The Greatest British "Nonfiction" Books Since 2000

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This list represents a comprehensive and trusted collection of the greatest books. Developed through a specialized algorithm, it brings together 305 '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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  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 1703rd Greatest Book of All Time
  2. 2. Postwar by Tony Judt

    "Postwar" is a comprehensive analysis of the history of Europe from the end of World War II to the early 21st century. The book examines the major political, cultural, social, and economic changes that have shaped the continent, including the Cold War, the rise and fall of the Soviet Union, the rebuilding of Western Europe, and the challenges of integrating Eastern Europe into the European Union. It also delves into the impact of these events on the daily lives of Europeans, exploring themes of memory, identity, and the struggle to come to terms with the past.

    The 2195th Greatest Book of All Time
  3. 3. The Age Of Wonder by Richard Holmes

    "The Age of Wonder" explores the scientific and cultural advancements of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, known as the Romantic Age. Richard Holmes delves into the lives and achievements of prominent figures such as Joseph Banks, Humphry Davy, and William Herschel, who revolutionized fields like astronomy, chemistry, and botany. Through vivid storytelling, Holmes captures the spirit of curiosity, imagination, and wonder that defined this era, highlighting the profound impact it had on shaping our modern understanding of science and the world.

    The 3060th 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 3286th Greatest Book of All Time
  5. 5. Mendeleyev's Dream by Paul Strathern

    This book traces the history of chemistry from the ancient philosophers' wild speculations about the composition of the universe to the creation of the periodic table by Dmitri Mendeleyev. Through a blend of storytelling and science, it explores the development of atomic theory and chemical elements, leading up to Mendeleyev's groundbreaking dream in which he envisioned the periodic table in its modern form. The narrative delves into the lives and discoveries of key figures in the field of chemistry, illustrating how their work contributed to our understanding of the elements that make up the world around us.

    The 3433rd Greatest Book of All Time
  6. 6. E=Mc2 by David Bodanis

    The book provides a layperson-friendly explanation of the world's most famous equation, delving into the history, science, and people behind its development. It explores the biographies of the scientists who contributed to our understanding of energy and mass, including the equation's originator, and the practical and philosophical implications of the equation's assertion that energy and mass are interchangeable. The narrative also discusses the equation's role in the development of atomic energy and its impact on modern physics, offering an accessible journey through the annals of scientific thought and the revolutionizing discoveries that shape our understanding of the universe.

    The 3683rd Greatest Book of All Time
  7. 7. 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 4803rd Greatest Book of All Time
  8. 8. 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 5167th Greatest Book of All Time
  9. 9. 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 5527th Greatest Book of All Time
  10. 10. It's Not How Good You Are, Its How Good You Want To Be by Paul Arden

    This motivational guide offers a unique insight into the world of advertising and the mind of a creative genius. It challenges conventional wisdom with a plethora of pithy, often paradoxical advice, aiming to inspire readers to break the rules, think differently, and embrace failure as a necessary step towards success. The book is filled with bold typography, distinctive illustrations, and anecdotes from the author's own illustrious career, making it a compact but impactful read for anyone looking to excel in their professional life or personal endeavors by realizing that ambition and passion can be more critical than talent.

    The 5657th Greatest Book of All Time
  11. 11. Trilobite! by Richard Fortey

    The book offers an enthralling journey into the ancient world of trilobites, the early arthropods that dominated the seas long before the age of dinosaurs. Through a blend of paleontology, geology, and evolutionary biology, the text delves into the fascinating life and times of these extinct creatures, which thrived for over 300 million years. The author's passion for the subject shines through as he explores the significance of trilobites in understanding Earth's history and the development of life, all the while painting a vivid picture of the prehistoric oceans that were once teeming with these complex and varied life forms.

    The 5718th Greatest Book of All Time
  12. 12. 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 5743rd Greatest Book of All Time
  13. 13. Orwell And Politics by George Orwell

    The book is a comprehensive anthology that brings together a selection of essays, letters, and excerpts from novels, showcasing the author's profound political thought and his unwavering concern for social justice, freedom, and the abuses of political power. It provides insight into the author's evolving political ideology, from his early days as a colonial policeman in Burma to his experiences in the Spanish Civil War, which shaped his views on totalitarianism and socialism. The collection serves as both a reflection of the tumultuous political landscape of the 20th century and a testament to the author's enduring influence as a political writer and thinker.

    The 5852nd Greatest Book of All Time
  14. 14. Don Quixote's Delusions by Miranda France

    "Quixote's Delusions" is a travel memoir that explores the contemporary Spanish landscape through the lens of the classic novel "Don Quixote." The author embarks on a journey through Spain, retracing the steps of the novel's protagonist while examining the enduring influence of the tale on the Spanish culture and psyche. Along the way, she encounters a diverse cast of characters and experiences that reflect the quixotic blend of reality and fiction, revealing the ways in which the spirit of Don Quixote continues to resonate in modern Spain. Her reflections offer insights into the country's history, traditions, and the everyday lives of its people, all while pondering the universal themes of idealism, madness, and the pursuit of dreams.

    The 5852nd Greatest Book of All Time
  15. 15. Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss

    This book is a humorous, yet educational, exploration of punctuation in the English language. The author uses wit and sarcasm to highlight the importance of correct punctuation, demonstrating how it can drastically change the meaning of a sentence. It provides examples of punctuation errors and their hilarious consequences, while also offering practical advice on how to avoid such mistakes. The book is a spirited call to arms for grammar enthusiasts, emphasizing the necessity of preserving the clarity and precision in writing that proper punctuation provides.

    The 5875th Greatest Book of All Time
  16. 16. The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins

    This book is a well-known critique of religion, arguing that belief in a supernatural creator significantly lacks empirical evidence. The author asserts that faith encourages wars and fosters fanaticism. He also challenges the idea that morality can only come from religion, suggesting instead that humans possess innate empathy and cooperation. The book also explores the roots of religion, explaining its evolution as a byproduct of our tendency to assign agency to inanimate objects and forces. Ultimately, the author encourages atheism and a sense of awe derived from science and the natural world.

    The 5930th Greatest Book of All Time
  17. 17. Midnight In Chernobyl by Adam Higginbotham

    "Midnight In Chernobyl" is a non-fiction book that tells the story of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster. The book provides a detailed account of the events leading up to the explosion, the immediate aftermath, and the long-term effects of the disaster. It also explores the political and social context of Soviet Ukraine at the time, and the impact that the disaster had on the country and the world. The book draws on interviews with survivors, officials, and experts, as well as archival documents and scientific research, to provide a comprehensive and compelling narrative of one of the worst nuclear accidents in history.

    The 6101st Greatest Book of All Time
  18. 18. 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 6450th Greatest Book of All Time
  19. 19. London: The Biography by Peter Ackroyd

    This book is a comprehensive exploration of the city of London, from its ancient origins to the modern era. The author delves into the city's rich history, culture, and unique character, examining its evolution through various lenses such as crime, religion, commerce, education, and entertainment. The narrative is brought to life with fascinating anecdotes, vivid descriptions, and a wealth of historical detail, providing an immersive and engaging portrait of one of the world's most iconic cities.

    The 6492nd Greatest Book of All Time
  20. 20. Stuff Matters: The Strange Stories Of The Marvellous Materials That Shape Our Man Made World by Mark Miodownik

    In this captivating book, the author explores the fascinating world of materials that surround us, revealing their hidden stories and remarkable properties. From the glass in our windows to the concrete in our buildings, Miodownik takes readers on a journey through the history, science, and cultural significance of everyday materials. With a blend of personal anecdotes, scientific explanations, and historical context, he showcases the marvels of materials and their impact on our lives, ultimately highlighting the beauty and complexity of the man-made world we inhabit.

    The 6607th Greatest Book of All Time
  21. 21. Human Nature After Darwin by Janet Radcliffe Richards

    "Human Nature After Darwin" is a philosophical examination of the implications of Darwinian theory on our understanding of human nature and ethics. The book critically explores how evolutionary biology impacts our views on morality, politics, and philosophy. It challenges the assumption that biological explanations can justify social policies or moral values, arguing instead for a clear distinction between scientific facts and ethical norms. The author engages with various debates on human nature, using Darwinian insights to question traditional views and to propose a more nuanced perspective on human behavior and ethical reasoning.

    The 6701st Greatest Book of All Time
  22. 22. If You're An Egalitarian, How Come You're So Rich? by G. A. Cohen

    This book delves into the apparent contradiction between advocating for egalitarian principles and possessing personal wealth. The author, a prominent political philosopher, uses a blend of rigorous argument, personal reflection, and analytical philosophy to explore whether it is hypocritical for a wealthy person to support redistributive policies. The text challenges readers to consider the moral implications of their own economic status and beliefs, and examines broader issues of justice, equality, and personal responsibility within a capitalist society. Through engaging philosophical inquiry, the book prompts a deeper understanding of the practical and ethical tensions that accompany discussions of wealth and equality.

    The 6706th Greatest Book of All Time
  23. 23. How To Dunk A Doughnut by Len Fisher

    "How to Dunk a Doughnut" is a fascinating exploration of the science in everyday life, particularly focusing on the physics and chemistry behind common activities and objects. The book uses simple, relatable scenarios, such as dunking a doughnut in coffee, to explain complex scientific principles in an engaging and accessible manner. By delving into the science of food, the kitchen, and daily routines, the author demystifies scientific concepts and reveals how understanding these principles can enhance everyday experiences and problem-solving skills.

    The 6898th Greatest Book of All Time
  24. 24. Our Final Century by Martin Rees

    "Our Final Century" explores the various existential risks that humanity faces in the 21st century, arguing that our technological advancements and scientific progress could lead to our own destruction. The author, an esteemed astrophysicist, discusses potential threats such as nuclear warfare, climate change, biotechnology, artificial intelligence, and cosmic events, emphasizing the need for ethical considerations and global cooperation to mitigate these risks. The book serves as a cautionary tale, urging readers to take action to ensure the survival of the human race in the face of self-inflicted and natural dangers that could make this century our last.

    The 6963rd Greatest Book of All Time
  25. 25. The Secret Lives Of Colour by Kassia St. Clair

    This book delves into the rich history and cultural significance of colors, exploring their origins, science, and social implications. It offers a vibrant journey through a rainbow of hues, from the rarest pigments to the most ubiquitous shades, revealing fascinating stories behind each color. The narrative uncovers how colors have been produced and used in art, fashion, politics, and warfare, shaping human civilization in profound ways. Through anecdotes and meticulous research, the book presents an eye-opening perspective on the palette of our world, illustrating how deeply colors influence our experiences and our very understanding of the world around us.

    The 6968th 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.