The Greatest "Nonfiction" Books Since 2010

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This list represents a comprehensive and trusted collection of the greatest books in literature. Developed through a specialized algorithm, it brings together 210 'best of' book lists to form a definitive guide to the world's most acclaimed literary works. For those interested in how these books are chosen, additional details about the selection process can be found on the rankings page.

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  1. 1. Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

    This is a poignant memoir written in verse, detailing the author's childhood as an African-American growing up in the 1960s and 1970s, split between South Carolina and New York. The narrative explores her experiences with segregation, her growing awareness of the civil rights movement, her deep love for storytelling and her gradual understanding of her own identity as a writer. The book provides a powerful portrayal of a girl finding her voice in a time of social and political unrest.

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

    The book explores the concept of the sixth extinction, suggesting that we are currently in the midst of it due to human activity. By examining previous mass extinctions and the current rapid loss of species, the author argues that humans are causing a mass extinction event through climate change, habitat destruction, and spreading of non-native species. The book offers a sobering look at the impact of human behavior on the natural world, emphasizing the urgency of addressing these environmental issues.

  3. 3. Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond

    This book provides an in-depth look at the housing crisis in America, focusing on eight families in Milwaukee who are struggling to keep a roof over their heads. The author explores the role of eviction in perpetuating poverty, illuminating the business of landlords and the harsh reality of tenants in impoverished neighborhoods. The book offers a close examination of the intersection between profit and poverty, revealing how both are intricately linked in the American housing market.

  4. 4. Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe

    This book is a gripping exploration of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, focusing on the disappearance of Jean McConville, a mother of ten who was abducted by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) in 1972. The narrative weaves together the stories of several key figures in the IRA, including Dolours Price, an IRA member who became disillusioned with the organization, and Brendan Hughes, a former IRA commander. The book delves deep into the political and personal complexities of the conflict, revealing the long-lasting trauma and moral ambiguities that continue to haunt those involved.

  5. 5. The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee

    This book is a comprehensive history of cancer, its treatments, and the ongoing search for a cure. It presents an in-depth exploration of the disease from its first documented appearances thousands of years ago through the epic battles in the twentieth century to cure, control, and conquer it, to a radical new understanding of its essence. The book also discusses the politics of cancer research, the impact of patient activism, and the complex and often fraught relationships between researchers, oncologists, and patients.

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

    This book is an in-depth exploration of the Great Migration, the movement of African Americans from the rural South to the urban North and West that took place in the 20th century. The narrative is built around the personal stories of three individuals who made this journey, providing a detailed and intimate look at the experiences, struggles, and hopes of those who participated in this significant historical event. The book also examines the broader social, economic, and political implications of the Great Migration, shedding light on its impact on American society and culture.

  7. 7. Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine

    "Citizen: An American Lyric" is a compelling and thought-provoking exploration of racial prejudice in contemporary America. The book, written in a blend of poetry, prose, and visual images, delves into the everyday experiences and microaggressions that people of color face. It also addresses larger events from the news that have impacted the Black community. The book is a powerful commentary on race, identity, and belonging, challenging readers to confront their own biases and perceptions.

  8. 8. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

    The book tells the story of Henrietta Lacks, a poor African American tobacco farmer whose cells, taken without her knowledge in 1951, became one of the most important tools in medicine, vital for developing the polio vaccine, cloning, gene mapping, and more. Henrietta's cells have been bought and sold by the billions, yet she remains virtually unknown, and her family can't afford health insurance. The book explores the collision between ethics, race, and medicine; of scientific discovery and faith healing; and of a daughter consumed with questions about the mother she never knew.

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

    This book explores the experiences of families accommodating children with physical, mental and social disabilities and differences. The author examines various conditions such as deafness, dwarfism, Down syndrome, autism, schizophrenia, disability, prodigiousness, transgender, and criminality. The book delves into the challenges, struggles, but also the triumphs, of these families and how they find profound meaning in their differences. It's a comprehensive study of identity, love, and acceptance.

  10. 10. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari

    This book provides a comprehensive exploration of the history of the human species, tracing back from the earliest forms of Homo Sapiens to the modern day. It delves into evolutionary biology, the development of cultures and societies, and the rise of major ideologies and technologies. The book also discusses the future of the species, posing thought-provoking questions about our roles and responsibilities in a rapidly changing world.

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

    The book is a profound work that explores the concept of race in America through the lens of the author's personal experiences. It is written as a letter to the author's teenage son, offering him a stark portrayal of his place in a society that is marked by racial injustice. The narrative provides a deeply personal analysis of American history and its lasting impact on the African American community, with the author sharing his experiences of fear, violence, and struggle. It is an exploration of the physical and psychological impacts of being black in the United States, and a call for a deeper understanding of the nation's racial history.

  12. 12. The Poetry of Derek Walcott 1948-2013 by Derek Walcott

    This book is a comprehensive collection of the author's best and most famous works spanning over six decades. The author, a Nobel laureate, is known for his exploration of cultural identity, particularly in relation to his Caribbean heritage. His poems often reflect the beauty and harsh realities of life in the Caribbean, as well as the struggle of being caught between different cultures. The collection showcases his mastery of language and his ability to weave complex themes into his poetry.

  13. 13. Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

    The book delves into the two systems that drive the way we think—System 1, which is fast and intuitive, and System 2, which is slow and deliberate. The author, a Nobel laureate, explores how these systems shape our judgments and decision-making. He presents several groundbreaking experiments that have shaped our understanding of human thought, revealing where we can trust our intuitions and how we can tap into the benefits of slow thinking. The book also discusses how our cognitive biases often lead to errors in judgment and affect our decision-making processes.

  14. 14. The Invention Of Nature: Alexander Von Humboldt’s New World by Andrea Wulf

    "The Invention of Nature" is a biographical account of Alexander von Humboldt, a 19th-century explorer, scientist, and naturalist who revolutionized the way we understand the natural world. Andrea Wulf chronicles Humboldt's travels across South America, his encounters with indigenous peoples, and his groundbreaking scientific discoveries that challenged prevailing notions of the natural world. Humboldt's ideas about interconnectedness and the unity of nature were ahead of their time and continue to influence environmentalism and conservation today. Wulf's book is a masterful exploration of one of history's most fascinating and influential figures.

  15. 15. The Swerve: How the World Became Modern by Stephen Greenblatt

    The book explores the rediscovery of a long-lost poem by Lucretius, "On the Nature of Things," in the 15th century by an Italian humanist and book hunter. This poem's rediscovery, according to the book, led to a monumental shift in cultural and philosophical thought, paving the way for the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, and modern science. The book delves into the poem's content, which challenges religious dogma and promotes a world driven by natural laws and human innovation, and its profound influence on thinkers and artists for centuries.

  16. 16. The Yellow House by Sarah M. Broom

    "The Yellow House" is a memoir that tells the story of a hundred years of the author's family and their relationship to home in a neglected area of one of America's most mythologized cities, New Orleans. The narrative follows the author's journey from growing up in the titular house in New Orleans East, a largely ignored part of the city, to her pursuit of education and a career as a journalist, and her eventual return to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. The book explores themes of race, poverty, and inequity in America, while also being a deeply personal exploration of family, identity, and place.

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

    The book provides an in-depth investigation into the crisis at a New Orleans hospital in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. It delves into the harrowing five days where staff, patients, and their families were trapped in the hospital without power or a functioning evacuation plan. The narrative explores the ethical dilemmas faced by the medical staff, including alleged euthanasia of critically ill patients, and the subsequent legal battles, raising profound questions about end-of-life care and disaster management.

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

    This book is a gripping narrative that provides an in-depth look into the lives of residents in a Mumbai slum, focusing on their struggles and aspirations. The author paints a vivid picture of the harsh realities of poverty, corruption, and inequality, while also highlighting the resilience and hope of the inhabitants. The narrative is a powerful exploration of the complexities of modern India, revealing the stark contrast between the country's booming economy and the grim living conditions of its underprivileged citizens.

  19. 19. Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America by James Forman

    This book delves into the complex and controversial issue of mass incarceration in the United States, particularly within the African American community. It explores the historical, social, and political factors that contributed to the high rates of black imprisonment. The author examines the role of African American leaders in advocating for tough-on-crime policies and their unintended consequences. The book is a thought-provoking analysis of the intersection of race, crime, and justice in America.

  20. 20. Entangled Life by Merlin Sheldrake

    "Entangled Life" explores the fascinating world of fungi and their intricate relationships with other organisms. From the underground networks that connect trees and plants to the role of fungi in shaping ecosystems, the book delves into the hidden realms of mycelium and its impact on our planet. With captivating storytelling and scientific insights, the author reveals the astonishing diversity and resilience of fungi, challenging our understanding of life itself.

  21. 21. Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias In A World Designed For Men by Caroline Criado Perez​​

    This book sheds light on the pervasive gender data gap that exists in our society, revealing how the world we live in is largely designed for men. Through extensive research and compelling examples, the author exposes the ways in which women are systematically excluded and overlooked in various aspects of life, from healthcare and transportation to the workplace and public policy. By highlighting the consequences of this data bias, the book calls for a more inclusive and equitable approach to designing and collecting data, ultimately advocating for a world that recognizes and addresses the needs and experiences of all genders.

  22. 22. Just Kids by Patti Smith

    "Just Kids" is a poignant memoir that explores the journey of two friends in New York City during the late 1960s and 70s. The book delves into their dreams, struggles, and successes as they navigate their way through the city's vibrant art and music scene. It's a tale of love, friendship, and the pursuit of artistic inspiration, providing a raw and intimate look into their lives as they strive to make a name for themselves in the world of art and music.

  23. 23. Dreamland: The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic by Sam Quinones

    This book provides an in-depth exploration of the opioid crisis in America, tracing its origins and examining its devastating impact. It delves into the lives of addicts, doctors, drug traffickers, and families affected by the epidemic, providing a comprehensive look at the complex factors that contributed to the crisis. The narrative also discusses the role of pharmaceutical companies and uncovers how the aggressive marketing of painkillers led to widespread addiction. Additionally, it sheds light on the black tar heroin trade, revealing how it has infiltrated small towns and suburban communities.

  24. 24. The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson

    "The Argonauts" is a genre-bending memoir that chronicles the author's romantic relationship with her fluidly gendered partner, their journey to become parents, and their experiences with queer family-making. The narrative intertwines personal anecdotes with critical theories on gender, sexuality, and identity, challenging traditional notions of family, motherhood, and love. It offers a powerful exploration of desire, limitations, and the possibilities of language, pushing the boundaries of what memoirs can do and be.

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

    This book is a powerful exploration of the critical issue of child immigration, focusing on the experiences of Central American children who arrive in the United States without their parents. The narrative is structured around 40 questions that the author, as a court interpreter, must ask the children to help determine their fate. The book provides a deeply personal and moving account of the human stories behind the ongoing debate over immigration and asylum laws.

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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.

Download