The Electric Typewriter

Great articles and essays by the world's best journalists and writers.

The 100 Best Nonfiction Books of All Time

100 great nonfiction books: must-read nonfiction books, essay collections, and narrtive nonfiction

Essay Collections

The New Kings of Nonfiction by Ira Glass

A bulletproof collection of the best narrative nonfiction from the late 90s and early 00s.

A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again and Consider the Lobster by David Foster Wallace

Between them, these collections cover all of DFW's best nonfiction.

The Great Shark Hunt by Hunter S. Thompson

Spanning HST's golden age, includes journalism from National Observer, Rolling Stone and Scanlan's. For more journalistic escapades check out his other classic collection Kingdom of Fear

Don't Get Too Comfortable by David Rakoff

"The Indignities of Coach, The Torments of Low Thread Count, The Endless Quest for Artisanal Olive Oil, and Other First World Problems"

What the Dog Saw by Malcolm Gladwell

A collection of Gladwell's best New Yorker Essays.

The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby by Tom Wolfe

This full-throttle tour through 1960s pop culture collects Wolfe's early journalism, which blazed a trail for a generation of writers.

Mythologies by Roland Barthes

Meditations on everything from milk and striptease to toys and wrestling.

Pulphead by John Jeremiah Sullivan

A collection of JJS' best magazine journalism and essays.

The Braindead Megaphone by George Saunders

One of best contemporary essayists on everything from politics and literature to travel, optimism and enlightenment.

Essays by E. B. White

A collection of his best essays including the classic Here is New York.

Frank Sinatra Has a Cold by Gay Talese

The greatest articles and essays of genre-defining New Journalist.

Manhood for Amateurs by Michael Chabon

Beautiful reflections on youth, adulthood, parenthood and growing up.

In Defense of Sanity by G. K. Chesterton

G.K. Chesterton's best essays may be 100 years old, but they still feel as fresh today as when they were written.


Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion

This 1968 classic captured its era like few other books. Didion's The White Album is an equally arresting account of the fall-out from the cultural revolution, and her more recent The Year of Magical Thinking proves that she hasn't lost any of her brilliance.

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard

A beautiful prose poem about life, nature and perception.

Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris

A great collection of classic Sedaris including countless much loved pieces about his youth and the years he spent living in France. His other collections Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim and Naked put an equally sublime slant of the absurdities of life.

My Misspent Youth by Meghan Daum

A collection of outstanding essays about growing up in Generation X.

Lost in the Meritocracy by Walter Kirn

A critical memoir of an Ivy-League education and the challenges facing an average Midwestern student as he struggled through the social and bureaucratic minefield of one of America's top universities.

Just Kids by Patti Smith

A memoir of art, love and music from a lost New York.

The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe

Taking to the road with Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters.

The Chronology of Water by Lidia Yuknavitch

A memoir of sexuality, gender and violence.

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua

This controversial memoir by an extreme mother raises interesting questions about the choices parents make and the cost of success.

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
by Dave Eggers

A memoir of lost youth that pushes the boundaries of nonfiction.


Up in the Old Hotel by Joseph Mitchell

Spellbinding profiles of the people who made a lost New York flawlessly rendered by a master storyteller.

The Bullfighter Checks Her Makeup by Susan Orlean

A collection of Orlean's very best profile pieces.

The Fiddler in the Subway by Gene Weingarten

A bound collection of Weingarten's best articles.

Hidden America by Jeanne Marie Laskas

The lives of the normal people who keep America running.

Travel and Adventure

Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

The story of a young man who gave up everything to answer the call of the wild, and ended up paying the ultimate price. Into Thin Air, his account of an ill-fated expedition on Everest is also great reading.

The Lost City of Z by David Grann

The deadly search for a mythical city lost somewhere in the darkest Amazon, a magnet for generations of adventurers.

The Great Railway Bazaar by Paul Theroux

Travelling the length of Eurasia on the world's greatest railways.

My Kind of Place by Susan Orlean

"Travel Stories from a Woman Who's Been Everywhere"

The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe

The octane story of the rocket jocks who conquered space.

River Town by Peter Hessler

Two years spent living in the heart of China during a time of massive social change and cultural upheaval.

Travels In Siberia by Ian Frazier

A breathtaking account of a roadtrip through the world's most fascinating frozen wasteland.

Driving Mr. Albert by Michael Paterniti

A book length version of the excellent Harper's article -- a road trip across America with Einstein's (actual) brain.

A Fortune-Teller Told Me by Tiziano Terzani

Earthbound Travels in the Far East

127 Hours by Aaron Ralston

A fascinatingly shocking survival story.


Moneyball by Michael Lewis

A book-length version of the classic essay The Trading Desk tells the story of the people behind baseball's statistical revolution. Lewis' other great sports book The Blind Side is equally gripping.

Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand

One of those rare books that grabs you regardless of whether you have an interest in the subject matter.

The Fight by Norman Mailer

The story of the Rumble in the Jungle as told by one of the greatest journalists in history.

Friday Night Lights by H.G. Bissinger

The story of a small town's obsession with high-school football offers a great window onto a cultural phenomenon.

The Arts Culture

How to Talk About Books You Haven't Read
by Pierre Bayard

An excellent guide to an essential skill.

Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs by Chuck Klostermann

A Low Culture Manifesto.

Changing My Mind by Zadie Smith

A great collection of essays about literature, writing and culture, along with some more personal pieces.

Mr. Wilson's Cabinet of Wonder by Lawrence Weschler

The author expands on his truly great essay about the Museum of Jurassic Technology, reflecting on the role of the museum.


In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

A masterpiece of narrative journalism.

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
by John Berendt

A great true crime story that reads like a novel.

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

The chilling true tale of one of the world's prolific serial killers.


Nothing to Envy by Barbara Demick

Life under one of the world's most repressive dictatorships, beautifully seen through the eyes of ordinary North Koreans.

Underground by Haruki Murakami

A great novelist explores the Japanese psyche through the lens of the sarin gas attacks on the Tokyo subway.

Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo

The lives of the people that inhabit one of Mumbai's poorest slums.

Oranges by John McPhee

So many of John McPhee's books could have been included on the list, but his beautiful narrative report from Florida's orange groves stands out in particular.

The Outlaw Sea by William Langewiesche

Six great articles about the ocean and the people who live on it. The author's American Ground, an account of the events at Ground Zero following 9/11, is also a classic.