The Greatest Russian, British "Autobiography, Nonfiction" Books Since 1980

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This list represents a comprehensive and trusted collection of the greatest books. Developed through a specialized algorithm, it brings together 313 'best of' book lists to form a definitive guide to the world's most acclaimed books. For those interested in how these books are chosen, additional details can be found on the rankings page.

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Autobiography is a literary genre that focuses on the life story of the author. It is a first-person account of the author's experiences, thoughts, and emotions, often including significant events and milestones that have shaped their life. Autobiographies can be written by anyone, from famous public figures to ordinary people, and can cover a wide range of topics, including personal growth, career achievements, struggles, and relationships. This genre provides readers with a unique insight into the author's life and perspective, making it a popular and engaging category of books.


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  1. 1. Experience by Martin Amis

    "Experience" is a memoir which delves into the author's life, exploring his relationships with his family, friends, and his own self. The narrative is a candid reflection on his father's influence, his friendships with other writers, his marriages, and his children. The author also discusses his experiences with fame, age, and loss, providing an intimate look into his personal and professional journey. The memoir is a blend of the author's unique humor, sharp observations, and poignant moments, offering a compelling and deeply personal narrative.

    The 2228th Greatest Book of All Time
  2. 2. A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle

    "A Year in Provence" is a humorous and engaging memoir that chronicles a year in the life of a British couple who move to Provence, France. The book captures the charm and quirks of rural French life, as the couple adapt to their new home, navigate through the French bureaucracy, deal with local tradesmen, and savor the local cuisine and wines. The changing seasons and local customs are vividly described, providing a delightful and insightful view of life in Provence.

    The 2909th Greatest Book of All Time
  3. 3. H Is For Hawk by Helen MacDonald

    "H Is For Hawk" is a memoir by Helen MacDonald about her experiences training a goshawk named Mabel after the sudden death of her father. MacDonald reflects on her grief and the challenges of training a wild bird while also delving into the history of falconry and the life of T.H. White, the author of "The Once and Future King" who also trained a goshawk. The book explores themes of loss, nature, and the complexities of human-animal relationships.

    The 3489th Greatest Book of All Time
  4. 4. Bad Blood by Lorna Sage

    "Bad Blood" is a memoir about a woman's escape from a repressive childhood in post-WWII Britain. The author recounts her experiences growing up in a dysfunctional family with a philandering vicar for a grandfather and a depressed and distant mother. Despite the bleak surroundings, she manages to find solace in literature and education, ultimately earning a scholarship to university. The book is a testament to the transformative power of education and the author's fierce determination to escape her past.

    The 4017th Greatest Book of All Time
  5. 5. Diaries by Alan Clark

    "Diaries" is a candid and often controversial collection of journal entries by a prominent British politician and historian. The book offers a unique insider's perspective on the UK's political landscape from the 1970s to the late 1990s. It is filled with the author's personal observations, experiences, and interactions with key political figures, providing readers with a rare glimpse into the inner workings of British politics. The author's sharp wit, colorful language, and unabashed honesty make this book a compelling read.

    The 4728th Greatest Book of All Time
  6. 6. Out Of Sheer Rage by Geoff Dyer

    In this unconventional work, the author grapples with his own writer's block and the overwhelming challenge of articulating his thoughts on a literary figure he admires. Oscillating between a travelogue, memoir, and a study in procrastination, the narrative takes the reader on a journey through various locations and states of mind. The author candidly shares his struggles with the creative process, his distractions, and his personal life, all the while reflecting on the nature of writing and the difficulties of completing a project. The book is as much an exploration of the author's internal landscape as it is an homage to the elusiveness of the artistic endeavor.

    The 5019th Greatest Book of All Time
  7. 7. Letters From Egypt by Florence Nightingale

    "Letters from Egypt" is a compilation of correspondences written during a formative journey, offering a glimpse into the experiences and observations of a young woman who would later become renowned for her contributions to nursing and public health. The letters, penned with keen insight and a reflective tone, document her travels through Egypt in the mid-19th century, capturing the cultural, historical, and social nuances of the time. Through her vivid descriptions and personal reflections, the author provides a rich, descriptive account of Egyptian life, landscapes, and her own intellectual and spiritual growth, all of which predate her legendary work during the Crimean War and her subsequent pioneering efforts in health care reform.

    The 5604th Greatest Book of All Time
  8. 8. The Places In Between by Rory Stewart

    "The Places In Between" is a memoir by Rory Stewart about his journey on foot across Afghanistan in 2002, shortly after the fall of the Taliban. He travels from Herat to Kabul, encountering a variety of people and landscapes along the way. The book provides a unique insight into the culture and history of Afghanistan, as well as the challenges faced by the country in the aftermath of war. Stewart's writing is both lyrical and informative, making for a compelling read.

    The 5633rd Greatest Book of All Time
  9. 9. Love's Work by Gillian Rose

    "Love's Work" is a deeply personal memoir that explores the life of a renowned philosopher as she grapples with her terminal cancer diagnosis. The book is a profound exploration of love, suffering, and the human condition, as the author reflects on her personal relationships, her career, and her Jewish faith. It is a philosophical and emotional journey that challenges readers to confront their own mortality and the complexities of human life.

    The 5652nd Greatest Book of All Time
  10. 10. The Hare with Amber Eyes: A Family's Century of Art and Loss by Edmund de Waal

    This book is a family memoir that traces the journey of a collection of miniature Japanese sculptures, called netsuke, through generations of a wealthy Jewish family. The narrative delves into the family's rise to prominence in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, their survival during the Nazi regime, their post-war struggles, and their eventual decline. The author uses the netsuke as a lens to explore the themes of art, loss, and family legacy.

    The 5983rd Greatest Book of All Time
  11. 11. Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson

    This book is a deeply personal memoir about a woman's quest for identity and happiness amidst a turbulent childhood. Raised by an abusive and religiously fanatic adoptive mother in a small, industrial town in Northern England, the author struggles with her sexuality, eventually being thrown out of her home for having a relationship with another woman. She later embarks on a journey to find her biological mother, all while wrestling with her own mental health issues and trying to make sense of her place in the world. The narrative is a raw exploration of love, loss, and the power of literature as a means of escape and self-discovery.

    The 6074th Greatest Book of All Time
  12. 12. Little Wilson and Big God by Anthony Burgess

    "Little Wilson and Big God" is the first volume of a two-part autobiography that covers the early life of a renowned British writer and composer. The book explores his upbringing in Manchester, his education, his service in the British Army during World War II, and his early career as an education officer in Malaya and Borneo. The narrative delves into his relationships, struggles with alcoholism, and his passion for music and literature, offering a deeply personal and revealing look into the formative years of a multifaceted artist.

    The 6695th Greatest Book of All Time
  13. 13. Skating To Antarctica by Jenny Diski

    This book is a deeply introspective memoir that intertwines the author's journey to the icy desolation of Antarctica with her exploration of her own troubled past. As she travels toward the frozen continent, the author reflects on her childhood experiences, her estrangement from her parents, and her struggles with mental health. The stark, unforgiving landscape of Antarctica serves as a backdrop for her to confront her memories, offering a poignant and lyrical meditation on isolation, family, and the search for personal peace amidst the vastness of the ice.

    The 6738th Greatest Book of All Time
  14. 14. Round Ireland With A Fridge by Tony Hawks

    This humorous travelogue recounts the author's quirky adventure around Ireland, a journey he undertook on a bet to hitchhike the circumference of the country with a refrigerator in tow. Through the whimsical narrative, readers are taken on an unexpected cultural tour as the author encounters a variety of characters, experiences the warmth of Irish hospitality, and navigates the logistical challenges of traveling with an unconventional companion. The story is as much about the kindness of strangers and the absurdity of the situation as it is about the beautiful landscapes of Ireland, ultimately offering a light-hearted and endearing look at human connection and the joy of embracing the ridiculous.

    The 6823rd Greatest Book of All Time
  15. 15. Nothing to be Frightened Of by Julian Barnes

    This book is a memoir that explores the author's fear of death and his quest for meaning in life. It blends elements of autobiography, philosophy, and literary criticism, drawing on the author's personal experiences, his relationships with his family, and his thoughts on writers and philosophers who have influenced him. The narrative is marked by the author's wit, humor, and keen observations, offering a thoughtful and engaging exploration of mortality and the human condition.

    The 6860th Greatest Book of All Time
  16. 16. Untold Stories by Alan Bennett

    "Untold Stories" is a collection of essays, diary entries, and recollections by a renowned playwright. It provides an insightful look into his life, experiences, and thoughts. The book is divided into two parts, with the first part focusing on his family history and the second part containing his personal reflections and observations about various topics, including art, architecture, and literature. It offers a unique perspective on the author's upbringing in Leeds and his later life in London, as well as his views on society and culture.

    The 6888th Greatest Book of All Time
  17. 17. Landscape For A Good Woman by Carolyn Kay Steedman

    This book is a poignant exploration of the author's working-class upbringing in post-World War II Britain, intertwining personal memoir with social history. It examines the complex relationship between mothers and daughters, the impact of poverty on women's lives, and the societal expectations placed on women in the mid-twentieth century. Through a blend of historical analysis and autobiographical narrative, the author reflects on her own experiences to challenge traditional narratives about the working class, revealing the emotional and psychological landscape that shapes a woman's identity and aspirations.

    The 7399th Greatest Book of All Time
  18. 18. Me by Elton John

    In this candid autobiography, a legendary musician takes readers on a roller-coaster journey through his tumultuous and colorful life, from his early days as a shy piano prodigy to his rise to global stardom. He shares intimate details about his struggles with addiction, relationships, and his sexuality, as well as the highs and lows of his career. With a mix of humor and honesty, he reflects on his personal evolution, the friendships that shaped him, and the music that made him an icon. The memoir is a testament to resilience, the transformative power of music, and the artist's enduring legacy in the world of rock and pop.

    The 7518th Greatest Book of All Time
  19. 19. My Half Century by Anna Akhmatova

    "My Half Century" is a reflective anthology that encapsulates the personal and professional life of a prominent Russian poetess through her own writings and letters, as well as critical essays about her work. The collection spans the tumultuous periods of Russian history from the early 20th century through the Stalinist era, providing a window into the poet's profound resilience and adaptation in the face of personal and political upheaval. Her poetry, marked by its emotional depth and lyrical beauty, explores themes of love, grief, and the endurance of the human spirit, while also subtly critiquing the oppressive political climate of her time. This compilation not only celebrates her literary genius but also her role as a witness to a critical period in Russian history.

    The 7535th Greatest Book of All Time
  20. 20. Becoming Unbecoming by Una

    This graphic novel is a poignant exploration of gender violence, identity, and the journey of healing. It intertwines the author's personal narrative of growing up in the 1970s in Northern England with the historical backdrop of the Yorkshire Ripper, a notorious serial killer targeting women. As the author grapples with her own experiences of sexual abuse and societal pressures, the book delves into themes of misogyny, shame, and the societal tendency to blame victims rather than perpetrators. Through powerful illustrations and candid prose, it offers a deeply personal account of the struggle to overcome trauma and the cultural silence surrounding sexual violence.

    The 7647th Greatest Book of All Time
  21. 21. Grey Is The Colour Of Hope by Irina Ratushinskaya

    This book is a powerful memoir of resilience and endurance, chronicling the author's experiences as a political prisoner in a Soviet labor camp during the 1980s. The narrative captures the harsh realities of life behind bars, from the brutality of the guards to the solidarity among the female prisoners. Despite the oppressive environment, the author finds strength in writing poetry, a testament to the human spirit's capacity for hope and creativity in the face of despair. Her lyrical prose weaves together personal reflections, vivid descriptions, and poignant insights, offering a moving account of her struggle for freedom and the triumph of the will over totalitarianism.

    The 7918th Greatest Book of All Time
  22. 22. The Diary Of A Gulag Prison Guard 1935 6 by Ivan Chistyakov

    "The Diary Of A Gulag Prison Guard 1935-6" is a chilling and harrowing memoir that provides a firsthand account of the atrocities and cruelty witnessed by Ivan Chistyakov during his time as a guard in a Soviet Gulag prison. Through his detailed entries, Chistyakov reveals the dehumanizing conditions, brutal punishments, and constant fear that both prisoners and guards endured within the oppressive Soviet regime. This haunting narrative serves as a stark reminder of the dark realities of the Gulag system and the lasting impact it had on the lives of countless individuals.

    The 7948th Greatest Book of All Time
  23. 23. Lighter Than My Shadow by Katie Green

    This graphic memoir is a powerful and deeply personal exploration of a young woman's struggle with eating disorders and trauma. Through evocative hand-drawn illustrations, it chronicles her journey from early signs of anorexia in childhood, through years of battle with her inner demons, to eventual recovery. The narrative delves into the complexities of mental health, the impact of abuse, and the resilience of the human spirit. The author's raw honesty and the visual storytelling create an engaging and poignant tale that brings to light the silent suffering of those dealing with similar issues, offering hope and understanding to others on their path to healing.

    The 8219th Greatest Book of All Time
  24. 24. A Leg To Stand On by Oliver Sacks

    In this introspective memoir, a renowned neurologist recounts his personal journey of recovery after suffering a severe leg injury in a mountaineering accident. The narrative delves into the author's profound experience of losing the sense of connection with his leg, as it becomes a foreign, unresponsive object. Through his convalescence, he confronts the challenges of physical and psychological healing, exploring the intricate relationship between the body and the mind. His reflections on the nature of illness, the process of rehabilitation, and the empathy required by medical professionals offer a deep understanding of the patient's perspective and the human capacity for resilience.

    The 8302nd Greatest Book of All Time
  25. 25. The Fringes Of Power by John Colville

    "The Fringes of Power" offers a detailed and intimate glimpse into the British government during World War II through the diaries of John Colville, a civil servant and private secretary to Winston Churchill. Colville's unique position allowed him to observe the daily workings of the wartime leadership, capturing the personal and political dynamics that shaped critical decisions. His entries provide a rich portrayal of Churchill's leadership style, personal habits, and interactions with key figures, both in moments of crisis and in quieter times, offering readers a nuanced perspective on the war and the personalities that defined Britain's wartime government.

    The 8973rd Greatest Book of All Time

Reading Statistics

Click the button below to see how many of these books you've read!


If you're interested in downloading this list as a CSV file for use in a spreadsheet application, you can easily do so by clicking the button below. Please note that to ensure a manageable file size and faster download, the CSV will include details for only the first 500 books.