100 Great Nonfiction Books
100 of the best nonfiction books of all time: Must-read works of narrative nonfiction, essay collections, and classic journalism
A bulletproof collection of the best narrative nonfiction from the late 90s and early 00s.
Between them, these collections cover all of DFW's best nonfiction.
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
"The Indignities of Coach, The Torments of Low Thread Count, The Endless Quest for Artisanal Olive Oil, and Other First World
A collection of Gladwell's best New Yorker Essays.
This full-throttle tour through 1960s pop culture collects Wolfe's early journalism, which blazed a trail for a generation of
Meditations on everything from milk and striptease to toys and wrestling.
A collection of JJS' best magazine journalism and essays.
One of best contemporary essayists on everything from politics and literature to travel, optimism and enlightenment.
A collection of his best essays including the classic Here is New York.
The greatest articles and essays of genre-defining New Journalist.
Beautiful reflections on youth, adulthood, parenthood and growing up.
G.K. Chesterton's best essays may be 100 years old, but they still feel as fresh today as when they were written.
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
that she hasn't lost any of her brilliance.
A beautiful prose poem about life, nature and perception.
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
put an equally sublime slant
of the absurdities of life.
A collection of outstanding essays about growing up in Generation X.
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.
A memoir of art, love and music from a lost New York.
Taking to the road with Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters.
A memoir of sexuality, gender and violence.
This controversial memoir by an extreme mother raises interesting questions about the choices parents make and the cost of
A memoir of lost youth that pushes the boundaries of nonfiction.
Spellbinding profiles of the people who made a lost New York flawlessly rendered by a master storyteller.
A collection of Orlean's very best profile pieces.
A bound collection of Weingarten's best articles.
The lives of the normal people who keep America running.
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 deadly search for a mythical city lost somewhere in the darkest Amazon, a magnet for generations of adventurers.
Travelling the length of Eurasia on the world's greatest railways.
"Travel Stories from a Woman Who's Been Everywhere"
The octane story of the rocket jocks who conquered space.
Two years spent living in the heart of China during a time of massive social change and cultural upheaval.
A breathtaking account of a roadtrip through the world's most fascinating frozen wasteland.
A book length version of the excellent Harper's article -- a road trip across
America with Einstein's (actual) brain.
Earthbound Travels in the Far East
A fascinatingly shocking survival story.
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
is equally gripping.
One of those rare books that grabs you regardless of whether you have an interest in the subject matter.
The story of the Rumble in the Jungle as told by one of the greatest journalists in history.
The story of a small town's obsession with high-school football offers a great window onto a cultural phenomenon.
An excellent guide to an essential skill.
A Low Culture Manifesto.
A great collection of essays about literature, writing and culture, along with some more personal pieces.
The author expands on his truly great essay about the Museum of Jurassic Technology, reflecting on the role of the museum.
A masterpiece of narrative journalism.
A great true crime story that reads like a novel.
The chilling true tale of one of the world's prolific serial killers.
Life under one of the world's most repressive dictatorships, beautifully seen through the eyes of ordinary North Koreans.
A great novelist explores the Japanese psyche through the lens of the sarin gas attacks on the Tokyo subway.
The lives of the people that inhabit one of Mumbai's poorest slums.
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.
Six great articles about the ocean and the people who live on it. The author's American
, an account of the events at Ground Zero following 9/11, is also a classic.
A beautifully constructed account of the interdependencies that exist between people and plants.
The role of soil in civilization.
The historical, social and ecological effects of one of history's greatest natural catastrophes.
Travelling the oceans in search of monster waves.
Fascinating insights about the role of knowledge in society. And for those with an interest in physics, the author's Six Easy Pieces
also comes highly recommended.
A classic that inspired a generation of writers with its accessible yet detailed descriptions of the working of the universe.
An engaging introduction to the world of chaos theory.
A revealing account of how emergent properties explain a lot about cities, biological systems, networks, and society.
A spirited attack on the abuses of science perpetrated by big pharma, unscrupulous journalists, corporations and governments.
The terrifying story of what can happen when the world's deadliest viruses begin to spread.
The story of group of engineers working at the birth of the PC. His Mountains Beyond Mountains
is another great read about a
scientist's quest to cure for infectious diseases.
How our 'two-speed brain' affects or choices and reactions, and helps explains our intuitions and lack of rationality.
How TV and computer games make you smart.
What sets high achievers apart from normal people? Gladwell's Blink
, which investigates how we make decisions, and The Tipping Point
, which explores
social transformation, are fascinating too.
How our habits reveal us, and what can do to steer them.
A collection of experiments in modern living.
A great look at how stats can be used to explain many of life's quirks.
The psychology of improbable events, and the effect it has on our lives.
Rethinking the way we raise kids.
Adventures in memory.
A journey through the fascinating psychology of self-delusion.
A surprisingly compelling account of the lives of corpses.
A damning critique of urban planning in the US which engagingly explores how cities fit together, and how they define us.
A funny but incisive take on the problems (still!) facing women.
If you don't know what money is, what do you know? Get informed!
An insider's guide to the bizarre rituals of Wall St. and the crash of '87. And for insights into the recent financial crisis
through the eyes of the people who saw it coming check out The Big Short
"A Story of Bankers, Politicians, and the Most Audacious Power Grab in American History."
Great essays about how politics has left real people behind.
A highly critical look at the Bush administration in the post 9/11 era.
How self-image is tied up with cultural standards of beauty.
Klein's attack on the
economic excesses of consumerism, and The Shock Doctrine
, her broadside
against the exploitation of disasters, both natural and man made, are both equally thought provoking.
The reality of low-paid work in the USA.
Surprising revelations about life in the Americas Before Columbus.
How geography, ecology and demographics have shaped the world. And his Collapse
describes the downfall of great civilisations
while asking whether we are standing at the brink.
The origins of the world's most popular weapon, the AK47, and the story of how it revolutionised warfare.
How the things that surround us shape us.
An economic and social history of the mineral we can't live without.
The story of an American family in Hitler's Berlin, told by a master of narrative nonfiction.
A great historian tackles one of the most interesting periods with great insight and lucidity.
"An Indian History of the American West"
The world's first nuclear attack, through the eyes of its survivors. A journalistic masterpiece.
Classic reportage from the Vietnam war.
The gripping story of a military operation gone badly wrong in the snipers nest of Mogadishu.
Riding shotgun with the marines and the new face of war in Iraq.
An oral history of the most catastrophic war humanity has ever seen.
"The Epic Account of World War II's Greatest Rescue Mission"
A lucid primer on the fascinating science of linguistics which accessibly explains the complex origins and psychology of
A comprehensive history of the world's lingua franca, in all its forms.
A history of information and communication technology.
Stretches the limits of the book as a format whilst offering deep insight into the functioning of the information world. And if
that grabs your interest, read the weighty, but amazing, Understanding Media
Stuart Waterman, Livia Nelson and Lauren Mobertz for their feedback, and to Maria Popova, who inspired a few of our choices.