Random House's Al...

  39. 389 . Comfort Me with Apples by Ruth Reichl

  40. 390 . This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War by Drew Gilpin Faust

  41. 391 . Random Family by Adrian Nicole LeBlanc

    Adrian Nicole LeBlanc is an American journalist whose works focus on the marginalized members of society: adolescents living in poverty, prostitutes, women in prison, etc.

  42. 392 . Berlin: The Downfall, 1945 by Antony Beevor

  43. 393 . Killing Yourself to Live by Chuck Klosterman

    Killing Yourself to Live: 85% of a True Story is a work of non-fiction written by Chuck Klosterman, first published by Scribner in 2005. It is the third book released by Klosterman. Klosterman cons...

  44. 394 . The Crystal Horizon by Reinhold Messner

  45. 395 . The Predators' Ball by Connie Bruck

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  46. 396 . Grizzly Years by Doug Peacock

    Doug Peacock is an American naturalist, outdoorsman, and author. He is best known for his book Grizzly Years: In Search of the American Wilderness, a memoir of his experiences in the 1970s and 1980...

  47. 397 . America by John Stewart

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  48. 398 . Snobbery: The American Version by Joseph Epstein

    Joseph Epstein's highly entertaining new book takes up the subject of snobbery in America after the fall of the prominence of the old Wasp culture of prep schools, Ivy League colleges, cotillions, ...

    - Google
  49. 399 . Theophrastus: His Psychological, Doxographical, and Scientific Writings by William Wall Fortenbaugh, Dimitri Gutas

    Theophrastus (/ˌθiːəˈfræstəs/; Greek: Θεόφραστος; c. 371 – c. 287 BC[1]), a Greek native of Eresos in Lesbos, was the successor to Aristotle in the Peripatetic school. He came to Athens at a young ...

    - Google
  50. 400 . Nixonland by Rick Perlstein

    Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America is a work of history written by Rick Perlstein, released in May 2008.