The Greatest German "Nonfiction" Books Since 1980

Click to learn how this list is calculated.

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.

Filter by: Genres Dates Countries
Follow on:

Genres

Nonfiction

Add additional genre filters

Countries

German

Add additional country filters

Date Range

Filter

Reading Statistics

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

Download

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
  1. 1. The Rings of Saturn by W. G. Sebald

    "The Rings of Saturn" is a richly detailed travelogue that follows the narrator's journey along the coast of Suffolk, England. The narrative weaves together history, literature, and personal anecdotes, exploring topics as diverse as the decline of the herring industry, the horrors of colonialism in the Congo, and the life of philosopher Sir Thomas Browne. The book is characterized by its melancholic tone, its digressive style, and its meditative reflections on memory, time, and decay.

    The 1004th Greatest Book of All Time
  2. 2. The Emigrants by Winfried Georg Sebald

    "The Emigrants" is a novel that explores the experiences and memories of four different emigrants, each with a unique and complex history. The narrative primarily focuses on the psychological impact of displacement and the haunting nature of the past. The author delves deep into their lives, revealing their struggles with identity, loss, and the persistent influence of their roots. The narrative is interwoven with historical events, photographs, and other documents, creating a rich tapestry that blurs the line between fact and fiction.

    The 1236th Greatest Book of All Time
  3. 3. I Will Bear Witness by Victor Klemperer

    "I Will Bear Witness" is a chilling personal account of life in Nazi Germany from 1933-1941. The author, a Jewish professor, meticulously details the daily life under Hitler's regime, capturing the fear, oppression, and constant threat that Jews faced. The diary serves as a powerful testament to the horrors of the Holocaust and the resilience of those who endured it.

    The 3046th Greatest Book of All Time
  4. 4. Systematic Theology by Wolfhart Pannenberg

    "Systematic Theology" is a comprehensive exploration of Christian doctrine from the perspective of a renowned German theologian. It delves into the nature of God, the creation of the universe, and the essence of humanity, among other topics. The author's approach is unique in that he uses historical and scientific knowledge to interpret and explain Christian beliefs, making this a significant contribution to modern theological thought.

    The 3464th Greatest Book of All Time
  5. 5. Die Totalitäre Erfahrung by Karl Dietrich Bracher

    The book in question provides a comprehensive analysis of totalitarianism, exploring the political and social conditions that give rise to such regimes. It delves into the characteristics of totalitarian states, examining how they gain and maintain power through the manipulation of ideology, the use of terror, and the control of mass communication. The work also reflects on the historical instances of totalitarian governments in the 20th century, offering insights into the dangers they pose to individual freedoms and democratic structures. Through its examination of the dynamics of total control, the book serves as a warning about the fragility of democratic institutions and the constant need to defend them against authoritarian threats.

    The 4622nd Greatest Book of All Time
  6. 6. Pavel's Letters by Monika Maron

    "Pavel's Letters" is a poignant narrative that explores the personal journey of a novelist who uncovers her family's past in war-torn Poland. After receiving a collection of letters from her grandfather, Pavel, the protagonist delves into the history of her family, their experiences during World War II, and the hardships they faced under Stalin's regime. The book is a compelling blend of personal memories, historical facts, and the exploration of the human spirit's resilience in the face of adversity.

    The 4858th Greatest Book of All Time
  7. 7. The Theory Of Communicative Action by Jürgen Habermas

    The book is a seminal work in social theory that explores the concept of communicative action, where individuals interact based on mutual understanding and pursue rational arguments, consensus, and cooperation rather than merely acting for individual success. The author critiques the instrumental and strategic action in modern societies and argues that communicative action is essential for maintaining the rationality and democratic nature of human interactions. The work delves into the structures of how language and social interaction form the basis of society and how distortions in communication can lead to social issues, emphasizing the importance of transparent and undistorted communication in achieving genuine understanding and societal cohesion.

    The 4866th Greatest Book of All Time
  8. 8. Essays On Music by Theodor Adorno

    This collection is a comprehensive anthology of critical essays on the subject of music, written by one of the 20th century's most influential philosophers and social critics. The work delves into the complexities of musical composition, performance, and reception, offering a profound exploration of the social, political, and cultural dimensions of the musical experience. The author critiques the commodification of music in capitalist societies and the way this impacts artistic authenticity and the listener's experience. Through a series of essays, the author examines various genres and eras, from classical to jazz to popular music, applying a rigorous theoretical framework that draws from Marxist thought, sociology, and psychoanalysis to dissect the role of music in modern life.

    The 5918th Greatest Book of All Time
  9. 9. Critique Of Cynical Reason by Peter Sloterdijk

    The book provides a deep exploration of cynicism as a pervasive and influential mindset in contemporary society, tracing its evolution from the classical cynicism of antiquity to its modern form, which the author describes as "enlightened false consciousness." The work delves into the philosophical, social, and psychological dimensions of cynicism, examining how it serves both as a defense mechanism and a form of social critique. Through a blend of philosophical analysis, cultural commentary, and historical insight, the book challenges readers to understand and confront the cynical attitudes that pervade modern culture and to consider the possibilities for genuine sincerity and commitment in a seemingly disenchanted world.

    The 6277th Greatest Book of All Time
  10. 10. Stillness Speaks by Eckhart Tolle

    The book is a guide to discovering profound inner peace and serenity through the power of mindfulness and stillness. It delves into the transformative potential of living in the present moment and disengaging from the constant chatter of the mind. The author presents a series of meditative insights and wisdom that encourage readers to connect with the depth of the present moment, transcending ego-driven thoughts and emotions. By embracing stillness, the book suggests that individuals can access a deeper sense of self-awareness, leading to a more fulfilling and enlightened existence.

    The 6962nd Greatest Book of All Time
  11. 11. 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.

    The 7093rd Greatest Book of All Time
  12. 12. The Freud Reader by Sigmund Freud

    "The Freud Reader" is a comprehensive anthology that provides a key selection of Sigmund Freud's most important writings, spanning the entire length of his career. Edited by a prominent Freud scholar, this collection includes complete texts of some of his most famous works, as well as excerpts from his lesser-known writings. The book is designed to give readers a clear sense of Freud's development as a thinker and writer, presenting his ideas on psychoanalysis, the unconscious mind, dreams, the theory of sexuality, and the structure of the psyche. This reader serves as an essential introduction to Freud's groundbreaking theories and his contributions to the understanding of human psychology.

    The 7138th Greatest Book of All Time
  13. 13. Thomas Mann Heinrich Mann by Helmut Koopmann

    The book provides a comprehensive study of the lives and works of two prominent German literary figures, who were also brothers. It delves into their complex relationship, contrasting ideologies, and individual contributions to literature and culture. The author examines their personal and professional journeys, exploring how their differing views on art, politics, and society reflected the broader intellectual and historical currents of their time. Through a detailed analysis of their novels, essays, and other writings, the book offers insights into the brothers' influence on each other and on the literary world, highlighting their lasting legacy in the context of German and world literature.

    The 7154th Greatest Book of All Time
  14. 14. German History 1800–1918 by Thomas Nipperdey

    This book offers an in-depth and comprehensive examination of German history from 1800 to 1918. It delves into the political, social, and cultural transformations that occurred during this period, exploring the rise of nationalism, the impact of industrialization, the evolution of the German states, and the lead-up to the First World War. The author provides detailed analysis of key events, figures, and movements, weaving a rich tapestry of the forces that shaped modern Germany.

    The 8331st Greatest Book of All Time
  15. 15. Along The Ganges by Ilija Trojanow

    The book is a travelogue that takes the reader on a captivating journey along the sacred Ganges River, from its source in the Himalayas to its delta in the Bay of Bengal. The narrative is rich with descriptions of the diverse landscapes, cultures, and people encountered by the author. It delves into the profound spiritual significance of the river to millions of Hindus, as well as the contemporary challenges it faces due to pollution and modernization. Through personal reflections and encounters, the author explores the complex relationship between the river and the civilization it has nurtured for centuries, offering insights into the historical, religious, and ecological aspects of this iconic waterway.

    The 8464th Greatest Book of All Time
  16. 16. The Power Of Now by Eckhart Tolle

    This book is a guide to spiritual enlightenment that emphasizes the importance of living in the present moment to achieve true happiness and fulfillment. It argues that many people are trapped by their thoughts and emotions, which are often rooted in the past or anxious about the future, leading to a state of unconsciousness. The author presents practical teachings and methods to help readers awaken to their true selves by transcending the ego and the mind's limitations. Through mindfulness and presence, individuals can discover a deeper sense of peace and connection with the world around them, unlocking a new level of consciousness and personal growth.

    The 8477th Greatest Book of All Time
  17. 17. Conquest Of The Useless by Werner Herzog

    "Conquest of the Useless" is a reflective memoir that presents a collection of the author's diary entries written during the tumultuous production of a major film in the early 1980s. Set in the heart of the Amazon rainforest, the narrative captures the intense challenges faced by the film crew, ranging from logistical nightmares and clashing personalities to confrontations with nature and local cultures. The author's poetic and introspective prose delves into the emotional and existential upheavals experienced during the making of the film, revealing his relentless determination and the surreal experiences encountered in a remote and demanding setting.

    The 9042nd Greatest Book of All Time
  18. 18. The Hidden Life Of Trees by Peter Wohlleben

    This book offers a fascinating exploration into the complex life of forests, revealing the social networks and communication methods that trees use to survive and thrive. The author, a forester, draws on groundbreaking scientific discoveries to illustrate how trees are like human families: tree parents live together with their children, communicate with them, support them as they grow, share nutrients with the sick and the weak, and even warn each other of impending dangers. With deep understanding and an eye for the wonder of these essential organisms, the narrative transforms the way we perceive trees, encouraging us to appreciate the intricate and interconnected life of the forest.

    The 10042nd Greatest Book of All Time
  19. 19. Marzahn, Mon Amour by Katja Oskamp

    "Marzahn, Mon Amour" is a reflective and poignant narrative that delves into the lives of ordinary people through the lens of a podiatrist working in the Marzahn district of East Berlin. The book offers a tapestry of human stories, as the protagonist encounters a diverse array of clients, each with their own unique backgrounds and experiences. Through the intimate setting of the treatment room, the author weaves together tales of the community's past and present, exploring themes of identity, resilience, and the search for meaning in the day-to-day. This work serves as a touching exploration of the seemingly mundane aspects of life that, upon closer inspection, reveal the depth and complexity of the human condition.

    The 10402nd Greatest Book of All Time
  20. 20. Crusade and Jihad: Islam and the Christian World by Bassam Tibi

    This book explores the historical, ideological, and political aspects of the Crusades and Jihad, comparing and contrasting the two. It delves into the origins and evolution of the Crusades and Jihad, their impact on Christian and Islamic societies, and their relevance in today's world. The author also examines the role of religion in conflicts and the use of religious ideologies for political purposes, providing a comprehensive understanding of these complex issues.

    The 10476th Greatest Book of All Time
  21. 21. This Is Biology by Ernst Mayr

    "This Is Biology" explores the essence and implications of biology, emphasizing its status as both a science and a key lens through which to examine the world. The book delves into the history and scope of biological study, addressing how life is defined, the evolution of species, and the complex interactions within ecosystems. It also discusses the impact of biology on society, including ethical considerations in genetic research and the role of biology in solving global issues such as environmental degradation and health challenges. Through this comprehensive overview, the book underscores biology's integral role in understanding both the natural world and human existence.

    The 10505th Greatest Book of All Time
  22. 22. Peeling the Onion by Günter Grass

    "Peeling the Onion" is a memoir that explores the author's experiences during and after World War II. The author, a Nobel laureate, reveals his involvement with the Waffen SS, a paramilitary organization of the Nazi party, when he was a teenager. The book delves into the author's struggle with guilt and memory, his journey to becoming a writer, and his exploration of how personal and collective memory impact our understanding of history. It is a candid, introspective look at the complexities of identity, morality, and truth.

    The 10875th Greatest Book of All Time

Reading Statistics

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

Download

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