The Greatest Nonfiction Books Since 2010


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 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
  2. 2 . 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
  3. 3 . 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
  4. 4 . 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
  5. 5 . 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
  6. 6 . 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
  7. 7 . 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...

  8. 8 . 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
  9. 9 . 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
  10. 10 . 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
  11. 11 . 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
  12. 12 . 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
  13. 13 . 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
  14. 14 . 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
  15. 15 . The Frugal Superpower: America's Global Leadership in a Cash-Strapped Era by Michael Mandelbaum

    Which of America's essential international commitments can we afford to keep in this time of diminished financial resources?

    - Google
  16. 16 . Why the West Rules - For Now: The Patterns of History, and What They Reveal About the Future by Ian Morris

    Why does the West rule? In this magnum opus, eminent Stanford polymath Ian Morris answers this provocative question, drawing on 50,000 years of history, archeology, and the methods of social scienc...

    - Google
  17. 17 . The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson

    One of The New York Times Book Review’s 10 Best Books of the Year In this epic, beautifully written masterwork, Pulitzer Prize–winning author Isabel Wilkerson chronicles one of the great untold sto...

    - Google
  18. 18 . Far From the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity by Andrew Solomon

    From the National Book Award–winning author of The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression comes a monumental new work, a decade in the writing, about family. In Far from the Tree, Andrew Solomon tel...

    - Google
  19. 19 . The Internal Enemy: Slavery and War in Virginia, 1772-1832 by Alan Taylor

    National Book Award Finalist: Impressively researched and beautifully crafted . . . a brilliant account of slavery in Virginia during and after the Revolution. Mark M. Smith, Wall Street Journal"

    - Google
  20. 20 . Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity by Katherine Boo

    Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity is a non-fiction book written by the Pulitzer Prize-winner Katherine Boo in 2012. It won the National Book Award and the L...

  21. 21 . Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi

    Americans like to insist that we are living in a postracial, color-blind society. In fact, racist thought is alive and well; it has simply become more sophisticated and more insidious. And as award...

    - Google
  22. 22 . 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...

  23. 23 . When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

    Doctor Paul Kalanithi devoted his final days to the living. Written in the months he had been given after a terminal cancer diagnosis, Kalanithi composed this courageous memoir about becoming a doc...

  24. 24 . Liberty's Exiles: American Loyalists in the Revolutionary World by Maya Jasanoff

    A global history of the post-Revolutionary War exodus of 60,000 Americans loyal to the British Empire to such regions as Canada, India and Sierra Leone traces the experiences of specific individual...

    - Google
  25. 25 . Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS by Joby Warrick

    Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS is a 2015 non-fiction book by the American journalist Joby Warrick. The book traces the rise and spread of militant Islam behind the Islamic State of Iraq and the Lev...

  26. 26 . Amity and Prosperity: One Family and the Fracturing of America by Eliza Griswold

    Winner of the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction In Amity and Prosperity, the prizewinning poet and journalist Eliza Griswold tells the story of the energy boom’s impact on a small town at ...

    - Google
  27. 27 . Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy by Heather Ann Thompson

    Ever since the USS Walkercame from another world war to defy the terrifying Grik and diabolical Dominion, Matt Reddy and his crew have given their all to protect the oppressed Lemurians. But with t...

    - Google
  28. 28 . Washington: A Life by Ron Chernow

    Washington: A Life is a 2010 biography of George Washington, the first President of the United States, written by American historian and biographer Ron Chernow. The book is a "one-volume, cradle-to...

  29. 29 . Encounters at the Heart of the World by Elizabeth A. Fenn

    Encounters at the Heart of the World: A History of the Mandan People is a Pulitzer Prize-winning non-fiction history book about the Mandan people, a Native American tribe in North Dakota. It was wr...

  30. 30 . The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America by George Packer

    Paints a picture of the last thirty years of life in America by following several citizens, including the son of tobacco farmers in the rural south, a Washington insider who denies his idealism for...

    - Google
  31. 31 . Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom by David W. Blight

    Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom is a 2018 biography of African American abolitionist Frederick Douglass, written by historian David W. Blight. It was published in 2018 by Simon & Schuster a...

  32. 32 . Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China by Evan Osnos

    A Beijing correspondent for The New Yorker documents the political, economic and cultural changes occurring in today's China, examining a transition from Communist to personal power while addressin...

    - Google
  33. 33 . The Gulf: The Making of An American Sea by Jack E. Davis

    Winner of the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for History Winner of the 2017 Kirkus Prize for Nonfiction A National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction Finalist A New York Times Notable Book of 2017 One o...

    - Google
  34. 34 . Just Kids by Patti Smith

    Just Kids is a memoir by Patti Smith, published on January 19, 2010. In the book, Smith documents her relationship with artist Robert Mapplethorpe.

  35. 35 . Custer's Trials by T.J. Stiles

    Custer's Trials: A Life on the Frontier of a New America is a book by T. J. Stiles. It won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for History.

  36. 36 . The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo by Tom Reiss

    The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo is a 2012 biography of General Thomas-Alexandre Dumas written by Tom Reiss. The book presents the life and career of...

  37. 37 . The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia by Masha Gessen

    WINNER OF THE 2017 NATIONAL BOOK AWARD IN NONFICTION NAMED A BEST BOOK OF 2017 BY THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW, LOS ANGELES TIMES, WASHINGTON POST, BOSTON GLOBE, SEATTLE TIMES, CHRISTIAN SCIENCE ...

    - Google
  38. 38 . Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital by Sheri Fink

    One of the New York Times’s Best Ten Books of the Year Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction Winner of the 2014 J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize, the Los Angeles Times Book Pri...

    - Google
  39. 39 . Margaret Fuller: A New American Life by Megan Marshall

    Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Biography From an early age, Margaret Fuller provoked and dazzled New England’s intellectual elite. Her famous Conversations changed women’s sense of how they could...

    - Google
  40. 40 . The Return by Hisham Matar

    The Return is a memoir by Hisham Matar that was first published in June 2016. The memoir centers on Matar's return to his native Libya in 2012 to search for the truth behind the 1990 disappearance ...

  41. 41 . The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery by Eric Foner

    In a landmark work of deep scholarship and insight, Foner gives us a life of Lincoln as it intertwined with slavery, the defining issue of the time and the tragic hallmark of American history. The ...

    - Google
  42. 42 . The Pope and Mussolini by David I. Kertzer

    The Pope and Mussolini: The Secret History of Pius XI and the Rise of Fascism in Europe is a 2014 Pulitzer Prize winner biography of Pope Pius XI about his relations with Benito Mussolini and rise ...

  43. 43 . Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable

    Winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for History Hailed as "a masterpiece" (San Francisco Chronicle), the late Manning Marable's acclaimed biography of Malcolm X finally does justice to one of the mos...

    - Google
  44. 44 . Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America by James Forman

    In recent years, America’s criminal justice system has become the subject of an increasingly urgent debate. Critics have assailed the rise of mass incarceration, emphasizing its disproportionate im...

    - Google
  45. 45 . Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America by Gilbert King

    Arguably the most important American lawyer of the twentieth century, Thurgood Marshall was on the verge of bringing the landmark suit Brown v. Board of Education before the U.S. Supreme Court when...

    - Google
  46. 46 . Embers of War: The Fall of an Empire and the Making of America's Vietnam by Fredrik Logevall

    A history of the four decades leading up to the Vietnam War offers insights into how the U.S. became involved, identifying commonalities between the campaigns of French and American forces while di...

    - Google
  47. 47 . George F. Kennan: An American Life by John Lewis Gaddis

    George F. Kennan: An American Life is a nonfiction book about U.S. diplomat George F. Kennan by John Lewis Gaddis that won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography.Pulitzer.org descri...

  48. 48 . Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life by William Finnegan

    Surfing only looks like a sport. To initiates, it is something else entirely: a beautiful addiction, a demanding course of study, a morally dangerous pastime, a way of life. Raised in California an...

    - Google
  49. 49 . Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation by Dan Fagin

    Recounts the decades-long saga of the New Jersey seaside town plagued by childhood cancers caused by air and water pollution due to the indiscriminate dumping of toxic chemicals.

    - Google
  50. 50 . Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder by Caroline Fraser

    The first comprehensive historical biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder, the beloved author of the Little House on the Prairie books Millions of readers of Little House on the Prairie believe they kno...

    - Google