The Greatest American, Irish, German "Nonfiction" Books Since 2010

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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. 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.

    The 1456th Greatest Book of All Time
  2. 2. The Warmth Of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson

    "The Warmth of Other Suns" is a powerful and deeply moving narrative that chronicles the Great Migration, a significant event in American history that saw millions of African Americans leave the South in search of better opportunities and freedom from racial oppression. Through the compelling stories of three individuals, the book explores the challenges, triumphs, and sacrifices made by these courageous migrants as they embarked on a journey to find a new life in the North and West, ultimately reshaping the social and cultural landscape of America.

    The 1625th Greatest Book of All Time
  3. 3. 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.

    The 1773rd Greatest Book of All Time
  4. 4. 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.

    The 1942nd Greatest Book of All Time
  5. 5. The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander

    "The New Jim Crow" is a thought-provoking and eye-opening book that examines the deeply ingrained racial bias within the American criminal justice system. Drawing on extensive research and personal anecdotes, the author explores how the War on Drugs has disproportionately targeted and marginalized Black communities, leading to a modern-day system of racial control and oppression. This powerful critique challenges readers to confront the systemic racism that continues to perpetuate inequality and injustice in the United States.

    The 2123rd Greatest Book of All Time
  6. 6. 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.

    The 2179th Greatest Book of All Time
  7. 7. 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.

    The 2746th Greatest Book of All Time
  8. 8. Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand

    This book is a gripping true story of a WWII veteran, who was an Olympic runner before the war. His plane crashes in the Pacific during a reconnaissance mission, and he survives for 47 days on a raft, only to be captured by the Japanese Navy and sent to a series of brutal prisoner of war camps. Despite the immense suffering, he remains unbroken, maintaining his dignity and hope, and eventually finds redemption after the war.

    The 3645th Greatest Book of All Time
  9. 9. 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.

    The 4092nd Greatest Book of All Time
  10. 10. Daring Greatly by Brené Brown

    "Daring Greatly" by Brené Brown is a transformative exploration of vulnerability and its power to cultivate courage, connection, and resilience in our lives. Through extensive research and personal anecdotes, the author delves into the societal pressures that prevent individuals from embracing vulnerability, and offers practical strategies to overcome shame and fear. Brown encourages readers to embrace vulnerability as a strength and a pathway to wholehearted living, ultimately empowering them to lead more authentic and fulfilling lives.

    The 4382nd Greatest Book of All Time
  11. 11. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

    This poignant memoir is a reflection on life and death by a young neurosurgeon who is diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. He grapples with the role reversal from doctor to patient, and confronts the reality of his mortality. The narrative explores the intersection of medicine and philosophy, and the meaning of life when faced with death. Despite his deteriorating health, he continues to find joy in his relationships and work, leaving behind a powerful message about the value of every moment.

    The 4466th Greatest Book of All Time
  12. 12. 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.

    The 4555th Greatest Book of All Time
  13. 13. Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

    This book is a profound work of non-fiction that focuses on the author's experiences as a young lawyer fighting for the rights of those wrongfully convicted or excessively punished. The narrative primarily revolves around the case of a black man sentenced to death for a crime he didn't commit. The author not only exposes the inherent racial bias and systemic flaws in the American criminal justice system, but also provides a compelling argument for compassion in the pursuit of justice.

    The 4834th Greatest Book of All Time
  14. 14. 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.

    The 4886th Greatest Book of All Time
  15. 15. Pulphead: Essays by John Jeremiah Sullivan

    "Pulphead: Essays" is a collection of non-fiction essays that explore various aspects of American culture, history, and personal experiences. The author takes the reader on a journey through a wide range of topics, from popular music and television to historical events and personal anecdotes. The essays are marked by their humor, insight, and the author's unique perspective, offering a thought-provoking and often surprising look at the American experience.

    The 5160th Greatest Book of All Time
  16. 16. The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, And The Golden Age Of Journalism by Doris Kearns Goodwin

    This historical work delves into the vibrant era of early 20th-century America, exploring the close friendship and eventual political rivalry between two presidents, Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft. It also highlights the crucial role of muckraking journalists who, with the support of Roosevelt's bully pulpit, exposed corruption and galvanized public opinion. The narrative weaves together the personal and political dynamics that shaped the Progressive Era, showcasing how these leaders and the press collectively brought about significant reforms and forever transformed the American political landscape.

    The 5299th Greatest Book of All Time
  17. 17. March: Book One by John Lewis

    "March: Book One" is a graphic novel that depicts the early life of a key figure in the American civil rights movement. Raised in rural Alabama, he grows up inspired by the activism surrounding the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the words of Martin Luther King Jr., which sets him on the path of nonviolent protest. The novel highlights his commitment to the fight for equal rights and his journey from a young boy on a farm to one of the key figures in the civil rights movement.

    The 5359th Greatest Book of All Time
  18. 18. 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.

    The 5365th Greatest Book of All Time
  19. 19. 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.

    The 5366th Greatest Book of All Time
  20. 20. 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.

    The 5436th Greatest Book of All Time
  21. 21. Wild by Cheryl Strayed

    "Wild" is a memoir that recounts a transformative journey of self-discovery and healing. After facing numerous personal tragedies and feeling lost, the author embarks on a solo hike along the Pacific Crest Trail, a challenging 1,100-mile trek. Through her physical and emotional struggles, she finds solace in nature and learns valuable lessons about resilience, forgiveness, and embracing the unknown. This inspiring story explores themes of redemption, growth, and the power of nature to heal the human spirit.

    The 5449th Greatest Book of All Time
  22. 22. The Passage Of Power: The Years Of Lyndon Johnson by Robert Caro

    "The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson" by Robert Caro is the fourth volume in his acclaimed biography of the 36th President of the United States. This book covers the years from 1958 to 1964, including Johnson's ascent to the presidency following the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Caro explores Johnson's struggles to pass civil rights legislation, his relationship with Kennedy's family, and his efforts to establish his own presidential legacy. The book also delves into Johnson's personal life, including his marriage to Lady Bird Johnson and his health issues. Overall, "The Passage of Power" provides a comprehensive and insightful look into one of the most complex and consequential figures in American political history.

    The 5449th Greatest Book of All Time
  23. 23. Hillbilly Elegy by J. D. Vance

    "Hillbilly Elegy" is a memoir that explores the author's personal journey from a troubled upbringing in a working-class Appalachian family to achieving success as a Yale Law School graduate. Through his own experiences, J. D. Vance delves into the challenges and complexities faced by the white working class in America, addressing issues such as poverty, addiction, and the cultural dynamics that shape their lives. This poignant and thought-provoking account offers a compassionate and insightful examination of social and economic struggles, while also reflecting on the importance of family, resilience, and the pursuit of the American Dream.

    The 8152nd Greatest Book of All Time
  24. 24. Dark Money: The Hidden History Of The Billionaires Behind The Rise Of The Radical Righ by Jane Mayer

    "Dark Money" by Jane Mayer is an investigative book that delves into the secretive world of political funding by wealthy individuals and corporations. Mayer exposes the hidden history of the billionaires behind the rise of the radical right, including the Koch brothers and their network of donors. She reveals how these donors have used their enormous wealth to shape American politics and policy, pushing their own interests and agendas while undermining democracy. Mayer's book is a sobering reminder of the dangers of unchecked political influence by the ultra-wealthy.

    The 5801st Greatest Book of All Time
  25. 25. The Best We Could Do: An Illustrated Memoir by Thi Bui

    This illustrated memoir captures the story of a Vietnamese family who fled to America after the fall of South Vietnam in the 1970s. The narrative traces their journey and struggles as refugees, while also delving into the family's complex history and relationships. The author uses her own experiences as a new mother to explore themes of parenthood, identity, and the enduring effects of displacement and trauma.

    The 6064th 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