The Greatest Nonfiction Books Since 2000


How is this list generated?


This list is generated from 128 "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. 1 . The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

    The Year of Magical Thinking, by Joan Didion, is an account of the year following the death of the author's husband John Gregory Dunne (1932–2003). Published by Knopf in October 2005, the book was ...

  2. 2 . On Writing by Stephen King

    On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft is an autobiography and writing guide by Stephen King, published during 2000. It is a book about the prolific author's experiences as a writer. Although he discuss...

  3. 3 . Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

  4. 4 . The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell

    Gladwell defines a tipping point as a sociological term: "the moment of critical mass, the threshold, the boiling point." The book seeks to explain and describe the "mysterious" sociological change...

  5. 5 . The Looming Tower by Lawrence Wright

    The Looming Tower: Al Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 is a historical look at the way in which Al-Qaeda came into being, the background for various terrorist attacks and how they were investigated, and ...

  6. 6 . A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers

    A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius (ISBN 0-330-48455-9) is a memoir by Dave Eggers released in 2000. It chronicles his stewardship of younger brother Christopher "Toph" Eggers following the ...

  7. 7 . In the Heart of the Sea by Nathaniel Philbrick

    In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex is a National Book Award winning work of maritime history by Nathaniel Philbrick. It tells the story of the Whaleship Essex from the poin...

  8. 8 . Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner

    Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything is a 2005 non-fiction book by University of Chicago economist Steven Levitt and New York Times journalist Stephen J. Dubner. T...

  9. 9 . Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris

    Me Talk Pretty One Day, published in 2000, is a bestselling collection of essays by American humorist David Sedaris. The book is separated into two parts. The first consists of essays about Sedaris...

  10. 10 . The Bookseller of Kabul by Asne Seierstad

    Two weeks after September 11th, award-winning journalist Åsne Seierstad went to Afghanistan to report on the conflict there. In the following spring she returned to live with an Afghan family for s...

    - Google
  11. 11 . Dreams from My Father by Barack Obama

  12. 12 . Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss

    Eats, Shoots & Leaves is a non-fiction book written by Lynne Truss, the former host of the BBC Radio 4's Cutting a Dash programme. In the book, published in 2003, Truss bemoans the state of punctua...

  13. 13 . The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson

    An intrepid voyage out to the frontiers of the latest thinking about love, language, and family Maggie Nelson's The Argonauts is a genre-bending memoir, a work of "autotheory" offering fresh, fierc...

    - Google
  14. 14 . Voices from Chernobyl by Svetlana Alexievich

    Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster is a 2005 book by Svetlana Alexievich. Alexievich was a journalist living in Minsk, the capital of Belarus, at the time of the Chernoby...

  15. 15 . The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert

    A major book about the future of the world, blending intellectual and natural history and field reporting into a powerful account of the mass extinction unfolding before our eyes Over the last half...

    - Google
  16. 16 . The Noonday Demon by Andrew Solomon

    The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression is a 2001 memoir written by Andrew Solomon. It examines the personal, cultural, and scientific aspects of depression through Solomon's published interviews...

  17. 17 . The Hare with Amber Eyes: A Family's Century of Art and Loss by Edmund de Waal

    The Ephrussis were a grand banking family, as rich and respected as the Rothschilds, who “burned like a comet” in nineteenth-century Paris and Vienna society. Yet by the end of World War II, almost...

    - Google
  18. 18 . Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi

    Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books is a book by Iranian author and professor Azar Nafisi.

  19. 19 . The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism by Naomi Klein

    The bestselling author of No Logo shows how the global "free market" has exploited crises and shock for three decades, from Chile to Iraq In her groundbreaking reporting over the past few years, Na...

    - Google
  20. 20 . Bad Science by Ben Goldacre

  21. 21 . London: The Biography by Peter Ackroyd

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  22. 22 . The Devil In The White City by Erik Larson

    The Chicago World's Fair of 1893 and its amazing 'White City' was one of the wonders of the world. This is the incredible story of its realization, and of the two men whose fates it linked: one was...

    - Google
  23. 23 . The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid

    The Reluctant Fundamentalist is a novel by Mohsin Hamid that was published in 2007. The novel takes place during the course of a single evening in an outdoor Lahore cafe, where a bearded Pakistani ...

  24. 24 . Tell Me How It Ends: An Essay in 40 Questions by Valeria Luiselli

    Part treatise, part memoir, part call to action, Tell Me How It Ends inspires not through a stiff stance of authority, but with the curiosity and humility Luiselli has long since established.

    - Google
  25. 25 . Priestdaddy: A Memoir by Patricia Lockwood

    Affectionate and very funny . . . wonderfully grounded and authentic. This book proves Lockwood to be a formidably gifted writer who can do pretty much anything she pleases.” – The New York Times B...

    - Google
  26. 26 . Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground, 1981-1991 by Michael Azerrad

    This is the never-before-told story of the musical revolution that happened right under the nose of the Reagan Eighties--when a small but sprawling network of bands, labels, fanzines, radio station...

    - Google
  27. 27 . Larousse Gastronomique: The World's Greatest Culinary Encyclopedia by Joël Robuchon

    Larousse Gastronomique is the world's classic culinary reference book, with over 35,000 copies sold in the UK alone. Larousse is known and loved for its authoritative and comprehensive collection o...

    - Google
  28. 28 . El Bulli: 1998-2002 by Ferran Adria, Juli Soler, Albert Adria

    Ferran Adria is widely considered to be the most innovative, most influential, and indeed the greatest chef in the world today. Culinary giants like Thomas Keller venerate him. El Bulli, the restau...

    - Google
  29. 29 . Zeitoun by Dave Eggers

    Zeitoun is a nonfiction book written by Dave Eggers and published by McSweeney's in 2009. It tells the story of Abdulrahman Zeitoun, the Syrian-American owner of a painting and contracting company ...

  30. 30 . 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
  31. 31 . 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
  32. 32 . The Hemingses of Monticello by Annette Gordon-Reed

    The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family is a 2008 book by American historian Annette Gordon-Reed. It recounts the history of four generations of the African American Hemings family, from th...

  33. 33 . Master of the Senate by Robert Caro

    In the third and most-recently published volume, Master of the Senate, Caro chronicles Johnson's rapid ascent in the United States Congress, including his tenure as Senate Majority Leader. This 116...

  34. 34 . Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson, David Oliver Relin

    In 1993 Greg Mortenson was the exhausted survivor of a failed attempt to ascend K2, an American climbing bum wandering emaciated and lost through Pakistan’s Karakoram Himalaya. After he was taken i...

    - Google
  35. 35 . Nickel And Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich

    Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America is a book written by Barbara Ehrenreich. Written from the perspective of the undercover journalist, it sets out to investigate the impact of the 199...

  36. 36 . Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

    Between the World and Me is a 2015 book written by Ta-Nehisi Coates and published by Spiegel & Grau. It is written as a letter to the author's teenaged son about the feelings, symbolism, and realit...

  37. 37 . First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers by Loung Ung

    One of seven children of a high-ranking government official, Loung Ung lived a privileged life in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh until the age of five. Then, in April 1975, Pol Pot's Khmer Rou...

    - Google
  38. 38 . The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee

    An assessment of cancer addresses both the courageous battles against the disease and the misperceptions and hubris that have compromised modern understandings, providing coverage of such topics as...

    - Google
  39. 39 . Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel

    Fun Home (subtitled A Family Tragicomic) is a graphic memoir by Alison Bechdel, author of the comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For. It chronicles the author's childhood and youth in rural Pennsylvani...

  40. 40 . Experience by Martin Amis

  41. 41 . Born to Run by Chris McDougall

    At the heart of Born to Run lies a mysterious tribe of Mexican Indians, the Tarahumara, who live quietly in canyons and are reputed to be the best distance runners in the world; in 1993, one of the...

    - Google
  42. 42 . My Forbidden Face by Latifa

    Latifa was born into an educated middle-class Afghan family in Kabul in 1980. She dreamed of one day of becoming a journalist, she was interested in fashion, movies and friends. Her father was in t...

    - Google
  43. 43 . A Man in Love: My Struggle by Karl Ove Knausgaard

    'Intense and vital... Ceaselessly compelling... Superb' James Wood, New Yorker This is a book about leaving your wife and everything you know. It is about fresh starts, about love, about friendship...

    - Google
  44. 44 . Funny in Farsi by Firoozeh Dumas

    NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER In 1972, when she was seven, Firoozeh Dumas and her family moved from Iran to Southern California, arriving with no firsthand knowledge of this country beyond her father’s...

    - Google
  45. 45 . Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward

    Two-time National Book Award winner Jesmyn Ward (Salvage the Bones, Sing, Unburied, Sing) contends with the deaths of five young men dear to her, and the risk of being a black man in the rural Sout...

    - Google
  46. 46 . The Afterlife: A Memoir by Donald Antrim

    From "a fiercely intelligent writer" (The New York Times), a wry, poignant story of the difficult love between a mother and a son In the winter of 2000, shortly after his mother's death from cancer...

    - Google
  47. 47 . Albert Murray: Collected Essays & Memoirs by Albert Murray

    In his 1970 classic The Omni-Americans, Albert Murray (1916–2013) took aim at protest writers and social scientists who accentuated the “pathology” of race in American life. Against narratives of m...

    - Google
  48. 48 . The Light of the World by Elizabeth Alexander

    A deeply resonant memoir for anyone who has loved and lost, from acclaimed poet and Pulitzer Prize finalist Elizabeth Alexander. In THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD, Elizabeth Alexander finds herself at an e...

    - Google
  49. 49 . The Gentrification of the Mind by Sarah Schulman

    In this memoir of the AIDS years (1981-1996) in New York, CUNY Professor of English Sarah Schulman recalls how much of the queer culture, cheap rents, and virbrant downtown arts movement vanished a...

    - Google
  50. 50 . The Best We Could Do: An Illustrated Memoir by Thi Bui

    An intimate and poignant graphic novel portraying one family’s journey from war-torn Vietnam, from debut author Thi Bui. This beautifully illustrated and emotional story is an evocative memoir abou...

    - Google